February | 2015 | Man Cave Master

Monthly Archives: February 2015

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how to design a loft

When you have a small space at home, why not create a loft? But, you say, I don’t know how to do that. Well, good thing we're here with this nifty guide to design a loft using the latest software from Chief Architect.

Their Pro Home Designer 2016 is perfect for a DIY enthusiast who wants to scale out floor plans, create 3D models to work from, and more.

Once you have the loft designed, you’ll be set to craft your dream game room, store your keepsakes or for whatever else you want.

This guide can save you time and money, in the long run, taking you step-by-step through the design process. Note: This guide assumes you already have to have your existing floor plan set up in the Home Designer software.

Step 1: Open Your Floor Plan

Open up your floor plan and click on the full camera. Click and drag to the point where you’re standing in the room that you want to convert into the loft.

chief architect home designer pro - how to design a loft step 1

Step 2: Tile Views

Next, tile views vertically so you can see both the floor plan and the 3D view. Simply click and drag the tile to make the floor plan larger. Note the far right wall on your floor plan (left tile); you’ll want to change it to an invisible wall.

chief architect home designer pro - how to design a loft step 2

Step 3: Create Invisible wall

To create the invisible wall, single click on that wall, which captures the entire line on the design. Then break it with the “Break Wall” tool. Next, open up just the part of the wall you want to open up, and single click on invisible, as shown below.

chief architect home designer pro - how to design a loft step 3

Now bring your camera into that larger space to see a little bit more in the small overall home.

chief architect home designer pro - how to design a loft step 3b

Step 4: Create the railing

To create the loft space, go to the second story on your plan. Press the up arrow on the top menu and you will see a “2” appear. That means you’re on the second floor.

As it is currently all one room, use the railing tool and define one space for below. Click and drag a vertical line and horizontal line to form the railing. In the diagram below, the horizontal line is 7’-31/4”.

how to plan a loft - step 4

If you want to change the dimensions of the railing for your loft space at any time, just click on it and a blank box will pop up. Simply type your preferred dimension into the box. Talk about user-friendly!

Step 5: Alter Room Type & Add Doorway

Now, just single click in that new loft room and open its “Room Specification” box. Click the drop-down menu for “Room Type” and select “Open Below.” Press “OK” to save the choice.

chief architect home designer pro - how to design a loft step 5a

Notice that your floor platform has been cut. You will want to create an opening in your railing; you will have to get up to the loft, after all.

On the floorplan, select the “Door” tool from the top Menu and then click over to the left Menu and click on “Doorway.” Drop the doorway into the appropriate wall (the left vertical one), and alter the size of the opening to your preferred width using your mouse.

chief architect home designer pro - how to design a loft step 5b

Step 6: add ladder to reach loft

If you have a fair amount of space, you can place a staircase to go up to the doorway you just created. If it is a smaller area, as shown in this guide, a ladder would be a better choice. To insert your ladder, go back to down to the first floor, using the down arrow in the top Menu.

Next, go to the Library (the icon on the top Menu to the left of the blue question mark symbol), and find the ladder by simply typing the word into the search box. Select the ladder you want from the ones that appear in the search results.

chief architect home designer pro - how to design a loft step 6a

Then simply drop the ladder right into the space. Got to love drag and drop capability. Don’t believe us that it’s really this easy to use the Home Designer software to design a loft? Check out the rave reviews on Amazon about it from users just like you!

how to design a loft step 6b

Step 7: Accurately Position Ladder

Next, you’ll want to see visually where the opening is in the floor plan. Head up to “Tools” on the top ring menu, open the dropdown menu, and click on the “Reference Floor Display” for a better view of where it sits on the second floor. At this point, you want to rotate the ladder and move it over to the opening, where it will go in reality.

how to design a loft step 7

Head over to the 3D view on your design now and you will see the ladder is beneath the opening now. Click on the top of the ladder on the 3D side and make it higher so that it reaches the second-floor opening.

Feel free to close off the Library and Reference Display features at this time too; you won’t need them anymore.

