Our basement is large, about 1500 square feet. This is where we want an enclosed storage area, an open storage area, a workroom, mudroom and laundry area. What we had on move-in day was a dark and dirty place in which we couldn’t stand up straight because of a low suspended ceiling and walls covered in low-quality paneling. Lighting was provided by flourescent bulbs and the windows were covered with grimy curtains. Decades worth of dust-covered “stuff” filled the corners. In order to do any work on the house, we needed this basement cleaned up and organized. We needed access to tools and work space. But very little had been unpacked in the basement. It didn’t make sense to do so until we had a clean place to put things.
This means there were boxes and big tools everywhere. We decided to break up the effort into three stages/areas. We moved our things out of the first area and began. We looked good too. Imagine us in our grubbiest jeans and shirts, hats and bandanas on our heads, wearing our “demo” gear: knee pads, work gloves, particle respirator masks and eye protection. By the way, the eye goggles fogged up when I wore a respirator mask so I opted for the eyeglass style protection. They are worth wearing! A paint chip bounced off my eye protection rather than going into my eye while scraping paint off of a wall. The particle respirator is essential too! Ours were brown on the outside at the end of the day. Better than in our nose, sinuses and lungs. We changed masks throughout the day if needed. Don’t spare on this part. You’ll want high-quality knee pads to work on a concrete floor. We wear work gloves like a second skin. Even with this protection things happen. My husband hit his head on the large plumbing pipes so many times he finally fashioned a cushion out of three hats and a folded shirt! (Replaced with his father’s old hard hat once it was unpacked). I broke a bone in my little finger while washing a wall – didn’t see the bolt sticking out of the concrete that met my finger with great force. Splint and tape it and I’m good to go…plus Tylenol and ice packs. And chocolate.
We pulled down ceiling tiles and paneling. This exposed the plumbing and electrical and the foundation walls. Good thing since we have minor issues to deal with in those two areas.
When I first saw the foundation walls, I thought they were wooden. But no, what I was seeing was the impression left in the concrete from the wooden supports. It’s little things like this that connect us to our house. We learn how it was made.
We pulled down walls (non-structural), old shelves and disposed of decades of trash.
This took about eight days of work. We’ll recycle what we can, but some will have to go into a dumpster. We were able to salvage eight porcelain ceiling light bases, four old doors, door hardware, three windows, an aluminum sided card table in need of a new top, a metal storage cabinet in very good repair and a 1940’s General Electric refrigerator.
We also located the old fireplace ash trap door, (still full of ashes), and the original furnace room.
We used our Rigid wet-dry vac to vacuum cobwebs, (should read COBWEBS as in a whole lotta of ’em), loose paint chips and dirt. Then we scraped and washed down the walls, prepping for painting.
Before painting, we filled cracks with concrete caulk and repaired larger areas with UGL Fast Plug. Then I put on two coats of UGL Drylock Masonry Waterproofer. Finally, a coat of Kilz Pro-X 130 in eggshell white. Straightforward work which took two weeks to complete. The result of this work is truly astounding. The walls are sealed. There is no longer that old dirty smell in the basement. It’s livable!
At last we were able to unpack boxes! Who knew unpacking my garden angel and clamps for the workbench would bring such happy smiles to our faces. We set up our temporary mudroom area, moved the freezer to its new home and cleaned up the laundry area. The workroom and storage area are on their way to being fully organized. There are still jobs to finish in the basement, but the worst is over.
All of the windows still need painting. Insulation will be put in the walls. We will erect walls around the boiler and water heater area to keep them clean and dust free. Walls will also be built to enclose the workroom and one storage area, and the mudroom wall will be finished. There is no longer a need to wear respirator masks in the basement. Daylight pours through the windows. The area smells clean and happy. The basement is ours.