When drywalling your basement, there is a little more to take into account than if you were to replace drywall in a room. You need to first frame, add electrical outlets, insulation, and THEN you can hang the drywall.

The cost of the drywall component when finishing a basement is around $1.50 – $4 per square foot. The average cost for drywalling a basement, including all finishing services such as framing, insulation, and electrical, is between $3,000 – $30,000.

Below is a breakdown of costs involved when drywalling your basement. We have decided to include all other services needed to get an accurate indication of the costs involved.

Below are a mix of per square foot and per 1000 sq. ft prices, which is the average basement size.

ServiceQuantityLowHigh
Cost to drywall a basement1 sq ft$1$3
Replace drywall in basement1 sq ft$2$5
Drywall 1,000 sq ft basement1,000 sq ft$3,500$6,000
Drywall 1,250 sq ft basement1,250 sq ft$4,375$7,500
Drywall 1,500 sq ft basement1,500 sq ft$5,250$10,000
Cost to drywall basement ceiling1,000 sq ft$2,900$3,650
Drywall basement labor cost1 hour$50$90
Waterproofing1 sq ft$3$10
Framing1,000 sq ft$2,400$5,000
Electrical cables1,000 sq ft$1$1.65
Insulation1,000 sq ft$2,500$4,500
Hang Drywall1 sq ft$0.20$0.70
Finish drywall1 sq ft$0.40$0.60
Painting1 sq ft$3$7
Electrical fixtures (lights & outlets)1,000 sq ft$1,000$2,000
Cost to Drywall a basement (only)1,000 sq ft$6,400$11,650
Cost to Finish a basement (All)1,000 sq ft$14,500$34,100

Average Estimate: $ 24,300 for the basement finish and around $9025 to install drywall on the basement only.

Average cost to drywall a basement

The average cost to drywall a basement stands at around $2 per square foot or between $2,500 – $8,000 depending on the size of the basement. Finishing the basement will cost you anywhere from $6 to $25 per square foot.

If you hire a contractor, they may also quote higher for different types of drywall, e.g., green board, purple board, or fire-resistant board.

Cost to drywall 1,250 sq ft basement

Expect to spend anywhere from $4,375 – $7,500 on drywall installation and around $8,000 – $31,250 for the basement finishes. The total will depend on the materials you choose.

Cost to drywall 1,500 sq ft basement

For a larger 1,500 sq. ft basement, you can spend between $5,250 – $9,000 for drywall installation, and around $6,000 – $38,000 for the complete finishing. These costs could also be double if you’ll use high-end materials.

Average cost to frame a basement

The average cost of framing your basement starts at around $0.80 – $1.50 for the material costs and approximately $2.40 – $5 when complete with drywall. For a standard 500 square-foot basement, you can spend as low as $1,000 to $2,500.

The actual costs you’ll pay will depend on the size of your basement, its conditions, and the finish option you prefer.

Cost to drywall basement ceiling

The cost to drywall your basement ceiling ranges between $2.90 – $3.65 per square foot. This cost is much higher than drywalling walls because the installation is more complicated and harder to finish.

The type of basement ceilings you choose will also be a critical factor in determining your overall costs.

Labor cost to hang and finish drywall

Most contractors charge between $50 to $90 per hour for the job. In terms of square feet, the labor costs to finish your basement drywall will mainly depend on the finish level.

There are generally six levels of drywall finish, all different depending on the work input required, I.e.,

Level 0 – Costs anywhere from $0.20 – $0.60 per square foot for labor. In this level, the drywall is unfinished and only screwed to the studs.

Level 1 – Cost ranges from $0.60 – $1.40 per square foot on labor based on your basement’s size. For this finish, the drywall has no joint compound, but the seams are done.

Level 2 – Labor costs start at around $0.70 – $1.40 per square foot. Drywall in this level is taped, mudded and hung, and skimmed with the joint compound.

