Basement Wall Systems Explained

finished basement

Basement wall systems are a terrific way to convert your unfinished basement into useful living space. People are spending more and more time at home, which makes a basement recreation room is a great way to entertain while saving money. These wall systems are easier and quicker to install than traditional methods. They also offer better insulation, increases durability and resistance to both mold and mildew.

Insulating Properties

All basements tend to feel damp, even if the best waterproofing materials were used. That is because water vapor can still penetrate the waterproofing on the walls, causing that all too familiar damp feel. That is a particular problem when using traditional wood framing and fiberglass batt insulation for your basement walls.

Over time, the wood studs absorb moisture and develop mold. The fiberglass insulation compresses as it absorbs moisture, greatly reducing its insulating value. To combat that, most basement wall systems utilize 2-inch rigid foam insulation with .5-inch cement fiber panels. A vinyl finish is usually applied. Basement wall systems generally have an R Value between 10 and 13, which is better than both traditional wood framing and fiberglass batt insulation.

Mold and Mildew Resistance

Mold and mildew thrive in dark, damp spaces like basements. Using wood framing and drywall usually creates a cavity between the concrete and the finished wall. Even laying the frame directly against the wall leaves space. Water vapor that permeates through the cement is trapped in this dark cavity, facilitating mold growth.

The paper backing of drywall contributes to the problem, since paper promotes mold growth. Basement wall systems use rigid foam insulation and composite materials for their finished panels. These materials are sometimes treated to give them extra resistance to mold.


Another great aspect of basement wall systems is their durability in high traffic areas. The open floor plan of most basements makes them an ideal choice for playrooms, fitness rooms, and recreation rooms. All of these rooms need to be especially durable to withstand the dings and dents these walls are sure to endure.

The composite materials and cement fiber materials used in the finished panels of basement wall systems are much more durable than drywall. Anyone who’s had to patch a hole in their basement wall will certainly appreciate their exceptional durability.

Plus, they don’t require a fresh coat of paint every few years to keep them looking new. Since most manufacturers use a vinyl coating on the finish panel, all that’s required to keep them looking new is soap and water.

Given the benefits that basement wall systems offer in regards to better insulating properties, mold resistance, and durability, it’s no wonder they're becoming an increasingly popular choice among homeowners. These walls are also easier to install than traditional framing and drywall systems.