Gone are the days when a basement is a dark and dingy room that the whole family avoids entering. With the numerous ways in which there are to cover your basement walls, you will definitely be able to find the right option that matches not only your entire home’s aesthetic but also your budget. Below, I present you with 11 different options, arranged in order of increasing cost.
1. Fabric Treatments
If you have neither time nor finances to paint your walls or add wallpaper, a really affordable and easy option to cover your walls is by adding fabric wherever you can.
Hanging long, sheer curtains can really make the space feel soft, warm, and inviting. The Saixi Christmas White Sheer Curtains (amazon link) are an affordable option that will truly elevate the space in no time. You don’t even need to cover your windows with these, you can even cover an entire wall with these curtains to hide the concrete walls and really create a great ambiance.
If your basement is used as a bedroom/master suite or recreational areas, such as a family movie room or games room, then adding unique tapestries is a great way to not only add some color and style to the room but it a wonderful opportunity to display your individuality.
There is a variety to make your selection from, ranging in size, color, and design. They cost around $20 apiece, but you could even roll up your sleeves and make your own using a wide sheet of material and any paints or craft tools you desire.
Pros of Fabric Treatments in Basements
- Using fabric is an affordable way to cover your bland basement walls as you will not need much in terms of supplies and labor.
- It is a great way to add individuality to a space.
- It is a temporary fixture, which makes it easy to swap out when you want to change things up.
Cons of Fabric Treatments in Basements
- Sometimes curtains aren’t enough to hide the unsightly concrete walls.
2. Tinted Drylok Masonry Waterproofer
Using tinted Drylok for covering your basement walls is not only a way to add appeal to the basement, but it is also very functional. The latex-based solution is extremely waterproof, keeping out any water that may seep through the basement walls and protecting the home from extreme weather conditions.
It is advised to prep your basement walls before applying your first coat of Drylok. You need to make sure your basement walls are dry and free from grease, dirt, old paint, and peeling previous layers of waterproofing so that the Drylok can properly adhere to the walls.
Plan your paint job for when it is dry and hot outside so that the Drylok can dry quickly.
After each coat, inspect for pinholes in the wall. These are tiny holes that can allow water to seep through. If you find them, just add an additional coat to those areas.
Pros of Tinted Drylok Masonry Waterproofer
- Despite being a waterproofer, this solution comes in a variety of colors, so you can brighten up the basement in whatever color you choose.
- You get the added benefit of waterproofing your basement.
- One gallon of the product can cover 75-100 sq. ft of wall, and only costs around $35.
Cons of Tinted Drylok Masonry Waterproofer
- You need to apply a minimum of two coats on your walls to achieve full coverage. With a drying period of 3-5 hours between each coat, this is not going to be a quick process.
- Drylok comes with a warning that it contains the cancer-causing chemical crystalline silica.
3. Create a Peg Board Wall
A really innovative solution to covering up a wall or two in your basement is to create a peg board wall. All you really need is to purchase a peg board that is the right size for your wall and then install it with a few nails and screws to ensure it is completely secure.
You can get a pegboard for around $150 – $250 depending on how much of the wall you would like to cover. They come in a variety of colors, or you can even customize them with any paint you desire.
When it comes to organization, this is an absolute game-changer. No matter what you use your basement wall for, there are so many options for adding storage solutions to your peg board. If you use it as an office space, this set of peg boards and accessories (amazon link) are a really affordable and effective way to organize your stationary.
If the basement is your one-stop-shop for all your tools, then this pegboard and accessories organizing storage system for tools (amazon link) is a great addition as you will have all you need to hang your wrenches, hammers and screwdrivers neatly.
Pros of Creating a Peg Board Wall in the Basement
- Peg boards are an amazing way of keeping things super organized, as you can find a HUGE variety of storage accessories for peg boards, which will make keeping things neat and on display an absolute breeze.
- You can free up quite a lot of floor and closet space by hanging and storing things on your walls.
Cons of Creating a Peg Board Wall in the Basement
- Peg boards can work out quite expensive if you plan on covering an entire wall.
- Certain finishes of peg boards can make the space feel quite industrial.
4. Parging and Paint
When you parge a wall, you are applying a thin layer of mortar over your exposed walls in order to fill out and smooth imperfections. Parge itself is not really that attractive, so often it is matched with painting your desired color over it.