Level 3 – The costs for this are around $0.80 – $1.75 per square foot for labor. The drywall is fully covered with two coats of joint compound and is lightly sanded.

Level 4 – labor costs range from $0.80 – $2 per square foot. Drywall under this finish is sanded till smooth, primed, and even painted with a coat of flat paint.

Level 5 – Costs range from $1 – $2.50 per square foot. It’s the highest level of finish, and it’s what’s popular in most homes. The finish is very glossy and barely has any imperfection.

Cost of electrical & fixtures in basement

The average cost of installing the electrical fixtures in your basement ranges between $1 – $2 per linear foot. However, most contractors will charge you around $90 to move any sockets or fixtures.

The more fixtures need repairs or replacement; the higher your costs will be.

Nonetheless, it’ll be cheaper to deal with the electrical for the entire basement and not standalone electrical fixtures.

Cost to paint a basement

The total costs to paint your basement will depend on the size, the condition of your basement, DIY or hiring pros, and the parts to be painted.

But generally, most homeowners spend between $3 – $7 per square foot on basement painting. Materials might cost you anywhere from $80 to $200 if you chose to go DIY.

If you also include the trims, baseboards, and ceiling in the project, your costs will also be higher.

3 Alternatives to drywall in basement

Besides drywall, there are numerous other materials that are budget-friendly and give amazing finishes on your basement walls. Some of the top drywall alternatives include:

Plywood

Plywood is a material made up of several strands of thin wood that’s popular among homeowners due to its cheap cost and easy installation. Besides their cost, plywood can also offer nice backdrops for furniture and potted plants.

Veneer plaster

Veneer plaster is the closest material to drywall that you can use for your basement walls. It’s much easier to use than the typical drywall and doesn’t require much skill to install.

Another huge benefit is that veneer plaster offers a better strength rating and more resistance to scrape and knocks on your wall compared to drywall.

Textured wall panels

Textured or 3D wall panels are excellent solutions for your walls because of their architectural appeal. It offers endless artistic designs for homeowners.

The material is made from plastic or a pressed paperboard, dense enough like an egg carton. They are more popular in restaurants and hotels, but they can also work well in your basement.

Shiplap Siding

Installing shiplap style wood singing indoors is a very trendy option these days to give your basement and outdoor rustic feel. Shiplap siding is costlier than drywall but is worth the extra expense of you are looking to impress.

3 Alternatives to drywall in basement room for repair

Cheapest way to finish basement walls

Renovating your home is always quite costly. Most people waste thousands of dollars on these projects simply because they don’t know how to cut down their costs.

Here are some inexpensive ways to finish your basement.

Waterproof and paint basement walls

Instead of incurring the cost of drywall, painting your basement walls is a cheaper alternative. Paint offers you a variety of colors which increases your decorative options while also improving your wall’s moisture resistance.

Spray painting your basement ceiling will also give it a much authentic touch for the finish.

Plywood

Plywood is a great alternative to drywall as it is cheap and insulates well. You will still be required to install battens.

Try a drop ceiling

For deep basements, adding a drop ceiling is a cheap alternative that can give you an excellent finish. The advantage of this is that drop ceilings are easy to access and repair, they’re easier to add lighting fixtures, and their aesthetics are cool. They also offer good insulation and soundproof features.

DIY vs. Pro basement drywall installation

DIY

There are many reasons why you want to DIY your drywall installation project. In most cases, it’s usually because of the potential cost-savings.

However, not every homeowner can work a DIY.

Before going this route, ask yourself; Do I have the skills to do this? Do I have the time to spend on the installation? Do I have the supplies to complete this?

Pros

  • It’s budget-friendly
  • You have control over the entire project timeline, process, and designs

Cons

  • Inexperience will lead to a poor-quality job
  • Could be expensive if you have to rent and hire supplies
  • The process is bulky and involves heavy drywall
  • Wastes a lot of time
  • Drywall is messy

Professional service

When you can’t DIY the job, hiring a professional is the best thing you could do. A good drywall expert will complete the job faster, works more effectively, and they can handle the tough repairs needed on your basement walls.

