• In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva shows how to fur out concrete basement walls to get them ready for drywall.


    1. Start by checking the basement walls for excessive moisture: Use duct tape to secure a 2-foot-square piece of polyethylene sheeting to the wall. Wait three to four weeks to see if condensation appears either behind the plastic, or on its outer surface. If the plastic is dry, proceed. If not, repair the moisture problem.

    2. If the basement walls are made of poured concrete, check for rust spots at the metal ties. If you see any, take a hammer and center punch and drive the metal tie at least ¼-inch into the wall.

    3. Use a margin trowel to mix water with hydraulic cement in a plastic bucket.

    4. Mist metal-tie hole with water then apply hydraulic cement with margin trowel. Allow to dry.

    5. Apply beads of foam-board adhesive to rear of 2-inch-thick polystyrene panel.

    6. Press glued-up foam-board panel to wall and hold for a minute or two. Repeat to cover remaining walls.

    7. Use a chalk reel to snap five horizontal layout lines onto the foam board. Position the lines 3 inches from the wall top and bottom, at center point of the wall, and then in between the 3-inch lines and centerline.

    8. To attach the horizontal 1x3s, first drill 5-inch-deep pilot holes through the 1x3s, foam board and into the concrete wall using a hammer drill and 3/16-inch masonry bit. Drill one hole every 16 to 20 inches.

    9. Use a hammer to drive 4-inch-long spring spikes through the pilot holes and into the walls.
    10. Attach vertical 1x3s, spaced 16 inches on center, to the horizontal 1x3s using a drill/driver and 1 5/8-inch drywall screws.

    11. If you're planning to install an electrical system, carve out the foam board with a utility knife to accommodate the electrical boxes, then snake the electrical cables behind the 1x3s.

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    • Difficulty: Moderate
      There are several steps to complete, but none are too complicated for an experienced do-it-yourselfer
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      Video Directory

      Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • hammer
        Hammer and center punch
        used to tap metal wall ties below surface of wall
      • spray bottle
        Spray bottle
        used to spray water onto wall prior to applying hydraulic cement
      • margin trowel
        Margin trowel and plastic bucket
        used to mix and apply hydraulic cement to wall
      • caulk gun
        Caulk gun
      • utility knife
        Utility knife
      • chalk line
        Chalk line
      • hammer drill
        Hammer drill and 3/16-inch masonry drill bit
      • drill

      Shopping List

      1. Polyethylene plastic sheeting and duct tape

      used to test wall for excessive moisture

      2. Hydraulic cement

      for patching holes in wall

      3. Polystyrene foam board

      used to insulate basement walls

      4. 1x3 spruce boards

      used to create a furring-strip grid on wall for attaching drywall

      5. 4-inch-long spring spikes

      used to secure horizontal 1x3s to wall

      6. 1 5/8-inch drywall screws

      used to attach vertical 1x3s to horizontal 1x3s

      7. Electrical boxes, cable, connectors and devices

      needed if planning to electrify the wall