My Renovation Update: A Healthy Basement Remodel

By: Kate HambletMay 2, 2019

It has been a long time coming, but we are finally making great progress on our healthy basement remodel!  This area has been much needed for our household since Pieter and I both work from home.  We had completely run out of room!  

The finished basement will definitely be a multi-purpose space being our son's play room, our TV room and both of our offices.  The most important factor in creating this new room was to make sure it was going to be a healthy space for all of us.


Healthy Home Factors:

Finishing a basement that was never intended to be a living space can be detrimental to your health.  Many basements are damp, have water management problems (rain water is finding its way in), are storage areas for chemicals, and have little or no ventilation.  

This leads to mold growth and exposure to toxins, resulting in terrible indoor air quality.  And you do not want your family hanging out in a room with terrible air quality!

Before we began the basement remodel, we had to make sure our basement was going to meet the criteria for a livable space.

Healthy Basement Criteria:

  • Our basement did not have water intrusion problems.  But just to be sure we added a French drain to the high sloped side of the outside perimeter of the house to make sure any ground water coming toward the basement would enter the drain before reaching the basement foundation wall.
  • Our basement can be naturally ventilated.  Since it is a walk-out basement there are multiple windows we can open to get fresh air into the room.  
  • The basement has lots of natural light.  This is important when creating an office or any type of space where you will spend a lot of your time.  Since both Pieter and I will be working in the basement all day, we need to be exposed to natural light and views!
  • We do not store chemicals in the basement. 

The 'Before' Basement

Basement remodel

This was the state of the basement when we moved into the house.

The basement is a walkout, meaning much of the exterior walls are above grade, but there is was no insulation on any of the basement walls (and most of the ceilings weren't insulated either!)

Basement Remodel Progress

Ceiling Removal and Rigid Insulation Installation:

basement remodel

The first thing that had to be done was the removal of the old ceiling.  It was damaged and partially falling down.  And as it turns out, it was home to thousands of mice over the years.  Pieter still has flash backs of removing the ceiling and mouse remains.  🙁

After the ceiling was removed, polyiso rigid insulation was installed at all of the exterior basement walls. 

Healthy Home Tip:

Since some of the walls of the basement are below grade, we needed to use a rigid insulation opposed to a batt insulation.  We chose polyiso over EPS or XPS because it not as harmful to the planet.  

basement remodel

A view of the storage room before it became enclosed.

New Stud Walls:

basement remodel

We added a framed wall over the rigid insulation since we needed something to attach the drywall to.  The studs also allow room for electrical boxes and a cavity for more insulation!

basement remodel

The main area of the basement is taking shape.  The storage room is now on the other side of the framed wall.

Window Installation and Mineral Wool Insulation:

basement remodel

We replaced all the old wood, single pane windows with energy efficient double pane windows, and replaced the existing exterior doors with new fiberglass doors.

Then we added mineral wool insulation to the wall cavity for added thermal value.  

Healthy Home Tip:

Mineral insulation is a good healthy home insulation choice.  The product is made of stone wool so it is naturally hydrophobic, meaning it won't hold water.  This is very important in preventing mold growth within wall cavities.

Drywall Installation and Paint:

basement remodel

Once the drywall was up we painted the walls and ceiling with my favorite paint line - Benjamin Moore Natura.

Healthy Home Tip:

When painting walls and ceilings, choosing a non-toxic paint is incredibly important.  The amount of surface area that your walls consume is giant compared to all other surfaces of your house.  Because of the large surface area, you will have a lot of toxins off-gassing into your home if you do not choose a non-toxic paint.

basement remodel

The new basement room is taking shape!

Vapor Barrier Installation:

basement remodel

A vapor barrier is needed between the basement slab and the new flooring.  This will prevent any ground vapor/ moisture from penetrating through the slab into the flooring.

FYI: If you have a noticeably damp floor, adding a vapor barrier will not cut it for keeping the moisture out!  This is a sign that the basement may not be suitable as a living space, or that extensive drainage work might have to be done before converting the basement to a living space.

Healthy Home Tip:

We used a non-toxic vapor barrier called Moisture Block.  It is really easy to install (my 4-year old could do it!), has no smell, and has a built-in adhesive strip to secure the sheets together.

basement remodel

Here is a close-up of the adhesive strip.  To adhere one sheet to the next, overlap the sheets by a couple inches and peel the white covering off the adhesive strip to attach.  Super easy!

Flooring Installation:

basement remodel

We chose the Forbo Marmoleum click cinch linoleum flooring because it is one of the healthiest flooring options available (and because it is so easy to install).  The flooring comes in 12"x36" panels that very easily click together.  It is a floating floor so no glues are needed to hold it down.

Healthy Home Tip:

Linoleum flooring is a great option for healthy homes.  It is made of linseed oil and other natural materials.  It is also naturally anti-microbial and anti-static, making it very healthy and easy to clean.

basement remodel

Since we have an old basement floor, it was not completely level, which added a bit of time when installing the floor.

TIP: If you plan to install this type of flooring, I would recommend leveling your subfloor before installing the flooring!  Had we done that, the job would have gone A LOT faster.

Final Progress Photos!

basement remodel

So here is where the new room currently stands.  We still have plenty of finish work left to make it complete, but it is getting there!

basement remodel

And this is what it looked like five minutes later!  Crosby was really excited to finally have a play room 🙂

Scroll down for a side-by-side of the 'before' and 'after'.


basement remodel
Basement remodel


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