10 Essential Tools for DIY Basement Finishing

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Home renovation

Achieving a finished basement like this one requires hard work.
©iStockphoto.com/cotesebastien

Nowadays, many people who work from 9 to 5 become weekend DIY warriors, and one of the most popular projects is finishing their basements. Whether you want to create a playroom, game room, extra bedroom, or home theater, finishing your basement is an excellent way to add square footage to your home and enhance your family life. From sealing concrete and framing to hanging drywall, many brave DIYers are doing it all, and here are 10 tools they need to do the job well. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that plumbing and electrical work should be left to professionals.

10: Chisel

Water leakage is the enemy of a finished basement, so it’s crucial to start by addressing this issue when preparing for your basement project. Before applying water sealer, it’s important to eliminate any visible sources of leaks. This means fixing cracks in the concrete blocks or cement walls. To do this properly, you’ll need a hammer and a chisel to chip down into the crack about 3/4 of an inch, and then fill it with a concrete patching product.

Did You Know?

Various chisels are designed to be used on specific materials, so it’s crucial to choose a masonry chisel for this project rather than a wood or metal chisel.

9: Level


Ensuring everything is level will make the job much smoother.
©iStockphoto.com/STEVECOLEccs

Once your concrete is sealed, you’ll start framing your basement. If you want to avoid having a room that appears slanted, then a level is a must-have tool. Levels are inexpensive and useful for many household projects, so it’s a good idea to have a few different sizes. A 4-foot level is a versatile choice, and 6-foot levels are excellent for setting doors and rough framing. Smaller sizes like 1-foot or 2-foot levels are perfect for hanging artwork on your finished walls.

8: Plumb Bob

One of the most challenging aspects of framing work is ensuring everything is properly aligned. Plumb bobs have been used since ancient Egyptian times to achieve a true vertical line. In simple terms, a plumb bob helps you ensure that the top is directly above the bottom. They’re particularly useful for ensuring doorways are straight. You can opt for a more sophisticated digital version, or save some money and use the original. Just make sure there’s no wind that could affect its accuracy.

Did You Know?

A plumb bob is essentially a metal bulb with a point on the end that’s suspended from above with a string.

7: Framing Hammer


While a regular hammer can be used for various tasks, a framing hammer can save time and energy when it comes to framing projects. The hammer has a strong steel head and a lightweight wooden handle, making it easier to nail for extended periods. The head of the hammer has a raised grid to align with the pattern on the head of a framing nail, ensuring precision targeting. However, it leaves a pattern on the wood, which is not a significant issue for framing. For other jobs, a finishing hammer with a smooth head is needed.

6: Mitre Saw

When it comes to cutting two-by-fours into the correctly sized studs, a circular saw can be difficult to manage, and a hand saw is not the best option. Inexperienced saw users should use a mitre saw, which is easy to use. This electric saw has a base with a blade attached to a handle that moves up and down. The wood is measured and marked before being placed on the base for a quick and easy chop.

Did you know that mitre saws can make precise angled cuts for woodwork projects, such as fitting door moldings together seamlessly or making picture frames?

5: Nail Gun


While hammers are useful for small tasks, a nail gun is required for jobs that need hundreds of nails. A nail gun is a powerful tool that saves time and prevents bruised fingernails. Pressing a button will drive a nail in, instead of multiple swings with a hammer. The majority of nail guns are pneumatic and require an air compressor. If you don’t want to invest in them, you can rent both machines at your local hardware store.

4: Chalk Line

A chalk line is essential to ensure the walls are at a perfect 90-degree angle. It is a simple device that consists of a plastic or metal case that houses a retractable string covered in powdered chalk. The end of the string has a hook ring that can be hooked to the starting point and pulled away like a tape measure. Once the end point is reached, the string is pulled tight and snapped to create a line of chalk. Chalk lines are also useful for hanging wallpaper and laying ceramic tiles.

