DIY: How to Insulate a Basement


The advantage of insulating the interior of your home’s basement is a significant energy savings – which can dramatically bring down your heating bills. However, basements are often damp, susceptible to insect and mold infestations and difficult to insulate well, creating a situation where installed insulation often needs to be replaced more often than insulation in other areas of your home. If the cost savings is attractive to you, you can install insulation in your basement easily. Ensure your basement walls are completely dry; you can rent a professional-level dehumidifier at many home improvement or hardware stores.

Things You'll Need

  • Goggles
  • Respirator mask
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk
  • Utility knife
  • 3/4-in. extruded foam insulation sheets
  • Foam adhesive
  • Stiff paint brush
  • Caulk
  • Put on the goggles and the respirator mask.

  • Measure the height and width of your walls to determine the sizes of foam insulation you will need. Because you will glue the insulation into place, you do not need to initially worry about studs in your wall. If you cannot adequately glue the insulation to the wall or later decide to cover the insulation with wood, you will need to employ a stud finder.

  • Mark the required measurements on the sheets of insulation using a piece of chalk. In most cases, you will just have to trim the sheets of insulation so they will fit, closely placed, on the wall. In some cases, you may have to place smaller pieces of insulation around fixtures, such as air vents, ducts or architectural details.

  • Score the sheets of extruded foam insulation along the chalk marks using the utility knife; snap the insulation along the scored lines.

  • Spread the foam adhesive on the wall. Use the brush as necessary to ensure an even, but generous, application.

  • Press the insulation sheets against the foam adhesion to glue it into place. If you have trouble getting a good seal between the foam and the walls, you can drill holes using a hammer drill with a masonry bit to install sleeve anchors and screw the insulation to the wall. In this case, use a stud finder to locate studs in the walls.

  • Caulk any seams and gaps between pieced together insulation around fixtures. This will help block air leaks. Allow caulk to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Tips & Warnings

  • Gloves can be useful. Insulation materials can irritate sensitive skin.
  • Furring strips can help if your basement walls are not flat. Install furring strips first, then drill and screw insulation over the furring strips.
  • If you want to finish your basement walls with wood walls, you will need to frame the walls over the layer of insulation.

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