The small basement in my house (built in 1932) has three concrete walls. The forth wall is comprised of vertical wood boards. Behind the boards is the crawl space for the rest of the house. The basement leaks when it rains, and we plan on adding a DIY drain system inside, all the way around the basement wall perimeter.

However, there needs to be a fourth wall constructed, since the wood slates are old, and there is just dirt behind them. A basement waterproofing company said that a "brick" wall would need to be constructed where the wood slates are so that there are four walls to our basement for a system.

Their price was quite expensive, so I'm looking to do it myself, but I know very little about building a wall in my basement. I have some limited experience building with concrete and bricks.

How should I go about building the wall? Bricks, cinder blocks? How far down should I dig to pour a footer for the wall to sit on? Any advice or resources are helpful!

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  • Is that wood wall actually holding back dirt or is it simply hiding a crawl space with an earthen floor? Apr 27, 2020 at 15:20
  • - UnhandledExcepSean, it looks like it is actually holding back dirt. The dirt goes about halfway up the wall.
    – Joel
    Apr 27, 2020 at 15:35
  • I think we would really need to know for sure what is behind that wood with pictures. Apr 27, 2020 at 21:06
  • @UnhandledExcepSean I edited the post to include 3 extra images. Behind the wood boards is the crawl space dirt, about 3-4 foot high. So, the basment floor ends and you have a "wall" made up from these old boards that seperates the basement from the crawl space. I hope that clarifies it! Thank you!
    – Joel
    Apr 28, 2020 at 13:42
  • How high are you planning on making the brick/CMU wall? Basement floor to ceiling, so about 8 feet?
    – SteveSh
    Apr 28, 2020 at 14:40

1 Answer 1


First I'd provide a 22" wide by 12" thick footing.

  1. Throw (3) continuous #4 bars in there elevated 3" clear from the bottom surface of the footing. They should be spaced 4 1/2" apart from one another and the group of 3 should be centered in the footing.

  2. Install #4 L shaped dowels (approximately 6"x3'-0") sticking out of the top of the concrete footing at 48" on center . Tie the shorter length of these to the continuous bars mentioned in step 1 to keep them in place when pouring the concrete. Alternate the direction (left and right) of the shorter length of the L.

Then I'd construct a 8" CMU wall.

  1. Place an additional #4 straight bar in the cells the contain the dowels. Footing should already be poured.

  2. Vertical grouting at 48" on center. (grout the cells of the CMU that have the rebar)

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  • This is very helpful! Thanks for the diagram (I was confused at first). How would I mix such a large amount of concrete at once for this (at least the footer?). I suppose I would need to get it delivered? I doubt I would be able to mix such a large amount on site.
    – Joel
    Apr 28, 2020 at 14:51
  • 1
    Just curious. Do you really think you need to go the footer route for a non-load bearing wall?
    – SteveSh
    Apr 28, 2020 at 14:56
  • Getting it delivered would definitely give you the best results. All these factors lead to the price tag the contractor gave you. You could pour the footing in 4'-5' strips, but I don't recommend this. There's a bit more detail with the continuous rebar that goes into doing that.
    – represton
    Apr 28, 2020 at 14:57
  • @SteveSh absolutely. If you have masonry, it will settle into the soil under its self weight alone. Within a year the wall will start cracking or tipping over.
    – represton
    Apr 28, 2020 at 14:58
  • 1
    @represton - I agree if the wall was being build on soil. I thought he might be building the wall on top of the existing concrete floor...
    – SteveSh
    Apr 28, 2020 at 17:49

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