4 Critical Things to Do Before Your Basement Drywall Is Installed

new drywall in my finsihed basement at night

Jason’s basement, the night after the first day of drywall installation.

Basement drywall is a major step in finishing your own basement. So if you’ve made it to the drywall stage!  Congrats!

Your finished basement is one phase closer to being a reality.

Your basement framing is done (at least you think your framing is done.)  Your wiring is top-notch and your plumbing rough-in is rock solid. All of your inspections have passed and you find yourself giving people construction advice at cocktail parties.

When did cocktail parties go out of style by the way?  Those sound like a really, really good idea and I don’t think I’ve ever been to one.  

Go ahead. Do it. You know you earned it.  Pat yourself on the back. You’ve now accomplished something that many people in the world wouldn’t even dare to think about.

Ok, now stop patting yourself and tell your back  “heads up back, lots of heavy lifting to do in the days ahead”

Even if you’ve wisely followed my advice there’s still a lot of prep work to do before your drywall crew comes swooping in.

Double Check Your Blocking and Studs

Before your basement drywall contractor candidates come out to work up an estimate make sure you’ve added all of the necessary blocking.  When they walk around your basement part of their estimating is to determine how much framing they either have to fix or work around.

So go ahead and walk around to each corner of every wall and make sure you’ve got blocking installed. The blocking should be 2 x 4s at the edge of the wall for the drywall nail to grab onto. Just as guideline, I did 3 walk throughs the week prior to them arriving and I found 3 or 4 spots that needed an adjustment. I spent about an hour per walk-through.

Double check all of your walls. Are there any studs with bowing the sticks out into the room. Bowing inward toward the wall is okay. Bowing out will cause the drywall to have lumps or waves.

A great drywall contractor will fix some of these for you, because they want their finished work to look great. But an average or poor contractor will just install right over it and you’ll be left with lumps.

drywall insulation for noise purposes in a finished basement

I put this R11 insulation up to knock down some of the noise from our kitchen above the family room and the HVAC. Major difference!

Basement Drywall Insulation

Have you ever slept in a basement bedroom that’s above a kitchen floor?

Well I have. It can be really loud.  Like so loud that you march up the steps to yell at your sisters for being so loud only to find out that they are barely making any noise but yet to you, in the basement, it sounds super loud-loud.

That’s why I spent some extra money and time to install insulation in all of the basement ceiling stud bays (the space between the floor joists).  Plus, I insulated the walls around the HVAC room and the basement bathroom.

To me, this made a big difference.  It’s not theater quality or anything. I looked into staggered framing and sound dampening drywall hanging systems and even using thicker drywall.  Oh yea, I was serious about the noise situation.  But in the end the best value for my time and money was to install insulation.

Basement Drywall Dust – How Dusty Is It Going To Be?

Dusty.  Really freakin’ dusty.

Not so much while they’re cutting and nailing the drywall to your basement framing but when they start to sand the drywall mud it gets insane.

I used plastic paint drop-clothes to cover up all of my stuff plus the doorway to the house and the HVAC area. I know what you’re thinking – man, that is a major pain to cover it all.  Let me tell you… it’s worth the effort.  Do it.

My friend Mark, who finished his basement before me, said that drywall dust got into his vent system and spread a fine layer of dust all over their house. Not just the basement… The whole freakin’ house!

So when they come in to sand try to kill the A/C or Heat for a few hours. At least while they are sanding.  Once the dust settles to the floor it’s not a problem.

My drywall guys did three finishing passes with the drywall mud and each time required sanding. So expect about 3 days worth of sanding with some major dust. Be especially vigilant about wrapping electronics like tvs, computers and stereos – drywall dust will definitely destroy those.

finished basement stuff during drywall phase

Seriously, where did all this stuff come from. A little painters tape and some plastic drop cloths worked perfectly.

What Should I Do with All of My Stuff in the Basement?

You need to move all of your basement stuff…. somewhere.

Sorry.

I know it sucks but pretty much everything has to go.

I crammed all of my stuff into the storage area that wasn’t going to be finished.  I really didn’t think it would all fit, but it did.  It was floor-to-ceiling.

I had to take apart the foosball table and a few other big things.  It took me a full day to move everything into one corner of the basement and then cover it with big sheets of plastic.  I had a lot of stuff on those big metal shelves with wheels so that helped quite a bit.

The only thing I left out was this big bulky couch.  I removed the cushions then covered the whole couch with plastic and put it up against a wall.  I told the basement drywall crew that this would be the only thing I couldn’t move, he said they could work around it.

You’re going to need room to hold all of the drywall once it’s delivered.  Plus, room to cut the drywall to size and maneuver pieces around your basement. So it just make the most sense to get as much as possible out-of-the-way, almost everything.

Basement Drywall Day – You Might Cry

The day that the guys came to put the drywall in I had to be at work. Jenn was home with the kids, calling me hourly about the noise and giving me updates on their progress.  When I got home and went downstairs I could hardly believe what I was looking at.

