A finished basement adds valuable living space to your home and will make your house more attractive to potential buyers. While most people would love to have their basement finished, the idea of paying $6,000 or more to have the work done is not appealing in the least. However, you can finish the basement yourself and save a great deal of money in labor. If you are considering undertaking this task, here is what you can expect to spend.

Required Tools

You will need tools to do this work. Most of them are basic. Some of them are optional depending on how you finish the walls. Here are the required tools that you will need.

Drill – Get a good one, because this is a big project. You should plan on spending $150 if you don’t already have a good cordless drill.

Circular saw – Again, you are dealing with a bigger project and the saw will get used quite a bit. A good circular saw can be purchased for $120 or less.

Stepladder – If you don’t already have one in the house, you’ll want to invest $30 to $60 in a good one that can help you finish the entire basement.

Assorted hand tools – Plan on spending $100 or less to purchase some assorted hand tools for the framing. You will need a hammer, level, tape measure, utility knife, chalk line and carpenter’s square.

Optional Tools

If you decide to put beadboard or wood paneling on the walls, then you will not require the following tools. If you want drywall on the basement walls or ceiling then you should plan on spending about $80 in drywall finishing tools include a large putty knife, small putty knife, corner putty knife, container for working with the joint compound, sanding stick and sand paper.

Behind the Walls

Assuming your room is a 20×20 room, you can plan on spending at least $300 on the wood and screws for framing. You should also plan on spending another $50 to purchase plastic sheeting which will go between your framework and the original cinderblock walls.

The next step is having the area wired. If you are not an electrician and do not really know your way around an electrical panel, it is not recommended that you attempt this job. You should plan on paying an electrician to wire the area, at a cost of around $1000. If you are comfortable with wiring and feel confident that you can do this, then you should plan on spending about $300 for materials.

Insulation is a requirement to help the basement stay warm when temperatures drop. Rolled insulation can be used at a cost of $150 and is easily installed by the average homeowner.


There are basically two choices for the walls, sheetrock or wood paneling. There are many options for wood paneling and it’s come a long way from the dark wood used back in the 1970’s. Wood paneling will cost more to install, but it will save you a great deal of time and hassle in finishing work. Sheetrock finishing can be tricky for people who are not experienced at it, but the overall cost will be much lower.

If you choose sheetrock, you can plan on spending about $100 in sheetrock, plus the various tools discussed above. You will also spend about another $100 in baseboard trim for the sheetrock, and $50 for the joint compound and tape. You should also take into account the hours or sanding and finishing that will be waiting for you.

Wood paneling or beadboard will cost roughly $400 for the paneling, plus another $50 for the corner transition pieces. The nice thing is that you are done once it’s hung. You won’t have to spend any time working on the finishing process. The biggest downside is that it can’t be patched should something leave a hole in the wall.


The ceiling should be done for a finished look that you will really enjoy. It can be covered in sheetrock for about $50, but keep in mind the finishing costs that will be associated with that. The nice thing about sheetrock on the ceiling is that you can use a texturing tool, available for less than $25, to quickly and easily finish the ceiling.

Another option is to hang strips of beadboard on the ceiling. You will need to mount luan first, so the strips have extra stability, but it will look great. Homeowners should plan on spending about $500 if you choose this option.


Most people choose carpet for their basements. The best bet is to choose a company that runs regular specials on installation, allowing you to have the area done for $1400 or less. Laminate flooring is also an excellent option, and it is easier to keep clean. You could easily install laminate flooring for about $800. Finally, it is possible to get inexpensive vinyl floor tiles that could be installed for only about $400.

You should allow a budget of about $400 for the new lights, paint and other finishing touches. This would bring the grand total of a basement installation to a minimum of $1900. This assumes that you have all the necessary tools, can do the work on your own and choose the least expensive options for flooring and walls. The price can easily run up closer to $5000 if you need to purchase tools, hire an electrician or choose the more expensive finishing options.

Here are some links where you can learn how to finish the basement.

http://www.finishabasement.com/ for detailed instructions on how to do the work.
http://www.basements101.com/ gives you ideas on layout and details on performing the work.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TjAM6-wVUI is a video showing a family finishing their own basement.


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