Step 8: Modify Structural Elements

Now go back to the floor display, click on the second floor room you’ve created, and open that room up. As you have created a new room, you need to get rid of the structural elements that have defaulted into it via the software.

Click on Structure and then uncheck “Ceiling Over This Room.” This way the ceiling follows the roof plane for the full length.

chief architect home designer pro - how to design a loft step 8

Ahem, cough, you’re done! Yup, you just created a loft in your home. It’s that simple.

To design a loft space takes only a short time using the Pro Home Designer 2016 software.

Creating a custom loft for you man time (whatever that means, we don’t judge!) has never been easier. The 3D version beats the pencil and paper version every time, just in case you’re keeping score.

Once you create your loft, you may just want to design it as the ultimate man cave! If you find yourself running low on ideas, here are 8 DIY projects to inspire you

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drill reviews

If you are looking to finally get serious with your home DIY projects, a drill driver is one of those must have tools for your workshop.

With so many brands out there, how do you choose a good drill driver that will save you time, get the work done fast and will continue to work properly many years in the future?

We’ll remove all the fuss and confusion of buying a drill driver by showing you just what to look for to get the best tool for your needs.

NameDEWALT DCD771C2 20V MAX Compact Drill And Driver KitMakita XT260 18-volt LXT Cordless Combo Kit, 2-PiecePORTER-CABLE PCCK602L2 20V MAX Lithium 2 Tool Combo KitRockwell RK1806K2 20V Lithium Ion Drill and Driver Combo KitBosch HDS181-02L 18-Volt 1/2-Inch Hammer Drill/Driver Kit
 dewalt Ddcd771Cc2 drill reviewsmakita xt260 drill reviewsporter cable pcck602l2 drill reviewsrockwell rk1806K2 drill reviewbosch hds181 02l drill reviews
Amazon Rating
Lowest Price$149.00Amazon See it$229.00Amazon See it$161.00Amazon See it$164.99Amazon See it$209.99Amazon See it
Weight0.0675 pounds9.6 pounds12 pounds
Dimensions13.88 x 9.88 x 4.25 inches11 x 17 x 7 inches12.5 x 7.5 x 8.88 inches8.5 x 7.5 x 3 inches17 x 9.5 x 6 inches
 Read the ReviewRead the ReviewRead the ReviewRead the ReviewRead the Review

First things first, when you get started shopping for a drill driver, you want to make several considerations. For example, the amount of power you need in a drill, the size of chuck that aligns with your needs, and the type of battery etc.

Tips for selecting a drill

Comfort and safety first

A drill driver is generally a heavy tool and you want to be as comfortable as possible as you use it. If you plan to undertake only light drilling tasks and if you are not particularly gifted with large hands, you are better off with a smaller, less powerful drill.

Of course, you need a drill with adequate power but its best to get something that specifically meets your needs and is comfortable to work with.

Mind your voltage

The amount of voltage is essentially the power of the drill. The higher the voltage, the more powerful the drill while less powerful drills have a lower voltage.

At the same time, the more powerful a drill is, the heavier it usually is. Low voltage drills are best suited for light tasks such as drilling holes in thin walls while drills with a higher voltage are ideal for heavy use such as drilling into concrete or steel.

Chuck Size

The chuck size largely determines the size of a bit a drill can hold. There are two chuck sizes: Those that measure 3/8 inches for light tasks and those that are ½ inches for heavier operations.

Drill Speed

Remember that a drill is supposed to save you time. One way it does this is by punching holes and screws faster than a hammer would. The speed of the drill is measured in rotations per minute.

The best drill allows you to work on low rotation per minute (rpm) speeds of between 300rpm and 400rpm or to increase the speed to as high as 1,500rpm. Such types of drills allow you to perform light tasks and heavy-duty operations as well.

All drills come with a clutch setting but those that have multiple clutches are the best because they allow you to punch screws into the same depth so you won’t damage the surface.


The type of battery can tell you a lot about the quality of a drill. A low quality battery is usually an indication of a poor quality drill, so be extra careful to look at the battery as you shop around.

