A Basement Development Journey

Bringing Copper & Turquoise to Life

19. Drywall

Drywall is basic in most cases. Hang board, tape, mud, sand, finished!

There are of course several different types of drywall board such as:

  • ½” Fire and Sound
  • 5/8” Type X Fire Board
  • Ceiling Board (anti-sag)
  • Cement Board for tile backer
  • M2Tech Board (mould & mildew resistant)
  • ½” Ultralight
  • …and more

Drywall is not a sexy topic, but don’t be fooled, there is a massive difference in the finish between doing it yourself and hiring a professional. It’s not as easy as it looks. 

Drywall completed & lasers marking centre of stairwell for lighting

Drywall & taping completed

Completed drywall with lighting holes cut out

To obtain a spectacular finish, the drywall must be installed properly and taped properly. Taping is an art and there are highly skilled artists out there! We are very fortunate and grateful to have some high-level tapers on our team. We brought in one of our best for this Edmonton basement renovation. A poor taping/mudding job can ruin an entire project.

Being that the floor joist spacing overhead was 12” and we put a waterproofing system in the shower, we were able to keep it simple and use ½” Ultralight standard board for everything. 

One interesting detail we used in this basement though was Baby Chamfer corner bead by Trimtex. This is a vinyl corner with a 45 degree off set angle. Trimtex offers a wide variety of architectural corner bead options for whatever look you desire. Check it out here.

After the taper was finished, we set up our lasers, referenced the map we drew before drywall, took dozens of measurements, and drilled out all the holes for recessed lighting. It’s very important not to measure off walls when laying out lights. Any minor inconsistencies in the framing, such as a slightly bowed top plate, can throw the lighting lines out of straight, and it can be noticeable. Taking the time and care to ensure all lights are spaced out evenly and, in a laser straight line, will make a huge difference in the finished product.

20. Floor Levelling

Once the drywaller had finished, cleaned up, and had all the light holes drilled out, it was time to prep for the big floor levelling undertaking. 

First, we had to get everything out of the basement, and I mean everything, right down to the last speck of dust. Everything was loaded into the trailer and the entire basement slab was mopped too many times to count. This slab had to be as clean as possible before the levelling crew came in to prime the floor.

Pouring Gypcrete was a first for us. The slab in this basement was so out of whack, we had to level inconsistencies from ¼” up to 4” thick to have a flat finished surface before the flooring installer came. It took almost two weeks to dry with an industrial dehumidifier running 24/7. It was so humid in there for the first few days, it felt like we were in a tropical paradise. 

After a couple weeks, we had the humidity level down to an acceptable level so we could install flooring. Once we had achieved this, it was time to load our tools in and get back to work!

Floor levelling in progress

Completed levelling

21. Re-set Stairs
Originally, the stairs were sitting on a 4 ¼” false floor, so once we removed that false floor, we obviously had a big void under the bottom of the stairs. We didn’t need to build up that much Gypcrete in that location, but we did need to level underneath them.

How do you get material under the bottom of the stair stringers? We attached steel pipe to the sides of the stringers that sat on the existing slab. Once the Gypcrete was finished, we simply removed the pipe supports and set the stairs down.

Now we had a problem – the stairs weren’t level. As per building code, the length of stair treads and height of risers must fall within a very small range for safety reasons. We were able to remove the staircase, level it, and build up every stair tread with different thicknesses of plywood to achieve code requirements. Now all the risers were the same height. It took some time but was much more cost effective than replacing the staircase a previous contractor had already recently replaced.

Stairs in place & built up – code compliance achieved

22. Window Installation

Innotech Windows! 

These windows are European designed and are about as good as they get. We installed (2) Tilt and turn egress windows in this basement, as we always try to do in a basement renovation, and they are amazing. 

Innotech boasts on their website that their windows are energy efficient, deliver outstanding thermal insulation, are remarkably durable, and deliver superior air, water, and sound resistance. We couldn’t agree more! These windows could have been installed a lot sooner in the process, but due to the glass shortage we saw in 2021/2022, they took longer than we had hoped to arrive. Either way, we had them when we needed them.

