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Finishing basements with stem walls

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2006-06-29          131558


Our house has an unfinished daylight basement. We're giving some thought to finishing it and I'm curious how to finish the outside walls. The stem walls are 8" thick and the wall framing on top of it is constructed with 2x6s. This leaves a 2" ledge on the inside of the stem walls. I've bought a few "finishing basements" books and none of them address how to deal with this ledge. How would you construct a finish wall to eliminate this ledge while maximizing floor space?

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Finishing basements with stem walls

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7155 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2006-06-30          131566


Ken, in your area you don't have the bitter cold winters we have, so insulation is not as big a concern.

I would use steel studs, and just mount the top track to the underside of your floor joists inset from the wall a such that the studs were flush to the lower portion of the wall only, leaving a small air gap at the top.

If you are more concerned about insulation, put an extra 2" in that area, the ground will more than make up for the lower R-value in the bottom part.

The only difference is that you will of course have an extra 2" of window ledge for each window.

Best of luck. ....

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Finishing basements with stem walls

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shortmagnum
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 848 Wisconsin
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2006-06-30          131568


Ken, I had the same type of basement wall on the first house I built. Assuming your ledge is about 4' up, why not leave the ledge there? I wood panelled over the lower concrete wall and used sheetrock and wallpaper on the upper wall. Then made a wood shelf out of 1" oak to match the trim in the room. With a 2" ledge, a 3" wide shelf would give 1" of overhang. I thought it looked pretty good and broke the 8' wall up. Have fun.
Dave ....

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Finishing basements with stem walls

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2006-06-30          131574


The stem walls extend to 20" or so above the floor. Sort of an awkward height for a shelf or wainscot trim. The stem wall could be built up taller to a more visually appealing height but there are five windows that are set right on top of the stem wall (basement egress). We need to run electrical outlets per code too. Is there a code that says the outlets need to be 18" or so off the ground? If so they would have to be mounted on the stem wall so we'd have to build it out some to accomodate the box depth. Are there shallow electrical boxes? Insulation isn't a big concern since the walls are full of blown cellulose now, but I'd take the opportunity to add a bit more before closing them in. ....

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Finishing basements with stem walls

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Peters
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3034 Northern AL
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2006-06-30          131575


Ken You can buy the shallow electrical boxes, but beware they are difficult to work with. The are OK if they are the last plug on a leg, but difficult to make connections in.
I don't have a clear idea of how it is constructed. Is the cellulose blown over the concrete?
My basement has the problem of the wall being thicker than the top, but it is only 1 1/2".
I assume your stem walls are only at the walk out portion of your basement. The back cement walls I assume are 8 ft or 8' 6 in my case.
Maybe you could post a picture? ....

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Finishing basements with stem walls

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shortmagnum
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 848 Wisconsin
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2006-06-30          131581


"Is there a code that says the outlets need to be 18" or so off the ground?"
This is something that should be answered before you start planning as it completely controls your design. As I'm sure you know, if the outlets can be put in the higher stud wall they can be have standard wiring and boxes.
Dave ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
Finishing basements with stem walls

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2006-06-30          131591


I'm an idiot. I should have gone down to look at it before relying on my CRS infected memory. The stem wall is about 7" tall, the window sills are more like 20" off the floor. The link below links to a picture of what I'm talking about.

This will be easier than I thought. The stem wall ledge is about 2.5". Framing it out so it's flush with the stem wall seems like it will work fine. We'd are planning to trim it all out with laquered beadboard wainscoting. Outlet boxes shouldn't be a problem at all.

The question is should I frame it flush with the concrete and then sheetrock over the stem wall? Maybe with greenboard? Or should I frame it shy of the stem wall, use sheetrock to bring the wall flush with the concrete, and then install wainscoting to cover up the concrete? The concrete is never damp.

Thanks for the advice. ....


Link:   Stem wall

 
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Finishing basements with stem walls

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2006-06-30          131597


KW: That lacqured bead board, is it Masonite? I'd realy think about not using it near windows or in humid areas. I bought some from Lowes and it warped really badly. It's easy to work with but has to float. And because it floats it is hard to get the panel joints to stay closed and look good. If I had to do it all over again I'd go with T&G wainscot. ....

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Finishing basements with stem walls

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2006-06-30          131598


The wainscot is MDF tongue in groove. We have it in other areas of the house and it's nice. It takes paint very well and is dimensionally stable. The basement is air conditioned so there is no humidity problem. I do recommend painting it on all sides before installation though. We had some MDF baseboard ruined by cat piss (damn cats) and it would have held up much better if it were painted prior to installation. ....

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Finishing basements with stem walls

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Peters
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3034 Northern AL
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2006-07-01          131616


I might think about built in window seats boxes in that area under the windows. That would cover the stem wall and possibly make that space more usable. I have an area like that in my basement at the prow front maybe I should post it too. With the same question?

The trouble with mine is that one window is a slider and the whole wall steps out 6 inches. ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
Finishing basements with stem walls

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2006-07-01          131620


We have window seats in other rooms but there are pop-outs that give more room for seating. I don't really want to rebuild the outside wall so seats there would require some floor space. Hmm. Have to think about that. ....

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