Exercise room in Basement

scrynMay 10, 2005

Hi, I have a c1850 house. We have a full basement with a poured concrete floor (yay! Lucky us!)

the walls are big boulders.

I was wondering how many people with older houses use their basements for a living space and/or something BESIDES storage.

The basement is just kinda creeepy...and I would like to purchase more exercise equipment and the only place that would be able to hold it is the basement.

I would LOVE pictures or suggestions on how to make the basement less creepy and dungeon like!

Please NO painting suggestions. We will NOT paint the rocks or old wood.



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Do you have an outside entrance? In the International Residential Code, if it is converted to living (which may mean just sleeping, not 100% sure), then you have to have an egress.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 9:02AM
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I believe it is only for a bedroom.
But yes, we do have an outside entrance. It is one of those really creepy stone stairwells that go from the backyard to the basement. I don't like using it, but hey I guess if it were a life and death situation I would get over the creepy factor.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 9:06AM
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Are you talkin' about my house? Our basement is just like yours and we have 4 Stairmaster machines down there in the winter.

In the summer we haul them up (it takes a tractor and a chain-hoist to do so) and put them in the middle bay of the hay barn. It would be cooler (temps, not style) to keep them in the basement year round, but the view and fresh air are better in the barn. We move them in in October and out in May, as they need to be at least at 50F for the lubrication to work.

I'm not going to tell you to paint anything (we haven't), but there are a couple of issues, primarily moisture and potential radon to think about.

The radon you can test for. Keep in mind that when you are exercising you are spending more time there and also breathing more, so I wouldn't do this in any marginal situation, unless the radon was below the danger point.

The moisture is another issue. Even if you have a poured concrete floor, if wasn't installed with a vapor barrier, you're still going to have rising soil moisture issues, in addition to the moisture from the undoubtedly unsealed basement walls. Moisture/humidity can be hard on the machines and also breeds its own problems with molds and mildews, which again, when you're exercising you'll be more exposed to by time and by the fact that you're breathing more.

We have no vapor barrier under our concrete (yet), so we park the machines on rubber-backed mats (HD or Lowes, they look like that curly polypropolene doormat stuff, but are larger than door mats and have rubber --or more likely plastic -- backing), which protects their feet from rising moisture. It does nothing for the rest of the floor, though.

We're in far northern NY, so we also have to heat the basement a bit to keep the machines happy in the deepest winter. We use quartz heaters or small box heaters. We figure the heat rises to the underside of the floor anyway (what isn't shed through the side of the exposed foundation, of course), so it's not too bad.

Now, for the human experience: it's really great to have ex. machines so convenient to the living space. My husband works out on them before anything elese in the am, and all he has to do to go to the gym is walk down a flight of stairs. Beats getting in the car any day. If we kept the machines there year-round I would want to look into installing some of those tricky light wells to capture daylight and throw it around the room so it isn't so cavern-like. He has a TV and VCR there so that's what he watches.

The other thing, is that even if we had the space, I would not want the tremendous weight of the machines upstairs. They're happier down on the concrete or out on the barn floor, which is made of hand-hewn oak 4 X 16 's that don't even shiver when we plunk the Gravitron down.

If we ever did get good concrete down, I would consider painting that surface a light color, though.

You also can buy snap together grids of a subfloor material which would allow a vapor barrier to be laid on top of the concrete, and in turn support the substrate for a finished floor of something like vinyl sheeting. We've considered it, but are still planning on removing the old concrete and having a modern floor poured, perhaps with radiant tubes to handle the heat needs of the machines.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 2:18PM
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We run a de-humidifier so it isn't too moist. We don't have too much a problem with mold. I did think about that though. Radan isn't in our area luckily. We don't have the same rocky soil as northern NY.

I was also worried about the weight of the machines on the upper floors, which is why I thought the basement would be the best place for the equipment. I was also pondering finishing off some of our garage. However I really doubt my husband would be able to move his tools and then we would have to heat the space as the garage is separated from the house.

Now see if I were rich I could just build a nice exercise room..ah well. Guess i don't have to worry about that.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 3:36PM
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Our own stone basement has been whitewashed. It is entirely below ground and the exterior entrance was filed in by the previous owner. It is perfect as a wine cellar and winemaking room since it stays at a constant cool temperature.

Ceiling height is an issue for exercise equipment. Our 6 foot tall daughter hits the ceiling when she uses her basement exercise machines vigorously.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 7:11AM
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My sister with her fit husband live in a house from 1930 that I helped restore from a basement to an exercise center. Even though it will be a mess, power washing the basement will help make it smell better and remove dirt and mold from the stones, this is after washing them with Clorox clean-up. Eventually, I used UGL dri lock and anti-mold paint and there is also a dehumidifier which is run most of the time. There is now a punching bag, stationary bike, and weight bench down there. She wants a water fountain like they have in commercial buildings, but that might have to wait.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 12:25AM
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