When doing a basement remodeling project in your home you will face the problem of old and deteriorated or completely missing basement insulation. You will need to get it replaced with modern materials and properly installed sheets so that you can enjoy the comfort of a well done insulation.
In North America, insulation used against heat leaks is important for many reasons. If you properly install insulation in your home you will notice considerably lower heating bills and a warmer feel to your feet on the lower levels of the building. Rooms will be colder during the summer and warmer during winter, and the basement space will be much more comfortable to stay in. If you have a specific purpose for it you may find this process mandatory to go through.
In old buildings, basement insulation options are rarely put into practice. In most cases it is either in very bad condition or totally missing, letting heat and moist air flow freely. Both are disastrous for a well designed room, and considering how easy it is to avoid, there is no reason to spend another year before finally getting it done. Drywall walls are easy to install, but without proper basement insulation systems they are as good as non-existent.
You can either use fiberglass or polystyrene foam sheets, both coming with their good and bad points. Fiberglass is easy to work with and gives really good heat resistance figures. Installed properly it stops heat flow and with an additional layer of vapor barrier it can be used for all surfaces of the room, including walls, ceiling and floors. On the other hand fiberglass is still suspected to be carcinogenic, not unlike asbestos. While asbestos is now banned fiberglass is a similarly structured material with similar attributes. It is still not proven to be either dangerous or safe, but due to a more organized structure it is known to have less risk involved.
While working with this material always make sure you use goggles, a good quality face mask, and long sleeve clothes. A full body chemical suit is advised because many people report to suffer severe itching after having worked with the material.
Polystyrene foam basement insulation is also easy to work with, and is easy to get but comes with its own problems. The material may contain the carcinogen benzene or other manufacturing residues, which are to be avoided. It is a highly effective material for low temperature insulation, but due to its highly flammable nature fire regulations apply. It can’t be exposed to heat sources directly, which means you have to work around wires and hot water pipes. It also has to be hidden behind a drywall or made flame retardant.
In addition the insulation sheets, there are also spray foam insulation products that are often recommended for outside walls because they provide better coverage and a more complete insulation layer. They are also good for filling in small spaces around openings like those created for basement windows.
Whatever the type of insulation you happen to choose for your home you will have to use some sort of humidity barrier. It comes in the forms of polyethylene sheets and can be easily stapled to the insulation material. As an additional step you can use tape to cover the staple holes so that the room becomes heat and water tight. It eliminates the problem of unwanted moisture, mold and mildew, but most importantly lowers your heating bill by letting you heat your rooms using less energy. It also results in warmer floors on the level above the basement.