23. Door Installation
This basement was fitted with Masonite Lincoln Park swing doors, as well as a matching 40” barn door at the bottom of the stairs. This profile is a one panel shaker, but not a true shaker as the edges of the panel is chamfered. This was the perfect selection to use in keeping with our 45-degree theme. 
24. Waterproofing & Tile

Now that we had the floor levelled, we realized we had the opportunity to build a curbless shower, which we took full advantage of! Being that the slab had been built up so much with Gyprete in that area, it only took an hour with a jackhammer to lower the shower area. 

Before any tile is set, a waterproofing system must be installed. We typically prefer to use products by Schluter for our showers and tub surrounds. Schluter®-KERDI is a pliable sheet-applied waterproofing membrane and vapor-retarder designed for the direct application of tile.

KERDI is ideal for use in tiled showers, bathtub surrounds, residential steam showers, and other tile applications in wet areas. On the floors, we use DITRA uncoupling membrane. Schluter®-DITRA and DITRA-XL are specifically designed for ceramic and stone tile installations. DITRA and DITRA-XL provide uncoupling to prevent cracked tile and grout. Made of polyethylene, DITRA and DITRA-XL serve as a waterproofing layer that protects moisture-sensitive substrates, such as plywood or OSB. Free space on the underside of the matting provides a route for excess moisture and vapor to prevent damage to the tile layer above. 

Being that this bathroom was mostly for the client’s son, we chose a blue 8”x24” shower wall tile. We wanted to keep with the turquoise theme and found some gorgeous turquoise and blue mosaic accent tile which were used in the shower, baseboard, and backsplash. The floor is 7” black hex with turquoise random pattern. The tile was all mitred in the shower niche and door opening walls. It looks incredible! 

Waterproofing completed & tile in progress

Jackhammered shower floor for curbless shower

Tile in progress

Completed tile

25. LVP Flooring

Before I met this client, she had hired and fired two other contractors to “fix” her basement. One of them had her go out and buy all the flooring that he was going to install on top of the old, uneven, soft false floor. It was a good quality product, and she loved the colour (light grey barnboard) so we staged it in the garage throughout the construction process and ultimately installed it. It’s a click together product that retails at around $4.49/SF.

After the extensive slab levelling was finished and had dried for a couple weeks, this product went down great and looks beautiful. On the stairs, we had our flooring contractor install it on the risers and treads, and instead of using a traditional stair nosing, we used a ½” matte black angle. It’s a very sleek and clean look, producing a minimal, but very bold and noticeable look. Once the flooring was finished, protection was laid down immediately.

Flooring completed w/protection

Interior finishing in progress – looks like lunch break!

26. General Finishing

Pretty much the first thing we get started on when finishing a basement, are the window boxes. When enclosing a window opening, we always use Medex, which is a moisture resistant, paint grade MDF. Using a moisture resistant product around windows is critical for the longevity of the finish, as this area can often see moisture from condensation. Being that we use very high-quality windows, condensation is unlikely, but it’s good practice to use a moisture and mould resilient product in these areas. 

For trim, we installed 4” flat stock baseboard and 2 ½” flat stock door and window casing. All the doors were outfitted with matte black hardware and the door stops from Amazon compliment them nicely. 

The bathroom accessories such as towel bars, plumbing fixtures, and mirror are also finished in matte black. The flat stock trim and black hardware/accessories is very popular in recent years and helps to establish a modern finish. We installed a floating, two drawer cabinet in grey from IKEA, which ended up being our inspiration for all the trim paint. Cabinets above the laundry appliances keep this room neat and tidy, and the turquoise colour is perfect for this basement. 

The laundry room ceiling tile is a product from Home Depot called Embassy Ceilings which takes a little longer than traditional grid ceiling systems to install, but looks great! We also built the door for the electrical panel, and a custom angled door for the crawl space access.

New laundry room cabinets

Access to crawl space

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