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I have ceramic (terra cotta) block walls in my basement (house was built around 1920. The blocks are ridgid and were not laid very evenly, although the walls are sound. Plastering is an option, but with the wall so uneven, it doesn't look as good as desired. I would like to find out how to fasten cement board or some other type (waterproof) wall to the blocks. They can be fastened at the top to the double 2" x 4" floor plate under the floor joists, but need to know how to fasten them at the bottom. Thought of drilling and securing a board across the bottom using molly screws, tried a masonary bit, but were not successful. The blocks are 11.5" x 12" x 8". The center is divided into 6 sections and the thickness between the outer ridges is 1/2". We would have to drill through the 1/2". Would a ceramic bit work? If so what size do you suggest? We thought of gluing a board across the bottom, but would have difficulty putting pressure onto it to hold it in place while the glue dries. Any suggestions are appreciated.

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My house is of similar age and construction. I built a nice TV room in the basement several years ago. My method was the same as the way interior walls are built in new construction. I nailed a 2x4 to the ceiling near the wall. I nailed another 2x4 (pressure treated) to the concrete floor directly below the 2x4 on the ceiling. Then I toe-nailed vertical studs in place. For the studs I used 2x3's since this allowed me to get a nice flat plane on the front surface while allowing an inch of space on the back for irregularities of the block wall. I then covered the studs with water resistant drywall. The results were excellent and have held up very well. I also use a dehumidifier, since my basement was somewhat damp. I built the dehumidifier into a cabinet so that it draws air from the space between the block wall and the 2x3 wall. I don't need to run the dehumidifier in the winter. For the interior walls separating the TV room from the rest of the basement (furnace and workshop area) I used 2x4s for the studs, but the 2x4 along the top and bottom were just like the first wall I described. And by the way, in order to nail the pressure treated 2x4 to the floor, I used a power-nailer that uses charges that look like 22 caliber gun blanks. This seems spooky, and is wicked loud (use earplugs and safety glasses!), but it is inexpensive and very effective. The nails don't have to resist pulling out, they only have to resist being slid around, since the wall stud holds the pressure treated 2x4 against the floor. Good luck!

Posted on Apr 07, 2011

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  • kayw2r3 Apr 07, 2011

    I sincerely appreciate all your information and congratulations on your success with your basement.
    One thing that I didn't mention and possibly should have is that I live in an area with a very high water table and clay soil, therefore, have french drains with chip stone on 3 of the walls. They work very efficiently to keep the water out of my basement unless the gutters ice up and overflow during thawing as they did once this winter
    With this in mind, perhaps a treated 2' x4' could be placed along the peremiter with spacers to the cement floor to hold the 2' x 4' against the wall. It would not be the best solution, but could it work?

  • Al Kupchella
    Al Kupchella Apr 08, 2011

    Kay, Not sure of the configuration you are describing. I think you mean that the french drain is inside the basement along the base of the wall. Assuming that, I suggest that you lay the PT 2x4 along the base of the wall on top of the chipped stone. Drill holes in the PT so that you can drive 2 ft pieces of rebar down into the chipped stone. This will hold it against the wall. Then fit vertical studs (2x3 or 2x4) between the PT and a 2x4 along the ceiling.

  • kayw2r3 Apr 10, 2011

    Sorry to be so long getting back with my comment.
    Sounds like a good plan, if I am allowed to use the PT inside and not sure if the code will allow that, will have to check. I figured if it were against the wall under the chip stone it might be acceptable. Yes the French drains are on the inside of the wall. Thank you for all your help. Will check on codes and go from there. The only other solution would be to plaster. I don't need to use it for living space for myself, just want it to look better, but in case a future owner would want to use it for more, I want it done to where they could use it. Thanks again.


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