Basement Step 1

We finally got started on our laundry room project, but before a paintbrush was lifted, we did a lot of research and prep. Basements are notorious for having problems with water (especially ones that are over 100 years-old). As the ad for Dricore told me at Home Depot, 98% of homes have basement water issues.

Basement before shot. Notice the evidence of the water that once entered the basement (from a blocked drain.)
Basement before shot. Notice the evidence of the water that once entered the basement (from a blocked drain.) and the dirt that came in with it.

Whether it’s a bit of condensation, dampness, or a basement floor that weeps when it rains, you probably have some sort of water hanging out in your basement. Before we could do anything with the basement we needed to get our water under control. We knew the water issue that occurred previously was from a blocked drain in the backyard. That has since been fixed, and the only water we’ve had in the basement since was a little puddle from the giant downpour we had this summer (remember the one with the flooded GO train and the abandoned Ferrari?) Even then the water puddled right beside the drain, and if our floor was sloped properly, it would have made it to the drain on it’s own. (We will be fixing the  floor slope as well.)

So our brick foundation is without active leaks, cracks and is generally in good repair. We have a working outdoor drain and two basement floor drains. We have a back flow valve that was installed in the basement floor, and all our broken clay pipes were replaced with PVC.

How else could water possibly get in? Dampness can come up through our cement floor, or in through our unsealed painted bricks.

So we needed to tackle both of these items. After much deliberation we opted to do a waterproofing paint on the walls and a Dricore subfloor on the floor.

Why did we opt to just waterproof paint the walls? Several reasons: we didn’t have active water, and the bricks had been painted in the past. To do an interior waterproofing system we would need to strip all the bricks (possibly causing damage) and then add an interior waterproofing membrane and French drain. Lots lots lots of work, and $.

So option B, waterproofing paint. There are several of these on the market, but only one that I could find which you could paint over existing (in good condition) paint; Behr Basement & Masonry Waterproofer. We are big fans of Behr paint (we’ve painted most of the house in it). So we feel confident in using the Behr product. While our work wouldn’t be warrantied (Behr only warranties it on unpainted brick). We felt confident that if we did proper prep and application we would be good to go!

Now it was time to prep. A paint job (especially of the waterproofing variety) is only as good as your prep work. So we moved everything away from the walls and got to work. We wire brushed the walls from top to bottom, removing any loose paint, and checking the mortar and brick for any problem areas.

Basement prep tools.
Basement prep tools.

We were happy with the state of our foundation (no cracks, or problem areas! YAY!) So we moved on to cleaning the bricks. We mixed up a solution of TSP and scrubbed the walls with TSP and a scrub brush, then washed off with clean water, and left everything to dry overnight.

Basement walls wire brushed, and washed with TSP
Basement walls wire brushed, and washed with TSP
Wall after wire brushing
Wall after wire brushing
Look how impressed (and sexy!) I look after wire brushing the basement.
Look how impressed (and sexy!) I look after wire brushing the basement.

The next day we came back and started applying our Behr Basement & Masonry Waterproofer in un-tinted white . We opted to use a long bristle brush to apply. This would end up being tedious, but ensured that we got the paint into every nook and cranny. We went over all the brick, one brick at a time ensuring we got good coverage with our waterproofing paint.

Painting the brick
Painting the brick
One coat of Behr Basement & Masonry Waterproofer painted
One coat of Behr Basement & Masonry Waterproofer applied

6 hours later and we completed one coat on about 3/4 of the walls in the laundry room. A lot of work, but the results are looking great so far!

I can’t wait to get back down there and finish painting. We have to move the washer & dryer to get to the rest of the basement. Hopefully we’ll have more progress to show you next week.

Laundry Room Makeover?

Hey guys! We visited the Interior Design Show yesterday (which was awesome.) It really inspired us to get started on some new projects. I am still compiling all my pics and will have an inspiration post up for you in the next couple of days.

Speaking of new projects, on January 21st, 2013 I wrote this post (I have copied verbatim it below):

The entrance to the Storefront is level with the street. What that means for our basement is that it is completely underground and has no windows. At all. Most basements at least have some tiny windows.  Not our house. Our basement is dark, damp, and the ceilings are about 6 1/2 feet tall.