Pros

  • They have the right supplies and tools
  • Pros have the experience to do a quality job
  • Save you time
  • Can save you money
  • Offer more complementary jobs for free

Cons

  • Most contractors are expensive
  • Inexperienced drywallers might do a terrible job

Cost factors to consider

Drywall type

Different types of drywall vary in price depending on the features incorporated. Green drywall is about 20% more expensive than regular drywall, while the fire-resistant and soundproof drywall will cost you more.

Drywall thickness

Drywall comes in several sizes; ¼ inch, 3/8 inch, ½ inch, ¾ inch, and 5/8 inch. The thicker your drywall is, the more expensive it will be.

Complexity/ No. of rooms

Most contractors will charge you extra for very complex projects. If your basement has arches, edges, and corners, the costs will shoot up. Other tasks involved, including the prep work, moving things out of the basement, and doing repairs on the walls, also increase the costs.

Ceiling height

Installing drywall on vaulted ceilings usually costs around 20% more than the standard low ceiling. This is because the height increases risks to the drywaller and also increases their labor supplies and hours.
Nevertheless, most basement ceilings are usually lower, which reduces costs.

Replacement vs. new framing

Installing new frames for the first time is always cheaper than replacing the framing. The replacement process involves the removal costs for the old frame, repairs for the wall (in case there was any structural damage), then replacement for the framing.
The prices could also be significantly higher if molds are discovered over the old drywall.

Texture finishes

Textured basement walls and ceilings are always much cheaper than smooth finishes. This is why it has become very popular. Smooth finishes demand spending more time and energy on applying multiple paint coats and sanding surfaces.

Best thickness drywall for basements

It depends on what you’re doing, but the ½ inch and 3/8-inch drywall are great options. The thinner ¼-inch drywall is perfect for repair purposes or curved surfaces.

The ½ inch drywall is the most popular in the country, and it’s now the industrial standard. It’s thick enough for your basement walls, but it might be too heavy for the ceilings.
That’s why you should use 3/8-inch drywall for the ceiling since it’s lighter.

If you’re using your basement as a utility room for laundry or a boiler, consult your local state code to ascertain the required drywall thickness.

Should I insulate before drywall?

Yes! Insulating your home makes it more energy-efficient and improves the soundproof characteristics of your walls. Insulating before putting your drywall is important for fire resistance purposes.

Is there special drywall for basements?

Not really! However, numerous drywalls are designed with moisture-resistant features that make them perfect for a basement.

Some manufacturers call this the basement board, but the key thing is that the drywall protects your basement from moisture damage.

Should I use moisture-resistant drywall?

Yes! The basement is one of the coolest areas of your home, and so it’s more susceptible to moisture build-up. A lot of water damages also occur in the basement, and this attracts mold and mildew.

Moisture-resistant drywall, also known as the green board drywall, ensures that mold can’t grow on the basement walls.

Besides the green drywall, you should also ensure that all other materials you use, including the primers, are mold and moisture resistant.

FAQ's

You should leave at least ½ an inch of space between the basement walls and frame to protect your foundation from moisture damage.

Not really. Once you finish your basement, the value of your home in the market drastically increases. But this doesn’t mean that your house taxes also increase by the same token.

In many cases, your state authority will still focus on the amount you paid for the home.

Yes! According to most state laws, you’ll need to seek a permit first before adding any rooms or erecting any walls in your home. Any renovations you plan that could change the structure of your home will need a license.

The only conditions where you won’t need a permit is if you’re replacing sinks and faucets, among other small components.


Anywhere from a day to a month. Drywalling is a tedious process that could take long depending on numerous factors. One of them is the number of people working on it, the project’s size, the prep work, and the types of finishes needed.

On a good day, with a good team, you can complete the entire project in just three or four days.

Timothy Munene
Author: Timothy Munene - Timothy is a freelance writer and an online entrepreneur.