Can You Finish a Crawl Space?

When needing additional storage or living space, sometimes it’s impossible to make an addition to a house. The question becomes how to work with the space that is already there. Finishing the crawl space between a home’s floor and the foundation is an often-overlooked possibility. 

Finishing a crawl space and turning it into a storage compartment or a full room is possible. Finishing a crawl space can prevent future problems with the house. The exact process depends on the size and intended use of the finished space, whether left as a crawl space or converted into a basement. 

If someone is looking for a how-to guide for finishing their home’s crawl space, they have come to the right place. Let’s dive in, shall we?

An image of a Crawl space fully encapsulated with thermoregulatory blankets and dimple board. Radon mitigation system pipes visible. Basement location for energy-saving home improvement concept.

Why Should You Finish Your Crawl Space?

Finishing a crawl space helps make the most of the space in a home and can be an alternative to changing houses when more storage or living space is needed. In addition, it can help increase the home’s structural integrity and protect it from damage. 

A few problems more likely to occur in an unfinished crawl space include mold, infestations, and water damage. Finishing a crawl space can lead to more efficient heating and cooling and lower energy bills.

How to Finish a Crawl Space

The first step to finishing a crawl space is to inspect it for issues (termites, mold, etc.). Next, add drainage, insulation, and vapor barriers to the floor and walls. Finally, plumb, ventilate, add electricity, and condition the space properly. After that, the crawl space can be decorated and used. 

The initial inspection step is crucial to ensure any pests, moisture, or other potential sources of damage in the space are eradicated before continuing the finishing process.

After all, no one wants to put in all the work to finish a space and start using it for storage only to end up with their belongings ruined. 

Unfinished crawl spaces tend to be high-moisture environments, which makes them unsuitable for storing possessions. Adding board insulation and plastic vapor barriers to the floor and walls helps reduce the natural moisture and make the space more suited for storage or use, depending on the crawl space size and your needs. You’ll also need some drainage for that moisture.

Standards for ventilating crawl spaces vary. In some climates, vents are essential to keep moisture out of a crawl space, while in other environments, they may do more harm than good.

Researching local building codes and consulting with experts are good avenues for determining whether to add a vent to the finished crawl space. 

A non-ventilated crawl space, or one with significant moisture issues, may require a dehumidifier. It’s best to play it safe to ensure items kept in storage aren’t damaged due to moisture. 

If your crawl space has a lot of pipes, you’ll at least want a water sensor down in the crawl space to let you know if there’s a leak – whether you get the dehumidifier or not.

Depending on what you need down in your crawl space, you’ll also need pipes, ventilation, and electrical set up throughout the crawl space. You’ll definitely need it if you ever want to convert your crawl space into a basement.

Can You Turn a Crawl Space into a Full Basement?

While it is quite an undertaking, turning a crawl space into a basement is possible. Since crawl spaces are much smaller than a regular rooms, the first step is increasing the height by digging down or lifting up the area. From there, finish the basement with all the needed aspects. 

  • Digging down is a strategy that lowers the crawl space floor and is relatively straightforward.
  • Lifting up is much more complicated, as it involves lifting the house off its foundation to lift things up to create enough room.

In most cases, digging down will be the way to go. However, lifting may be the best action in select situations, such as when the foundation is damaged. During a lift, the foundation can be repaired while the crawl space gets enough overhead space to become a truly useful area.

Performing one of these procedures is an essential first step, as a typical crawl space has only four feet of space between its ceiling and floor.

However, the international building code for residential spaces requires rooms’ ceilings to be between 6.5 and 7.5 feet, depending on the specifics of the room.

Important note: please keep in mind, too, that not all areas use international building codes – some areas follow their own building codes. It’s important you know which to follow. However, international codes are a great baseline simply because they’re international codes.

Another necessity when transforming a crawl space into a basement is adding windows. These are important design features to comply with fire codes and ensure multiple exits from the room. If the new basement area is below ground level, you’ll also want window wells (so that the windows are useful – and can be used as an exit in an emergency).

