House Paint for Basements with Moisture

Answered by Brett ~ May 4, 2010 ~ Comments

The funny thing about Wisconsin basements is how dank they always seem to be. We have plans to renovate our basement to make it a living area. We will be painting it, and I want to make sure I use a paint that will dry quickly and not be affected by the humidity that seems to exist downstairs. What do you recommend?

John S. ~ Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Brett Kulina

One way to ensure that your new paint job is not effected by the moisture and humidity problems in your basement is to get rid of the moisture before you apply the paint. Basements that have moisture problems tend to develop an unwanted musty scent and eventually mold problems, and these issues will become more difficult to deal with once the walls are finished. I suggest you identify where the moisture is coming from and try to eliminate it before you paint.

If your property has high ground water, the moisture in your basement may be seeping in from the outside, through your home's foundation walls. If this is the case, then you should apply a sealer or other moisture barrier to the outside of the concrete walls to keep water from entering your basement. Weep drains (or French Drains) are also very effective at helping to direct water away from basement walls. One simple solution to indoor humidity problems is a dehumidifier, which can be placed in your basement. When the summer air in Wisconsin is really muggy, a dehumidifier can effectively suck the moisture out of the air, which can keep the relative humidity in your home at a comfortably low level.

Once you have solved the moisture and humidity issues, then I suggest you seal the interior side of the basement walls and consider using "greenboard" on the newly framed living area walls, which is a type of sheetrock that is made for use in wet areas. Once you have taken all of these precautions to eliminate moisture and humidity, then you can probably use a standard interior paint for the finished walls. If you wanted to hedge your bets yet again, you could mix some mildewcide additive into the paint for extra protection.

Good luck with your project!

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