Did you know that some chalk line cases have a pointed end that can be used as a plumb bob?

3: Drill


Drills are very versatile tools that can be used for a wide range of projects. When finishing a basement, it’s recommended to have both a corded and cordless drill. Corded drills are more powerful than cordless ones and are necessary for drilling tough materials. A cordless drill can also be used as a screwdriver, eliminating the need to purchase a separate screw gun. It’s important to have at least one extra battery on the charger at all times to avoid downtime during a project.

2: Wire Stripper/Cutter

Before attempting any electrical work, it’s important to understand what you’re doing and seek professional help if needed. However, if you’re doing electrical work in your finished basement, a good combination wire stripper and cutter is essential. These tools are designed to easily remove the plastic coating from household wires without breaking individual strands and have a more effective cutting ability than scissors. Some wire strippers also have wire gauges to help identify wire size.

Did You Know?

When doing any electrical work yourself, always use a voltage tester to ensure the electricity is turned off.

1: Shop Vac


Cleaning up after demolition is made easy with a shop vac. These vacuum cleaners are more effective than regular uprights for workshop debris because they’re lighter, more durable, and have a wider, flexible hose for bigger pieces of debris. Different filters and bags are available for different materials, such as drywall or dirt, and shop vacs can also clean up water.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • How to Install Carpet
  • How to Repair Floors
  • How to Create a Home Library

Sources

  • “Chalk Line.” Howstuffworks.com, 2010. https://home.howstuffworks.com/chalk-line.htm
  • “Chisels and Gouges.” History.org, 2010. http://www.history.org/almanack/life/tools/tlchi.cfm
  • “Finishing a Basement 1 – Intro and Planning.” Doityourself.com, 2010. http://www.doityourself.com/stry/basementremodels
  • “Framing Hammer.” Daviddarling.info, 2010. http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/F/AE_framing_hammer.html
  • Harris, Tom. “How Nail Guns Work.” Howstuffworks.com, 2010. https://home.howstuffworks.com/nail-gun.htm
  • Shop Vac Company Website. Shopvac.com, 2010. http://www.shopvac.com/shopvac-accessories/

FAQ

1. What are the basic tools needed for DIY basement finishing?

The basic tools needed for DIY basement finishing include a hammer, saw, drill, measuring tape, level, utility knife, and safety glasses. You may also need a circular saw, jigsaw, reciprocating saw, and a power sander. It’s important to have the right tools to ensure that your project is completed safely and effectively.

2. What type of flooring is best for a basement?

The best type of flooring for a basement is one that is moisture-resistant and durable. Options include vinyl, laminate, and engineered hardwood. Carpet can also be used, but it’s important to choose a high-quality option with a moisture barrier and padding to prevent mold and mildew.

3. How do I waterproof my basement?

There are several ways to waterproof your basement, including sealing cracks and gaps in the foundation, installing a sump pump, and waterproofing the walls with a waterproofing membrane. It’s important to address any moisture issues before finishing your basement to prevent damage and ensure a healthy living space.

4. What type of lighting is best for a basement?

The best type of lighting for a basement is a combination of overhead lighting and task lighting. Recessed lighting is a popular option for overhead lighting, while floor and table lamps can provide task lighting for specific areas. It’s important to choose energy-efficient bulbs to save on electricity costs.

5. How do I install drywall in my basement?

To install drywall in your basement, start by measuring the space and cutting the drywall to size. Then, attach the drywall to the studs using drywall screws. Be sure to leave a small gap between the drywall and the floor to allow for expansion. After the drywall is installed, tape and mud the seams for a smooth finish.

6. What permits do I need to finish my basement?

The permits needed to finish your basement will depend on your local building codes and regulations. Generally, you will need a building permit for any structural work, such as adding walls or windows, and an electrical permit for any electrical work. It’s important to research the requirements in your area and obtain the necessary permits before starting your project.

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