Can You Finish A Cinder Block Basement? [And How To]

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Cinder block basements are quite famous back in the old days. Homes with these subterranean spaces still exist today and your abode might be one of those properties. Now you’re wondering if you can finish your dwelling’s cinder block basement. If so, how can you do it? We researched for you and consulted with industry experts for your convenience.

Finishing a cinder block basement is possible with the right tools and processes. One way to approach this project is to install insulation and drywall over the concrete blocks. Here’s a quick summary of the steps for this operation:

  1. Cut a vapor barrier fabric to the correct size and install them over the cinder blocks.
  2. Install studs in strategic locations.
  3. Install insulation and make sure the material is between the studs.
  4. Place drywall on top of the installed materials and secure each sheet.
  5. Apply tape and joint compound to seal the drywall.
  6. Sand the excess sealing materials to flatten the surface.

Cinder block finishing projects often require the proper handling of materials and tools. If you miss out on some vital details, your installation may not be as secure as expected. Keep reading as we talk about the specifics for finishing a cinder block basement. We’ll also tackle a method to enhance the appearance of these concrete blocks.

A cinder block wall in basement, Can You Finish A Cinder Block Basement [And How To]

Should You Seal Basement Concrete Walls Before Finishing?

You should seal concrete basement walls before finishing them. Sealing can help prevent problems like floods and leaks. These issues might be more apparent with concrete because the material is quite porous. Without a proper seal, water can fairly easily enter the space, damaging the items inside.

You can also read our post on fixing a leaky basement to learn more about how to repair and prevent water damage to the subterranean space.

Cinder brick fence wall side view at construction site

Another option is to watch the video below to gain information about sealing and waterproofing a concrete wall:

How To Finish A Cinder Block Basement

A partly finished lounge in a new house

Finishing a cinder block basement often entails proper sealing, framing, and insulating. After learning about how to seal and waterproof cinder block walls, move forward with the operation by collecting the essential materials and tools. Once you have the items, you can proceed with the project:

What You’ll Need

  • Vapor barrier
  • Concrete studs
  • Drywall sheets
  • Fiberglass mesh drywall tape
  • Joint compound
  • Taping knife
  • Pole sander

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Cut a vapor barrier to size and stick it over the blocks. Make sure the seams don’t overlap during the installation.
  2. Place a concrete stud horizontally for every 16 inches of concrete block.
  3. Put a concrete stud straight up for every 24-inch vertical space.
  4. Install your preferred insulation between the studs.
  5. Install drywall over the insulation and concrete blocks. Secure each panel with a screw gun.
  6. Apply fiberglass mesh drywall tape between each drywall sheet. Make sure that the pieces of tape don’t overlap at their intersections.
  7. Use joint compound with a taping knife and push the product into the joints and mesh tape.
  8. Tape the seams and let the joint compound dry.
  9. Use a pole sander to flatten uneven surfaces on the drywall.
  10. Apply additional coats of joint compound if necessary. If so, make sure that you sand each coat before applying extra layers.

How Do You make Cinder Blocks Look Good

A textured background of cinder blocks painted pink and grey

You can paint cinder blocks in the interior or exterior spaces to blend the material's look with the rest of the property. Take note that the color and design you choose should still coincide with your home’s theme. Otherwise, the cinder blocks’ appearances will clash with the rest of your house.

But make sure that the cinder blocks are clean before painting them. Otherwise, dust, dirt, and other debris can ruin the finish. After giving the blocks a good rinse and letting them dry, gather the necessary materials and proceed with the next step:

What You’ll Need

  • Acrylic caulk
  • Putty knife
  • Paint roller
  • Concrete primer
  • Paint

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Fill any cracks or gaps with acrylic caulk. Spread the product across the fissures with a putty knife liberally. But make sure the finish is flush with the wall. Then, wait for it to dry.
  2. Use a primer compatible with concrete to ensure the coats of paint stick to the blocks. Applying paint without a primer can cause issues like bubbles or drips. Again, wait for the primer to dry before continuing.
  3. Pour your preferred paint onto a paint tray and dip your roller into it. Start applying the first coat onto the concrete blocks afterward.
  4. If you need to apply extra coats, make sure that the first coat dries before doing so.

Keep in mind that if you're working with exterior cinder blocks, particularly on an outdoor basement wall, you should take note of the weather forecast. Painting these concrete blocks during a series of hot and sunny days is ideal. Hold the painting project for another day if it's the wet season to avoid delays.

Check out this concrete primer on Amazon.

Does It Matter Which Direction You Install Drywall?

Drywall installation orientation matters. You can place drywall onto surfaces either horizontally or vertically. Plus, the placement’s direction depends on different factors, such as:

  • Joints: 8-foot or shorter walls generally use a horizontal drywall installation. Taller walls often need vertical drywall placements.
  • Drywall tape application: Horizontal orientation usually requires less tape or mud than a vertical placement.
  • Stud positioning: Surfaces with studs that are at least 16 inches apart can make do with horizontal drywalls. However, façades that need more joints may do well with vertically placed drywalls.
  • Sheet size: It's always a good idea to use drywall panels at their fullest lengths. Aside from using the full coverage of the wall, you also avoid the risk of losing the material's structural integrity.

Here’s a short video to learn more about the proper orientation for laying drywall:

You can also read our post on installing drywall to a basement ceiling for more information about this material.

How Much Does It Cost To Finish A Concrete Basement?

Assuming that the concrete basement is already secure, finishing the space may cost from $2,800 to $33,985. Homeowners should expect to pay approximately $18,395 for the entire remodeling project. The expenses can vary based on factors like furniture, materials, and professional labor.

Take note that the expenditures can skyrocket if the basement needs a new application of concrete. Pouring concrete into a basement can cost between $10,000 and $175,000. But you should expect to pay around $40,000 on average.

Moreover, here’s a preview of the costs that can go into finishing a concrete basement:

  • Poured concrete: $3,250 to $13,500
  • Reinforcement: $150 to $750
  • Waterproofing: $150 to $750
  • Professional labor: $16,000 to $24,000

You may also choose to finish the concrete basement using DIY methods instead of hiring professionals. In turn, you can save as much as 60% of the overhead. But keep in mind that this project can be quite laborious and doing it without expert assistance can be more demanding than intended.

Final Words

Finish a cinder block basement by applying the correct sealing, insulating, and installing drywall. Another option is to paint the concrete blocks directly, which might be a good choice for some homeowners and their exterior basement walls. If you proceed with this path, make sure to paint on sunny days to avoid interruptions.

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