How do I make my basement walls nice?

My basement walls were painted by previous owners and the paint is coming off, plus there are cracks here and there (supposedly not dangerous). Would paint alone do the job (and if so, which kind) or do I need some kind of wall concrete, or stucco, or what?

  9 answers
  • Oliva Oliva on Nov 11, 2018

    You need to determine if paint is flaking due to moisture in walls, or previous owners choice of paint was not suitable for masonry.

    • Nechamah Goldfarb Nechamah Goldfarb on Nov 11, 2018

      OK, thanks--how do I determine it? I mean, I know I do get water in the basement; hope to have drainage if/when I can afford it. For now I have water-absorbing sock/snakes that stop the water at the intersection of the walls and floor, which has put an end to the little streams and ponds that I was getting. Assuming it is moisture in walls, and also possibly wrong paint, then what?

  • Chris Gignac Chris Gignac on Nov 11, 2018

    I wouldn’t concern yourself with painting until the water problem is fixed. The water problem will only get worse/ more expensive the longer it goes on.

  • Ebbjdl Ebbjdl on Nov 11, 2018

    Nechamah, Start with scraping the old paint off. Next fix the cracks with a cement filler. You'll need a cement primer, then paint it with cement paint. Wear a mask, you don't know what type of paint they used. Aloha!

  • Lynn Sorrell Lynn Sorrell on Nov 11, 2018

    You don't need to fix the cracks or what ever unless they are structural,depends how clean,nice you want the walls to look.scrape off all loose paint ,then using stiff wire brush clean wall really really well getting all loose stuff off, wipe down with vinegar water mix,then baking soda to neutralize acid in vinegar let dry,dry,dry use primer(for masonry,concrete) and then paint with masonry/concrete paint If it has a moisture problem you need to seal it after it's dried out,then you won't need to prime or paint over sealer unless you want

  • Oliva Oliva on Nov 11, 2018

    Does your ground slope toward the foundation? If so, you'll need to re-route ir via swale, French Drain or HydroBlox system.

    Are gutters overfilled and dumping water onto foundation areas?

    Do you have plantings up against the house?

    Are downspouts diverting water at least 10' away from house?

    Do you have a hill behind you?

    Looking at all these issues may help diahnose contributing factors.

    You may need to place 6 mil plastic on heavier against your house, close to foundation, grade dirt away, extend plastic, then secure in place with river rock or similar.

    Larger trees planted 20' or more from your house can help to absorb rainfall, but should be mulched to further delay water moving toward house.

    If your home is older, it's unlikely it was built with a vapor barrier.

    You may look at sill plate, where it meets top of interior basement wall to see if water is entering there, then evaluate cleaning walls and painting with a masonry sealer, if that's the case.

  • Vicki Robinson-Fair Vicki Robinson-Fair on Nov 13, 2018

    I just want to say thank you to all who answered above. We are dealing with same issues but are walls are cracking and leaking. We were told it would cost $3,000 (can I cry right now?) to fix right now and of course this is something home owner a insurance does not cover till walls cave in. Which won't be long at this rate it's going. So trying to figure out our options. Till we can save enough to have them fixed. Also to the woman that posted. Watch your basement for black mold. Ours had it and i am constantly cleaning it now.

    • Nechamah Goldfarb Nechamah Goldfarb on Nov 13, 2018

      Thank G-d, my walls themselves are not leaking, just at the base intersection with the floor. I had people come look at it and they say that the cracks in the walls are not dangerous ( I was afraid the house would collapse or something) but that if I paint it with Drylok (which I was planning) pressure would build from the outside walls and THAT could be dangerous. Unfortunately, they all said that putting in drainage with rocks and pump was the way to keep the water from seeping in at the bottom and I cannot afford that right now.

  • Vicki Robinson-Fair Vicki Robinson-Fair on Nov 15, 2018

    Ours leaks at the base but then cracked opened in the wall like where the basement Windows are even with the backyard ground. We were told they will put braces on the walls and fill in. Tried to save money to get the huge tree out in our backyard that is so very close to house. It's one of those darn helicopter trees. They told us that would cost about 1,100 to $1,500 to take down. Omg the house is becoming like that movie the money pit lol and we have a child graduating H.S. this year. Told hubby we will take it one day as it comes. All we can do.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jul 31, 2023

    Looks like damp is getting in, so best to have the room "Tanked" and them you won't have the problem of flaking walls!

  • Mogie Mogie on Aug 06, 2023

    Scrap the old paint off and fix the cracks first. Then you will be able to see where the water is coming in at.

    I didn't know what tanking was so here is an explaination:

    Wall tanking or “tanking” is a method of preventing water ingress by creating a completely impermeable waterproof barrier on an internal wall. When we refer to tanking walls, it's usually in reference to below ground structures like basements or as a precautionary measure on damp walls above ground.