You first need to make sure the parge is completely dry before applying a latex primer over it to prepare for the painting. Once dry, apply the acrylic paint of your choice to your basement walls.
You should budget around $3-$4 per sq. ft for parging your walls, and then add in the cost of the paint you will be using.
Pros of Parging and Painting
- Parging by itself is a great aesthetic addition to your basement because it smooths out the rough-finished walls. Adding paint will just spruce up the place by adding a color.
- Parging lasts a very long time, and does not crack or fade as easily as paint does.
Cons of Parging and Painting
- If you paint over your parging, you can expect the paint to start peeling off it as it becomes exposed to moisture and light.
5. Wood Paneling
You can really warm up your basement by adding wood paneling to the walls. The addition of texture will really add an aesthetic appeal to your basement, which can make it more inviting to create a livable space there.
There are a variety of types of wood paneling, making it easy to add to your home as you will be able to find one that fits your vision and your budget.
Shiplap is an affordable paneling option, at around $5 per sq. ft, and is quite easy to install as you simply fit each piece into a groove.
Beadboard and drop siding also add a visual element to the room with their horizontal or linear designs. Beadboard will cost you around the same price as shiplap.
Wood paneling is also a great way to cover popcorn ceilings and uneven concrete floors. So, if it’s not your ideal choice for the walls in the basement, you can still get that wood look by paneling your ceiling or floor.
Pros of Wood Paneling in Basement
- Wood paneling is extremely durable, so you won’t have the stress of upkeeping it. You will be able to enjoy it for years to come.
- You can definitely re-purpose any old pallets you may find or have lying around for an even more affordable option.
- You can install wood paneling yourself, as it is not too difficult a process.
Cons of Wood Paneling in Basement
- Although a relatively simply installation process, it is not a quick one as you will need time to ensure each piece is level and fits perfectly with the previous one.
Drywalling your basement can be an easy way to quickly cover up the walls in the room. You simply install ready cut sheets onto the wall, attaching the sheets to the framing of your home. The corners of each sheet are then straightened and covered with a beading, and the joints of each sheet are taped down.
After this, a few layers of joining compound are applied to the drywall, each layer being sanded down before another is applied. After the last layer is completely dry, you can apply the paint of your choice.
You can expect to pay in the range of $3-7 per sq. ft for drywalling your basement, with the total average cost being $4000 depending on your basement size.
Pros of Drywalling Your Basement
- This method is usually a lot faster to install than many other methods, saving you tons on labor costs.
- Drywalling the basement walls also muffle sound.
Cons of Drywalling Your Basement
- Certain types of drywalling can become damaged by water quite easily, and as basements are usually susceptible to higher levels of humidity and moisture, this can become a problem. Use moisture resistant drywall in this area to be safe.
- If the drywall is installed incorrectly, you can potentially see the nails or screws jutting out of the wall.
7. Wall Veneers (Stone or Brick)
Wall veneers are a really interesting way to add an aesthetic element to your basement. Choose between a stone or brick design, and your basement can resemble a castle or warm cabin in no time.
You don’t need to cover the entirety of the basement walls, but can rather choose to focus on a specific feature wall to really make an impact.
The process of installing wall veneers is slightly complex. You will need to make sure the stones fit into each other in a seamless pattern so that your wall does not look untidy or like a mineshaft about to implode.
You will need to apply a mortar to the stones to allow them to adhere to the walls, and then remove any excess once you have firmly secured the veneer to the wall. Like tiling, you will need to apply grout to the finished product.
Pros of Wall Veneers
- There are multiple options from which you can choose, so you will be able to find a design that fits in with the overall aesthetic of your home.
- This method instantly makes a difference to the space, even if you only cover a smaller area.
- It is relatively affordable at about $8 per sq. ft for stone, and about $12 per sq. ft for brick.
Cons of Wall Veneers
- It can be quite a tedious and time consuming process as you need to make sure the veneers fit in perfectly, and remove any excess mortar before it dries.
8. Paint the Concrete
When you decide to simply paint the concrete walls in your basement, you are opening yourself to endless opportunities for adding color to the space.
You should select a waterproof and concrete-compatible paint because basements are prone to damp. Another stipulation of this option is that it works best for basements that have been waterproofed from the outside.
Most sealants that waterproof the interior side of the basement wall, e.g., AQUA-X 11 Clear, Penetrating Stone and Concrete Sealer (amazon link), cannot be painted over. This is a side effect of their function, which is to resist moisture. As paint is a liquid, it does not adhere well to the waterproofing.