Recent drills come with lithium-ion batteries; these high quality batteries have double the amount of performance power than the conventional batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries also maintain their charge four times longer than the ordinary batteries.

Pro Tips

  • We recommend that you spend a fore more bucks on a smart charger so you can charge your battery faster, avoid overcharging and maintain the performance of your batteries for longer.
  • Take a look at drills that come with the AutoShift feature.
    This is a relatively new feature and some drills may not have it. Either way, a drill with an AutoShift automatically changes gears depending on the amount of power needed as you work on a project. This saves you the time and effort of manually adjusting the power and it improves the drill’s performance.

Cordless Vs. Impact Driver: What To Choose?

Let’s get this straight first: An impact driver is actually cordless and looks pretty much the same as a typical cordless drill driver. However, an impact driver does not have a keyless chuck; instead, it comes with a device that holds hex-shank bits.

An impact driver is designed to drive all types of screws. A drill driver is not too effective at driving screws; in fact, a drill driver is likely to stall if you use it to drive screws.

In short, if you were working a project that needs driving many screws, then the impact driver would be the appropriate tool to use. Impact drivers are suited for projects such as fastening plywood subfloors, backer board installations or deck building. A cordless drill driver, which is incredibly versatile, will do just fine if you are not planning to work on any of these types of projects but instead want to DIY an item like the cable spool coffee table.

Today, some brands are offering drill chuck and accessories of drilling holes that can be used with an impact driver. This way, you do not have to buy an impact driver and a drill driver as separate tools.

Corded Vs. Cordless Drills: Which way to go?

Should you go for a corded or cordless drill driver? It all depends on your drilling needs!

Corded drills use electricity to drill and drive. They are less heavy compared to cordless drills because the corded ones do not come with a battery, which generally tends to add to the weight of a tool.

With a cordless drill driver, you must be prepared to buy a battery and a backup. You will also need to replace the batteries at some point when their performance declines.

Corded drills have a stronger, more consistent torque because the drill is powered by electricity, which is ultimately more powerful than batteries.

On the other hand, cordless drills are super convenient and versatile. They come with superior features such as automatic gears, adjustable clutches, and a wide range of convenience accessories.

More importantly, a cordless drill moves with you everywhere you go. These are the best tools for drilling and driving in hard-to-reach places—you do not have to pull and tag on dangling cords.

As long as the battery is well charged, a cordless drill is perfect for lightweight tasks. A corded drill driver, which is more powerful, is ideal for heavier tasks as long as there is a reliable source of electricity.

Rated Drills In Detail

1. DEWALT DCD771C2 20V MAX Compact Drill And Driver Kit
dewalt Ddcd771Cc2 drill reviews

DeWalt has a reputation for providing high performance and aggressive industrial tools. The Dewalt DCD771C2 20V MAX Lithium-Ion Compact Drill and Driver Kit is no different. It is built for the regular DIY users and is excellent for all-round projects that require large amounts of screw driving with different types of screws. It features 16 options for torque control for a variety of drilling applications. Its two-speed transmission allows the user to undertake a wide range of drilling and fastening jobs. The two-speed transmission is backed up by an all-metal transmission mechanism, which provides longevity for the tool and an equally long run time.

The Dewalt DCD771C2 offers unprecedented ease of use and comfort due to its ergonomic construction. Its firm yet comfortable grip is complemented by a lightweight, cordless design that makes working with an aggressive tool surprisingly easy. With 20v MAX 1.3 Ah compact lithium-ion batteries, this drill offers a longer run life than most other cordless tools. Contractors and DIYers who have used the drill commend it for its ability to drive a variety of screws into different surfaces without much of a fuss. You get aggressiveness, longevity and sturdiness with the Dewalt DCD771C2 20V MAX Drill and Driver Kit.

2. Makita XT260 18-volt LXT Cordless Combo Kit, 2-Piece
makita xt260 drill reviews

Makita has been in the power tool business for 100 years and they definitely know their game. There tools may be a bit pricier than other brands manufacturing power drills but the value you receive is completely worth it. The Makita XT260 18-volt LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Combo Kit, 2-Piece comes with an aggressive drill driver and an equally sturdy impact driver that is conveniently lightweight. The XT260 is among the most popular of Mikita’s new drill and impact driver series that is powered by 18-volt lithium-ion battery.

