Installing Insulation on Basement Walls


Unless a home was recently constructed, the chances are that the concrete block basement walls are not insulated, losing as much as 25 percent of the home's total heat through the foundation walls. Insulating an unfinished basement not only saves on energy costs, but it can help keep out air and moisture. Insulating the unfinished walls also takes less insulation than insulating the ceiling. Another advantage is that even if you are an amateur do-it-yourselfer, you can usually complete the job without too much difficulty.

Things You'll Need

  • 2x4 pressure treated board 2x2 boards Caulk Polyurethane foam sealant Liquid nails Masonry drill bit Concrete screws Insulation batts faced with a fire-retardant material
  • Check the basement for any water leaks. Seal joints between the cement foundation and wood foundation frame using polyurethane foam sealant to stop air from coming in the cracks around basement windows. Caulk around openings where plumbing, electrical wires and dryer vents enter the home through the basement. Fill in any cracks in the foundation wall.

  • Place 8-foot 2x2 wood boards every 16-inches along the concrete walls and at inside wall corners. You can use 2x2 lumber to stud basement walls if you don't need the walls to be thick, and are trying to save from losing space. However, use a pressure treated 2x4 board for the bottom plate. Position the boards on the wall just below the sill plate on top of the foundation wall. Although most basements are an average height of eight feet, you may have to cut off a couple of inches from the bottom of the boards. Frame around any basement windows using 2x2 boards.

  • Attach the bottom plate to the floor and the 2x2 boards to the wall using a liquid nail glue. Start with the bottom plate. Apply the glue, position the board in place, and then using a masonry bit, drill holes every 16 inches.

  • Drive concrete screws into the pre-drilled holes. Follow the same procedure as above for installing 2x2 boards one at a time. Drilling the holes in all the boards before you begin the task of attaching them to the walls can make the job easier. However, make sure that each board is level before attaching it. Starting at the top of a board, drive in screws about every 2 feet down the length of each board.

  • Use blanket insulation with a flame-resistant facing as one option for insulating unfinished basement walls. A minimum R-value of 13 is recommended for basement walls in most climate areas. Measure the height of the wall at several different points, and then cut strips of insulation an inch or two longer than the shortest measurement.

  • Fit insulation between 2x2 furring strip boards with the facing side toward the interior of the basement. Make sure insulation fills the cavity completely. Pull insulation behind any plumbing, ductwork or electrical wiring. Vertical strips should be fitted together tightly.

  • Staple both edges of the insulation to the front of the framing boards. Starting at the top, staple about every 8 inches from the top down to the bottom plate. Trim the insulation even with the floor. Tape all seams and over stapled edges with a white vinyl tape. Tape should be 3 inches wide.

Tips & Warnings

  • You should not insulate the inside of basement walls if you have a serious moisture problem, unless you correct the problem beforehand. Check the local building codes, as in most areas, insulating materials that are flammable may not remain openly exposed, but must be covered with at least a ½-inch drywall. Some types of insulating materials produce harmful gases if they catch fire.

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