The special environment in the basement is like no other place in the home. Drywall, with its organic lining and low resistance to moisture and water, is simply not designed for this environment. We cover the disadvantages of drywall and why it’s not ideal for a basement finishing.
Old habits die hard. The same goes for building practices. When it comes to finishing a basement, builders tend to do the same thing they’ve always done- especially if it’s a cheap solution for them. Why would they change what’s making them money? I mean, it’s not like they have to live with the job, right?
The bottom line is this: a basement environment is different than any other place in the home, and drywall is simply not made for this environment. If you install drywall into a basement, it’s probably not going to work, and even if it does, it won’t be the best building material for the job. Below are four good reasons to drop drywall from your basement finishing plan.
Holding its Own
When it comes to shelves, cabinets, or anything else that weighs over 10 pounds, drywall is in for a real challenge. Generally, this means that you’ll have to find wall studs to use to mount the weight, which can be a difficult and imperfect process. You’ll be limited to places where studs are located and will find yourself at the mercy of sometimes unevenly spaced studs.
Unfortunately, it’s very popular to want to mount things such as shelves, cabinets, pictures, or perhaps a plasma TV on finished basement walls. And just as easily as it crumbles under too much weight, it’s very easy for you, your children, or a well-placed doorknob to leave an unsightly hole in it.
There are hardboard wall panels available with dense foam insulation available that can have things mounted at any point on the wall with no need to find a stud. Because these panels are free-standing, they’re also ideal for adding wall partitions for a bedroom or extra closet.
Dealing with drywall dust woes is probably the most painful part of a basement remodeling. Drywall installation is dirty work! As the heavy panels are cut to fit your basement, a thick and extremely fine dust will coat everything in the area. The dust is invasive and can kill ordinary vacuum motors as it quickly clogs their filters and causes the motor to work too hard and overheat. Professional drywall vacuums cost about $650, which is impractical for a homeowner and not often used by professionals. On top of that, the gypsum in drywall is irritating to eyes, lungs, and sinuses. Drywall should be installed carefully- with masks, goggles and gloves. Whenever possible, drywall dust should be cleaned up immediately after installation.
Service and Renovation Woes
Drywall ceilings in a finished basement are a nightmare when it comes time to service or renovate a basement. Drywall ceilings provide poor access to pipes and wiring when they need to be serviced or new ones need to be installed. Occasionally, the drywall may even need to be removed or damaged for the sake of the job. While a service panel will make this access easier, it can’t replace a drop ceiling, where every ceiling tile doubles as a service point. To make matters worse, installing heavy sheet rock on the ceiling can be a work-intensive and expensive process, and if you later decide to renovate the basement or the first floor of your house, you’ll spend hours and hours running wires and pipes under the floor and learning where already existing ones lead as you’re remodeling. And there’s a reason that drywall is filling up landfills all over the country! It’s constantly being replaced and reinstalled as water from a leaking basement, plumbing leaks, and moisture from concrete basement walls, mold, and impact damage ruin it.
Black Mold Blues
Even mold and moisture-resistant drywall does not stand by their claim with a warranty. Why? Because drywall is made of a core of gypsum laid between layers of heavy processed paper. This paper provides food for mold. As mold grows on your drywall, it becomes increasingly aesthetically unattractive. Signs of mold include peeling and cracking paint, bulging behind the paint, musty smells, and discolored walls.
Drywall can support the growth of toxic black mold as well, which is particularly dangerous. But even when toxic molds are not present, mold spores in the air can agitate asthma, and cause breathing problems as well as other health issues. Very often, the entire drywall installation may need to be removed and replaced by a trained professional.
A Better Solution
Total Basement Finishing has products that are guaranteed to be mold-resistant that are made specifically for the basement environment. Their wall panels and ceiling tiles are perfect for a basement finishing project. Our products install cleanly without the mess of drywall, make service easy, and our wall panels can hold 300 pounds per panel without a problem! We offer free estimates, and we’d love to help you!