Beware the Basement Finishing Corner-Cutter

One of the advantages of using a professional basement finishing contractor is having someone to ensure quality construction. Construction management (e.g. managing tradesmen, quality control, etc.) is an important part of any project and can really make a difference between a poor finish and a quality one.

On the surface, many aspects of basement finishing seem mundane and self-explanatory. This is far from the truth. Unless you really know and understand trade-specific construction specifications, you could be setting yourself up for huge disappointment.

Drywall is one of these trades which seems very simple and straightforward. However, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you could end up walls that look like a garage, and not the basement finishing masterpiece you envisioned.

Garage Walls are not Acceptable for Basement Finishing Projects!

One specification that should not be overlooked is drywall taping. For the benefit of those new to construction, drywall is attached to your framing with nails and screws. Pieces are cut to fit every section of your basement finishing project. Corners are covered with “corner bead,” a metal (or sometimes plastic/fiber) strip that is nailed to each corner.

After this, drywall “tape” is embedded in a skim coat of drywall mud over the top of every seam in the drywall. Once taping is done, it is time to either paint – or texture with the desired wall texture.

Drywall taping will make or break the quality of your finished walls. To make the most profit on your basement finishing job, it is common for contractors to shortchange the taping process. Usually this is done by embedding the tape in only one or two coats of drywall mud.

If only one coat is used you’re in danger of getting that “garage” look. The thinking here is that with enough texture, the seams won’t be noticed. Beware! This is a sure way to get shoddy-looking walls. Even with massively heavy texture, you will see ridges and lines along every seam. The purpose of basement finishing is NOT to provide the “garage” look.

Even with a second coat and prodigious sanding, the result will be an undesirable finish. The danger here is not really ridges and lines, but rather what looks like shadows or gentle humps in the wall. This is especially true if you’re close and look down the length of a wall.

For your basement finishing project you should require a 3-coat taping system, sometimes called a level-3 finish, prior to any texture. If you want smooth walls with no texture request a level-4 or even level-5 smooth finish.

Superior Taping Leads to Superior Walls in Your Basement Finishing Project

First of all, the 3-coat system will cover any tape over the seam and totally eliminate the ridges and lines that are apparent with only 1-coat. Second, the 3-coat system spreads the drywall mud over seams out to 12″ or more, which will eliminate the shadows and gentle humps. After texture, the walls in your basement finishing project will be finished with the quality you deserve.

When you hire someone to work on your home, do you prefer it when they cut corners? Or would you rather they give you a professional job? I believe the answer is self-explanatory. Make sure your basement finishing contractor knows from the get-go that you won’t allow corner-cutting.

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