As you’re planning the layout of your new home, chances are you’ve considered adding a basement. Whether you want extra storage space or another area to unwind with friends and family, basements are versatile spaces with many advantages.
However, the first step you need to take is deciding exactly what type of basement you want to build. Basement construction can take many forms with various materials, including concrete or wood. Learn more about your options and find the best method for your new build.
Most basement foundations are made of concrete — and for a good reason. Concrete brings numerous benefits to the table. It’s one of the strongest building materials, ensuring a durable foundation for years to come. Plus, it’s relatively inexpensive and quick to build, adding cost savings to your project.
It’s clear why concrete is one of the most popular materials for building basements and foundations. Now it’s time to explore the different types of concrete basements available for your new build.
The most common type of concrete basement wall — poured concrete — is a sturdy and simple solution to your basement’s needs. Pouring concrete is a multi-step process that consists of setting up forms that will initially shape and support the walls, adding the wet concrete into the structures and letting it dry. Once the concrete has dried, the forms are removed and voila — you’ve got strong concrete walls.
Poured concrete offers several benefits to your new build. It’s a relatively quick process — the concrete dries within one or two days. While it may take several weeks for the curing process to finish entirely, your walls will nearly be at strength by the end of one week. This fast timeline will reduce your overall costs on the project.
Additionally, poured concrete is more water-resistant than other types of concrete walls. You’ll face fewer moisture issues and repairs in the long run.
Concrete Block Walls
Building a basement foundation out of concrete blocks is another popular method among homeowners — and it’s the most economical option, too. If you choose this process, a mason will use cinder blocks to build up your walls, often using steel rebar for extra reinforcement.
Since many subcontractors offer concrete block construction, there’s a lot of competition, meaning lower prices for you. However, you should ensure you live in the right area for a concrete block basement — this brick-and-mortar method is more susceptible to water leaks. It’s also not appropriate for expansive soils that swell with water and shrink when dry, which causes a lot of movement and may damage the blocks.
Unlike poured or block concrete walls — which are constructed on-site — pre-cast concrete panels are made in a factory and transported to the build site where they are assembled. After placing them in footings filled with gravel or poured concrete, your ready-made concrete walls are complete.
Since you don’t need to build and remove forms or assemble materials on-site, pre-cast concrete will reduce your overall costs. This factory-made method is also highly cost-effective for building in subdivisions where houses are constructed repetitively. Additionally, it’s energy-efficient — using concrete can save homeowners on their monthly energy bills.
Stone or Clay Tile Walls
While concrete is the most common basement construction material today, it’s not the only one. Tile walls made of stone or clay are often found in homes built several decades ago. They may be more rudimentary than concrete options, but they offer unique character and charm to a home’s basement.
However, water easily seeps through tiles in these basement constructions. While they’re strong walls, you’ll likely need an interior drain system to ensure the continued reliability of stone or clay tile walls.
Treated wood walls are another non-concrete option many homeowners and builders choose to explore. Basements with wood foundations offer unique advantages, such as better insulation and more interior space. Additionally, since treated wood wicks away water rather than absorbs it like concrete, it’s faster to dry.
Wood is also easier to modify than concrete. If you’d like to make changes to a basement — like adding a window after building the foundation — it’s much easier to rework wood while ensuring structural integrity than altering concrete.
Picking the Right Basement Construction
Consider your options carefully before deciding on the type of basement construction you’d like. Once you’ve laid the foundation, it’s hard to change your mind!