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Frank O
Alternatives for enclosing basement?

We have a 1910 bungalow in Southern California on a traditional foundation. It has a small, irregularly shaped basement about 7 x 12 feet in its longest dimensions. It's really only large enough for the HVAC unit, water heater, and some storage space for household and emergency supplies.

There's quite a bit of dust in the basement, due to the fact that it and the stairway leading down to it are open to the crawl space under the house. We'd like to find a way of cutting down on this dust.

A contractor mentioned the idea of enclosing it in drywall, but I see a couple of downsides. First, the space is so small that I'd see conventional drywall if anything cutting down on the space even more. Second, drywall would complicate access to the crawl spaces for plumbing and electrical work, etc. It's not as though we're using the basement as a living space, so it doesn't need to look nice.

Given all of the above, are there any other alternatives for enclosing the basement, or cutting down on the dust there, that we might consider? I wonder if something like hanging sheets of some acrylic material between the basement and crawl spaces might be enough.

A. Spruce
Re: Alternatives for enclosing basement?

You could do something as simple as a plastic dra-pe around the area, which will cut down the dust, or a more permanent structure such as a wall which will seal most of the dirt and dust out. If you go with the wall idea, you can easily install a couple of doors or removable panels for ease of access to the crawl space. I would be reticent to use drywall due to the moisture that is generally present under a house, as well as what is created by the water heater and furnace/ac. I would be more inclined to use plywood, painted on all sides and edges before installation.

Re: Alternatives for enclosing basement?

I noticed that you mentioned that your a/c unit is in there. I hope the return is not there, so the unit doesn't suck basement air.

Re: Alternatives for enclosing basement?

Heavy plastic will work OK but sealing the edges could be an issue- maybe staple it to 4 single 'corner studs' you can fashion out of treated 2X4 lumber. Pull it off if you need crawlspace access and staple back when you're done. My choice would be styrofoam sheathing- R-Max is one brand. Waterproof, durable enough, cheap enough, and a decent look too. This would need studding every 4 feet but they could be laid flat, thus losing only 4" total in each direction. It is a flammable substance (but so is plastic) so based on the situation you may need something with better fire resistance, if so plywood then becomes a best choice. Once the area is closed in monitor it for excess humidity which might become a problem. Based on the situation again, you might want to consider expanding this area. As long as you stay away from footings and foundations a bit of digging is all that might be needed, perhaps adding to the slab if there's a concrete floor. I'd do it since there's no cheaper DIY way to gain floorspace even if you just use it for storage.


Frank O
Re: Alternatives for enclosing basement?

Thanks for the ideas. We're good on the HVAC unit -- it pulls in air by a duct from our living room.

I'll check out styrofoam sheathing. I hadn't thought about humidity as an issue -- we live in a pretty dry area, but you never know about moisture buildup in enclosed spaces.

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