A basement is undoubtedly an asset in most homes, but there is no denying that these spaces are infamous for being cold and damp, unpleasant rooms. Whether you plan to use the basement for extra storage or you’re going to convert it into a guest room, you will need to think about the room’s insulation levels and how to stop dampness from getting into it.
You might be wondering whether you really need to insulate a basement, especially if the space is rarely used and only has stored items in it. It might seem like a waste of time, materials, and money to insulate it – but are there hidden benefits?
Does a basement need to be insulated? All basements should be insulated, no matter what they are being used for. A basement that isn’t insulated will be very cold, drawing coldness and moisture from the surrounding ground, and this will pull heat out of your house into the space below. If your basement is going to be lived in, insulation is non-negotiable.
Why Do Basements Need to Be Insulated?
Basements must be insulated for a wide range of reasons, and you should not overlook insulation when you plan to add a basement to your home. In some cases, building codes will require you to thoroughly insulate the space, while in other situations, you might do so to conserve energy and better insulate your home. Insulating your basement can make your home comfier, too.
Let’s break down the top reasons for insulating your home. One of the most important is that it will help you to save energy and money. You might think that your basement doesn’t really change how warm the rest of your house is, but this isn’t true. Cold air from the basement will make your floors colder, and this will make the rooms colder too.
If you don’t insulate your basement, you will bring the rest of your home to a lower temperature. Basements are inherently cold, because they are surrounded by cold earth. This will constantly leach warmth away from the basement, and in turn, away from your upper floors. Air constantly rises from the basement, and if this air is cold, your rooms will be cold too.
Some people try to overcome this by insulating the ceiling of the basement and hoping that this will solve the issue – but it’s thought that insulating the whole basement is a far better solution to the problem. You need to keep the basement warm if you want your house to be warm. Doing so will reduce your heating bills, saving you money, and helping you to be more eco-friendly.
Insulating your basement will make your home more comfortable too, because you won’t end up with cold spots that leach heat out of the rooms and cause uneven temperature distribution. Your heating will work more efficiently, making your whole home more comfortable. You won’t have to have the heating on as often to keep the house warm.
As mentioned above, building codes sometimes require you to insulate the basement if you are going to finish it. If you want to make it an extension of your living space or if you plan to rent it, you should check whether you must insulate it. Even if this isn’t required by law, it’s pretty essential if somebody will be living in the space.
As you can see, insulating your basement is pretty critical – so how do you go about doing so?
How Do You Insulate a Basement?
There are quite a few options for insulating your basement. It will first need to be sealed so that no moisture is being leached in from the surrounding ground, or this could make the basement wet and result in the insulation turning moldy. Common insulation types include fiberglass, foam board, and spray foam.
You need to determine what type of insulation is the most suitable for your property before you can go about laying it. Different kinds will have different prices, and offer different benefits. You should find out the R-value of the insulation, and find out what R-value is recommended for the part of the world you live in.
You should also think about how damp your basement is, as some types of insulation fare better in mildly damp environments than others. Ideally, you will reduce the dampness as much as possible before insulating your basement anyway, but this is still an important consideration. Cellulose insulation, for example, will do badly in a damp environment. Spray foam will fare much better.
If you aren’t sure what kind of insulation you need, consider getting advice and quotes from a local company. Insulation is important to do well, so don’t rush into this without doing some thorough research first.
This is even more critical if the basement is going to be a living space, but don’t neglect it for any sort of basement. Insulation is key.
Where Do You Add Insulation in a Basement?
The walls are generally the most important part of the basement to insulate, because they have the most contact with the surrounding ground. This will stop the maximum amount of heat loss and provide you with the best savings. It’s generally fairly easy to insulate the walls. You should also insulate the floor, as cold will constantly leach up from the ground.
Many people only bother to insulate the floor if they are creating a finished basement, because this often involves more work (adding a moisture barrier, creating a subfloor, laying flooring, etc.) and can be more expensive. However, it’s worth considering, because it will make your basement warmer and reduce the heat loss in your home.
You can also insulate your basement ceiling to reduce the transfer of cold into your main home, but this should be done after other insulation is in place.
A basement should be insulated, even if you only plan to use it for storage, because it will otherwise make your home cold and damp, and increase your heating costs. If the room will be lived in, insulation may be a legal requirement.