Andrew P Watson

Web Developer

Finishing a Stone Wall Basement – Phase 1 complete: Framing

Mon, 11/23/2009 - 19:01

Nearly two years ago I wrote a post about “my attempt to finish a stone wall basement“. It was shortly after I purchased my first home and was overwhelmed with the desire to start some projects. Well, it didn’t really even get started until about two and half months ago, but the project is now underway. With our first child quickly approaching, I figured it was time to dive in and start the home-improvement basement project while I still had some free time.

It’s the biggest home project I’ve ever attempted, so I wanted to be sure and plan everything as well as I could. I’m not new to construction, but I didn’t want to half-ass it.

My basement is dry, but has a stone wall. That presented a number of unique challenges, and I was not sure of the best approach. I drew up some plans and talked to the local building inspector. He told all about the code requirements and limitations for the “proper” usage of the space. The ceiling was already finished, but is too low to actually declare the space additional “living space”. Instead, it’s going to be used as “storage space”. Granted, I want carpet, drywall, crown molding and an electric fireplace in my “storage” room – maybe I want my stuff to be comfortable. ;)

One of my biggest concerns was the ability for the foundation to breath. I’m going to vapor barrier and drywall, so it’s not going to be very easy to get access to the stone if there is ever an issue or moisture problem. My solution was to build the walls about 3-6 inches from the stone. This allows for a cavity of air between the wall and the foundation. I’m then going to put a ventilation fan at one end of the basement to pull the air from that cavity and vent it outside. This way, I can occasionally turn a switch and change the air. Got stale air? Not me.

The walls are all up, and the framing came out great. 2×4 studs, hung 16 on center. Top plates attached directly to the floor joists on the ceiling, and the bottom plate is nailed to the cement floor. Most of the project is plum, level, and square. There is some areas that are not as good as others, but overall this is coming out great. It used to be one big 1300 square foot room, now it’s broken up into three separate rooms. I can really visualize how it’s going to look now. I’m pumped!

I have some quotes for the electrical work, and I hope to pull that permit and have that done soon. I was going to do it myself, but I’m not insured and I’ve heard horror stories about homeowners doing a little “too much”. I feel confident I could, but it needs to be up to code. I’m doing everything legit, so it needs to be inspected and signed off on.

Here are some pics of the basement before any work (bad quality):

stonewall basement

Finishing a stone wall basement

And here are some of the current progress (end of framing)

framing in basement

Putting studs away from the brick foundation

drywall in stonewall foundatiion

Rough framing around window in basement


Hey, good work you’ve done here. I am looking at doing the same thing in my basement. How far along are you now? did you insulate the walls prior to hanging up the drywall? Thanks for posting pics! - Tony

Have you had any issues with moisture? I have a 94 year old house with 7 foot stone wall foundation. We have leakage issues and have used drylock and a great silicone sealant but it doesn’t 100% stop the normal sweating. I know you said your basement was dry but my experience with stone is that it’s never 100% dry. So just wondering if you have seen any moisture issues since your construction.

the look of your walls and floors looks like you have or had water problems. i would never of framed in that basement with out doing something about it. you going to run into problems later on and a lot more work ahead of you.
andrew's picture

All water issues were addressed before any framing was done. Most of the problems were outside, caused by bad drainage. The foundation was sealed, and the walls were framed about six inches off the foundation, with a ventilation system drawing air from within the cavity outside the building. I did everything I could, and it was bone dry.

When you framed your basement and set the framing out 3-6" did you insulate and put a vapor barrier up before installing your drywall?
andrew's picture

Yes, absolutely. I think it was faced R19. I was super careful about moisture and airflow.

Who is the best company to call to frame the outside wall of my stone wall foundation and put a drop ceiling in. My basement is partially finished, but I want to make it nicer and more useable. Please give me any advice or ideas you have.....I want my high school son and his friends to have a nice place to hang and watch tv, without all the dirt and dust from the stone foundation. thanks,

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