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Thoughts on how to go about this half wall on all the exterior walls in my basement? I have framed 2x4 walls up to the height of the half cinder block wall and installed installation. Above the half-wall was insulated with a vapor barrier by the builder. I do not need a vapor barrier on the half-wall as this was done on the exterior of the home below grade. I am planning on installing a wood shelf in this area.

  • Should I be cautious of the 2" span of the top of the cinder blocks and moisture?
  • Should this area be drywalled to make for easier shelf installation?
  • Advice on how to handle the top of the cinder block wall and possible moisture issues in the future?

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You can make that look really nice. I would pop a 1x of pine on that and stain and poly it before install. It only needs a couple of screws (or finishing nails - debate debate!). And then you have this nice focal point ledge on the basement. Can hold a vase, the remotes, or just stack it with junk!

I don't know how long of a run you have but - you have a LOT of options.

  • just the nice pine ledge (pine takes moisture really well, doesn't swell, and the stain doesn't fade fast with moisture)... ok here is the deal. cool as hell if you can get something that spans the area or if you have an idea to cover the joint of 2 different 1xs with some ornamental wood (or functional)
  • pop in wall shelving all the way across.
  • be eclectic - different size pine boards... its a wall. Different size shelves and whatever.

Do not hide this edge with drywall/mud. I have a feeling just looking at it + your description you could drywall/mud but that's trying to hide it. Make it look like you framed it for a purpose. Make people who enter your basement think - wow wonder why he framed a ledge out like that, love that idea. I always try to take any weird architectural iffyness and turn it into a focal point.

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The energy wall should've extended above the block wall far enough to allow insulation and vapor barrier over the top. You've left a heat bridge, and the gap between your energy wall insulation and block effectively negates the lower wall insulation's value as heat and moisture can migrate through it. It needs the same insulation depth and treatment as the upper and lower wall portions have. At this point I'd consider laying 3/4" or 1" foam board over the top.

After that, finishing treatment is entirely at your discretion. Drywall is the least expensive option, but it's still fussy. It can be challenging to get it flat and level, which is more important here than at other places in the walls. Corner bead installation must be done carefully to keep things straight.

Also, drywall is difficult to keep clean. It'll get dingy with time. This is why higher-quality homes tend to have either hardwood or laminate surfaces installed. It takes at least intermediate carpentry skills to accomplish that well, though, as nothing is truly level or square.

Of course, you could always finish it with drywall now and add caps later.

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