A real room. A room that had walls, lights and definition.  All of the learning, framing, electrical and plumbing had now all come together, culminating in this one moment.  It was great. I stayed down there for about an hour just taking it all in.

basement finishing jason 205Does that sound crazy to you?  I’ll bet if you’ve ever painted a room you’ve had that feeling when you walk in the finished room. You have a super appreciate of that room that didn’t exist before.

Now imagine not just painting. Imagine designing, planning and building everything about it.  That’s the feeling.

Cheers –  Jason

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  1. Hi – I just came across your site and am finding it really helpful. We are about to start our basement finishing project, but I am trying to figure out if I need to seal the floor in the storage area that’s going to remain unfinished. Our house was new construction but the builder never sealed the basement floor and it is insanely dusty down there. I am trying to figure out if the unfinished area will continue to have so much dust even if we have an air flow system and dehumidifer for the finished area. In other words, should I go ahead and seal the floor in that portion of the basement? I’d appreciate any advice you can give me.

    • Hey Sonny – I’m in the same boat as you. I sealed my floor except for the unfinished storage area. I’ve noticed much less dust but there is still some since sealing the other finished flooring areas. The “some” dust is only in the unfinished area – it does not appear to be circulating over to the rest of the basement now that I have a door/walls there.

      Eventually I will seal this section as well, I just haven’t yet because, well… THERE’S A BUNCH OF STUFF IN THERE! So you don’t “need” to. But if its clear and you have a chance to do it, I would. If it’s full of stuff and would be a pain, it can wait.

      Hope that helps. – Jason

  2. jamesjamesj says:

    Greetings,

    My basement ceiling, is also my kitchen, dinning, and living room floors.. They are the 1930 wood floor types. Not the newer ones with tongue and groove or require paper. My goal is to sand them and keep as is. BUT, how do I prevent any leaking from the top floor to the basement. For the kitchen, and spilled milk from the kids (and cat) and a nice lemonade pitch that may be in the living room one summer day.

    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

    • Well James, that is a first, but I’m familiar with your situation as I grew up in a home with a similar style home.

      Not sure there are a lot of options that don’t involve replacing your flooring. One thing you could do is not drywall your ceiling. Just leave it open and paint it, usually black or white. This is a very popular option and actually looks quite good. You can see some samples here on my Pinterest board.

      Of course this doesn’t “solve” your leak problem, but at least if there’s a big spill you can run down to the basement and just clean it up there. You definitely wouldn’t want milk sitting on your finished basement ceiling drywall. – Jason

  3. Jason,

    Thanks for all your good tips. I was wondering if you could explain the correct steps when it comes to finishing the bathroom. I am assuming that the plumber needs to install the things before the draywall gets installed. How does it work with the vanity (especially the ones without the backing. Do you get everything (plumbing) attached and then you disconnected it when the drywallers come in?

    Thanks,

    Jim

  4. Hi,
    I am hoping you can help me out with a problem. I drywalled, primered, and painted my basement ceiling, but for some reason I keep seeing a lot of drywall powder, even after some months have passed. My water pipes do bang at times, so I am wondering if that may be causing drywall powder to shake off onto the floor. Not sure how this is even possible given that it is painted. I am lost and any insight into possible causes and solutions would help. Thanks.

    • Rich – That is kinda weird. I’m guessing the water pipers are NOT the issue, it’s probably vibration from people walking on the first floor. The real question is where is the dust coming from, you shouldn’t have any if it’s painted, none! How long ago was your drywall installed? What kind of paint did you use? Was it new paint? Is the dust evenly coated on everything or concentrated in specific area, like near a vent?

      I’m sure we can solve this mystery.

      Jason

  5. Phillip Morrison says:

    Jason,

    I saw that you installed r11 insulation in your ceiling prior to drywall. I am installing ceiling insulation next weekend and am doing research on which insulation to buy. I was thinking r38 originally but was curious how well the R11 works for you. If it keeps things quiet on both levels, it would be significantly cheaper than r38. Thoughts??

    Also, I had my framing/electrical inspection Friday and I really appreciate your tips on fireblocking. The inspector was impressed at the fact I did it and did it correctly.

    Phillip

    • Hi Phillip – Well… it’s tough to answer that. I think the R11 is working fine. The issue is the drywall. Before drywall my basement was a like a soundproof recording studio. I could play freakin’ drums down there and barely hear a thing upstairs. Then the drywall went in an suddenly its the gosh darn cave of echoes.

      I later discovered that the drywall collects the sound waves (for lack of a more technical term) and then transfers them to the ceiling joists (which the drywall is nailed into) and then up through the flooring of the first floor. The only way to avoid this is to have a drop-ceiling (which I personally despise, but some people love) or install some sound dampening channels before you drywall, which of course, jacks up the cost of your basement quite a bit.

      Soooo… long way of saying… R11, R38 it doesn’t matter. Go for the cheaper option. Insulation helps, I would use it again, but doesn’t solve the bigger issue of drywall noise transfer. If you’re going for a movie room or you actually do play drums – you might want to look into some additional measures.

      Jason

      oh, congrats on passing your framing inspection!

  6. James Duncan says:

    I can’t download the book or videos. Any suggestions?

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