Finished Unfinished Basement Playroom

I would like to know why, when you type in “unfinished basement playroom” on Pinterest, only ONE picture shows up.

Where are all the real people? With unfinished basements? Who don’t have money to waterproof AND drywall AND have built-ins AND recessed lighting AND projector movie screens AND a little bar area to make snacks and smoothies for the kids?

Am I alone? Sure I’d love to have all those things, but we are a one income family and that one income does not cover having everything I desire.

So I’d like to show you how we took our so-gross-I-want-to-die-of-embarassment basement and turned it into a dry and decent place for our kids to play.

Here is our basement in mid-remodel, er can you call it remodeling if you aren’t really building anything???

basement progress 014
We had water issues in our basement, as you can see on the far wall. Our next door neighbor’s house is much higher than ours and their driveway is a mere 3 feet away from that wall. We get alot of water seepage along there and as you can see, previous owners put some sort of paint up there that mostly flaked off.

An artist lived in this house at one time and we had some left over potting items to remove before we could get moving. This picture of the pottery wheel shows the gross-ness of that wall. We aren’t sure if the water caused the brown streaks on the wall or if it was a byproduct of the pottery wheel/ kiln operation once upon a time.

pottery wheel 001

First we scraped off all loose paint with a wire brush and a putty knife. It was not pretty nor easy. My hands were bleeding by the time I was done!

Then my husband chiseled out the previously repaired cracks (they were not structural cracks) and repatched them with hydraulic cement. He also chiseled out all other areas where water came in and repaired those as well.

We washed the walls twice, once with just plain water to get the grime of 70+ years off and another time with Drylok Etch, a chemical that will remove efflorescence. Efflorescence is that white chalky residue you find in basements sometimes and you cannot get masonry paint to adhere to the wall if this stuff is present.

In the area of the country where we live, the soil is mostly clay. That means that over time, the clay hardens and your house is essentially embedded in a clay bathtub, with water sitting against your foundation. The constant hydrostatic pressure causes water to seep into your concrete foundation and eventually get inside.

And water in my basement makes me cry.

Enter a masonry waterproofing paint. My hero. I hope. We purchased 3 gallons of a waterproofing paint that claims to withstand 15 psi of hydrostatic pressure and dutifully applied as directed. The stuff is super thick and you need two coats- first with a brush and second with a roller, waiting at least 12 hours between coats. I woke up at 6 am to get the first coat done before the kids were up and was able to do the second coat after they went to bed on Tuesday.

basement progress 018

And look at it now! It’s no Pottery Barn, that’s for sure, but it’s clean and bright and water free for the kids. The Verizon Equipment thingamajig needs to be mounted back on the wall, we had to remove it and temporarily attach it to the floor joists to waterproof the entire wall.

I used bedsheets I picked up at Salvation army to separate this area off from the HVAC/ storage/ exercise area and I bought a set of bible posters from to decorate the walls.

basement progress 021

I picked up the colors bulletin board pieces at the dollar store, along with a nine collapsible baskets to house toys, crayons,etc, in the newly emptied bookcase that was just taking up space in the other side of the bsement.

basement progress 019

One of these days I’ll put labels on the baskets. For now, I’ll sigh a HUGE sigh of relief and smile knowing that there’s a cleaner, brighter, and drier place for my kids to play.

Here’s the breakdown:

Tool rental & materials to repair large crack- $100

Hydraulic cement-  $14

Etch solution-           $3

3 gallons of paint-   $90

Posters, etc-            $9

Storage bins-           $9

ABC rubber mat-    $24    (we already had the plain ones)

Total:                       $249




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9 responses to “Finished Unfinished Basement Playroom

  1. Great job!!! We’re coming over to play!

  2. Wow, this looks great. I am hoping to do something similiar with our basement once we put in a radon air filtration system. Did you check your basement for radon? You should be able to get a free kit from your state dept; just something to check because it’s odorless, tasteless but it does tend to leak into the cracks in the ground or through your sump pump. It has been linked to lung cancer if it’s in high doses. Not trying to scare you just want you to be aware.

  3. Here’s my link of all things home related for me. I’ll post pictures whenever I get around to doing more with our basement.

  4. I just wanted to say AMEN to the no unfinished basement pics on pinterest! BOOOOO! I live in a rental and the basement is unfinished. I want to use the space, but need some ideas. I can’t paint… but this looks amazing. GREAT JOB on a big project!

  5. sarah

    This looks so nice Dana!!!

  6. It looks good. I am just starting a basement rehab project. I want it bright and cheery, but not “finished”. Yours is one of only a handful of pictures on Pinterest. I like the thrift store sheet idea for curtains. I will most likely hang them like curtains instead of trying to make it look like a wall though. I think that I will pick up some Rits Fabric dye and make them bright and cheery too.
    Thanks for the ideas.

  7. Hi there, You’ve done an excellent job. I am going to definitely digg it and personally suggest to my local freinds. We are confident they’ll be rooked this web page.

  8. AMY

    THANK YOU for posting this. I too thought the same thing when searching for “unfinished basement playroom”. This looks great!

  9. This is practically my plan for our current unfinished basement! It is all concrete, needs some serious water sealing paint for the same reasons (clay… yup…) and we have a crack down the floor I’m not sure what to do with. It is a large space that we had a bit of a playroom in, plus storage, the utility area, and laundry. And cobwebs. Lots of cobwebs. I’m trying to finish clearing everything out of there right now so I can add some ‘finishes’ to it to make the space bright, dry, and useable. NO drywall. Only fabric, paint, and some rug pieces/linolium that I have laying around from other projects. 😉

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