5 Tips to Decrease the “Ick Factor” of the Unfinished Basement

Scary BasementExposed pipes, spider webs, damp storage, cold concrete. Sound familiar? If this describes your unfinished basement, here are some tips to making the space more pleasant.

1) Organization and Storage
If your basement is like most people’s, the first step is organizing all the stuff down there.

  • Install or build shelves, making certain that things are off the floor. Metal shelving is best to prevent any moisture damage.
  • Because basements can be damp and there is always a risk of flooding, use tightly-closing plastic bins, not cardboard boxes that are susceptible to water damage.
  • Be sure to store paints, solvents, and other combustibles away from the furnace or water heater.
  • Toss anything broken or damaged. For unused items like old toys, furniture, or other household goods, consider donating.


2) Floors and Walls

The ubiquitous cinder block walls and concrete floors are the telltale sign of an unfinished basement.

  • Both walls and floors can be painted, but be sure to get paint specifically made for concrete flooring or cinder block and follow all m28anufacturer’s instructions.
  • Adding inexpensive area rugs (keeping in mind the risk of water damage) or hanging tapestries, fabric, or curtains can soften the look.

3) Ceilings and Lighting
Unfinished basements can be dark even in the middle of the day and feel creepy because of the exposed ceilings.

  • The advantage of the open ceiling is the ease of access to pipes and electrical, but you can paint the rafters and ceiling.
  • If you have bare bulbs, get some clip-on shades to hang upside down. Add some floor lamps to improve the lighting.

4) Stairs
Don’t forget the route down to the basement.

  • Make sure there is good lighting to increase safety.
  • Consider adding non-slip treads to the steps.
  • If you don’t have one, install a handrail that is securely anchored to the wall.

5) Ambiance and Air Quality
You don’t have to dread a trip to the basement.

  • Clean regularly to keep away the cobwebs and dust bunnies. Dust (using a broom with a rag on the end to reach into the rafters), vacuum, and mop.
  • Managing mildew and mold will improve the smell of the basement. Using a dehumidifier, especially in the summer, can help.
  • If you have more severe moisture issues, first address the cause of the water. Check out information about wet basements from the U of MN Extension Service.
  • My sister bought a home that PRG renovated five years ago and still loves her home. It was affordable to acquire & also to live in and maintain.

    Deb, Minneapolis
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