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Forum topic by DannyW posted 10-17-2020 06:14 PM 1252 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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DannyW

357 posts in 881 days


10-17-2020 06:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question workshop basement

Hi all, it has been a while since I posted since I mopved and don’t have a workshop (yet). I am in a rented house until August next year; we are looking to buy a house before then and are looking at our options. I had a workshop in the garage of our old house (Austin TX) and it had its problems (dust getting into the house, hot in summer/cold in winter, etc). I think I have learned a few things that I want to remedy this time around. I was thinking of getting a house with a separate workshop already or at least enough clear land to build one, but the pickings are slim in this area (NE Atlanta suburbs) and in my price range. However houses with walkout basements are quite common around here and I am starting to thing along those lines. I have never been in a house with a basement before and don’t really know what to expect. At least the basements here are not what I think of as a “real” basement and more a “normal” part of the house (if you know what I mean).

I have done as much reading as I can find about basement workshops, but most are geared more toward the more typical downstairs basement with no external access. At lease with a walkout basement getting things into and out of the shop is made much easier (I can add a wide exterior door if needed). What concerns me most is the dust and fumes getting into the house and the limited ceiling height. I know from reading to look for a basement where I can isolate the shop away from the HVAC system and water heater, and I can install separate heating and ventilation for the shop, but since I have never had a house with a basement I am sure there are many variables that will be new to me (moisture, condensation, mold, insulation/vapor barriers, etc). Any tips from people here would be much appreciated.

If I could find a suitable house cheaply enough I could buy it for cash and be working on the shop while we are still in the rental house. I have not been to look at any houses here in person because of the pandemic thing, but have been looking a lot online and will go look in person if I find something that looks promising. Please let me know your thoughts and experiences. I would still prefer a stand alone shop but want to consider the alternatives.

-- DannyW


21 replies so far

View Andre's profile

Andre

4530 posts in 2889 days


#1 posted 10-17-2020 06:32 PM

Thought about walkout basement shop for a retirement house, friend of mine has one complete with dedicated bathroom an direct stair access to his attached garage where his table saw is. Works great for dust control as you need to go through the garage to get into the house, less noise and a full wall of glass for light and inspirational view!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

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DannyW

357 posts in 881 days


#2 posted 10-17-2020 06:36 PM

One of the biggest issues at my old house was tracking in dust from the shop from the garage (as well as dust leaking in around the door). At least with a walkout basement I would have the option of only entering and exiting the workshop by the outside basement door (similar to if the workshop were a separate building). Not as convenient as using the stairs to the main house, but certainly doable.

I also had awful dust collection in my old shop. I have a WEN dust filter for the ceiling but anything else has to be bought (I only had a 2 1/2” shop vac before). I definitely want to make that a top priority and could use any advice the fine folks here care to give.

-- DannyW

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SuperCubber

1188 posts in 3368 days


#3 posted 10-17-2020 06:59 PM

Hey Danny,

I’m not too far from you in Spartanburg, SC. I went through a similar thought process. We chose to build a new house and a requirement for me was enough land for a dedicated shop, or a walkout basement that could house a shop.

We ended up doing the walkout. I’m still in the process of finishing it. I just got the electrical all squared away.

In an effort to keep the dust as localized as possible, I chose to go with two mini splits in the basement, one for the common are and one for the shop.

As I’m not using it yet, that’s all the information I can think to provide for now. If you have any other questions you think I can answer though, don’t hesitate.

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC

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DannyW

357 posts in 881 days


#4 posted 10-17-2020 07:07 PM

SuperCubber I would be very interested in your progress as you go along. I am still relatively new to woodworking so I am sure that I don’t know all of the questions that I need to ask. If I may ask, why did you install 2 mini splits? Didn’t the basement already have HVAC that would suffice for the common area as well as the rest of the house? How high is the ceiling? I assume that you had to seal and insulate the shop area well to isolate it as much as possible. Do you have access from the shop to the common area, or only outside access? I have considered only outside access to help isolate the shop as much as possible.

-- DannyW

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DannyW

357 posts in 881 days


#5 posted 10-17-2020 07:11 PM

Andre that is an interesting setup with the table saw separate from the rest of the shop. It seems like it could be advantageous from a sound and dust perspective but moving lumber between the two could be cumbersome. How has it worked out for him?

-- DannyW

View bold1's profile

bold1

355 posts in 2930 days


#6 posted 10-17-2020 07:33 PM

If you do go this route. Install a large fan, vented to the outside, to keep negative pressure in your work space. This will keep most fumes or dust from entering the main house. I’ve had my shop in my basement since the 80’s and since I installed the fan the only dust that enters the living area is if I forget to blow off before I go upstairs.

