Depending on the latitude that you live in, you may have cold weather or hot to deal with, and insulation may be needed to keep your basement comfortable all the year ‘round. The issue facing you is: which type of insulation to use?
In the case of fibreglass, it has the virtues of being relatively inexpensive and easy to install. You buy it in rolls, and then cut it to fit in the places you need it. Now, it is important that you first put down a vapour barrier; that’s a sheet of plastic that separates the cold outside from the warm inside.
It’s vital that you put the vapour barrier in place. If not, the cold air coming in from the outside will cause the warm air to cool, condense, and moisture will collect at this temperature interface. As this spot is inside the walls, you’ll get water building up there, and water leads to wet walls and insulation, which in turn ruins the fibreglass and provides an ideal grow medium for mould!
The last thing you want inside your walls is mould. Not only does it tend to smell, but some moulds release spores that are harmful to people. So, it needs to be prevented. As the barrier comes in large sheets, you want to staple it in place, and make sure that each sheet overlaps the one next to it by at least a foot or two.
Another type of insulation available is polystyrene foam. You buy it in large sheets, and then cut to so that you can fit it in all of the small places it needs to go. Now, it has its pluses and minuses. The foam is not bothered by moisture or the build up of water, but it does not give the same insulation value as fibreglass.
Yet, with fibreglass, you need large clippers to cut it, and you need to wear protective gloves, mask and goggles. The small fibres can get into your eyes, mouth, and even into your skin – none of which are good! On the other hand, polystyrene foam is much easier to handle; you just need a small saw to cut it up, and you can shape it to fit in any spot you need.
If you’re planning to add electrical outlets to the walls, do not cut out a notch in the insulation. It might seem like only a little hole, but each outlet allows the cold/heat in and out. Together, all those outlets can add up to a lot! Plus, each of them can be a place for moisture to collect, and electricity and water do not mix.
So, take care to properly insulate your basement, and you’ll have a great living space that’s comfortable all year long.