I was told by a friend this might be appreciated in this sub. I originally posted this on r/beginnerwoodworking, but expanded a few areas to cover the tile and flooring work we did.
In October 2018, six months after my wife and I bought our first house, our sump pump failed in the middle of the night and flooded our basement. All told, there was probably only about 2” of standing water, but it resulted in us needing to rip out 2’ of drywall and replace the carpet.
Flooring: After the nightmare with carpet in the basement and the flood, I vowed never to have carpet below grade ever again. I pushed to install tile, but the boss was concerned that it would be too cold under foot. As a compromise, I agreed to install an electrically heated floor. We used the DITRA-HEAT system and it was amazing to work with. It was easy enough for us to install ourselves and even has a WiFi connected thermostat for remote control. I would highly recommend the system to anyone interested. Our total cost for ~250sq/ft of heated floor materials was roughly $3,200.
As for flooring, we used 700sq/ft of this porcelain tile, a wet saw (borrowed), tile cutter, and approximately a million tile leveling clips and wedges. Working sporadically on nights and weekends, it took us about 5 months to complete the floor. Cost for tile materials was ~$4,000.
Wainscoting: As a new homeowner, taking on hanging, mudding, and sanding drywall was intimidating, so we ended up hiring it out. Unfortunately, the contractor we hired left a pretty noticeable “hump” where the new drywall met the old (visible on second picture).
I debated on what we could do to hide this outside of replacing it again, and started looking into wainscoting. From an overall woodworking skill standpoint, it seemed relatively straight forward, so we gave it a shot. I almost exclusively used Finish Carpentry TV on YouTube to plan and complete the project.
Wainscoting Materials: Cap – 1” x 2” Primed Pine Top Rail – 1” x 6” Primed Pine Stiles – 1” x 4” Primed Pine Bottom Rail – 1” x 8” Primed Pine Base – 1” x 4” Primed Pine Cove Moulding 3/16” Euca(lyptus) Board Kreg Pocket Hole Jig
Tools: Table saw, miter saw, dremel, hand sander, nail gun
After casing the doors using 1” x 3” + 1” x 2” backband, I started by trying to find the smallest wall to get a common measurement that we would use as a reference all the way around the room. What I didn’t appreciate is that it doesn’t need to be the exact same stile spacing all the way around (e.g. 30” on each wall); 1” – 2” differences between walls can’t really be seen, so some walls ended up being ~28” stile spacing, while others ended up closer to ~31”. I used this wainscoting calculator to help find the correct stile spacing based on the length of the wall.
Once we figured out the stile spacing, it was really just a matter of measuring and piecing the wainscoting units together using the pocket hole jig. The guy on Finish Carpentry TV builds his wainscoting as a single “unit” to help ensure the joints in the final product align well, even with bowing on walls, which ended up being key for us. The hardest part was the long walls that were over 8’ which required us to join different wainscoting units together. I learned that I pretty much suck at 45 degree miters and had to get creative on filling some gaps. There are a couple spots that certainly aren’t perfect, but I learned a lot in the process.
Once the units were hung, we went back around the room hanging the 1” x 2” cap and 1” x 4” base + cove moulding, which went really quickly. We then spent an afternoon caulking and filling any imperfections with wood filler. I bought a $200 paint sprayer to save us the hassle of rolling everything, which was a worthwhile investment. After a coat of primer and two coats of basic white paint, the wainscoting looks pretty decent and we’re happy with the results. I am planning to do something similar in our nursery this winter. The wainscoting materials set us back $3,000, but this included a few tools (e.g. table saw) and enough Euca board to cover the basement plus nursery.
With that said, if there are any questions about the wainscoting, heated floor, or tile, I’m happy to help fill in any gaps!