View SuperCubber's profile

SuperCubber

1188 posts in 3368 days


#7 posted 10-17-2020 08:47 PM



SuperCubber I would be very interested in your progress as you go along. I am still relatively new to woodworking so I am sure that I don t know all of the questions that I need to ask. If I may ask, why did you install 2 mini splits? Didn t the basement already have HVAC that would suffice for the common area as well as the rest of the house? How high is the ceiling? I assume that you had to seal and insulate the shop area well to isolate it as much as possible. Do you have access from the shop to the common area, or only outside access? I have considered only outside access to help isolate the shop as much as possible.

- DannyW

When we built the house, we left the basement unfinished. Since I had a blank canvas, I chose mini splits for efficiency and dust control. Plus, even though we have open web trusses, there wasn’t an easy way to run ducting, because of the first floor ducting.

The finished ceilings will be just over 9 feet.

I am insulating the shop, mostly to help a little with noise. I’m also sealing any wall openings, such as electrical boxes. I’ll have a dust collector and two air filters, so I’m not too worried about dust moving out of the shop.

I have an entrance to the shop from outside and from the common area. I don’t think too much dust will track into the house, but will adjust my process if it does.

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC

View MPython's profile

MPython

358 posts in 895 days


#8 posted 10-18-2020 02:52 PM

We bought a 1030s vintage house 30 years ago and added to it. The addition enlarged the kitchen and included a large family room. Below the family room, is my basement shop. It has a concrete floor and poured concrete walls. The original 1930s house had a small basement “equipment room” that housed a huge coal fired furnace. The furnace was removed years ago, before we bought the house and replaced with a modern HVAC system. The laundry facilities are there along with a lot of shelving for storage. The new basement is directly below the family room and is connected to the old one via a 12 foot long narrow “hallway”. It is serviced by the central HVAC system with two vents for heating and cooling, but no return. It has a wide, double-door walkout with an outside stairwell up to grade level. It has been my workshop for 30 years. I have a pretty complete assortment of large machines: table saw, bandsaw, jointer/planer, lathe, radial arm saw, drill press, and belt sander along with various hand held power tools and hand tools.

We have never has issues with noise or dust in the living quarters of the main house. I have to pass through the narrow hallway and the old basement to get to the indoor stairway up to the kitchen . I think any dust the clings to my clothing is shed there before I get upstairs. Also, not having an HVAC return in the shop keeps the dust out of the system and prevents it from being distributed throughout the house. It also prevents the HVAC system from picking up solvent odors and distributing them upstairs. My wife has never complained about odors coming from the shop.

Several years ago, I added a large cyclone dust collector that services all of my machines. I added it for health reasons, not because we were having dust problems in the upstairs area, but I’m sure it helps keep the dust out of the living quarters. We made no special arrangements to dampen sound from the shop when we built the basement. Even so, noise was not an issue. The cyclone, however, changed that; it was LOUD! I built a sound-insulated closet around it and that took care of the problem.

Water is the biggest issue I’ve had with my basement shop. The new basement is dry. The contractor took special precautions to keep it that way. There is a water barrier beneath the concrete pad (floor), a heavy rubber gasket between the poured walls and the concrete pad, and the outsides of the walls were sealed before they were back filled with soil. The whole addition is protected by French drains that empty into a large underground sump in the back yard.The problem is the old basement; it leaks like a sieve. In heavy rains, water comes in through the walls and floor, runs down the connecting hall and threatens the workshop. Fortunately, most of the water pools in the hallway and seldom actually gets into the shop. I just have to be vigilant and vacuum it up before it spills into the shop. Had I anticipated this, I would have added a floor drain in the connecting hallway that ran under the ship floor and emptied into the backyard sump. Adding one now would create more problems that it solved, so I’ve learned to live with the problem.

Everything considered, I’ve been happy with my basement shop. It’s a cozy, comfortable place to work in our hot South Carolina summers. I wish it were larger, and I need a little supplemental heat in the coldest winter days, but those are not big issues. I would be happy to answer any specific questions you may have.

View northwoodsman's profile

northwoodsman

553 posts in 4830 days


#9 posted 10-18-2020 10:15 PM

I would put a door from the shop into the main part of your house. Make it an exterior door with a threshold and seals all the way around it. You can choose to use it or not.

-- NorthWoodsMan

View hhhopks's profile

hhhopks

663 posts in 3460 days


#10 posted 10-18-2020 10:35 PM

Yes, another door to transition from the main house to the basement?
One on the main floor and one down in the basement. Change shoes before entering the new space.

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

View SuperCubber's profile

SuperCubber

1188 posts in 3368 days


#11 posted 10-18-2020 11:02 PM



I would put a door from the shop into the main part of your house. Make it an exterior door with a threshold and seals all the way around it. You can choose to use it or not.

