Home » How to Insulate Your Basement from Start to Finish

Your basement is cold, leaky, and overall unpleasant to look at. If you don’t know how to insulate your basement, then you are missing out on extra living space in your home. You could have a man cave, a protected storage room, an extra bedroom, or more. Insulation gives you the opportunity to have that dream basement, but it also keeps your energy bills down and your possessions safe from pests, water damage, and more.

If you’re ready to transform your space, then here are the steps to insulating your basement.

Keep in mind that this is a highly involved process that may need the help of a professional. That said, with enough hard work and the right tools, you can get this done.

Water leaking into a basement from cove joint | How To Insulate Your Basement | The Basement Doctor

Step One –
Deal with Moisture

Step one in our How To Insulate Your Basement guide, is to correct any moisture problems in the basement. If you have leaks, standing water, or mold, all those issues need to be corrected first. Whether it be patchwork, encapsulation, or a vapor barrier, this is a crucial preliminary step before you start insulating. Moisture can ruin insulation, throwing your hard work down the drain.

You can purchase a moisture meter tool to accurately measure the level of moisture in your home if you aren’t sure.

Step Two –
Encapsulate/Waterproof Your Basement

This is an important part of insulating your basement that you can’t forget. Even if you wipe all the water away and seal the cracks, moisture will still get in. Encapsulation is one of the best ways to completely protect your insulation. A vapor barrier is attached to your foundation walls, meaning that nothing else will be touching them. When moisture or condensation come in, they will build up on the vapor barrier and be drained appropriately, keeping your hard work and your belongings safe from water damage.


Vapor barriers attached to your basement walls to insulate your basement | How To Insulate Your Basement | The Basement Doctor
Woman with brown hair applying insulation to basement ceiling | How To Insulate Your Basement | The Basement Doctor

Step Three –
Insulate Your Basement Ceiling

Once any moisture issues are corrected and the encapsulation is set, you can begin placing insulation between the rafters and around pipes. Staple the insulation to the joists to keep it in place. You can also take the time to insulate your ductwork and pipes if you haven’t done so already. You don’t want to risk your pipes freezing after you’ve done all the hard work.

Finally, be sure to add proper weatherstripping to your windows and doors if they go to a garage or outside the home. Be sure you are thorough, because all it takes is a small gap for the cold weather to get back in. If you’re planning on turning your finished basement into a bedroom, you’ll need to make sure you have an egress window installed.

Step Four –
Attach Insulation to Your Basement Walls

There are a few types of insulation for walls. There is fiberglass, concrete block, foam, and more. One type we recommend is foam paneling. It’s among the easier methods to insulating basement walls and has a good R-value for protecting against cold weather. Each state has a required R-value for homes to be up-to-code, so be sure to check where yours falls. Whatever product you buy for insulation will have the R-value listed based on how much material you use, so pay close attention to those numbers.

Next, apply glue to the basement walls and attach the paneling. There is specific glue made for foam paneling that you can buy. You’ll need to cut the foam board to fit your basement walls accurately, so be sure to take measurements ahead of time. Additionally, there will probably be a few spots where you need to cut the foam boards to fit around some low-hanging rafters.

Man with white gloves installing insulation into an exposed wall | How To Insulate Your Basement | The Basement Doctor
Wood wall frame grid without insulation | How To Insulate Your Basement | The Basement Doctor

Step Five –
Build a Grid to Hold the Insulation

Glue isn’t the only thing you need to hold your foam insulation in place. You also need to build a wooden grid that goes over your basement walls. This will be the last thing you need before you can put the drywall on for finishing.

It’s important to note that, depending on your basement and the type of insulation, this step can be done earlier. Certain types of insulation require a framework to hold it before attaching to the walls.

Measure three to four inches from the top and bottom of your basement walls. Then, with concrete screws, you’ll want to fasten 2x4s across the distance of each wall.

From there, you want to measure the distance between the top and bottom 2x4s you just installed. At the halfway point, place another 2×4 across the width of each wall. Then, at the two remaining openings, do the same thing to have a total of 5 2x4s across each wall. Depending on the height of your basement, you may need more or less.

Then, you need to attach board vertically to give yourself room to install electrical work. These will also be your studs if you decide to put drywall up. You can use 1x3s for this and place them on top of the 2x4s every 16 inches or so. Fasten them at the points where they intersect with the horizontal 2x4s.

Once you’re done with this step, your basement is insulated and you’re ready to finish it with drywall in the future!

If you run into any major issues during your insulation project or need to get any basement repairs done before you get started, then contact us today!