Basement Wall Overhaul

Introduction: Basement Wall Overhaul

About: I'm a husband and father that loves working in the garage. From sewing to welding to wrenching on engines and everything in between.

The Fall of 2012 was particularly rainy - which resulted in the new carpet in the basement getting wet. We'd only been in this house for a little over a year, but we had never had an issue before. The water was localized to one particular wall, and since the walls are just sheathed in cheap wood paneling, I decided to tear the paneling off and see if I could pinpoint the leak. Once the paneling had been removed I found a decent sized crack through the foundation that showed evidence of water intrusion. I thought it may be due to poor soil grading resulting in water standing against the foundation. After busting up 30' of sidewalk on the side of the house, I discovered that the gutter drain pipes that ran along the side of the house had crushed, collapsed, disintegrated, and spilled over - resulting in water standing against the foundation. I replaced the gutter drains all the way to the street with 4" schedule 40 drain pipe, but that process can wait for another day. Back inside, the crack in the foundation was caused due to the foundation settling. I monitored the crack over a couple weeks to make sure that it wasn't getting wider. I ended up using a waterproof expanding foam foundation repair that is injected into the crack to seal it up. I left the wall alone for an entire year, just to make sure that it didn't leak again. That's where this instructable picks up. I've got a studded basement wall in need of a pick-me-up. Follow along to watch the transformation.

Step 1: Hang Some Drywall

December of 2013 rolled around and we hadn't had any more leaks, so I figured it was safe to hang some drywall. I had already used rigid foam insulation to cover the concrete section of the wall, and I fluffed out the existing batt insulation on the upper part of the wall. My wife was going to be out of town for work for a couple days, so I figured after the boys went to bed would be a good time to hang a couple sheets. I used "basement board" which is a drywall material made for higher moisture areas. Typically, drywall is hung horizontally, but since I was working by myself, it was easier to stand the full sheet on end than it was to try to hoist a full sheet 4' off the floor. To aide in getting the sheets butted up to the ceiling, I used a lever under the bottom edge of the drywall. The lever was simply a wide scrap of 1/4" plywood that was laid over a piece of 1/2" pvc pipe. I just stepped on one side of the plywood and it pushed the drywall up to the ceiling. After sinking a couple screws it, it stayed in place and the lever could be removed.

I'm not even close to a professional drywaller, but I've done my fair share of drywall work. It's pretty straightforward, but there are a few things that I try to stick with:

  • Screws or nails should be placed every 8" and should be slightly dimpled below the face of the drywall. If the head of the screw tears through the face of the paper, remove it because it has no holding power once it's sunk too far and place another fastener an inch or so from the previous hole.
  • The long factory edges are tapered - that is, the edge is slightly thinner than the rest of the sheet. This is to make it easier to hide the joints when finishing the drywall by allowing some room for drywall mud without leaving a mound over each joint. That being said, try to orient non factory or short edges to the top/bottom/sides of the wall to make finishing a bit easier.

Now that the drywall is up, it's time to finish it. I had good intentions, but New Years came, then Spring, then Summer, then Fall which is always busy for us. Finally, after 11 months looking at unfinished drywall, I decided to finish it - again, while my wife was gone on business...

Finishing drywall is an art...and one that I haven't quite mastered. Basically, you're just filling those fastener dimples with drywall mud and using drywall tape and mud to cover and smooth every joint. Easy right? I'm much better than I was years ago, but I'm still a hack drywall finisher. I usually try to do a few light coats of mud, wet "sanding" with a damp sponge in between coats to knock off any ridges or high spots. I'll do a final dry sand to make sure everything is nice and smooth. I strongly recommend one of the drywall sanding blocks that has a port to attach to a shop vac. DRYWALL DUST GETS EVERYWHERE. Keep as much contained in a vacuum. I don't own the fore mentioned sanding block, but I did hold my shop vac hose near my sanding block as I sanded to try to catch as much as I could. I'd also strongly suggest a dust separator for you shop vac because drywall dust will clog a filter very quickly. This was the first time that I've had a dust separator when cleaning up drywall dust and was impressed at how well it performed.

Step 2: Prepping for Paint

Any surface you're going to paint should be primed. New drywall should be primed with a PVA primer to seal the drywall. This will keep the topcoat from absorbing into the drywall. This is a pretty basic but very important step. I used Olympic PVA primer and just applied it with a roller and brush over the entire surface of the new wall.

Step 3: Slinging Some Paint

As mentioned earlier, the basement walls were all cheap wood paneling. It made the basement very dark. When we first moved in, we primed and painted the paneling a lighter color. I bought some Olympic One interior latex in the same sheen and color that we had originally used to paint the paneling. Once again, roller and a brush to trim and it's finished. Hooray!!!

The wall is kind of bare, so I need to come up with a large art piece to liven it up a bit (maybe a future instructable??), but it's great to have all the walls match again. So what if it took me two years to complete it... :)

Thanks for reading and I'd appreciate your vote.

Wall Overhaul

Participated in the
Wall Overhaul

Be the First to Share


    • Hour of Code Speed Challenge

      Hour of Code Speed Challenge
    • Laser Challenge

      Laser Challenge
    • Hide It Challenge

      Hide It Challenge



    6 years ago on Introduction


    Do you have a "wet" odor in the basement?

    Is it dry now?

    Dustin Rogers
    Dustin Rogers

    Reply 6 years ago

    No odor. It's completely dry.

    Dustin Rogers

    Thanks seamster. I didn't get any pics of the sparkle that was mixed into the popcorn texture on the ceiling. Oh, how awesome the 70's must have been. LOL. Unfortunately, the paneling wasn't confined to just the basement. The upstairs hallway was all paneling too. It all got a coat of paint.

    I recently added the large flourescent ceiling light which helped a ton. Before it was just one tiny 60W recessed light.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice work, as usual!

    It's amazing that people used to like dark basements. Seems like every old house I've been in had dark wood paneling in the basement!