Create a Home Theater in Your Basement

Does the idea of having the whole family gathered together enjoying a family movie night sound like fun? Creating a home theater in your basement is a dream more and more people are turning into a reality. Building your own home theater doesn't need to be expensive (although, if money is no object, you could duplicate a real theater), but creating the space that's right for your family will require some upfront planning.

Preparing Your Basement

You need to be sure your basement is waterproof so there won't be any chance of your theater feeling clammy, smelling moldy, or having moisture in the air damage your electronics. Ensuring proper drainage around the outside of your home will help prevent moisture from getting into your room.

Be sure the room can be heated (or cooled) to provide a comfortable viewing experience. A properly-sized central-home HVAC system should be able to heat or cool your home theater, but including some baseboard heaters in your plans could help on cold nights in the winter.

The concrete floor and walls need to be covered with something softer to prevent the hard surfaces from bouncing the movie sounds around the room. Installing a wooden subfloor covered with a short-pile, easy-to-clean carpet will stop the sound waves from bouncing off the floor, while keeping everyone's feet warm. Installing insulated walls (R 20), covered with drywall, will ensure the room is warm and help the room's acoustics.

Soundproofing the ceiling with fiberglass insulation between the floor/ceiling joists and then covering it with drywall will prevent sound from migrating between the floors and enhance the theater experience.

Ensuring a Quality Viewing Experience

Light can be an issue in a theater. The answer could be a combination of ceiling lights with dimmer switches for movie time and floor or table lamps for when the room isn't being used as a theater. If your basement gets lots of natural light, you may need to include "black out" curtains to cover the windows.

Comfortable couches or recliners arranged so everyone has a good view of the screen are obviously important, and you can enhance everyone's viewing experience with lots of casual tables for drinks and snacks.

The heart of your home theater is your TV and sound system. Select a television that fits the size of your room. Too small a set is hard to see from a distance, while one that's too large can overpower a small room, making viewing difficult. Many retailers provide a consulting service to help you choose the proper size TV and sound system for your home theater based on the size and layout of your room.

Finally, consider a small refrigerator, and perhaps a small dishwasher, so drinks and snacks are always close at hand and you won't need to carry glasses upstairs after the movie.

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