If you’re building a brand new basement or finishing an existing one, it’s time to take the necessary steps to defend your walls from the effects of underground humidity You can’t do this until you acknowledge the unique challenges that come with below-grade walls.
The current design of your basement will depend on the age of the home. Is there some existing interior insulation or none at all? Is there a coat of damp-proofing spray applied to the foundation walls? Even if you already have these two features, you still might be missing an essential perimeter drain or drainage mat along with flood prevention measures specifically designed for basements.
The optimal way to deal with mold prevention is to make necessary upgrades to the outside of your basement walls. However, this is a very expensive option and might not be worth the money unless you were already planning to dig up around your foundation to fix structural issues. The easier and much more affordable option for homeowners is to tackle the humidity problem from the inside. This article will run down some insulation ideas for basements that don’t have any exterior protection, to begin with.
Basement Mold: What Causes It To Grow?
Basements are the ideal place for mold to thrive. Mold will grow as long as the oxygen levels and moisture levels are sitting in the optimal range for organic growth to flourish.
To keep living, the mold must eat whatever it’s growing on, which if left unattended, could cause major structural damage or serious health problems for everyone in the home. That’s why it’s imperative you take steps to prevent mold from growing in the first place. To protect buildings, possessions, and the air quality of your home, we must control the amount of moisture in the air.
First, here’s a reality check: It is impossible to eliminate all mold, however, our basement renovation experts at Moose Basements have perfected various methods for controlling moisture indoors – the stuff you can see, and the stuff you can’t.
According to Health Canada, your relative humidity (RH) indoors should be kept at about 50% in the summer and 30% in the winter. Doing this prevents mold growth, but has another interesting side effect. Low humidity also discourages the presence of silverfish, cockroaches, and other unwanted bugs.
Consider buying a humidity meter. They’re not very expensive and can be found in most hardware stores. Smart Home technology also offers a number of devices and special sensors that alert you to humidity issues.
Before You Insulate Basement Walls
The first thing you want to do when considering basement insulation is have your basement assessed. You need to know what problem areas are and the overall state of your basement. If there is a problem in the walls or foundation, you will notice the following signs of damage:
- Water leaks. Basement foundation leaks that are consistent when it rains are a sign that your basement needs a vapour barrier to keep moisture out. Solutions include foundation crack repair, excavating, damp-proofing or waterproofing the basement and insulating the basement from the exterior.
- Signs of dampness. Moisture in the basement can cause problems like mould, mildew, peeling paint, efflorescence and cracks.
Don’t Forget About Ventilation
Making sure your basement has sufficient ventilation can also help tackle moisture issues. It can be as easy as opening a window if you have the right weather conditions outside. However, this can be tricky to monitor, so it’s best to use a dehumidifier or air conditioning system instead.
Humidity control in a basement is important because there can be unfavorable side effects triggered by either end of the spectrum. If there’s too much moisture, you have to worry about bacteria, mold, and bugs. If there’s too little moisture, your concerns center around chapped lips, nose bleeds, and cracked furniture.
The Best Insulation Solutions For Your Basement
It’s important to choose the right materials for your basement’s design to prevent mold growth. Insulating a basement from the inside involves using an energy-efficient insulation board and drywall or a wood-frame wall and insulation. The method you choose is dependent on whether you have moisture problems and need to use vapor barriers, your budget, and how you intend to use the space in your basement.
1. Spray Foam Insulation (SPUF)
SPUF is one of the preferred insulation products for basements. It’s sprayed directly onto concrete walls for comprehensive protection. SPUF’s high R-value means that this type of insulation not only traps warm air in but keeps moist air out of your drywall and the surrounding air. Spray foam is perfect for smaller basements because installing it doesn’t take up much space.
A couple of cons for you to consider when it comes to SPUF: The product can shrink after installation, leading to possible gaps. Also, as a blowing agent, it’s been classified as potentially harmful to the environment, so it may be beneficial to consider more eco-friendly options.
2. Batt Fiberglass Insulation
Also known as “blanket” insulation, batt insulation uses fiberglass and comes in rolls. This type of insulation is the most common because it is cost-effective.
A disadvantage to fiber insulation is that it is recommended only in a larger basement because it requires space to install. In addition, installing batt insulation is not the quickest option, usually taking up to a few days to finish.
3. Rigid Insulation Boards and Mineral Wool
You can use rigid insulation or batt insulation to save money, but you need to know the right techniques for installation. Attaching rigid insulation boards made from either expanded polystyrene (EPS) or extruded polystyrene (XPS) to your concrete walls keeps the studs’ temperature higher, ultimately preventing moisture from forming.
Then, it’s time to screw your drywall directly to the studs. An additional layer of latex-based paint will act as a moisture shield, slowing down any wetness from creeping into the drywall and the studs beneath. EPS, XPS, and mineral wool are unaffected by moisture particles and do not form a favorable environment for mold growth.
For additional protection, you may want to remove the concrete floor and some dirt beneath it so you can insulate it down deeper. Concrete is fairly easy to break up on your own. You just need a sledgehammer to crack the surface before disposing of the floor in small sections and pieces. It may sound like a lot of work, but in the long run, you’ll protect your home while increasing resale value.
- Mount rigid insulation board directly against concrete walls. It should be at least two inches. You can use glue or concrete nails.
- Frame your interior walls with 2×4 studs, ensuring that the boards are pressed tightly against the insulation panels.
- Use mineral wool to fill the spaces between the studs. Mineral wool’s indifference to moisture and ability to retain its shape and R value despite being attacked by humidity, makes it superior to fibreglass in every way.
- Finally, hang your drywall and cover it with latex paint.
Understanding the different types of basement insulation will help you determine the most suitable type for your home. The factors that affect your decision are your budget, the size of your basement, and how urgent the basement project is.
Moreover, homeowners should bear in mind that for example, R20 is the highest-quality grade of insulation. To learn more about insulation R-value, reach out to one of our professionals to have your questions answered.
Hire a Basement Professional
So, if your basement has that musty smell or mold is clearly visible, it’s time to invest in some basement upgrades. Moose Basements are the GTA’s preferred installers of basement waterproofing systems. It’s clear that basement insulation benefits far outweigh the trouble that comes with the procedure. If you’re considering renovating or remodelling your basement, consider contacting a skilled basement contractor. Our experienced crews will deliver a custom solution based on your basement’s particular needs. Contact us today for a free consultation so you can start enjoying your basement worry-free and protect your home’s resale value.