- northwoodsman

Agree. This is what I’m doing.

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC

View BuckeyeDennis's profile

BuckeyeDennis

106 posts in 782 days


#12 posted 10-18-2020 11:29 PM


If you do go this route. Install a large fan, vented to the outside, to keep negative pressure in your work space. This will keep most fumes or dust from entering the main house. I ve had my shop in my basement since the 80 s and since I installed the fan the only dust that enters the living area is if I forget to blow off before I go upstairs.

- bold1

I second that suggestion, except that I’ve found that the exhaust fan doesn’t even have to be all that large. I’ve had a shop in the walkout end of my basement for about ten years. Early on, I installed a bathroom exhaust fan in the shop,vented outside through the wall. When generating fine sawdust or solvent fumes, I shut the HVAC register and turn on the exhaust fan. It’s almost 100% effective, even though the shop is far from sealed from the adjacent rooms in the basement. Just that little bit of negative pressure is all it takes to keep the bad stuff from migrating into the rest of the house.

Later on, I installed an overhead dust filter in the shop. That does a great job of keeping the shop itself cleaner, but it’s not necessary for keeping the rest of the house dust-free. Just don’t forget to shut off any HVAC ducts in the shop area, or you’ll lose that negative pressure.

-- Dennis 'We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.' Charles Swindoll

View DannyW's profile

DannyW

357 posts in 881 days


#13 posted 10-19-2020 01:57 PM

Thanks for all of the helpful replies! I have started looking more seriously at houses with an accessible basement garage to allow ease of getting equipment in and out. My thinking is that I would not use the garage as workshop space but only for access to the shop via double doors in the back of the garage. There are more houses available where the basement boat door is not easily accessible and would make equipment moves much more difficult if not impossible; most of these do not even have an easy way to add a walkway to the boat door (and any walkway added would be very steep) so it seems of little use. Am I missing something here? The houses that I have seen that seem most useful for a basement shop have a side entry garage in the basement that could be used for moving equipment and lumber in and out of the shop area.

-- DannyW

View DannyW's profile

DannyW

357 posts in 881 days


#14 posted 11-02-2020 02:42 PM

I’ve been looking at houses with a basement and have a question regarding sealing the shop from the rest of the house. What I have noticed is that basement houses usually have the furnace for the first floor (as well as the hot water heater) in the basement and the top floor furnace in the attic. This means that there are flexible a/c ducts hanging just below the ceiling everywhere. I know that usually when finishing a basement as normal rooms you would often use suspended ceiling to allow access to the a/c ducts as needed. However in a basement shop I need to completely seal the walls and ceiling (and also can’t afford the height loss due to a suspended ceiling), so how do I work around these hanging ducts? My first thought was to remove the flexible ducts, install and seal the ceiling board, then install metal ducts that can be easily sealed, but what is a reasonable alternative? And the furnace is often in the middle of the basement with no outside air, so how do I seal around it yet provide fresh air? build a closet and run a duct to the outside?

Thanks for your patience with my stupid questions.

-- DannyW

View HarveyM's profile

HarveyM

159 posts in 3106 days


#15 posted 11-02-2020 03:00 PM


The new basement is directly below the family room and is connected to the old one via a 12 foot long narrow “hallway”. It is serviced by the central HVAC system with two vents for heating and cooling, but no return. It has a wide, double-door walkout with an outside stairwell up to grade level. It has been my workshop for 30 years. I have a pretty complete assortment of large machines: table saw, bandsaw, jointer/planer, lathe, radial arm saw, drill press, and belt sander along with various hand held power tools and hand tools.

Water is the biggest issue I ve had with my basement shop. The new basement is dry. The contractor took special precautions to keep it that way. There is a water barrier beneath the concrete pad (floor), a heavy rubber gasket between the poured walls and the concrete pad, and the outsides of the walls were sealed before they were back filled with soil. The whole addition is protected by French drains that empty into a large underground sump in the back yard.The problem is the old basement; it leaks like a sieve. In heavy rains, water comes in through the walls and floor, runs down the connecting hall and threatens the workshop. Fortunately, most of the water pools in the hallway and seldom actually gets into the shop. I just have to be vigilant and vacuum it up before it spills into the shop. Had I anticipated this, I would have added a floor drain in the connecting hallway that ran under the ship floor and emptied into the backyard sump. Adding one now would create more problems that it solved, so I ve learned to live with the problem.

- MPython

Like you MPython we have a addition (Family room & master bedroom) added to our house with double door and stairs to grade equipped workshop. And we had water problems in the original basement. We solved it by having the digging up around the walls, replacing the french drain system and installing Platon plastic membrane on the walls. Cost us $20K Cad (about $15K US) & we didn’t need wall repairs. It was some of the best money we spent on the house.

-- Just a Duffer

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