This combo kit not only comes with a strong and longer lasting charger; the charger also takes a much shorter time to charge, allowing you to work more and charge less.

The tool can also be charged using the Makita 18-Volt LXT batteries, which reach their full charge capacity in 30 minutes or less.The Mikita XT260 comes with variable speeds for both the drill driver and the impact driver, allowing the tool to deliver maximum torque and speed for a wide array of drilling applications. An outstanding feature of this drill is its patented star protection computer controls that facilitate real time data exchange between the battery and the entire tool. This feature allows the tool to automatically keep track of the operations during use to avoid overheating, excess discharging and overloading.

3. PORTER-CABLE PCCK602L2 20V MAX Lithium 2 Tool Combo Kit
Porter Cable Drill Review

The Porter-Cable PCCK602L2 20-Volt Max Lithium 2 Tool Combo Kit is taking the lead in the innovative series of drill/driver combos that are increasingly popular among professional contractors and hobbyist DIYers. The PCCK602L2 is packed with versatility with improved power to drill into tough wood and metal surfaces, as well as undertake a wide range of fastening applications.

Both the impact driver and drill driver feature a two-speed transmission for high performance. Its compact design and easy loading capacity adds to the convenience of using this tool. The combo comes with a handy battery gauge that indicates the remaining amount of battery charge, with its 20V MAX 1.5amp lithium ion batteries providing a longer run life and greater power.

The drill driver has a small, compact construction, making it ideal for drilling in tight and hidden spaces. Its ergonomic design makes using the drill comfortable and safe on the job site. The PCC640 impact driver is equally compact and aggressive while boasting a lightweight for ease of use, especially for fastening applications in hidden nooks and crannies. A two-bit storage and a quick-change chuck, saves a lot of time when using the impact drill. Inside the kit is the cordless impact driver, cordless drill driver, two compact lithium batteries, a charger, screw-driving bit, a two-sided bit all packed in a convenient kit bag.

4. Rockwell RK1806K2 20V Lithium Ion Drill and Driver Combo Kit
rockwell rk1806K2 drill review

Rockwell are known for their compact, ergonomically designed tools that make work on the job site so much easier and convenient. From wood drilling, deck screwing, metal drilling, fixing lag bolts and drywall screws, the Rockwell RK1806K2 20V Lithium Ion Drill and Driver Combo Kit is built to undertake different applications with unlimited aggression and power.

With a lightweight of 2lbs, this combo drill makes it less tiring even when you work on extended projects. Changing bits and finding the ideal setting for a particular application (whether drilling or fastening) is made easier by the two-speed, 16 torque settings and a keyless chuck. The drill also comes with LED lights providing visibility when working in dimly lit spaces.

Changing the battery is super quick, adding to the list of the drill’s convenient features.The Rockwell impact driver is equally small and compact but packs plenty of strength for a wide range of fastening tasks. Weighing just 1.8lb, this lightweight impact driver minimizes fatigue while driving lag bolts and deck screws at a noticeably rapid rate, allowing you to save time at the job site. Changing bits has never been easier and faster thanks to the impact driver’s quick change chuck feature.

5. Bosch HDS181-02L 18-Volt 1/2-Inch Hammer Drill/Driver Kit
bosch hds181 02l drill reviews

Bosch easily equates to high-performance, versatile and innovative industrial tools built for maximum productivity. Bosch's HDS181-02L 18-volt hammer drill/driver is built in a compact, ergonomic design packed with power and optimum performance. The drill/driver combo is designed to perform an array of applications including fencing, decking, drilling, cutting and other regular woodwork projects.

Its four-pole motor provides the HDS181-02L with high performance capabilities, all in a lightweight tool. Working at a job site for extended hours has never been easier with an ergonomically designed drill that features steady, rubbery gripping and compact, SlimPack batteries that make for a light tool overall. The patented revolutionary batteries offer a longer run time and longevity for the drill.

