Completing this basement was one of the best ways my client could have done to build his equity up in his home and capture more livable square footage. This Toronto basement renovation really brought out the unique style of the project, this was a fun challenge to tackle and the outcome is a space for more room for her family to enjoy.

This house is a "standard" suburb home that was built in the early 2000s. It has a partial basement with a crawl space, and cinder block walls.


Cold, Dark, and full of spider webs. This basement was a standard cinder block wall, unfinished basement.

At first for this renovation, we began sealing the walls and "waterproofing" the area. Basements in Toronto are typically dry, so we never had any major issues to fix. I sealed any cracks in the walls with a caulking for blocks and applied painted block sealer onto the walls. If you’ve never used block sealer before it can get so messy! However, you can really tell that it seals the block up and will prevent moisture from getting in any basment.

Now that we’re done sealing the block, we insulated using rigid insulation. This was so simple to do! We used an R5 insulation that was 1" thick, it is designed for basement walls. To install this, I simply glued each panel to the block and then taped the joins to prevent any cold air from getting into this space. Toronto has some cold winters at times so we want this basement renovation to be weatherproof.  After getting the R5 up, there was a huge difference in the basement temperature, even though we did less than half of the basement.

The next step is to start framing the walls and was what I enjoyed the most out of this renovation. What gives this basement in Toronto it’s shape is the framing, and you can really begin to see how it will turn out. To frame the walls, me and my son attached the 2x4 top plate to the joists on the floor above, and then screwed the pressure treated 2x4 bottom plate to the concrete floor using tapcons. We then framed 2x4 studs at 16" on center throughout the room "toe-nailing" the studs into the top and bottom plates.

I find this part of the basement renovation kind of tricky so our colleagues in Toronto came up a solution when you frame a wall on the ground and try to stand it up in place, the wall sill will either be too tight or need shims to fill in space if it was built too short. Also, since the walls aren't load bearing, you could frame it up to 24" on center, but 16" stud spacing keeps the finished drywall straighter.

Once the walls were finished, we framed in the beam spanning the space and a soffit to hide another beam and gas lines running to a fireplace above. In Toronto you want to choose a qualified A-fitter luckily I have one on my team that I use for all my renovations.

Now that the walls have been built, we needed to get the electrical needs in the basement done. So my go-to guy that was is an electrician came over. We added 8 outlets, on the walls, for a tv, and for a mini-fridge. We also added 6 can light to space, and split the lighting to have a switch for the new room, and then a switch for the lights in the storage area. I received some dimmable LED lights, to insert into the cans. They worked great and added a soft, modern finish to the space.

I can’t stress this enough, you shouldn’t be tying the new circuits into the panels because requires someone that knows what they are doing. If you don’t have a friend that has done it many times, I would pay for a professional.

Next, we added in a vent for HVAC into the space. There was a line that feeds the living room above that we added a t-joint into and put an overhead vent in. This is to have a little air flowing into the space, but not completely heat or cool the space. At some point, we need to add in a return air vent, but that's for another day. Right now we are keeping the supply vent closed and will only use it if necessary. 

At this point you could easily close up the walls with drywall, however, I added HDMI, Component, Ethernet, and Coax in the wall to where my TV will hang. I got a mount, added blocking, and drilled holes in the framing where the cables will run into a closet. Preparation is so important, especially in this basement renovation.

Finally, it was time to close in the walls and add drywall to the space. This part was fun to see the transformation, but the work wasn't pleasant.  We used a basement rated drywall from Menards that is mold resistant, just in case the basement ever gets damp.  It's best to start on the ceiling and hang the whole ceiling first. We used a "dead man hoist" which is basically a big "T" made from 2x4s to help stabilize the drywall until it was screwed in. 

Next, in the basement, we had to finish the drywall. This part of the renovation is over the halfway point. I taped all the drywall, you also want someone experienced to come to do your mudding and taping for this part of your renovation. It will take a lot of stress off of you.

I personally like the painting. There is a certain satisfaction in seeing your progress as you move throughout the room and see the final look take form. 

First, we sealed the drywall with a primer, both on the ceiling and the walls. Next, we used a flat white ceiling paint, for a crisp and clean ceiling.

Choosing a wall paint color seems to be a difficult task no matter what room is getting painted this is why it's important to get the client on the same page on picking out a great color. Eventually, we landed on Sherwin Williams Sea Glass, which is a grayish/greenish/blueish color. The Sea Glass paint color was the perfect light and airy color in the basement, that contrasted the natural woods and the white baseboard well. 

After Paint, I installed baseboards and we painted them Extra White (which is the base white color). 

While we were painting, I had picked up some oak cabinets that the client wanted. The client also wanted to install for a drybar/craft area (depending on the use of the space). To cover the natural oak, I first lightly sanded the cabinets, and then used Zinsser B-I-N primer to coat the wood. 

Next, we selected Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze as the cabinet color. I love Urbane Bronze. It has the industrial look and it blends really well with natural wood tones. 

We got a Maple butcher block counter-top from a hardware store to be used as a work surface and to contrast the painted cabinets. We sealed the butcherblock with a satin varnish. 

The last step in this basement renovation in Toronto was to order the carpet and have it installed. We selected a cost-effective option and went with a quality pad. The pad under the carpet is made for basements and concrete and makes the carpet feel extra plush. 

After the carpet was installed, I installed the doors in the space (a little trimming to the bottom was required to clear the carpet). I picked the doors up from the trustworthy supplier. I highly recommend solid doors for any renovation project! They swing so much nicer, and they feel like "quality" when they shut.