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What are the Best Tips for Framing a Basement?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2016
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Framing a basement is a good way to finish the space and make it a livable part of the house. When finishing the space, framing a basement is the first step in making sure the area can be insulated, run with electricity, and otherwise made comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. Framing a basement can be a tricky process, however, as pipes and other obstacles are common in such a space, and often the height between the ceiling and the floor is not uniform, especially in older basements. When framing a basement, start by building the frames on the ground and raising them into place.

When building the frames on the ground, it is a good idea to make them slightly shorter than the measured height from floor to ceiling. This is especially important in older houses were settling may have occurred, or where dirt or clay floors are common. The height may not be uniform, and the frame may have to be shimmed into place. Building the frame too big will prevent the builder from getting the frame into place at all. Once the frame is in place, fasten the frame using lag bolts if the walls are concrete, or L-brackets connected to the ceiling if the foundation is stone.

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An alternative to building the frame on the ground and putting it into place when framing a basement is stick building. This involves securing a 2x4 to the ceiling joists, and another 2x4 on the ground. These two pieces should be parallel to each other, and the one on the ground should be pressure-treated, since it will come into contact with ground moisture and may warp or rot otherwise. Once the pieces have been secured, vertical 2x4 studs can be nailed or screwed into place every 16 inches (40 cm) on center.

Framing a basement may include framing the ceiling of the basement to conceal pipes or other obstructions. The ceiling must be horizontal before hanging drywall from it, so the ceiling construction can be something of a tricky endeavor. A false ceiling can be built in much the same way as the walls, but shims become increasingly important here to make sure the 2x4 studs are horizontal to the ground. If they are not, there may be gaps in the drywall once the framing is complete.

When framing walls and ceilings, it is important to consider access to wires, pipes, fuse boxes, and other commonly accessed items. Try to avoid walling in fuse boxes or plumbing shut-off valves, and take into consideration access to any heating devices. Before erecting drywall, consider putting insulation into the framing for added warmth in the basement.

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