How to Finish Cement Basement Walls


Basement walls are normally basic cement walls or blocks. They serve a function but don't look great. If you want the area to have a more finished look, then painting or installing paneling over the walls is one way to do it. Painting, obviously is the quicker route to a completed job, but the paneling will give a nicer overall appearance. Drywall is also an option if you feel comfortable with a little harder labor.

Things You'll Need

  • Concrete sealer
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • 2-by-4-inch lumber
  • Wood stripping
  • Circular saw
  • Masonry screws
  • Drill
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk line
  • Foam insulation
  • Knife
  • Glue
  • Drywall mud
  • Drywall tape
  • Trowel
  • Sandpaper
  • Seal the walls with a waterproof sealant. When the sealant is dry, paint the walls with an outdoor durable paint if you don't want to cover them. Use a paintbrush and long even strokes to cover them.

  • Drill wood strips into the walls along the floor and ceiling to install panelling. Or drill 2-by-4s in to the floor and ceiling to start the process of installing drywall. Use masonry screws with drilling into concrete.

  • Measure the height of the walls between the wood and cut more strips or 2-by-4s to this measurement using a circular saw.

  • Screw the strips or 2-by-4s cut in Step 3 into the corners of the basement walls.

  • Measure out from the corners and make a mark every 16 inches. Snap a chalk line at these 16-inch marks from the ceiling to the floor.

  • Cut wood strips or 2-by-4s to match the height from the floor to the ceiling at each of these marks. Line the wood up to the lines. Drill the wood strips into the walls with masonry screws. Or attach the 2-by-4s to the floor and ceiling boards with nails.

  • Cut foam insulation to fit in between the 16-inch spaced strips. A knife should be all you need.

  • Glue the foam insulation to the wall between the wood strips.

  • Measure the paneling to ensure it will fit between the ceiling and floor. If it is too long, mark the length to be cut off and use a fine tooth circular saw to make the cut.

  • Spread glue on the wood strips and wait a couple minutes for the glue to become sticky. Set the panel up against it the glue and hold it to the wall while the glue sets. Repeat with more paneling until the basement walls are finished.

    Or hang drywall horizontally across the wood studs. Drill the drywall to the boards with drywall screws. If boards need to be cut to fit, score them on the front and back at the cutting point, then snap the drywall along the edge of a table to remove the excess.

  • Spread drywall mud over seams of the drywall with a trowel and spread drywall tape over it. Spread a second layer of mud over the tape. Let this dry for a day. Sand smooth and spread another wider layer of mud on the next day. Taper it out from the tape to thin the mud down to the drywall surface. Let it dry another day and sand smooth. At this point you can paint the drywall or hang wallpaper.

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  • Photo Credit David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images
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