I started a job and my wife is looking to string me up if I don't start finishing it soon.

We bought our 50 y/o rancher in PA with a "finished" basement, aka, drop ceiling, paneling on 3 walls (4th is drywall) in the created family room and drywall ceiling and walls in 2 created bedrooms. There's also an unfinished laundry room.

Anywho, one day our tub drain leaked a bit and dripped water on the drop ceiling, and I am not a fan of drop ceiling or paneling, so I decided to rip it all out and put drywall up to match the rest. The issue is when I took the paneling down I found 1" rigid foam behind it. After peeling that away I found a stud wall BEHIND it and rolled insulation between the studs. Now, the foam was taped, but the paneling was nailed through it and it stops at the bottom of the joists, leaving the cavities uninsulated.

  1. Do I just drywall over the foam (drive drywall screws through the foam to get to the studs)?
  2. Do I toss the foam and install drywall over just the rolled?
  3. Do I toss the rolled and install the foam between the studs instead?
  4. Do I strip all of the insulation out and reinstall the foam over the studs without the rolled behind it?
  5. Do I remove all and try to wiggle the foam behind the studs (barely more than 1" gap bet concrete wall and stud, so not likely)?
  6. Do I rip it all out and start fresh (really don't want to do this).

The basement is generally dry, but I have 2 sumps that get work in heavy downpours and a dehumidifier that gets work in the summer. My mom's moving in and I have to get this done before that happens. Thanks in advance.

  • Where is the vapor barrier/retardant in all this? And how far below ground level is the floor of the basement? Or to put it another way, how much of the basement wall is above ground?
    – SteveSh
    Apr 27, 2020 at 14:39
  • May want to look at this thread: diy.stackexchange.com/questions/184175/…
    – SteveSh
    Apr 27, 2020 at 14:54
  • I'm assuming it's either the rigid foam or there isn't one. I'll read the thread when I get a chance. Thanks! Apr 28, 2020 at 14:12
  • Thanks for the replies, but they don't really answer my question. There's already a wall constructed, but it seems to be backwards (gap, studs, rolled insulation in between studs, then rigid foam on the inside). Do I really need to tear it all down? May 10, 2020 at 15:32
  • Still need to know where the vapor barrier is. Going from the inside of the basement out, 1) does the foam board have paper or foil on it? 2) Does the rolled insulation have a plastic or paper or some other material vapor barrier? 3) Is there a 4 mil or 6 mil plastic sheeting against the block/concrete wall to the outside?
    – SteveSh
    May 10, 2020 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


This is what I did in my house near Butler, Pa. I installed 4X8 sheets of pink/blue styrofoam panels directly onto the concrete block and taped the joints with 3" wide aluminum tape. Next I studded the walls with 2X4's using a bottom plate bolted to the concrete floor using 3/8"X3" Red Head anchors. (not the kind that you set with a hammer). I screwed the top plate to the joists with 3" dry wall screws. I insulated the walls with R11 fiberglass insulation with the vapor barrier. Last, I drywalled over the studs. (hire someone to do the drywall). This has worked for me, but some people say I should have left a gap between the block and the finished wall. This is the 2nd time I have done this and it has done a good job for me. One thing I want to say is that My sump pump worked hard when it rained and I had a contractor check the pipes for the rain gutters and down spouts. The contractor that built did a bad job and used SDS pipe which smashed and the joints came apart, allowing that water to dump into the french drain and into the basements sump pump. That pipe was replaced as necessary with sch 35. Now the sump pump runs much less. This is what I did and I am happy with it. Good luck and stay safe

  • I understand this is the proper way to do it from scratch, but that is not the situation I am dealing with. My walls are already up and constructed, but it seems like he did the rigid foam backwards, on the inside most wall as opposed to against the concrete. do I really need to tear everything down, or is there a way that I can leave the current studs up? May 10, 2020 at 15:33

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