I’m working on finishing a small 700 sqft basement. House is in Boston area, built around 1940. The poured foundation wall with stairs against it is two-tier. Bottom half of the wall is 3 inches further out than the top. I am doing traditional framing for the rest of the basement, but no way I can fit a 2x4 up the staircase on the wall side. The stairs against the lower half of the wall are only 30.5 inches wide. Upper ones are 33.5 inches. I don’t want to cut in too far to the stairs with drywall, so I’m trying to find a way to get drywall up, with minimal framing underneath.

I assume I might have to use furring. Is that the best solution? If so, how do you recommend handling the ledge created by the two tier wall?


  • Do you plan on involving the building department at all? Because your stair widths are out of spec. See IRC R311.7.1. See that it remains unamended under mass.gov/doc/….
    – popham
    Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 4:49
  • I don’t. All of the changes would ideally be cosmetic. The stairs were like this when I bought the house and there is no way to widen them
    – marco f
    Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 12:31
  • Do I see correctly that the double-tier concrete articulates around the stairs? As if the stairs were put in first and the concrete was laid afterward. Strange way to do a foundation. Or maybe the double tier is somehow "decorative" or parge that has gone overboard. Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 12:52
  • Looks to me like you have two choices: 1) furr out the top part of the wall to flush with the bottom, and simply glue the drywall to the bottom part while screwing to the furring, or 2) furr out both and have a ledge. The latter will reduce your stair width even further, of course. Why do you want to drywall here anyway?
    – Huesmann
    Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 13:53

2 Answers 2


Glue the drywall to the concrete wall. You could use 1/4" thick board. If you must have drywall there.

  • Assuming the drywall is only for appearance and not for anything else, this is what I'd recommend as well. Then it would be possible to build a small ledge out of a nice finished wood for decorative purposes where the two concrete sections meet. As it is now, that angled section serves no useful purpose.
    – Milwrdfan
    Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 17:02
  • 1
    One caution if going this route: If there are any moisture issues (likely in an in-ground concrete foundation in the Boston area), a drywall-like product without mold-feeding paper should be used - not regular drywall.
    – blarg
    Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 17:25

I have done what kreemoweet suggests, but I used a few concrete screws (Tapcons) to hold the sheets while the adhesive set and deal with any problem areas. Use tape-on (paper-faced) corner bead where needed.

Do ask yourself what the drywall provides, though, in exchange for the loss of space and the tedium of fitting around all those steps. Maybe a skim job with a long knife would accomplish the same. Your concrete looks fairly nice. The wall in my case would've been problematic to skim.

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