The Bosch HDS181-02L features an innovative click and go design that allows users to store and transport all their tools and parts in an organized and efficient click and go stackable system. Lower downtime spent on searching for misplaced tool tools allows you to focus on the most important tasks toward the completion of your projects. The drill comes with a versatile power system in both HDD and DD and it works perfectly well with any 18-volt lithium-ion battery in the Bosch power tool series. The HDS181-02L is unbeatable in its provision of job site productivity, with its efficiency and time-saving features.

To wrap things up, selecting a drill driver shouldn’t be a pain in the neck. Well, at least not anymore. All you need to do is consider your needs and shop for a well-known brand that guarantees good quality and post-purchase support if you need it.

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basement finishing step by step

Even if you work fulltime and only have spare time during the weekend, you can progressively finish your basement and turn it into a cozy, relaxing space for friends and family or even into that Mancave you've been craving eversince your kids finally took over that spare room upstairs.

Other than the electrical, plumbing and flooring jobs that typically require a professional, you can complete the rest of the project on your own.

The magic is in the tool belt

Since you will be entering 'carpenter territory', you will have to think like one and work like one too. As any crafty professional will gladly confirm: crappy tools equal mediocre results!

Below is a breakdown of the essential tool kit every aspiring basement rennovator should have in his/her arsenal. Aside from that, we've put together a great amount of tool reviews to put you on the right track on your way to mancave domination!

Some of the basic tools you require to get started include:​

Hitachi C15 FB miter Saw

Miter Saw

For cutting framing lumber. We recently reviewed them here.

paslode cf325 902200 nail gun

Nail Gun

To drive in nails fast. See which model is the best fit for you.

chisel and hammer

Chisel and Hammer

To repair cracks before applying water sealer

dewalt Ddcd771Cc2 drill reviews


The mighty hole puncher. Find our review here.

hitachi nr90 framing nail gun review

Framing Hammer

The right tool for all that framing work

construction level


For accurate framing

Tajima PZB-300 Plumb-Rite Compact and Light-duty Plumb Bob

Plumb Bob

For proper alignment of frames

wirecutter and stripper

Wire Cutter

For electrical jobs

Lay out a basic plan

This should be your first step before starting out all the construction work. You know what you need in your basement— this could include a bathroom, theater section, a gaming area with your pool table and darts wall if you like. 

software to design your home

Just draw up a basic plan of how you envision your complete basement.
For the digital tool-savy, consider a software for some serious computer-based mancave planning work.

Now, dear mancave maven - it's time to dive in to the details! Below is a list of 8 steps to finish your basement.

1. Framing

If you have been putting off your project wondering where to start, building the frames of the basement walls is a perfect starting point. Framing a wall is simply creating a ‘skeleton’ outline that will help when installing a new wall. It makes the walls strong and durable.

Typically, 2 by 4 inch frames are used to set up the wall frame. Take care of the basement wall insulation before framing. Framing requires you to actually do solid planning before you set up the frame; refer to the basement plan ideas. It is usually recommended that you start to lay out your electrical plan before fully completing the framing. This will give you a clear picture about how to lay out your electrical wiring within the walls.

2. Electrical work

You do not have to hire someone to do all the electrical work for your basement. This is a skill you can learn in just a couple of days and you can complete up to 95% of the work on your own. It is true that you will probably need an electrical contractor to help with installing a sub-panel that will allow you to complete most of the electrical wiring job.

If you are in a big rush to just finish your basement, this wiring step will likely prolong your project. Of course, in this case, hiring an electrical contractor can help to shorten the project curve.

3. Plumbing

Between 20% and 30% of your budget will go toward the cost of installing a bathroom in the basement. Again, start first with a design of how you want this to look and then work with the rough-in to fit. The exact steps involved in installing a bathroom will really depend on all the features you want to install in there, which might include this unique and sexy bathroom sink. But the basic steps include:

a) Framing the bathroom

This part should be quite easy by now since you have already framed the basement walls. What you need to be keen on is choosing the right dimensions for the bathroom depending on what is going in there.

b) plumbing work

If you do not want to hire someone to do your plumbing, you need to learn how to do it. The learning curve is roughly as long as the time needed to learn about electrical wiring.

c) Electrical work

Just like the electrical set up in other areas of the basement, you require a circuit for the Ground Fault Interrupt. This needs to be on an electrical circuit of its own as required by local municipal laws. Lighting is definitely included in the electrical installation phase.

