I've an unfinished 1k sq ft basement in Chicago with 10 inch cement foundation walls. I'll be creating a family room, bedrooms, bath, etc. I have water coming thru the floor--so Im adding drain tile inside around the perimeter at the footing which will go into a sump pit. The company installing the tile tyvek's all the interior cement walls to above outside grade (which goes 80% of the way up the wall). They do this in case the interior cement wall has leaks--then it will go into the drain tile system.

I will build out many rooms in the basement as noted with 2x4 wood studs. What would best practice say about insulating the walls and the cement slab floor (which I will lay snap together luxury vinyl planks on)? thank you

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    Before you go too far with your planning to put bedrooms in the basement make sure to understand the egress requirements to meet safety regulations. There will be minimum window size, maximum height from floor and specific requirements for the outside window well. Window opening method will also be a factor.
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 11:22
  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Do look at @MichaelKaras's concern. And, it's likely this will be closed as a "shopping" question; you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to participate here. Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 12:24

2 Answers 2


I know it's popular, but putting a finish surface on a basement cement wall doesn't seem clever at all. A cement wall is a perfectly presentable wall surface, it is a basement, after all; you'll not fool anyone into forgetting they are in a basement.

The problem with covering it up with an "appealing" wall finish is now you cannot inspect the wall. I get where your idea is that you'll have a leak-catcher system, but if anything goes wrong with that, you'll have a mold nightmare lickety split. And a lot of expense on both sides: installing the wall in the first place, and tearing it out.

If you really want to insulate the wall, install a vapor barrier and insulate outside, digging if necessary. That will place the wall mass inside the insulation envelope so it will help regulate interior temperature; the mass becomes your friend instead of your enemy.


I won't get into the other concerns you have in your basement - I will just understand it could get wet. You are in zone 5 in the US. There is no reason for direct insulation on the lower walls.

I would use something a little bit more mold resistant like mineral wool and only insulate 1 foot past grade. That means you will need to cut crossers to hold the insulation 1 foot below grade. The insulation even if you basement gets wet should never be near water and if it ever is that is the last thing you are worried about.

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