Can You Finish A Fieldstone Basement?

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Fieldstone basements are common in older-period homes. The foundations of this type of basement can last for centuries. Although durable, it can be difficult if the stacked rocks and mortar crumble. So, can you finish a fieldstone basement? We did the research to bring you the answer.

You can finish a fieldstone basement even though the structure is too old. Before you can make the improvements, you have to check the present condition of the basement. There might be problems that can compromise the structure. By addressing the issues, you can make your basement safe for occupancy.

It helps to seal and waterproof the basement to prevent water and gas leakage problems. Finishing your fieldstone basement also adds value and function to your home. You can design the space to meet your preferences. Keep reading to learn how you can finish a fieldstone basement.

Cellar in an abandoned mansion. Can You Finish A Fieldstone Basement

What's With A Fieldstone Basement?

Fieldstone is one common foundation for homes that lasts more than 100 years. The mortar bonds with stacked stones of a uniform size to create the foundation. Even though this type of structure lasts a long time, the foundation's strength also depends on the type and quality of mortar used.

With the aging of the basement, mortar crumbles and becomes pulverized, weakening the foundation. It is best to assess the parts of your basement that need repair. Water can seep through the walls causing cracks and molds.

Usual repairs include repointing and adding new mortar to the stone foundation. Also, remember that the major enemy in basements is moisture.

You also have to seal, waterproof, and choose the right insulation to finish the basement. It helps to prepare the basement before adding other furniture and fixtures.

Take note that the basement should be safe for anyone who wishes to use it. If the damage in the basement is too technical, you need professionals to make the repairs.

Is It Possible To Finish An Old Basement?

If you have an old basement, regardless of the foundation, it is possible to finish it. You might want to use the space after so many years to accommodate your growing family or to have a space to entertain.

Even though renovations will seem difficult at first, the benefits you will get outweigh your costs and efforts.

To push through this project, you have to recondition the basement. You need to resolve problems like a weak foundation, water seepage, and possible building code violations. If the basement has no insulation or drywall, it will help if you finish the basement.

Before finishing, assess the following sections of your basement:

  • Basement foundation - Check for cracks on the walls and floor, slanted floors, and soft concrete. If you do not resolve these issues, they will affect the stability and safety of your home.
  • Ceiling - For old homes, the ceiling height might be lower than the minimum requirement of state building codes. Low ceilings might not be conducive to your activities. Let professionals do the work if you need to raise the ceiling.
  • Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems - The basement needs the standard connections to create a livable space. Old homes might not allow for easy installation of these systems.

It is best to ask for advice from professionals so that you can avoid further damage to the basement. Also, remember to follow the requirements of relevant building codes of your respective states.

Can You Seal A Fieldstone Basement?

Sealing the foundation walls of your fieldstone basement prevents moisture or gas seepage. You have to address the issues in the basement before you can finish it. By sealing, you maintain your basement's condition and the overall state of your house.

You can find deep penetrating concrete sealers that expand in the pores and joints of the foundation. Follow the steps below to seal a fieldstone basement:

  1. Wash and scrub the walls to remove the mold or efflorescence. Be careful to avoid damaging the mortar joints and grout.
  2. Let the walls dry completely. Masonry sealers won't work if the surface is wet.
  3. Repair the broken and loose mortar joints. After grouting, let the mortar dry for at least 48-72 hours before sealing.
  4. Apply the sealer with a paintbrush to deep mortar joints. Let the sealer dry for around 2-4 hours.
  5. Afterward, apply 2 to 3 coats of the sealers over the entire wall. Wait for at least 2-4 hours before applying another coat.

How Do You Waterproof A Fieldstone Basement?

Aside from sealing the fieldstone foundations, it will also help to waterproof the basement. The reason for waterproofing is to avoid the following issues:

  • Flooding or wet floors and walls
  • Dampness
  • Mold and mildew growth
  • Efflorescence
  • Pest infestations
  • Musty smells
  • Paint peeling off
  • Rotting of wood

There are two ways to waterproof your fieldstone and other stone foundation basements. These methods will depend on the problem that you want to tackle.

Exterior Waterproofing

If the major problem in your basement is the water penetration, you have to do exterior waterproofing. Follow the steps below:

  1. Excavate around the perimeters of the foundation. Dig outside the wall going down to the wall base.
  2. Clean the exterior of the foundation. Also, remove the old and cracked mortar.
  3. Apply a parge coating of fresh mortar as well as a layer of waterproofing membrane around the walls. The membrane creates a permanent water barrier.
  4. If the ground in your area has a high water table, you will need to install an exterior drain tile system.

Interior Waterproofing

If water leakage is not a big issue, you can do the waterproofing inside the basement. Identify the possible spots where the water leaks. Then you can choose among these suitable waterproofing solutions:

  • French drains
  • Interior drain pipe
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Drylok masonry waterproofer
  • Plastic sheets and panels
  • Sealers or densifiers
  • Vapor barriers
  • Waterproofing paint and coatings

Read more: Can You Fix A Leaky Basement From The Inside?

Basement room with stone trim walls

How Do You Finish An Old Stone Basement Wall?

After the necessary preparations, you can now finish your old stone basement walls. It is essential to add insulation systems to prevent temperature and moisture problems in the basement.

Finishing your basement wall involves the following steps:

  1. If there are still sections where there is moisture, patch them with hydraulic cement.
  2. You can parge the walls with Type N Mortar. Allow the mortar to dry for around 7 days.
  3. Then install suitable insulation systems. It is best to use a 1-inch XPS foam insulation with a large tile thin-set to avoid moisture.
  4. In the mortar joint, use latex-based caulk. The curing time will take at least 48 hours.
  5. Use a coating mortar designed for the foam board.
  6. Paint with acrylic mortar paint.

How Do You Make An Old Basement Look Good?

Old basements look dull, dark, and gloomy. You might hesitate to do a make-over for your basement because it is exhaustive and costly. A good reason to upgrade an old basement, however, is the added value to your home. You can invite guests and family members to use your basement.

To make your basement look good, you can go for the following options:

It is all up to you for the overall style you want to achieve for your basement. You are free to add other fixtures to make your basement conducive to your activities and lifestyle. As long as it meets your preferences, you can turn an old basement into a haven.

Basement with red heating boiler and dirty floor in old house interior. Can You Finish A Fieldstone Basement

In Closing

Finishing a fieldstone basement is possible, but you have to go through extensive processes. You have to check for possible issues like mortar cracking, bowed walls, and water leaks. It would help to seal and waterproof the foundations to avoid structural damage caused by moisture.

After addressing the structural issues, the next thing to do is finish the basement. Choose insulation that helps avoid moisture. You can turn your old basement into a lively space after adding some furniture and decluttering. In the long run, you can enjoy a good-looking basement.

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