4. Entertainment

Setting up the home theatre is perhaps the most exciting part of finishing your basement. Whether you want to dedicate the entire basement space to a home theater or you just need a small cozy space for this, here are some things to consider:

  • Choose a wall to install your screen
  • Allocate antenna wiring for HDTV and cable
  • Assign a cable for internet
  • A dedicated electrical circuit is a must-have
  • Fix a wire for the surround sound speaker
  • Install a conduit and ceiling plug for the projector

5. installing the drywall

If you’ve passed the electrical and framing inspections, you can jump straight into the drywall. While you could do the drywall on your own, it is a grueling task and to be honest, there is not much of cost-saving compared to hiring someone to do it for you. 

Hiring a contractor has several advantages: the contractor will likely get drywall sheets at a much better price than you would. If you do not have the requisite tools, you may have to purchase them—this is a one-off job and you really do not want to stretch your budget with buying extra tools.

Regardless whether you have already decided for DIY or contractor​, looking into different drywall systems is probably on your list. Here is some information on a system that will keep your man cave mold-free.

6. Painting

Just like setting up the home theatre, painting should be fun too, especially if you get friends or family to help over a weekend. So the first step professional painting is learning how to cut-in.

This simply means painting the topmost part of the wall that is really difficult to reach with a roller. A 3’’ angled brush is perfect for cutting in while a 12’’ roller brush is great for the rest of the wall area.

Lighting is crucial when painting to ensure the walls are painted nice and smoothly. A lot of light is especially important if you are painting at night. Something that will make the difference between a perfect paint job and a mediocre one is primer. A lot of people ignore this especially when painting a new drywall but you should not overlook it—it just makes your job so much easier and prettier to the eye.

7. Setting up the door

There is no way around this: you need to seriously plan out where your door will go even before you start the renovation process. Do not wait to do it later after everything is in place. Some important things to consider include:

a) Placement of the door handle

Should your door push in or out? Should it open right or left? These are questions you want to ask when thinking about where the door handles should go.

B) Door size

Doors are usually a standard 32’’ but a 36’’ one is much better aesthetically and in terms of strength and durability. Just remember that the door framing needs to be 2’’ larger than the actual width of the door to allow for expansion during warmer months when wood tends to expand. It is highly recommended that you buy a solid core door—these are high quality and longer lasting than the other types of cheap, non-solid core doors.

8. flooring

If you thought plumbing and wiring had a steep learning curve, try flooring. A lot goes into it—from choosing the most appropriate type of floor material, durability, comfort to installation. You will probably need a contractor to do a good flooring job; it will save you a lot of backbreaking effort.

Side note: Permits

Let’s talk about permits. After you draw up a simple basement plan indicating the kind of features you want to install, the next step is to check with the local municipality to determine the permits you need. If you are doing any electrical and plumbing work, you certainly require a permit.

So there you are, transforming your basement into a cozy entertainment getaway is no easy task but it is completely doable. What’s really important is to get started and just keep learning.

What To Do Before Finishing Your Basement from Foundation Doctor

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Finishing a basement is one of the most popular home improvement projects going.

It’s easy to understand why there's no simpler and more efficient way to add living space to your home. There's nothing quite like a bright cozy comfortable basement to improve your lifestyle, particularly when you design it to look like Ashton Kutcher's family basement.

The Trouble with the status quo

Now, it's true not every basement finished in the usual ways can result in these problems but - why take the chance? Even many contractors don't realize how inefficient and risky it is to finish basements the way it's always been done - with stud frame walls.

The following information is something I wish distressed homeowners had before they finished their basements in the usual way. With stud frame walls and carpet and underlay applied directly to the concrete floors it's all about a faster easier way to create a durable energy-efficient, finished basement space using the system that I find very impressive.

