My basement sewing area: in progress, part 2 (or: attempting to 'waterproof' a wet Chicago basement, take 1)

7:48:00 AM

If you missed my first post in this series, {here it is}

It explains what we've done up until this point to try and make our Chicago step-out basement in our 50's split-level home more watertight.

So, if you read the back story on my last blog post about this project, we had water. A fair amount of water. It was dripping through cracks and pouring over foundation walls over the sill plate.

We spent a year working on regrading, extending downspouts, sealing cracks, digging swells, re-landscaping - all in an effort to move water away from the house - and now, after confirming for 2 rainy seasons that the water was no longer coming in, it was time to start waterproofing from the inside out.
Ames Blue Max paint to seal basement wall from any possible seepage that might happen from the inside out.Need to pre-seal any large cracks, first. Then apply the paint.
Check out this post here for more info on why the heckadoodles we painted this cement wall blue!
Up until this point (where this blog post picks up the story) we have (as best we could:) sealed the sill plate, sealed the foundation/footing joint, sealed the walls, and installed a water-resistant, not-going-to-rot, greener insulation alternative to EPS* (the pink foam board stuff). Again - to see that - {click here}.

On to the drywall and wall finishing we go! 

The whole time I prepared for and have been doing this renovation I've been planning for the possibility that we may have water again - either from the outside or, as can be the case in Chicago, from the inside if the storm sewers ever back up into our basement (which has never been the case in our basement, but still, I'm a contingency planner...).

Everything we put on the wall needed to be easily removable, and, water resistant or proof - hence my choices for the insulation, drywall, and wall finishing.

For drywall, I decided to go with waterproof cement board. I didn't want to use conventional drywall just in case we ever do have any water.

using cement board on masonry or knee wall in a basement instead of drywall, just in case there's ever any water damage (from inside or out). It's a waterproof alternative to drywall.
yes, I'm using a quilting ruler to mark my cement board! Use what you have, right?

Cement board isn't smooth enough to just paint over like regular drywall; I would have to finish the wall off in some other way. My options were to plaster the wall smooth and then paint, or, cover the wall with paneling or tile.

wood paneling that doesn't look like wood paneling. Love the 3D texture on the brick look wood paneling! great for basement refinishing or feature wall and comes in huge sheets. DPI wood paneling
Image courtesy of DPI.
Again, for ease of removal in a worst-case scenario, I decided to go with a paneling. The problem was, I didn't like anything I was able to find - it all looked like - well, wood paneling. And I am NOT in love with that look.

Then, I found this paneling from DPI - it's their Earthstones Brick Bianco

It looks grey in the photo, but it's actually a bright white, and comes in 4'x8' sheets; it's made in the US, is 100% green meaning doesn't contain anything harmful (no formaldehyde! it's just pressed wood) and is mold resistant.

SOLD. Sign me up!

What I like the most is that it actually looks like real brick. The bricks align well on seams (I think on 8 seams I had 2 bricks not align perfectly), it's paintable, and it's textured to look like the grout is imperfect (which worked well for my purposes as I screwed and brad-nailed the hardboard in place and applied filler sloppily to match the rustic look of the brick - so the screws blend right in! (It should be noted here - in a typical installation you would glue the boards up - but because I want to be able to remove them easily, it's screws and brad nails in my case for the install!)

wood paneling that doesn't look like wood paneling. Love the 3D texture on the brick look wood paneling! great for basement refinishing or feature wall and comes in huge sheets.
I love the 3D texture on this stuff!

My next tasks are to trim back the wood ledging all the way around the room so it sits flush with the brick (I plan to cap it flush with some trim) and to fill the grooves of the wood paneling which sits above the masonry wall. I have started plugging away on the groove-filling task using my favorite wood filler* - love how it changes color when it's dry!) -

fill old wood paneling grooves in basement to make the walls smooth and look like drywall - fast and easy way to update and look more modern without having to replace drywall! just fill, sand, prime and paint.
Okay, so I may be a bit nuts to spend the time filling all of these grooves, BUT,
it's easier (and cheaper!) than replacing all of that paneling with drywall...
I'm using Elmer's Wood Fill* for this - it's my favorite wood filler.
...and had hoped to be a bit further along in the process but sick kids and hubby's work deadlines have meant I haven't been able to work in the basement as much as I would like (he shares the other half of the basement with me as his office space). But! I plan to make some major progress on the finishing touches today -

Then, we paint.

*this post contains affiliate links to Amazon at no additional cost to you. For more information, please visit my Disclosure Statement and Advertising Policies page. 

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  1. What a woman! You are amazing to be doing all this work yourself. Wow!

  2. Are you going to have a party when this is all finished up? You have done a fabulous job this year on your home! Can't wait to see the painting done.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! Denise

  3. Yikes! It sure doesn't look like you spend much time sitting around wondering what to do, lol. I hope all this work means you'll be warm and dry in your sewing space :)


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