I'm now getting ready to redo the basement that was flooded. See the horrifying images below..

Some questions:

a) Why in the world is there a layer of plastic on studs - do I have to do the same or was that some 80-ies thing?
b) is there a wood that won't rot under water? In case if basement floods again... Is there a waterproof sheetrock?

enter image description here
enter image description here

2 Answers 2


How awful. The studs and plastic were a terrible mistake. I think you are absolutely on the right track to replace everything with materials that are not degraded by water. Basements gonna flood.

Re-doing any basement wall that's made of concrete is easy in principle. Cover any such wall with 3-4" of foam insulation board (EPS, XPS, or polyiso), and seal and tape the edges. You can cut channels for electrical boxes (use metal ones). Cover it all up with cementboard (not any flavor of drywall) and then put on a skim coat of lime plaster, perhaps gauged with a small amount of gypsum to make it harden faster (advanced technique, practice it first). This is a wall that laughs at water.

Looks like you have a walkout basement. That means you have one or more stud walls. If none of the walls have wood at the floor, then you're good with the above advice, and you can cover up what studs remain with drywall or whatever, but do take the opportunity to remove the plastic vapor barrier in any stud walls (ugh, why are people so obsessed with vapor barriers?). You neither need nor want a vapor barrier in your wall unless you are north of Illinois, or especially in any climate where you'll be using air conditioning. In mixed climates, they cause more problems than they solve.

If you have any stud walls that go to the ground, it's more complicated. There is no removing all the wood from these walls unless you are willing to remove said walls and rebuild them out of concrete blocks. If the wood in these walls gets wet and stays wet, it will rot. There is no practical way to prevent un-treated wood from rotting in the presence of standing water. If it's just one wall, you could hire someone to rebuild the bottom few feet out of concrete blocks and then follow the above advice.

  • wow. great answer. Never crossed my mind I could use cementboard instead of sheetrock! Question - and for the actual studs the best I can do is PT moisture resistant lumber - right?
    – Dannyboy
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 3:36
  • "wood at the floor" - what do you mean by that? Studs do touch concrete as shown in images. And yes - it's a simple raised ranch with a walkout basement.
    – Dannyboy
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 3:39
  • In your second picture, the bump-out doesn't seem to actually need any wood and studs at all because the wall is made of concrete. So you can simply not put any wood there at all. In a walk-out basement, there is usually at least one fully-framed wall where there is a sill plate touching the slab, which is what I meant by "wood at the floor."
    – iLikeDirt
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 6:30
  • if I do XPS to cover concrete, I then need some structure to attach cement board to. I mean - for finishing - right? What would I attach cementboard to if there is no wood backing?
    – Dannyboy
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 14:32
  • 1
    Then I'd recommend PT wood and cementboard for anything that's going to be within a foot of the ground, and tile baseboards. You'll probably be safe with regular wood and drywall above that.
    – iLikeDirt
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 20:29

The plastic is a vapor barrier. It's used because these are unfaced fiberglass insulation batts.

In cold climates, the vapor barrier prevents moisture within the living space from penetrating into and condensing in the cooler insulation where it reduces the insulating properties or worse, freezes.

When its replaced, there will need to be some sort of vapor barrier whether it's faced insulation or unfaced insulation with sheet plastic vapor barrier.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.