How To Frame A Basement Exterior Wall

Although a basement is usually an extra room, it should remain a comfortable, beneficial space in a home. If you're dealing with unfinished basement walls or simply looking to change the usual concrete, framing a basement's exterior wall is a quick solution. So, what steps should you take to frame a basement exterior wall? We've researched this question and summarized the procedures in this post.

Generally, you will need to do the following to frame basement walls:

  • Check the walls for moisture.
  • Add insulation to the foundation.
  • Install blocking in the joists.
  • Assemble the wall frame.
  • Tip up the walls.
  • Attach and secure the frame.

Framing basement exterior walls don't require much but may take a while to complete. It's essential to follow the process precisely to get desired outcomes.

It's also vital to ensure you apply the appropriate means of protection while taking the proper steps. Keep reading as we elaborate on each step of the process and provide further insight on protecting basement walls.

brick walled basement with metal studs used for framing. How To Frame A Basement Exterior Wall

How Many 2 x 4 Do I Need To Frame A Basement?

The number of 2 x 4s you will need depends usually on the size of your basement walls. These instructions explain how you can calculate for them:

  1. Measure the length (in feet) of all the walls you will build. Add these measurements together.
  2. Convert the result to inches by multiplying the result by 12.
  3. Assuming the gaps between each stud will be 16 inches, divide the result to 16.
  4. Add 1 to the result for the stud that will be added to the end. The final answer will be the number of 2 x 4 studs for each space.

Note that this number isn't always an accurate answer but gives you a close estimate of the number of studs you're likely to use.

Get more insight on basement framing materials through this post: What Wood To Use For Framing A Basement?

Old house foundation wall repair and renovation with installing metal sheets for waterproofing and protect from rain

Steps In Framing A Basement Wall

Before you begin, we recommend preparing these tools along with your studs:

  • Safety goggles and hearing protection
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife
  • Chalk line
  • Drill and screws
  • Caulk and gun
  • Tape measure
  • Foam board

When you're ready, start by following these steps:

1. Check The Walls For Moisture

Be sure there are no signs of moisture buildup on the walls, as it could potentially damage the foundation.

You can attach duct tape to a piece of polyethylene sheeting on the wall, then leave it for a few weeks. The plastic should be completely dry if there is no condensation.

Another method is by checking for rust spots at the metal ties of a poured concrete wall.

A solution for this would be driving holes into the wall, misting the metal tie with water, then applying hydraulic cement to each hole. Be sure to let it dry afterward.

2. Add Insulation To The Foundation

To insulate the walls, apply foam adhesive or caulk behind your foam board panels. Press them onto the foundation wall and hold it in place for a minute to dry.

Repeat this step as much as needed until you cover the entire wall. Add foam boards to rim joists as well.

3. Install Blocking In The Joists

You will need to install blocking to attach the top wall plate if the floor joists are parallel to the wall. Screw one side through the joist and the other to the sill plate.

If it will come in direct contact with concrete, it's best to use treated lumber. You can choose to install these before you place the foam boards so you can insulate your rim joist.

Before placing the bottom plate, leave a mark about 4 inches away from the foam board. It leaves a 1/2 inch gap between the new wall and the foam, allowing wiggle room for the foundation walls.

4. Assemble The Wall Frame

Assembling the wall frame is quick when you have enough ground space. Locate the curve on the studs and make each of them face the same direction.

Place them with their curves facing up so that the studs are solid when attaching the top and bottom plates. Keep in mind that you should build it so you can tip it.

Maintain a 16-inch spacing between each stud.

5. Tip Up The Walls

A wall is usually easier to tip from the bottom plate against the wall, but some cases require starting from the top plate instead.

When building the wall, make sure it isn't too heavy for you to lift. One way to ensure this is through building them in smaller sections, then tying them together once set.

If you need to pound onto the walls to set them in place, it means your walls are too tall. Avoid forcing the wall when this happens, as it could damage the structure in the rooms above.

6. Attach And Secure The Frame

Secure the bottom plate by fastening it every 6 feet and within 6 inches of every end. Proceed with plumbing the wall every 4 feet.

Build the framing in place wherever it's needed by nailing one stud at a time. Turn the last board sideways for inside corners, then overlap it around half past the connecting wall.

Thoroughly check the work area to ensure they have sufficient nailing surface for the drywall. Common places where you will need drywall backers are the top of the outside corners, perpendicular intersections, and walls parallel the joists.

Do You Need A Vapor Barrier In The Basement Walls?

Basements are a common breeding ground for mold and moisture. Thus, adding a vapor barrier prevents this from happening. These balance moisture flow and so are typically used when building insulated homes.

A vapor barrier won't stop moisture from forming within the foundation wall and barrier itself. However, it keeps water from reaching the basement. As a result, it protects the room from humidity-related issues.

If you're also constructing your ceiling, read further about vapor barriers in this post: Does A Basement Ceiling Need A Vapor Barrier?

Construction worker on construction site building up a drywall.

Which Drywall To Use In The Basement?

Choose materials specifically designed for use in basements, such as green boards or purple boards. These drywall variants feature higher moisture resistance than regular drywall, making them the best to use for areas like basements.

A basement is prone to exposure to high humidity levels, which most drywall types cannot withstand. Picking basement-specific options improve the room's structure quality and reduce potential harm.

What Can I Use Instead Of Drywall In The Basement?

Drywall is a popular material for quickly filling up basement wall interiors, but using this material requires framing to stand efficiently. When these aren't available near you, consider the following alternatives for drywall:

  • Pegboard -Using pegboards for walls works just as good in a basement as it does in a garage. Installing them is easy, and it gives the room a unique appearance with extra storage space. To put them up, you only need to attach them to the studs.

  • Wahoo Walls - Another quick-to-install option is wahoo walls. These non-organic products come with waterproof and fire-resistant features, making them adequate for basements.

  • Cement Board - Compared to drywall, cement boards are sturdier and have higher durability. Although they are pricier, they work well in places exposed to high moisture levels. Note that they are made from cement, meaning they are heavier than other materials.

  • Wood Plank Walls - Simple wood planks also work as an alternative, on top of being a cheaper option. They require low maintenance and come in different finishes for a customizable style.

New residential construction home framing. How To Frame A Basement Exterior Wall

In Closing

Framing a basement follows a specific process requiring accuracy and patience. It tends to take up a lot of time and effort but works effectively in maintaining the room's protection.

The materials used also contribute to how well the basement holds up. Take into consideration options designed for basement use, or have the necessary features to withstand basement conditions.

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