So…a dungeon.

Basement before we moved in, before the reno, before the water damage, and when there was still a strange toilet hanging out in the middle of nowhere… Now this part of the basement is storage for a lot of misc.  stuff.
Basement before the laundry was moved downstairs. Now the washer & dryer live beside the sink
The "Laundry Room" as it is now. Kinda depressing right?
The “Laundry Room” as it is now. Note the water damage on the back wall
The laundry sink. It needs some TLC
The laundry sink. It needs some TLC

Its kinda depressing, right?

Couldn’t we just dig out the basement and make it nicer/finished? We could, but that would be expensive and hard. We could never have any windows, and a room without windows is just a bit sad.  It would make a good dungeon, but a family room or guestroom? Not a chance.

So…what will become of our basement? Realistically, it can be some storage, a laundry room, a maybe a workshop. You wouldn’t want to spend HOURS working down there, but its warmer than the garage in the winter, and a good place to keep craft/DIY supplies. 1/3 of our basement is already drywalled on the ceiling in the laundryroom area. We’re thinking of adding the workshop to that room, and then using the rest of the basement as storage/utilities.

What do we need to do to get it in shape?

  • Eradicate the spider population (shudder)
  • Install a Dricore subfloor to allow any moisture that does get in, to get to the floor drain.
  • Some sort of (cheap & cheerful) flooring over the Dricore
  • Figure out what to do with the brick dust that the foundation bricks shed regularly and give the bricks some sort of finish (they have been previously painted but are flaking and yellowing from the water damage from a flood last year). I am thinking a breathable basement/masonry paint.
  • Install the awesome laundry bases we have had sitting in boxes for the last year.
  • Scrub our original cast iron utility sink, and refinish the outside of it. It’s beautiful, but has seen better days after the reno and copious amounts of paint brushes being washed in it weekly.
  • Figure out something to cover/disguise the plumbing/electrical/dryer venting on the laundry wall. Thinking building a floating wall out of wooden slats
  • Curtain or wall of some sort separating the laundry & workshop from the rest of the basement
  • Adding some lighting to our dark staircase
  • Prettying up the staircase ceiling (Paint or more wooden slats?)
  • Adding a storage rail & hooks to the staircase wall to act as a mini utility closet
  • Moving the rubber flooring that is currently in the laundry room to the storage area of the basement
  • Fill some areas of the floor that are crumbling
  • Organizing/purging the misc crap that has been growing in the basement
  • Buying A full size ironing board (we only have a mini one, how do we survive?!)
  • Building a drying rack (preferably one that folds away)
  • Adding a counter of some sort to stop socks from plummeting to their death behind the dryer. Also a good spot to stack folded clothes etc.
  • Shelving or cabinets above the washer & dryer for storage of laundry detergent and cleaning supplies
  • Purchase a dehumidifier to try to control the moisture levels better (especially in the summer)

Here is some of my Basement Inspiration:

Laundry Room/ Workshop Pinterest Board


This isn’t a project that we’ll be focusing on, but we hope we can chip away at it and end up with a usable space (that’s a bit prettier and less scary.)



So that post was almost exactly a year ago, and guess what we’ve done to remedy the situation?


Not. One. Thing.

Everything in that post holds  true. We have not improved the floor, the light, or the storage, and the spider population is increasing exponentially.

Where does that leave us? Well its late January in a very cold Toronto. My garage is freezing, and I’m getting antsy to DIY.  I miss the smell of sawdust in my nose, or paint in my hair. I need to be wearing ripped paint stained jeans, a giant hoodie, and some earplugs.

So I decided it was time to take on the great big project of our basement laundry room/crafting workshop.

Am I crazy? Absolutely! Is it nice and toasty warm in the basement? YES! So its decided, I am turning the sad, sad space into a pretty, useful space that I wont dread using.

NOW. Where do I start? Anyone? Anyone… Bueller… Bueller?

The Basement

The entrance to the Storefront is level with the street. What that means for our basement is that it is completely underground and has no windows. At all. Most basements at least have some tiny windows.  Not our house. Our basement is dark, damp, and the ceilings are about 6 1/2 feet tall. Continue reading “The Basement”