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We're purchasing a home with a large, unfinished basement having a poured concrete foundation and walls. This home is in Minnesota, so there's a seasonal consideration with temperature and moisture. Is it possible to finish a room while still leaving the raw concrete exposed on one wall? I will be building out a basement office and other rooms, and I love the look of the raw concrete (think: industrial office space) and I think it would make an awesome backdrop for my work area. Open to any ideas here.

Related, it seems like the foundation wall should be around 10" thick? Is there any issue mounting into it with hardware, say to mount a television or monitor?

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    Unless it's an interior wall or somebody actually did it right and insulated the exterior of the exterior walls, you might find it a bit uncomfortable, thermally.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 22, 2020 at 3:06
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    I would love to see pictures of your foundation walls. I have never seen a house that is of the quality of industrial raw pours. Some may be prettier than others but I most/all have notches and pour lines from the cheaper forms they use. Also "basement" concrete hasn't been grinded/sanded down and it is flaky and dirty.
    – DMoore
    Sep 22, 2020 at 6:10

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Finish it anyway you want. Attaching fasteners to the wall for hanging TV's pullup bars, vaults for your gold bullion collection won't be a problem. You may want to paint the wall. Black maybe

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    Note that if you paint it....it's a done deal. If there is ever moisture or peeling, you can never go back to plain concrete (at least not without an inordinate amount of work). Sep 22, 2020 at 4:42
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The answer is no. To be considered a finished basement there must be a wall covering around the "finished" part of the basement. If it were just concrete, well that is an unfinished basement.

I have seen a lot of goofy things done including adding a 1/2" of plaster to all of the outer walls, putting drywall on basically shims, adding faux brick panels all around and probably countless other things. Those would be considered suitable for a finished basement.

Really the only other requirements on a finished basement are minimal lighting available (including switched at entrance) and outlets every 6 feet.

So no you can't just paint the concrete and call it finished, although applying plaster is basically the same thing, it just does not meet the definition of a finished space.

Now all of the realty legalize aside and talking practicality. In no way in Minnesota should you not drywall your basement. You should be insulating AT LEAST from ground level and up - especially around the edges (you can do this before it is finished). The framing also gives you an easy way to run electricity to outlets and lights.

There is just no reason to not frame the outer walls in the "finished" space. You do not want to subject whatever you are keeping down there to massive humidity and temp changes, you do not want it easier for bugs and rodents to get in and so on.

From a $$$ point of view if you painted your basement walls and left it like that your house would probably lose value, no matter the time, effort and quality. Anything done well out of normal standards like that is usually a red flag on the house.

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  • That's helpful, thanks. I was mainly concerned about humidity and temperature. What about concrete walls that are below ground level? I assume same. This picture shows the type of modern, industrial look I was thinking (albeit without the electricity): crismatec.com/python/co/…
    – trnelson
    Sep 22, 2020 at 14:08
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    @trnelson - there is no way your basement wall look like that. To achieve even close to that look will include grinding, sanding, and adding some coating. Also I am 90% positive the picture that you have there isn't concrete.
    – DMoore
    Sep 22, 2020 at 16:05
  • Haha you're probably right. It doesn't really need to look that polished, but I was hoping the raw (even rough) concrete would be usable because I just like the look. I agree though, probably not the best idea. I'll probably frame it out, insulate it, run electrical, and then put up some kind of stone or wood wall. Thanks!
    – trnelson
    Sep 22, 2020 at 16:56

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