Many homeowners can be tempted to cut corners during renovations to save time and money. However, these are often short-term solutions that create long-term problems. Once such area is the basement. Basements can be arduous to renovate, and if you do not take all the necessary steps to prepare all of your hard work can be for naught.
One major step you cannot skip is insulation. Insulation protects your basement from mold, keeps your home warm in the winter, and helps you save on energy costs. Basements are inherently damp. This is because most basements are made of concrete which is very porous. It may not appear so from its rough texture, but concrete basement walls are giant sponges that hold moisture. While this may be common knowledge to many, the type of insulation you need is not always so apparent.
Spray Foam Insulation
Spray foam insulation is the Cadillac of basement insulation options, and, like a Cadillac, it is expensive. Spray foam is often the go-to choice because of its numerous benefits. It provides additional structural support to your walls, it can fill in easily around pipes and other items common to basement walls, and it provides an excellent vapor barrier.
The only drawbacks about spray foam insulation are the cost and mess involved. Given that renovations are inherently untidy, the mess factor isn’t such a major issue. With time, spray foam insulation costs will go down as they move from being thought of as a luxury item to the standard by which basements are built. If you can afford the cost now, it is the best option for the long-term.
Foam Board Insulation
The next best insulation option is foam board. It is significantly less expensive than spray foam. Another added bonus is that any handy homeowner can install it on their own. You will need to ensure you use the correct thickness and seal it properly for maximum warmth and moisture protection. Check your local codes and bylaws to find out the energy requirements needed for your home. In general, two to four inches will suffice. You will also want to seal the edges of the foam board and around utilities and pipes so that moisture cannot seep through. You can seal edges with house wrap tape or even with spray foam in a can.
Foam Board and Fiberglass Insulation
The most affordable option is a blend of foam board and fiberglass. This method requires you to install one layer of foam board then seal it. Instead of multiple layers of foam board, you frame around the initial layer and fill in the voids between the studs with fiberglass. Again, you will need to reference local energy codes to make sure your insulation is up to snuff. While this method costs the least of the three, it is only suitable for homes that have zero history of water leaking into the basement.
Basement insulation provides numerous benefits that, while not visible, are vital to your health and comfort. By properly insulating your basement, you can provide clean air that is free from moisture-induced mold spores as well as warmer air during the winter months.