Workshop with concrete walls?

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Forum topic by CharlesA posted 12-27-2017 07:54 PM 1645 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3441 posts in 2607 days

12-27-2017 07:54 PM

We’re close to buying a house that has a 2 car garage underneath one end of the house, complete with cinder block walls. This will be my workshop. I can erect frames with drywall or osb, or paint the block all white and leave exposed.


-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

22 replies so far

View sras's profile


5536 posts in 3939 days

#1 posted 12-27-2017 08:03 PM

One of the primary considerations will be moisture. Is the space below ground level? If so, are there any signs of moisture?

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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3441 posts in 2607 days

#2 posted 12-27-2017 08:04 PM

No signs of moisture.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Gilley23's profile


489 posts in 1192 days

#3 posted 12-27-2017 09:31 PM

I’d cover the walls with thick osb and paint it all white. Concrete just bounces sound around, the osb will help to absorb it. Also with the osb you can now much more easily mount and relocate things wherever you’d like to.

View a1Jim's profile


118104 posts in 4387 days

#4 posted 12-27-2017 09:52 PM

Paint with waterproofing paint, concrete holds moisture,even though it dosen’t leak it will add to you humidity so just in case paint and use white paint to brighten things up. You could use concrete anchors and mount french cleats for whatever paneling or pegboard you put up.


View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2843 posts in 3732 days

#5 posted 12-27-2017 11:05 PM

I would fir it out wall with 2×4’s and insulate it. Cover with pre painted masonite with white gloss finish. I have done it this way and like it. If you want you can install elect outlets and/or air lines, inside this wall.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1313 days

#6 posted 12-27-2017 11:06 PM

I would be curious to know whether or not the outside walls were “treated” with anything before the house was back filled. I build houses and have seen it all. We used to not do anything to block walls and they would definitely have problems with moisture. Then we did the roofing sealer/tar and stick heavy plastic to it before back filling. This was not too bad if you were careful putting it on, if not it can be as worthless as if it is not even there. The best thing to do with it is that thick black polyurethane that gets sprayed on about 1/4” to 3/8” thick and it drys pretty tough and sticks really good. It will hang with you and not leak, even if the wall is poured concrete and it cracks.
Not sure what all you are trying to accomplish by finishing it…as suggested already, I would get in the house and live there a while {over the winter should do it} to see if you are going to have moisture problems or not. If you do then you might want to look into having it dug out and treated properly or you will never stop the water. Even with the block seal stuff, which in all fairness is pretty amazing, it will still get thru and cause problems. If you do see darkening of the block wall I would definitely not do studs and drywall…you will then have mildew problems.
If it appears to be dry and there are no moisture issues I would still block seal the wall and then either paint or stud and drywall. I prefer the paint because I can see what if anything is going on later. I hate to paint block walls that are bare because it is a lot of work, but I hate the thought of moisture behind drywall and studs even more. I could care less about sound on the painted wall…just about none of the machines you will probably be using are quiet enough to not need hearing protection anyways, plus a nicely done gloss bright white block wall is pretty, it brightens the shop up and it cleans very easily with just an air hose. This is just my opinion based on many moons of experience, so take it for what it is worth. Best of luck. I am currently in process of building a new shop, it’s a steel pole building and I intend to finish the inside with white painted steel panels.

View clin's profile


1114 posts in 1806 days

#7 posted 12-28-2017 12:25 AM

Perhaps you could still attach furring strips our studs to the wall, and cover with plywood or OSB, BUT … keep the bottom and top open for airflow. I have no idea if this would violate building code. But it would allow air circulation behind the boards to reduce mildew problems.

I covered my shop with french cleats. I have made use of moving overhead cabinets around. As well as numerous small hangers and brackets for stuff. But, it’s not something I make use of constantly, so just having the flexibility to screw something to OSB or plywood would get you pretty much the same flexibility.

While attaching a bunch of french cleats directly to a block wall would be work, you could still attach furring strips or studs to the wall, then french cleats to these.

Regardless, painting the walls and ceiling a bright white is a great way to increase the effectiveness of your lighting.

-- Clin

View bandit571's profile


26200 posts in 3493 days

#8 posted 12-28-2017 12:30 AM

Have had my shop in a basement for quite a while, now. Field Stone foundation, parged and painted. I do get a small creek that runs across the floor, after heavy rain storms….and right into a floor drain. Other than that…no problems.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View HTown's profile


114 posts in 1996 days

#9 posted 12-28-2017 12:33 AM

Our high school shop had cinder block walls. It didn’t seem to be a problem then. I’d second the ideas on anchors and french cleats.
If you don’t like it, spend the money to do something else later.
Hope you enjoy then new home.

View johnstoneb's profile


3147 posts in 2983 days

#10 posted 12-28-2017 02:12 AM

Cinder block is very porous. You can almost feel the wind come through them. You need something toseal them preferably on the outside if you are gong to heat the space.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Woodknack's profile


13442 posts in 3190 days

#11 posted 12-28-2017 03:43 AM

Furring strips, insulate (optional), osb; would be my pick.

-- Rick M,

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1709 days

#12 posted 12-28-2017 05:20 AM


View Redoak49's profile


4813 posts in 2798 days

#13 posted 12-28-2017 12:31 PM

I would seal and insulate. Depending on how you want to use the wall would determine how to build the wall out. If you will hang heavy things and shelves on it, I would go with a stud wall and 1/2” plywood.

View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1313 days

#14 posted 12-28-2017 12:57 PM

One thing I forgot to mention in my post above, and this is so simple yet can have such a big effect on moisture…make sure that you have “fall” away from the house at the ground level. You need the water on the ground when it rains to run away from the wall. This can solve a lot of block wall moisture problems and not having it right can really make a big mess. It almost always settles down after a house has been back filled and leaves you with negative draft so water runs to the wall. No one ever goes back and corrects this until it causes problems.

View Bluepine38's profile


3387 posts in 3895 days

#15 posted 01-01-2018 02:10 AM

You never said whether the block walls were above ground or not, are they?

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

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