How To Finish A Basement

How To Finish A Basement

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Basement Ceiling – Tips, Ideas and Options

When it’s time to finish a basement ceiling it is important to understand the finishing options that are available to be sure the correct materials are used for your home. In this section we will look at the options for finishing a ceiling, insulation options, and some ceiling ideas to customize your space.


The primary options for finishing the ceiling of a basement is to use either drywall or ceiling tiles. With drywall, the result is a ceiling that has the same appearance as the upstairs, providing a uniform look to the house. Benefits of a drywall ceiling include the fact that it may be textured to match the rest of the house and it may be painted any color you like. Another benefit is that drywall is installed to the floor joists, or just below them on spacers, which means there is very little headroom lost. This leaves you with the maximum amount of height in the finished room. One disadvantage of a drywall ceiling is that drywall is very heavy and difficult to install. In addition, there is added time and cost of finishing, adding texture, and painting the ceiling before the job is done. The primary disadvantage of a drywall ceiling is that there is no access to the utilities in the floor joists overhead. That means a small problem like a leak in the bathroom upstairs will result in a time consuming and expensive repair. Ceiling tiles are used by first installing a track that hangs just below the floor joists.

This track is installed with the proper spacing so that the ceiling tiles may be simply dropped into the grid. There are some great benefits when using ceiling tiles. The first is that tiles provide easy access to the utilities like plumbing and electrical wires in the floor joists. That means a simple leak or future upgrade to wiring will be very simple by just temporarily moving the tiles out of the way. In the event of ceiling damage, it is very easy to replace a single tile quickly. Ceiling tiles have certain disadvantages. For one thing, since the track hangs from the floor joists there is some lost headroom – up to 4 inches or more. This may be an important factor if the ceiling height would become less than 7.5 feet high as a ceiling shorter than this will begin to feel low. The other disadvantage of a drop ceiling is that the look may be a bit commercial, but there are many very good looking options available today to alleviate this concern.


Many homeowners would like to add insulation to keep the upper floor warmer in winter or to insulate against sound transfer between floors. In fact, both drywall and ceiling tiles already have insulating value from sound, with tiles doing a better job of preventing sound transfer. The use of acoustic insulating ceiling tiles will enhance this benefit and do an even better job of keeping sound from moving between floors. For protection against heat loss, insulation may be added above the finished ceiling; however, the benefit of this additional protection may not be worth the cost. In a typical basement that is 10 degrees cooler than the main floor; adding insulation will not pay for itself for many years. Furthermore, if the it is not a finished living space with adequate heating vents, adding additional insulation may serve to make the space colder and uncomfortable in winter. Adding additional insulation makes the most sense for reducing sound transfer between floors when the basement is finished as a living area, particularly for a home theater.


There are some smart ways that you can finish a ceiling to maximize use of the space and provide the lighting needed to use the space well. Since most have fewer sources of natural light an abundance of added lighting is a good idea to make the space bright when needed. The use of recessed lighting works well as these lights do not extend lower than the ceiling height. Track lighting is also a nice option, especially when placed around the perimeter of the room. To dress up a ceiling, the use of crown molding around the room will add a classy look and, since it may be stained or painted, crown molding offers an option to add color or the warmth of wood to the ceiling area. When it comes to a drop ceiling, there are unique tiles that will offer a custom look. Tiles can be found in styles like wood, tin, or patterned styles in a variety of colors to add warmth and interest to the ceiling. Today’s tiles for the home have evolved way beyond the sterile white office look. By selecting the proper material for your space, insulating for sound as needed, and incorporating design ideas to make the ceiling fit with the home, your ceiling will be an attractive and functional part of the finished basement.