Group 6 3 minutes Read

basement progress: electrical + subfloor

Lauren Zerbey

I’m just going to say it – June in Seattle is depressing. While the rest of the country is swimming, sunning and generally embracing summer, we’re still wearing sweaters and crossing our fingers that our tomato plants don’t keel over due to lack of sun. (The joke is that summer in Seattle doesn’t start until after the 4th of July and that’s usually about right.) But, if there’s a silver lining to the gray permacloud at least it makes it easier to work in the basement.

So with the crappy weather on our side, last weekend was a productive one and Kyle was able to finish the framing and electrical and get started on the subfloor. 

For a small project like this, we just talked through where we would want outlets, switches and fixtures instead of producing an electrical plan. Our main goal was to come up with a layout that would provide the most flexibility whether the space is being used as a TV room or bedroom. Because of our short ceiling height, the biggest challenge to figure out was lighting. Obviously, you don’t want anything hanging down and recessed cans wouldn’t work with our exposed joists. So the plan is to install a couple of wall sconces (you can see the round electrical box for one in the photo above) that flank what will eventually be a built-in media/storage unit. 

Kyle also framed out the little closet that contains the sewage ejector pump and access to our under-the-mudroom storage.

To make the space feel taller we’re leaving the joists exposed but the actual detail is a bit trickier. Unlike our living room ceiling, in the basement we have to contend with all the exposed nails coming through the subfloor from the old oak floors above (that are now covered with plywood and cork). Our solution was to furr down with 2×4’s and then attach sheetrock to that. Finally, we’ll sand up the joists a bit and then paint everything super white.

Here’s a shot looking back the other direction. Above the window, we’ll have a soffit with three recessed cans. There is likely to be a couch or bed against this wall so a little direct lighting made sense. The round electrical box in the foreground is for a smoke detector (required in every bedroom!) and the rectangular duct goes to the nursery above. When we had our new furnace and ductwork installed nearly 4 years ago, we had a feeling this space would eventually get finished out and made sure that any ductwork was as minimal as possible (same goes for the electrical, which is run only along the perimeter where it will be covered).

On the opposite wall Kyle roughed in power, data and cable. The TV/DVD/Xbox are in the living room for now, but the plan is to eventually move everything downstairs. I’m hesitant to use the words “media room” or “man cave” but we do see this room as a cozy space to watch movies.

Poor Bails, spending his weekend watching Kyle work. He might be the only dog that willingly will nap next to an air compressor.

Before the weekend was over, Kyle also got started on the Dri-Core subfloor (he’s actually installing the last pieces as I type). The 2’x2′ panels are comprised of a layer of OSB over a black dimpled plastic. Even though we installed a moisture barrier under the new topping slab, the plastic backing provides an airspace and keeps any water that might find its way in from coming up through the floor.

The panels have a tongue and groove slot on all four sides so they click together and form a floating floor system. They can be easily cut on a table saw and the whole process took a couple of hours max. At the edges, Kyle used wood shims to hold the panels away from the wall (to compensate for any future expansion and contraction).

For a snug fit, he whacked each panel in place using a few 2x’s and a mallet. (It’s hard to tell in the photos, but the seams are staggered for a more uniform installation.)

At the edges, he used a pry bar pushed against the sill plate to ensure a tight fit.

Naturally, Bailey was on hand to supervise. (I know, he is SUPER shaggy right now and is going to the groomer on Saturday!)

“A little to the left dad…hey, watch my paws!”

Kyle finished the subfloor tonight so the next step will be to frame the rest of the small hallway at the bottom of the stairs and pour a leveling slab. This weekend he’ll insulate and install the interior doors and then we’ll be ready for inspections and sheetrock. My mom has a feeling that zerbebe will come a week early and she tends to be right about these things so no dilly-dallying for us.  

[Random side note – we were in the basement tonight hashing out a few details when Kyle nonchalantly tossed a pry bar on the floor. The sound made zerbebe jump, which is the first time that’s happened. Better get used to that kiddo.  =) ]