Basement Remodels a Favorite for Homeowners

Perhaps thanks to the growing popularity of home theaters, basement remodels are becoming more and more popular among the nation’s homeowners. With advancements in television and home theater technology, it’s no wonder homeowners are looking to make the most of their oft-ignored basements to enhance their home entertainment experience.

But remodeling a basement involves more than simply throwing out the pingpong or pool table and replacing them with leather sofas and a big screen television. Before doing anything with the basement, it’s best to prepare the area to ensure the home theater experience is as enjoyable as possible.

* Check for moisture. Nearly every basement has issues with moisture. Perhaps victims of floods or heavy rains, basements do not typically boast ideal living conditions, requiring work before homeowners and their families and friends can spend time in them knowing they’re safe.

Many times, fixing moisture inside a basement involves going outside the home, particularly to inspect gutters and the external surface area around the basement. Gutters and downspouts could be channeling water in the direction of the basement. If so, direct downspouts away from the home.

Surface area around the basement could also be directing water toward the home. If that’s the case, it might be a safe bet to consult a landscaper to determine if that area can be dug up and possibly made to slant away from the house. While this might seem time-consuming, it’s worth it to ensure a home theater does not become a musty place where no one wants to spend signficant time.

* Decide what to do with the ceilings. For those who really want to create a theater experience in their basement, the ceilings will likely need some work. Many basements have ceiling tiles, which create an ambience more suited to a basement than a theater. Homeowners should consider replacing ceiling tiles with drywall. It’s good to work on the ceiling before doing anything with the floors, as paint or debris from the drywall will likely drip or fall onto the floor, creating a mess that no one wants on his or her new floor.

* Examine the walls. After working on the ceilings, the walls should be next on the list. Home theaters tend to have dark walls like those in movie theaters, so if the walls are white, homeowners might want to paint them with a darker color. Again, this should be done before doing anything with the floor to avoid stains or debris on any new flooring.

If the walls need new drywall, it’s a good idea to plan a layout of the room once it’s a finished product before hanging any new drywall. This will give a sense of which walls will need holes for cables and other cords, and holes can be cut in the dry wall accordingly once that layout has been determined.

* Fix the floors. Oftentimes, basements are not carpeted, typically covered with a throw rug here or there and some linoleum tiles. However, for those hoping to get a genuine theater experience in their basement, it’s best to lay down some carpeting. Much like the walls, carpets should be a darker color to create an ambience more like that of a movie theater. If putting a refrigerator or bar area in the basement, avoid laying carpet down in that area as spills might stain the new carpet.

Of course, before laying down any carpeting, homeowners must clear the room of everything that’s removable. This should give homeowners the chance to remove any clutter from the basement and decide what to keep or clear out of the basement.

* Before buying any products, determine if they will fit. Chances are large products can fit through the doorways and into the basement. Since many homeowners have pool tables and refrigerators in their basements already, it’s highly likely that other big ticket items like large screen televisions and leather sofas will be able to fit through the doorways.

However, for homeowners who have used their basement largely for storage, it’s best to do some measurement before visiting the nearby electronics store and buying that big screen television. After all, there’s no guarantee that 70-inch projection screen television or those leather armchairs can fit through the basement doorway. Though homeowners will eventually find something they like that will fit, the doorway measurements might dictate that decision more than homeowners know. (MS)

CAPTION: Few home improvement projects provide a more rewarding finished product than installing a home theater. However, when doing so in the basement, the area first must be prepared before homeowners can get to work.