Basements are no longer the places where people would store old household items, furniture, and memories. They are rarely used for that purpose today. Most basements are turned into units that offer a better variety of uses. Some basements are small, functioning apartments, others are entertainment rooms, or playrooms for children. If you want to use a basement productively, you naturally have to finish the walls.
Most people use drywall while some invest in basement finishing systems. At Basement Finish Pros, we’ve observed that both systems have their advantages and disadvantages. You just need to understand these systems thoroughly before you install them. Here’s all you need to know to make the choice between basement finish systems vs. dry wall.
What is Drywall?
Drywall is essentially a board made out of two big sheets of paper and a gypsum platter pressed in-between them. This system of wall covering has been around for a while and is commonly used in almost all the homes in the U.S. This material is also used in basement applications often and can alter the look of any room quickly. However, drywall is very prone to moisture so the entire basement must be made thoroughly moisture proof to install drywall here. (Also check this comparison of drywall finish and sheetrock)
What are Basement Finish Systems?
While drywall is made from organic (and therefore vulnerable), materials like paper, basement finishing systems are usually made from in-organic materials that aren’t as prone to moisture as drywall. They work well in basements that have somewhat inadequate moisture protection. They’re being considered by several homeowners for finishing the basements and have been used successfully in many projects.
Basement Finish Systems vs. Drywall
There are several reasons why basement finish systems are better than drywalls for your basement. The fact of the matter is that finish systems are specifically designed to withstand conditions in the basement. They’re tailor-made for the basement application. Here are some reasons why finish systems might be a good idea.
- Moisture- As we mentioned before, basement finish systems, unlike drywall aren’t prone to moisture. Most manufacturers in this industry focus on the moisture problem that’s very common in basements. People, especially DIYers approach below-grade basements like they would approach above-grade rooms and are unpleasantly surprised when the drywall doesn’t perform well.
To keep your basement moisture free, you need to regularly monitor the drainage systems and make sure that the walls are properly sealed. Sometimes you may forget to perform these essential checks and end up with damp walls or even a flooded basement.
While mistakes can happen, this particular mistake can be expensive. It’s very likely that your drywall would be completely ruined and need replacing. If you manage to dry out the moisture in time, there’s still that risk of mold in the walls. In this case, a basement finish system is more efficient.
As we mentioned before, it is made from inorganic materials, that is, fiberglass boards. These boards are not as susceptible to moisture. They tend to dry very quickly and would reduce the levels of moisture in the basement because of that property.
- Insulation – Basements can get very cold. This is because they aren’t exposed to natural heat from the sun, unlike the rest of your home. A large portion of your basement is below-grade and surrounded by earth, which is usually cool and the basement floor can be nearly chilly. This makes insulation a major concern in this room. Drywalls don’t naturally provide much insulation.
You have to add insulation behind them to retain the heat inside the basement. Basement finish system panels, however, have built-in insulation that can offer R-11 value. This means that you’ll get better energy efficiency and better overall heating if you install basement-finishing systems. While drywall with insulation works well above-grade, it doesn’t always work well in basements.
- Maintenance- Another advantage wall systems have over drywalls is the fact that they require very little maintenance. They’re very easy to clean. They don’t trap moisture so you don’t need to worry about eliminating mold and mildew. They’re not susceptible to termites, which can compromise your drywall entirely.
Many people consider the initial investment too much; however, over the long term, the expense is actually reduced by quite a bit. As basement system is very long lasting, you won’t have to replace it as frequently as you would a drywall. This makes a basement finishing system very appealing to most people.
- Health – Installing drywall can be a messy, dusty process. It can be quite bothersome to cleanup after the entire project is complete, especially after insulation is added. However, it’s not just the cleanup people are concerned about. Sensitive and allergy-prone individuals don’t adjust well to the entire drywall installation process.
People are also concerned about drywall’s ability to trap moisture and encourage mold and mildew. This can put family members with allergies and health problems like asthma at risk. The threat isn’t just present during the installation period but also during the lifetime of the drywall. After all, mold can happen every time your drywall is exposed to moisture.
- Expense- One can’t really get around the fact that, up-front, basement finish systems are much more expensive. They can cost you anywhere between $30,000 and $50,000 and most people are reluctant to spend that much money on just a basement remodel. However, as we mentioned before, the up-front cost can be justified by the low maintenance and the low vulnerability. With basement finish systems, you get moisture resistance. This means that the wall isn’t likely to rot or bend due to the moisture, and you won’t have to replace them. The finish walls are also more durable and don’t dent or break easily. This, again, means that you won’t have to replace them.
With higher R-value, you’re saving money on energy bills as well. Basements, being so vulnerable to cold, would require more power to keep warm and comfortable. Even with added insulation, drywalls might not offer the same levels of insulation as basement finish systems would. This means that you save a considerable sum on your energy bills.
- Personalization- Drywalls can be painted over in any shade you wish. This allows you a high-level of customizability. If you want to change the look and feel of your basement, all you need to do is to change the color on the walls. Basement finishing systems don’t really offer the same level of customizability.
They’re available in a variety of colors and textures, but in many cases, you can’t alter them without replacing them. However, some companies do offer paintable finishing walls and they can be customized according to your preference.
- Home Value- A finished basement brings better value for your home. According to Remoldeling Magazine, you might be able to recover 70% of your total investment in your basement-finishing project upon sale. A complete basement that’s usable is a very attractive prospect for a buyer.
Having a finished basement only adds to the value. Most people would love to add value to their home so if you have the budget, you can install basement finish systems and increase the price tag of your home in the future.
As you can see, while drywall does have its advantages, it’s not specifically designed for basements. This works very well above the ground, where your home is less vulnerable to cold and moisture. Under the grade, tailor-made systems like basement finish walls work better. They’re a wise investment to make for the long term.
If you have any questions about basements or wish to hire our services, you can get in touch with us at Basement Finish Pros. All you need to do is fill in this contact us form or give call on 413 642 2012. We’ll be happy to help you.