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Remodeling Your Own Basement

by Matt Myers

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There are many small projects in a house that homeowners can and should take on themselves. We at HomeAdvisor encourage homeowners to attempt certain projects that meet some or all of specific criteria. Basement remodels have some components that make for good do-it-yourself projects, and below are some of the projects we encourage and how you should approach them.

DIY Basement Remodels
A do-it-yourself (DIY) project needs to comply with at least one of these standards. The more that apply, the better the case for doing-it-yourself.

  • Do you have any knowledge, experience, or equipment required for this project?
  • Is this project one where you can practice before actually starting the project? Ex, laying tile on an old table before trying to tile the floor.

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  • Is this project one that can function properly and look good if your work is not completely professional? Can you live with less than professional results?
  • Can you accurately determine the amount you will save from DIY as compared to hiring a pro? (Often professionals can buy materials at a lower cost than consumers.)
  • If you make some severe mistakes with your DIY project, will it cost more to have a contractor correct the problem than it would have to hire a contractor in the first place? Can you predict the percentage chance of this happening?
  • If you get tired of working on this project, can you live with part of your home being a mess for an extended/unknown length of time?

    These standards, and others no addresses here, need to be considered when doing any project, large or small. Basements have a few differences from most rooms that might make a basement remodel something you can do at least part of.

    Basement Drywall
    Hanging drywall is not that difficult of a task, but it is difficult to do it well and do it quickly. Professionals can start and finish a room in half a day. The seams and screw holes will be near invisible, and the paint will go on smoothly. What the professionals have going for them is that they get to practice everyday, and if you want to hang drywall in your basement and have it look good, you are going to need to practice.

    Start in the garage, if it isn't already done. Garages typically have drywall hung without being painted, so yours will not look odd if you practice here. This practice will help you hang drywall in your basement. Remember that floor trim and crown molding will cover any mistakes on the top and bottom. What you need to concern yourself with are three areas: seams, screw holes, and dust. Dust has nothing to do with the quality of the drywall job, but it can increase your cleanup time dramatically.

    Hanging drywall in your basement is something that you can do yourself if you are willing to work hard and get dirty. There will be a lot of cleanup, but you can save some money, since it will be forgivable if you make a few mistakes.

    Basement Wiring
    I do not recommend doing any wiring yourself unless you are a skilled, knowledgeable contractor. If you are, most likely you aren't reading this article. Wiring and electricity have a dangerous element that no one should try as a way to save money or do themselves. However, if you are going to hang the drywall yourself, you need to contract this out before you hang the drywall.

    Concrete Staining in Your Basement
    A good basement flooring solution is to stain the concrete floor in your basement. This is really hard to mess up, since most concrete stains are a mottled complexion. This mottled look will hide any hiccups in the stain application, and at least make it more difficult to see. It might look a little better to go with one solid color, but here mistakes can be seen.

    DIY Practice
    The brilliant thing about concrete staining is that is gives a very cool effect to concrete and it is easy to apply. Not to mention that if you sell the home and someone doesn't like the color or the effect, they can just lay concrete right over top of it. A drawback to this process is that once you stain concrete, it is not coming back. You can't remove stain once it is already in. So be sure you have the color and the look that you like, because it's permanent.

    Basement Remodeling Project Guide
    If you enjoyed this article, check out our free Basement Remodeling Guide, which features expert advice, design & material comparisons, and custom price estimates for your remodeling project.
    Matt Myers is a freelance writer for the home maintenance and remodeling industry. Formerly a contractor specializing in deck building and casework, Matt has written over 500 articles for both homeowners and contractors.