Basement Mistakes pt 5 – Finishing a Basement with Organic Construction Materials

incorrect wood stud finishing in a basement
With the push to find renewable resources for construction materials there have been a large amount of contractors who become confused about Renewable vs. Organic material.

I’ve spoken on the topic of organic material vs. in-organic material in the basement several times on multiple forums and in this blog. Renewable resource material isn’t always the same as Organic Material. Many Renewable construction materials are made out of recycled plastics and metals – which (lucky for you) are both In-Organic!!!

Green Home Improvement and the Basement Health Industry live in harmony once more!

Organic materials in a basement
One of the largest concerns about many homeowners is mold. Mold requires moisture, a dark space, and food to eat. Mold is able to break down organic materials like wood and paper; this is what it uses as food. Any wood, paper, paper-products, fabric, cardboard or dry wall can potentially become mold food.

Moisture Resistant materials and In-Organic Construction
The basement environment is radically different because of its naturally increased levels of humidity. This makes it that much more important to build with materials that are designed for moist areas and that don’t provide a food source for mold spores.

Paperless insulation, paperless dry wall, metal studs, and other materials are what are needed to properly finish a space in the basement. These materials, depending on their manufacturer, possess qualities that allow them to withstand moisture, provide rigid and custom fabrication, and possess all the same qualities of the construction materials used on the 1st and 2nd floors.

Placement of the studs.
Many homes, especially around New England, have finished basements. Homeowners and contractors for decades have been installing the wood studs directly against the foundation wall. A.) This is lazy and B.) This causes problems.

By putting a stud against the foundation wall you’re hoping that the foundation is plum and it’s one less step to do. Who needs to make sure anything’s level right? (Cough*sarcasm*cough)

Causes Problems:
Moisture travels through the foundation wall and comes into contact with these wood studs. Mold spores LOVE this and thrive, OR dry rot occurs, eventually rendering the wall useless.

Placing studs 2”-4” away from any foundation wall gives enough room to force air circulation and filtration behind the walls which keeps the area moving and clear of mold and excess moisture.

The area behind the studs is vulnerable to excess moisture build up, even more so then the rest of the basement, so if there is insulation in the finished walls, it’s that much more important to provide circulation and dehumidification.

The Take Away:
2.) DON’T USE “Standard” Dry wall!
4.) USE MATERIALS THAT HAVE BEEN TESTED TO BE MOISTURE AND MILDEW RESISTANT –many of these also have excellent fire ratings
5.) IF you don’t know what to do: ASK A PROFESSIONAL!

Hundreds of Thousands of dollars a year are wasted in ill-prepared and poorly planned basement finishing designs using the WRONG material. This is why it falls, yet again, under the Top 6 Most Common Basement Mistakes that homeowners and contractors make.