However, if your basement walls have been waterproofed from the outside, which is where the bulk of the moisture originates, then you are free to paint the interior wall as you choose. I recommended the waterproof paint because there are still sources of moisture inside the basement that may cause damp.
Pros of Painting Concrete
- You will be able to elevate the space completely by transforming the cold concrete feeling into an inviting space.
Cons of Painting Concrete
- It only works well if the basement is waterproofed on the outside.
9. Patterned or Textured Wallpaper
If you use your basement regularly as a recreational space, then you definitely don’t want to keep the unfinished cement basement walls. Turn the room from drab to fab in an instant with textured or patterned wallpaper.
You just need to make sure that you choose the appropriate wallpaper type for the basement walls, as these walls tend to be quite rough and porous. You need to sand down or chisel off any imperfections from the walls as they will show through the wallpaper, making it quite unappealing. Make sure you patch up holes or dents in the wall as the wallpaper will not be applied smoothly if you do not.
Apply your wallpaper primer and allow it to dry before applying your wallpaper. When you apply the wallpaper, you should use a sponge so that the wallpaper does not sink into any holes or imperfections you might have missed when preparing the walls.
Pros of Putting Wallpaper in your Basement
- Wallpaper is an excellent method of adding a design element to any space. With the variety of designs available, and the ability to even create your own custom wallpaper, you are assured of being spoilt for choice when it comes to picking wallpaper for your basement.
Cons of Putting Wallpaper in your Basement
- Since the basement is a high moisture area, you do have the risk of your wallpaper peeling off from the walls as the glue begins to weaken.
- Wallpaper can be quite costly to install as more materials are needed, and it requires skill to install. A single roll of wallpaper can cost anywhere from $10 to $70. Depending on the size of your basement, you may need a minimum of 6 rolls of wallpaper, so depending on the type of wallpaper you choose it can work out quite expensive.
10. Hang Wall Vinyl
Wall vinyl is similar to wallpaper as it comes in limitless options and applies firmly to your wall using its adhesive composition.
Like with wallpaper, you will need to make sure your walls are completely clean and dry, and you will need to apply a couple of coats of primer before installing the vinyl.
Since the vinyl will be installed flush against the wall, you will likely be able to see any imperfections or dents in the wall. Take some time to fill in any holes to create a more polished look, which will also prevent the vinyl from lifting and reduce the chance of you needing to replace it too soon into the future.
Experts do recommend using heavy-duty vinyl as it works best with concrete walls and is a lot more durable.
Pros of Hanging Wall Vinyl
- Vinyl adds an artistic edge to your basement as there are a variety of colors and designs available.
- It is easier to install than wallpaper as you will not need an adhesive solution to apply the vinyl since it is practically just a large sticker.
Cons of Hanging Wall Vinyl
- If you plan on covering an entire wall, or all the walls in your basement it can become quite costly depending on the design of vinyl that you choose. Expect to pay around $70 per roll, and keep in mind you will need at least 4-6 rolls per wall.
11. Stain the Concrete Walls
Staining, like painting, is a great option to cover your concrete basement walls. However, staining seeps deep into the walls as opposed to merely covering it with a layer.
As with most of these methods, before applying the stain you will need to prep and clean the surface properly to allow the stain to adhere effectively. Make sure you cover your floors and furniture properly before you apply the stain as you don’t want any to fall on it. Trust me, it is a lot harder to get the stain out of a floor than it is to remove paint.
You will then need to apply the wall stain using a concrete sprayer, and as the stain is quite runny, you will need to go back and wipe any runoff with an applicator brush.
It is recommended to rinse the wall with water after you stain it, just to remove any excess stain that isn’t necessary. Once dry, you should apply a sealant just to allow the color to become vibrant and enhance the durability of it.
Pros of Staining your Concrete Walls
- Like with paint, there are a variety of colors you can stain your walls, so you can definitely liven up the space. Choose an acid-based stain for more neutral tones, and water-based stains for a wider variety of colors.
- It is an economical option as you won’t need to apply primer and it is more affordable than most other methods. You can expect to pay an average of $10 per sq. ft.
Cons of Staining your Concrete Walls
- Staining the walls does not provide any protection against the elements
- It is not an easy process, as the staining sprayer requires a lot of precision and skill.
- Any imperfections in the wall won’t be hidden, but actually enhanced.