Evolution of Basment Finishing

1960′s Wood Framing – Paneled Walls

When people first started to furnish their home basements, they used wood framing, paneled walls and shag carpets. While this way was popular in early years, with the technology and advanced facilities available today, there are many new ways to finish basements and the “fad” of cheap wood paneling is over.

1980′s Wood Framing – Gypsum, (SheetRock – Drywall)

The 1980′s saw home owners move to Sheet Rock walls for furnishing the basement of their homes. While this solved the problem of decor and style changes as homeowners could simply paint over the wall, there was still the problem of durability as the sheetrock wall deteriorated very quickly.

What is Greenboard Drywall?

Greenboard drywall offers the same properties as regular drywall but it comes with a green paper covering. The gypsum material is sandwiched between two paper coverings.

Greenboard Drywall Cannot Be Used for Wet Applications

This is a common misunderstanding. While greenboard drywall’s paper covering is water-resistent, it is not waterproof. Not only that, but the brittle gypsum core is not suitable for wet or damp locations applications.

Sheetrock: your walls are actually full of water

Gypsum contains large amounts of water bound in crystalline form; 10 square feet (1.0 sq m) of gypsum board contains over 2 quarts (2 1) of water. When exposed to fire, the water in the gypsum board vaporizes; the temperature of the panel remains at 212°F (100°C) until all of the water is released, protecting the underlying wood framework

Each molecule of gypsum (or dihydrous calcium sulfate) is composed of two molecules of water (H20) and one of calcium sulfate (CaSO4). By weight the compound is 21% water, but by volume it is nearly 50% water posted by Purple Avenger

Late 1990′s Through Present Times Fabric Walls or Vinyl Walls

The basement finishing approach used in the late 1990’s through present times presented problems of its own. The fiberglass batts or fiberglass blankets were not resistant to mold, decay and odors. The Building Science Consortium concluded that the above mentioned approaches were highly unsuitable as these led to further problems of mold and decay.

Fabric or vinyl wallpaper installed over fiberglass insulation was popular in late 1990s as a solution for basement walls. The fiberglass insulation became the shortcoming of such basement walls as it allowed mold to grow in basement which is mostly a high moisture area. Fiberglass insulation is ideally installed in dry areas such as walls or non-habitable spaces like attics or crawl spaces. The systems available today do not enclose fiberglass and allow fiberglass fibers into the living space which is harmful for the people residing in that place.
Other drawbacks to must of these systems is the limited décor, visible seams and the lack of structure (how do you hang a picture?). As did wood panel in the 1960’s, so will fabric or vinyl covered walls become obsolete to do style changes.