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Learning the Basics of Framing is the First Step

A basement remodeling project can consist of many steps, but when it involves framing, many homeowners get cold feet and opt out to have someone else do the work for them, simply because they don’t know enough about framing a basement to get the job done. But framing a basement is a lot like chess; it’s easy to learn the game, but it takes a lifetime to master. While there are tons of tips and tricks that would never fit into this article that pertain to framing a basement, the basic techniques for framing can be learned in a short period of time so that nearly any person willing and able may be able to frame their own basement.

Preparing the Exterior Walls and Flooring

One of the biggest issues with working in a basement is moisture control. Whether it’s water runoff from the roof and seeping into basement walls, or the groundwater itself coming in through the concrete flooring, water infiltration into the structure must be addressed and can be done so in the following ways prior to any framing work:

Exterior Waterproofing Membrane – The exterior of the basement walls and foundation must be excavated and sealed with a rubberized waterproof membrane. This can be a costly procedure but once it’s done, it’s done for good. Cheaper exterior waterproofing methods like French drainage around the perimeter of the foundation can also help alleviate the problems of moisture entering the basement.

Interior Waterproofing – In some cases, it’s impossible for a homeowner to excavate around the perimeter and install an exterior waterproofing membrane, so an interior waterproofing is performed. It’s simply sprayed or painted on the walls in some cases, while other materials like foam panels add a permanent vapor barrier, air ventilation, and deadwood nailers. There are many methods to do the job but be sure you don’t go in for the cheap stuff. Once you frame the walls, you’re not going to want to have to tear them down to waterproof the foundation walls all over again.

Sump Pump – If water issues are coming through the flooring, the best solution is to install a sump pump. The interior flooring must be removed, drainage installed and a sump well dug. This is the time when water pipes and electrical floor outlets can be repositioned or eliminated. Once back-filled and a new slab has been poured, all of the water will flow towards the sump well were a sump pump removes the water from the basement to drain safely away from the structure

Seven Simple Steps to Framing in a Basement

In just seven easy steps, you can frame your basement. But before you begin, basic framing tools like a hammer, square, nail pouch, nail gun, compressor, pencil and a tape measure should all be secured and ready for use.

Prep the Walls and Floor – Attach your foam insulation to the wall according to the manufacturer’s directions. Most foam backing insulation is adhered to the wall using mastic. Seal all seams using foal backed tape. You need to use a chalk line to layout where the bottom plate of the framed wall will end up.Simply measure off of the foundation wall 4-inches. This allows a 1/2-inch gap between the wall and the foundation wall for ventilation.

Measure the Wall Length – Don’t just measure from the middle of one wall to the next. Measure across the floor from one side to the other and record the number. Measure at the very top of the wall as well to get an accurate measurement and subtract 1-inch from each of the two recorded measurements. These two numbers will respectively be the top and bottom plate of your frame wall.

Cut the Top and Bottom Plates – Transfer your top plate measurement to a piece of 2×4 and make a square cut. Transfer the bottom plate measurement to a pressure treated 2×4 that can resist corrosion from coming in contact with concrete.

Layout the Top and Bottom Plates – Set the two freshly cut plates together facing the wall so that the pressure treated material is closest to the wall. Turn each 2×4 on its small end and hold them together so that the ends are flush. If one plate is bigger than the other, divide the difference evenly on each side of the plates. Face the wall and hook your tape on the left side of the plates. Use the 16, 32, 48-inch, etc. layout that’s defined on your tape measure with a highlighted box. But instead of making the marks on the plates where the tape measure layout coincides, mark them 3/4-inch behind. This allows the drywall or other cladding to break evenly on a stud. If you don’t layout a wall on a 15-1/4, 31-1/4, 47-1/4 –inch, etc. layout, you’ll end up making lots of wasteful cuts when you install the wall cladding. Place an “X” mark to the right of each mark to show the placement of the stud.

Cut and Install the Studs – Take two small scraps of 2×4 and place them on the floor in several locations where the wall will be installed to the ceiling and take a measurement. Find the median measurement and cut the studs to that length.Installing the studs starts by first separating the plates. Simply slide the top plate away from the foundation wall so that the studs can fit in correctly. Align the stud to the mark and nail two nails into each stud on the top and bottom plates. You now have a wall that’s ready to stand.

Install the Deadwood – Deadwood is used to secure the wall to the ceiling where a flooring joist isn’t present. Nail these between flooring joists every two feet to help support the wall. Use a stud and a level to transfer the mark from the floor to the deadwood on each end of the ceiling. Snap a line across the pieces of deadwood for reference.

Stand the Wall – Lift the wall carefully by the top plate and slide the bottom plate into position so that a 1/2-inch gap is on both sides of the wall—it’s useful to have multiple people help you do the heavy lifting. Nail the bottom of the wall into position first using concrete nails, followed by the top plate into the deadwood. Repeat the steps for additional walls keeping the 1/2-inch gap consistent between the wood wall and the concrete foundation wall.



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