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Insulating a basement isn’t a difficult job, and it can make a significant difference in your heating and cooling bills. Just make sure that any water leaks or seepage problems are solved before you start insulating. You should also check with local building codes or talk to local house inspectors or contractors before you start to find out if there are any specific materials or techniques called for (or prohibited) in your area for basement insulation. Some codes require basement insulation to be covered up with a wall surface, such  as wallboard for fire safety.

When you are insulating for cold climates, vapor barrier should be installed on the inside surface (the heated side) of the insulation. In warmer areas, vapor barrier might not be required or may be suggested for the outside surface (uncooled side) of insulation. You can always check with your local codes.

The first thing that you could do for basement insulation is insulating the basement walls. Concrete basement walls can be insulated with rigid insulation boards. This is a straightforward Do-It-Yourself (DIY) job that would probably take you just a weekend to finish, depending on how large your basement is. You can buy 2-inch-thick foam insulation boards in 2′ X 8′ sheets.

Next thing you could do is to install 2″ X 2″ furring strips (long strips of wood) vertically on your basement walls, placing them 2 feet apart from one another (the width of the insulation sheets) to reduce the number of cuts to the insulation boards. The insulation boards will fit between the strips, which will then provide a surface for installing vapor barrier and wallboard. Mark a vertical line on the wall, using a plumb line to ensure that the line is straight up and down. Glue a furring strip to the line with construction adhesive designed for wood and concrete surfaces. If you want to install wallboard after insulating the basement, be sure to glue furring strips to the wall between the bottom and top edges of the vertical furring strips as well, so that they form a framework to attach the wallboard to.

After that use a utility knife and level or long ruler to cut the insulation boards to the height you need. Measure the location of any electrical outlets, switches, or other obstacles, and transfer them to the insulation board so that you can cut appropriate holes for them. Glue the boards to the concrete wall with panel adhesive that’s designed for the insulation and concrete. Panel adhesive that’s designed to bond between concrete basement walls and rigid insulation boards makes installation of the boards a quick job.

Attach the vapor barrier (clear polyethylene sheeting available at home centers) over the insulation by stapling it to the furring strips. You can seal any seams with wide plastic tape.

Some tips on basement insulation is that basements often have exposed joists at the top of their concrete wall, where the wall meets the first floor. You can insulate these by stuffing pieces of fiberglass batts into them. The fit should be snug, to avoid gaps around the insulation and the joists, but not so tight that the insulation is compressed.

Be sure to protect yourself from loose fibers when handling fiberglass insulation. Wear a breathing mask and safety goggles, a hood, gloves, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt (coveralls work best).

In short, insulating basement is not that difficult of a job. Spending a weekend or two should get the work done. It’s well worth the effort you put in to insulate the basement as a basement which has been insulated can make a significant difference in your heating and cooling bills.

For all the tools as well as materials used for DIY basement insulation, you might be able to find them online by visiting the following recommended vendors.

Related Home Insulation Guide