Basement Construction Methods

Updated February 21, 2017

Constructing a basement for a new home not only adds more room to the living space, but can also offer protection in severe weather. There are basically three types of basement construction, solid concrete, concrete block and wood foundations. All three systems have their own advantages for use. All three do require the same type of drainage to remove any water away from the walls in the form of a French drain system.

Solid Concrete

Solid concrete basement foundations set upon a wide concrete footer. The walls of the basement are poured at one time inside either wood or metal forms. The metal forms may have designs imprinted on the inside of them. These designs are then transferred to the concrete as it sets up and cures. The designs can resemble any number of shapes from faux brick to faux stones. Metal rebar is configured inside the forms before the concrete is poured for added strength to the solid wall. Although the cost of solid concrete is more expensive than block or wood foundations, the overall strength is greater than the two counter parts. Solid concrete basements also have the advantage of being tightly sealed once the forms are removed. Typically, a clear sealant is applied over the concrete walls to aid in the curing process. Concrete basements can typically take from one week to one month for construction, depending on how elaborate the foundation system is laid out.

Concrete Blocks

Concrete block basements, like its solid concrete counterpart, must be laid upon a solid concrete footer. The block is stacked and held together with a Portland cement mortar mix. The cavities of the block are then filled with solid concrete after metal rebar rods are placed inside the cavities. This adds strength to the block wall. After a short period of time, one to two weeks, a sealant and fabric membrane are typically applied to the concrete block basement walls. This acts as a sealant against any moisture that could migrate through the mortared block joints. Typical, construction time for a block basement is anywhere from one week to one month. An advantage of a block basement over solid concrete is the overall cost in construction.

Wood Foundations

Wood foundations are constructed in much the same manner as a typical stud wall for upper floor framing. Typically 2x8s or 2x10s are nailed into place on 16-inch centres. A 3/4-inch thick plywood sheet is then secured to the stud walls. All the wood used for the basement walls are constructed from green pressure treated wood. The walls are then set into position over a deep gravel bed. The gravel bed stabilises the wood walls and also acts as the drainage system. A concrete slab is then poured inside the wooden walls. The concrete then interlocks with the wall studs and the bottom plates of the wood walls. When the concrete cures, the entire wood foundation and basement slab locks everything together. A multilayered sealant system must be applied over the plywood in order to prevent seepage from any groundwater. A major advantage over the wood foundation is the cost of construction and the amount of time it takes for the finished basement. Typically, a wood foundation can be built and poured with concrete in one week or less.

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