Once the room’s height and exits align with building codes, everything is set to continue the finishing process and turn the crawl space into a basement. The length and complexity of the process will depend on the exact purpose the room is meant to be used

There is a type of basement called a Michigan Basement, so you may also want to read about them.

If you at all want to use the basement, you’ll definitely want it set up with proper drainage (including sewer), electrical, gas (if needed), other utilities, walls, flooring (carpet, tile, etc.), and decor.

How Do You Finish a Crawl Space Floor?

The first step to finishing a crawl space floor is insulating it to prevent moisture from entering it. This can be followed by adding a plastic vapor barrier or poured concrete. Once waterproofed sufficiently for the area, it can be finished with walls, flooring, and other decor.

There are pros and cons to each approach. A vapor barrier is cheaper and easier but less protective. Concrete is more effective at deterring moisture, but the installation process is much more involved.

Depending on your area’s humidity, you may need a vapor barrier and concrete. Even then, you may need to treat the concrete, so you don’t get weird mineral buildup coming into the house from the water.

The plastic or concrete floor may be sufficient if the crawl space is meant for storage. However, when turning it into a room or basement, adding tile, carpet, or laminate flooring may be desirable to make the space more comfortable. 

An image of a Basement or crawl space with upper-floor insulation and wooden support beams.

Can You Turn a Crawl Space into a Room?

After expanding a crawl space’s height and depth and finishing it, it can be used as an additional room in countless ways. Just note that some rooms will require more complicated plumbing, electricity, etc., than others. Be sure to take this into account when planning this project.

Here are some of the more popular and effective ways to repurpose a finished crawl space:

  • Home theatre
  • Home gym
  • Recording studio
  • Activity room

The quiet, low-light atmosphere afforded by a converted crawl space makes it an ideal means of making these and other additions to a house.

Where Can You Find Inspiration for Finishing a Crawl Space?

Finishing a crawl space is a way to add more room to a home and a practical method for protecting it from damage. Once finished, it can serve as a storage closet or cellar and be made into a full-fledged room for any purpose. 

  • Pinterest is a popular source of inspiration for DIY projects and home décor. Setting up an account is free and provides access to pictures and stories of other people’s crawl space renovation projects. It’s my go-to space for decorating ideas and DIY inspiration.
  • A lot of websites dedicate themselves to providing DIY ideas. This article provides tips and examples for repurposing a crawl space as a storage area, root cellar, or game room.  

Another great way to find inspiration for finishing a crawl space (or a basement) is to ask local neighbors and friends who may have done a similar project. That way, they can give you pointers and hopefully save some heartache by helping you not skip any important steps for your area.

Key Takeaways and Next Steps

A crawl space can be an unwanted pathway for moisture, mold, and pests to enter the house, so finishing it is a good idea. Fortunately, a finished crawl space can do so much more than protect the home from damage. It can be used for storage or even as a room.

When looking into finishing a crawl space, it is important to check for insects, mold, and other problems first. Then there is the step of deciding what to do with the space—converting it into a basement requires more steps than the basic finishing process. 

Regardless of the intended end, the basic steps are the same: adding insulation and a vapor barrier, ventilating as necessary, and possibly investing in a dehumidifier. With these tasks completed, the sky is the limit, and the crawl space can be further modified to serve whatever desired purpose.


Learning from your own experience is important, but learning from others is also smart. These sources were used in this article and our research to be more informed as we DIY and decorate our homestead.

  • International Residential Code (IRC). International Code Council.
  • Basement Repair Specialists. (2023). How to get the most out of your crawl space. Basement Repair Specialists.
  • Esman, B. (2023). 3 simple finished crawl space ideas. My Backyard Life.
  • Lamont Bros. (2022, July 18). How to convert a crawl space into a basement. Lamont Bros. Design & Construction.
  • Reed, L. (2022). Can you finish a crawl space? Project Perfect Home.
  • Schwartz, D. and Vila, B. (2020, September 21). Converting your crawl space into a storage area.

Homestead Style Guide uses ads and participates in select affiliate advertising programs, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you click a link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Connect with Me