Basement Insulation

Design and build residential architecture

Insulating your basement is essential in regulating the temperature in your home and preventing outside air and moisture from entering. An uninsulated basement can cause several problems in your home. Firstly, poorly insulated basements are responsible for up to 20 to 30 percent of a home’s heat loss during winter months. This means that you will spend significantly more on your energy costs each winter to keep your home warm if your basement is not insulated.

Another problem that can occur due to a cold home during the winter is frozen pipes. This can cause substantial damage to your property if the pipes rupture. Moisture creates a perfect environment for the growth of harmful bacteria and mould. Black mould can cause serious health problems, mainly affecting the respiratory system. To prevent moisture and mould buildup, cracks and leaks must be properly sealed and the basement insulated well.

Basement Insulation from The Outside

Basement Insulation

Adding insulation to the outside of your home is highly recommended because it is the best way of ensuring maximum protection from moisture. It is important to note that outside insulation is more expensive and time-consuming because the dirt surrounding the basement must be excavated first. Once this is done, flashing, insulation, and a vapour barrier are applied to the outside of the basement walls to form an exterior barrier that effectively prevents moisture from getting inside your home. Insulating the outside of your basement is a complicated task, so it is best to hire a professional contractor for the job.

Advantages of Outside Basement Insulation

Some of the advantages of exterior insulation include:

  • It minimizes the amount of heat loss from your home’s foundation.
  • It protects the waterproofing membrane from being damaged during backfilling.
  • It creates a barrier of protection around the foundation that reduces the effects of the freeze-thaw cycle.
  • It reduces the amount of indoor space needed for internal insulation.

Disadvantages of Outside Basement Insulation

The disadvantages of exterior insulation include:

  • It is costly.
  • If insect-resistant materials are not used, the process of installing exterior insulation can lead to insect infestation.
  • Since adding outside installation is a complicated process, finding a contractor with professional experience to do the job properly can be challenging.
  • Buildings with high radon need additional equipment to facilitate exterior insulation.

How to Insulate Outside of The Basement

This work typically takes several weeks to complete. Also give yourself some extra time for surprises like more extensive excavating, repairing cracks, waterproofing the exterior foundation walls and possibly installing a drainage system.

Insulating a basement from the outside involves the following steps:

photo of a man digging the trench

Digging the Trench

Ideally excavation should go as deep as the footings, but no further. Be mindful of the size of the trench. The width of the trench should allow enough room to work easily within the trench. Make sure you have the appropriate machinery for digging and have a designated area to store the excavated dirt while you continue with the project.

Design and build residential architecture

Inspecting the Foundation

Once the excavation is complete, you’ll need to inspect the foundation walls and drainage system to ensure they are in good condition. Since the trench will be left exposed to the elements for days on end, it needs to be protected from rain and the elements. The trench can also be a safety hazard for people and animals so be mindful of that.

photo of a brush

Prepare the Surface

You will need to clean the surface of the foundation with a wire brush and scraper and inspect the wall for any major cracks or damage that need to be sealed. Remember to give time for repairs to dry. Then check the condition of the drainage tiles and repair if needed.

photo of basement Drainage System

Install the Drainage System (if necessary)

If there is no drainage system, be sure to install one, but it is paramount that this is done correctly.
Apply Waterproofing Material – this should be done from grade level down to over the top of the footings. Once this is done, seal all overlaps.

photo of a man doing Measurements

Measure and Cut Installation

Measure the insulation from the top of the footings to the exterior wall flashing and cut the desired amount. Begin to insulate from one corner, making sure you keep the insulation sheets as tight to the wall as possible.

photo of metal lath

Apply the Flashing

This keeps the insulation in place and prevents water from penetrating the insulation. Insert the flashing behind the siding. This should cover the width of the insulation and the protective coat. If there’s any exposed insulation be sure to cover this up to protect it from sunlight and any physical damage. You can use a metal lath with cement parging, a polymer-modified parging or another appropriate option.

photo of patio stones and patio furniture

Refill the Excavation

Once the trenche is filled with soil again you can add patio stones grass or even a garden over the ground.

RELATED ARTICLE: Soundproofing a Basement Ceiling

Basement Insulation from The Inside

There are several insulation techniques that can be done inside the home. Choosing the right insulation type depends on the type of basement you have.

Image of Basement sound insulation
  1. Soft and Foam Insulation Panels
    Insulating your basement with rigid foam or soft insulation panels is easy and cost-effective. With this technique, you must use a vapour barrier to cover the insulation and prevent mould from forming.
  2. Foam Insulation
    Foam insulation can adhere to concrete. It is a great insulation product to cover joists and seal cracks and crevices. It is a good finishing insulation on newer homes.
  3. Fibreglass and Wool Insulating Blankets
    Insulation blankets are lightweight, flexible, water and heat resistant. Fiberglass is easy to apply to walls, pipes, water tanks, furnaces, and venting. Wool insulation is also fantastic for basements because it is soundproof.

Advantages of Inside Basement Insulation

Insulating your basement from the inside is more practical if the basement has already been constructed. Benefits linked with this type of insulation are:

  • Interior insulation is easier to install than exterior installation.
  • It is cost efficient.
  • Keeps the basement space warmer than exterior insulation.
  • Takes less time to complete.

Disadvantages of Inside Basement Insulation

While it may be better to install interior insulation, there are some cons to be aware of:

  • Does not protect foundation.
  • Consumes some of the usable space in the basement.
  • If drainage around the basement is poor, moisture can be absorbed into the insulation and promote the growth of mould and mildew.

How to Insulate the Basement from The Inside

  • Make sure your basement is dry and there are no leaks anywhere.
  • Next, use foam installation. It’s recommended to insulate the interior of a basement wall using foam insulation that adheres to or is sprayed right onto the concrete. You can use a closed-cell spray polyurethane foam or XPS, EPS or polyisocyanurate rigid foam. These do a great job in preventing they are inside the basement from reaching the cold concrete.

Basement Floor Insulation

photo of a man installing basement floor insulation

There are many ways you can insulate your basement floor, but the method you use depends largely on the cost and available headroom. This is because building codes mandate minimum headroom for a finished basement. Two of the ways to insulate a basement floor are subfloor panels and insulated subfloor.

How to Insulate Basement Floor

photo of basement floor
  1. Make sure your floor is clean and fix any issues with the concrete floor like cracks are chips or any leakage.
  2. Install a 1-inch (at least) layer of rigid foam board insulation. Be sure to use a foam board adhesive that is of good quality.
  3. Seal all the seams of the foam board insulation for best results.
  4. Use insulation tape to secure the seams, then for even greater reinforcement, you can use spray foam from a can along the walls.
  5. Install pressure treated sleepers and use the foam board adhesive at the bottom to stick the bottom of the sleepers – and the sleepers themselves – to the concrete.
  6. Finally, install the flooring you have selected for your basement.

Invest in Professional Basement Insulation

Award Winning Basement Finishing Project

Insulating your basement walls, floor, and ceiling adds to its overall functionality. It’s essential for protecting your whole house from cold air and mould. Furthermore, a well-insulated basement will save up to 30 percent of your heating bill. Reach out to a basement renovation expert to learn about proper insulation for your basement.

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