A SMART choice: DRIcore SMARTWALL #DRIcorespondents #1h1fBuild


This past week in my household has been a whirlwind of activity; my DH, my Dad and I (with the help of DRIcore) have decided to tackle the basement to add some much need room for our growing family. Last week, I shared with you the first step, SUBFLOORS, well this week I took some holiday time and we tackled the basement, moving on the the second step: SMARTWALL.

Why SMARTWALL over Drywall?

DH has tackled some minor home improvement tasks in the past, but finishing the basement is a first for both of us. To give us tips and experience, we called in my Dad for advice (and an extra pair of hands!). When we were deciding the best materials for the job, we took to the internet. We watched Youtube videos, read home improvement articles and read reviews on all the latest building products on the market. After concluding our research it was down to two products for our walls:

1. Drywall – (also known as plasterboard, wallboard, gypsum board, or LAGYP) is a panel made of gypsum plaster pressed between two thick sheets of paper. It is used to make interior walls and ceilings. (Wikipedia) Drywall requires a frame, insulation, a vapour barrier and electrical outlets before it can be installed.

2.  DRIcore SMARTWALL is an all-in-one engineered wall panel that requires fewer steps, less time and less labour to finish your basement. The 30 lbs panels are 2’x8′ in size and fit together with a standard tongue and grove technique. They are easy to cut with regular power tools and are attached to the top of your floor joists and at the bottom to your subfloor using 2″ x 2″ lumber channel. Each DRIcore SMARTWALL panel combines framing, insulation, drywall and a vapour barrier into a R16 high performance wall panel.

After comparing our experience and weighing the pros and cons, it was a no brainer to use DRIcore’s new SMARTWALL system. With fewer steps, less time and less labour we could get the job done 5x faster using DRIcore SMARTWALL.

The installation process

When the truck pulled up with the flats of SMARTWALL, I was so excited to get started. Thankfully, my Dad’s patience and expertise, slowed me down to plan and prepare the basement prior to installing our first panel. DRIcore SMARTWALLS can only be used as external walls. Any interior walls (i.e. creating separate rooms, closing in spaces, etc.) need to be built first using the drywall/framing process. Since my basement is small, we need to create a space for storage and a room for laundry/furnace. We began with those walls first. They were time consuming and complex.

The next challenge we ran into was my ceiling. Although, we are not at the stage for installing it, we had to take into account things hanging down (i.e. air vents and pipes.) Having DRIcore SMARTWALLS stick out approx. 4 inches from the wall, we had to envision all the obstacles we would come in contact with. We began with boxing those areas in with wooden frames that we will fill in later with thin wood panels. This also gave us secure areas to place our header tracks.

The final preparation step is a step I learned from Bryan Baeumler himself!

1. Spray Foam insulation – Always run a bead of spray foam insulation around the exterior of your basement. This fills in any gaps between subfloor and SMARTWALL preventing unwanted moisture build up.

2. Cut windows in pre-existing insulation – My basement was created with the standard half wall of insulation. Since the SMARTWALL system is a vapour barrier itself, any existing vapour barriers need to be removed first. Simply slicing the plastic is not effective, instead you need to cut out large window-sized sections in the polyethylene bag. Then, simply install the SMARTWALL up against the existing insulation.


Finally it was time to work on the SMARTWALL!! The first step involves installing the header and footer tracks.  We began with the header piece. Ideally you would hug the 2×2 header right up to the concrete wall, but in our case we had many challenges to overcome. We decided to find the spot away from the wall that would give us the least trouble and installed our 2×2 header there. Once the header was installed, we dropped a plumb bob from the edge of that wood and marked it on the floor. Using a laser level and a chalk marker, we measured 2 5/8″ out from that point and install 2X2 footer track the floor.  This continued the entire length of the wall leaving a 1/2 inch gap at the corners.

Once the tracks were in place, it was time to install the SMARTWALL. We choose the toughest corner first! With pipes and headers sticking out, we had to precise with our measurements (Measure twice, cut once! Right Dad?). Cutting the panels wasn’t difficult at all. We decided to cut our panels where we worked. This prevents foam bits from being tracked around the house and the temperature in the garage was freezing! We used a handsaw, broom and dustpan and the mess was kept to a minimum!

One of the most important thing to remember when cutting your SMARTWALL to size, is ALWAYS CUT FROM THE TOP! In case you forget, DRIcore has placed a little sticker at the bottom of the SMARTWALL panels to remind you! The reason you always cut from the top is 1) to keep the prepared channels for the electrical at the same height and 2) to maintain the groove on the bottom of the panel that butts up to the footer track.

Once the DRIcore SMARTWALL cut properly and in place you then screw them into the header and footer wood 2x2s. For the header plates, you will need 5″ screws. This is to allow for the screw to go through the entire width of the SMARTWALL panel and secure it to the 2×2 wood channel.  Remember how we had to move the footer out 2 5/8″ from the wall at the start? This is to allow for the recess part on the SMARTWALL panel. It allows a secure, tight fit and is screwed in place with 2 1/2″ screws.

Stay tuned as we conquer outside corners and complete the SMARTWALL installation.

If you are planning a basement renovation this spring, I highly recommend you check out DRIcore’s website and their Facebook page. With time saving, high quality products, your dream reno can become reality.

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