Water Accumulation on a Basement Floor

Water Accumulation on a Basement Floor

The trouble is in my experience that traditional basement finishing systems use stud frame walls. Fiber insulation and vapour barriers can cause problems. They can set the stage for hidden mold growth, bad energy performance and even low indoor air quality throughout the rest of your home.

So let me show you exactly why I like this approach then you can decide for yourself if it makes sense for your basement-finishing project.

The main problem with fiber insulated stud frame walls and basements is that they are so vulnerable to water. That could either be liquid water or water vapour. In fact, it's not unusual for insulation to get damp and sometimes even wet. It's just like sealing a used bath towel in a plastic bag.

water-damaged basement framing

Water-Damaged Basement Framing

Mold and mildew are inevitable in situations like that. Even seemingly dry basements can allow water vapour to pass through masonry foundation walls, collecting inside sealed stud frame wall cavities during warm weather.

Carpet on a concrete floor is definitely not much better in winter either. Besides being hard and cold to your feet during winter, carpet underlay applied directly to a concrete floor can encourage condensation during humid summer weather.

a different approach: Dry Core!

There's no question in my mind that we need to finish basements differently than we do now and from what I've seen, wall systems and engineered subfloor systems offer the best approach for creating warm comfortable and durable basement spaces.

SmartCore Wall and Subfloor System

SmartCore Wall and Subfloor System

The dry core smart wall and subfloor system that you see here is one option that impresses me. It not only delivers excellent energy performance but it goes up much more quickly than traditional basement finishing methods.

Quick Installation Walkthrough:

The dry core installation process begins with 2 x 2' sub floor tiles that interlock on top of concrete floors.

interlocking 2x2 floor panels

interlocking 2x2 Floor Panels

Bonded to the underside of these tiles is a high-density textured plastic layer that creates an air space above the concrete. This makes for a warm dry condensation-proof arrangement that sits on top of any kind of concrete floor.

sub floor wooden tiles underside

Sub Floor Wooden Tiles Underside

Carpet laminate hardwood flooring vinyl ceramic tiles, even stone can be applied on top or you can leave the panels bare if you like. Besides providing airspace, the black plastic membrane allows for a small amount of leaked water to drain away harmlessly if need be.

Subfloor tiles like these can be cut with any conventional table saw, jigsaw or hand-held circular saw.

cutting sub floor tiles

Cutting Sub Floor Tiles

Then, a mallet is used to interlock the tiles so the interlocking tongue and groove edges come together. The dry core smart wall system replaces studs and fiber insulation and goes up on top of the subfloor that has already gone down.

Interlocking Sub Floor Tiles

Interlocking Sub Floor Tiles

It’s made of 3 1/2 inch thick, expanded polystyrene foam with interlocking OSB edges and half-inch drywall factory-bonded to the interior face of the panels. Wall panels like these deliver R16 of insulating value. They are also highly resistant to moisture because they contain no sealed wall cavities.

If your foundation is out of line or wonky, that's not an issue because the dry core panels never touch the foundation wall at all! 2x2 lumber, fastened to the subfloor at the bottom and the joists up on the basement sealing provide anchor points for the panels so the wonky, wavy shape that is so common in foundation walls doesn't show through on your finished basement walls.

Special dry core panels are available with cutouts for electrical boxes for light switches and plug outlets. Pre-cut channels in the foam allow wires to be strung through the panels, either during installation or afterwards.

Special DryCore Wall Panel for Wiring

Special DryCore Wall Panel for Wiring

Ready-to-install components are available for completing the outside corners and the factory bonded half-inch drywall acts as its own vapour barrier when the joints are filled and the whole surface is painted. Besides offering a fast and simple installation process, panels subfloor systems offer excellent energy performance and they're not vulnerable in the same way the stud frame walls are.

Drycore Panels Are in Position

Drycore Panels are in Position

Just be prepared about a lot of well-meaning advice from some professionals who don't yet realize that when it comes to basement finishing, new methods like these make a whole lot of sense.