Create a Multilevel Ceiling
Drywall creates a smooth, finished surface for a basement ceiling, but you may have to box in ducts and drainpipes with a wood framework before installing the drywall. With careful planning, this can result in a multilevel ceiling that helps define different activity zones.
In this basement, the lowered ceiling above the living area creates intimacy and disguises ductwork. To emphasize the playful character of the space, a ribbon of red unfurls across the yellow ceiling, with a gray-blue dot mimicking the pillows on the chairs.
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Cover the Ceiling with Siding
Tongue-and-groove siding creates an attractive finish for a basement ceiling. The drawback to a closed ceiling like this is that it hinders easy access to wiring or plumbing pipes, and you may have to lower the ceiling to accommodate ductwork. However, with the pipes concealed, the basement looks as finished as any room on the main level and has an open, airy feel.
Carve Out a Tray Ceiling
Boxing in ductwork around the perimeter of this basement living space creates a tray ceiling above the center of the room. Tray ceilings are often used in main-level rooms to add drama and architectural character as well as to increase the illusion of height. They can do the same for a basement.
Accented by wide white molding that matches the window frames, this tray ceiling is painted the same golden yellow as the walls to create a cheerful, warm glow. (The windows open into window wells finished with the same siding as the exterior of the house.)
Combine Finishing Systems
This basement uses two types of ceiling finishing systems: a drop ceiling over the living area in front of the direct-vent fireplace and false window and a closed ceiling over the adjacent space.
A drop ceiling conceals electrical wiring and cables but allows easy access to heating, cooling, and electrical systems. Suspended from the floor joists, drop ceilings are a low-cost, low-maintenance option for finishing basement ceilings.
Add Arts and Crafts Style
The ceiling finishing treatment in this basement takes its cue from the Arts and Crafts-style fireplace. To drop the ceiling low enough to clear ductwork and drain pipes, drywall panels rest on beams encased in drywall and painted to match the walls. Wood trim outlines the ceiling panels, suggesting wood rafters without the visual weight of solid wood beams.
Camouflage with Paint
A low-cost finishing option for basement ceilings is to leave all of the ductwork and pipes exposed and to camouflage everything with paint. Use a paint sprayer to coat everything evenly, including the sides and upper surfaces of the various elements. Use black to disguise the various elements and give them a sculptural look. Black also makes the ceiling disappear.
Brighten with Laminate Planks
An easy-to-install white plank ceiling eliminates the sterile basement look in this lower-level home office. Laminate planks snap together tongue-and-groove style and are attached with special clips to furring strips or the floor joists.
Lower the Ceiling for Intimacy
Drywall covers most of the ceiling in this expansive lower-level living space, but wood plank paneling over the dining area masks the soffit that conceals ductwork. The paneling continues down the wall, giving the area cozy intimacy.
Mirror the Ceiling to Suggest Height
Create drama and the illusion of loftier ceilings by installing reflective panels on the ceiling. The panels rest on a framework of metal channels that hang on wires attached to the joists.
Enhance Space with a Tray Ceiling
The tray ceiling in this basement follows the lines of the built-in cabinetry, cutting across the corner of the room. Painting the multilevel ceiling the same color as the walls enhances the sense of space. Wood trim outlines the dropped perimeter of the tray to add architectural interest.
Install Beams for Architectural Style
Decorative wood beams add dimension and interest to the painted drywall ceiling in this walkout basement. If your home has forced-air heat, adding vents for the basement is easy because the ductwork is already in place.
Unify with White
Use a sprayer to paint the exposed ductwork, pipes, and cables white to match white-painted concrete-block walls. Painting the unfinished ceiling white brightens the basement and is a particularly good choice for a laundry room, where the focus is on cleanliness. Painting is also the least expensive option for basements with ceilings too low to accommodate a drop ceiling.
Create Country Style with Beams
Wood beams and a plank ceiling suit the rustic character of this lower-level workspace. Spotlights attach to the beams to illuminate work surfaces.
Save Money with a Drop Ceiling
Acoustical tile panels rest in a grid of metal channels that hang from the joists throughout this basement. They're a low-cost, low-maintenance option for finishing the ceiling, and they reduce noise levels.
The advantage of drop or suspended ceilings is that you don't have to worry about moving pipes or boxing in ductwork. But you do need adequate headroom. Building codes generally specify at least 7 feet 6 inches of headroom from finished floor to finished ceiling in living areas.
Add Interest with Prefinished Planks
A prefinished laminate plank ceiling brightens this basement sitting room and adds texture overhead. The planks attach to furring strips that are nailed to the floor joists. Home improvement centers offer laminate planks in a range of finishes, from white and pickled to realistic-looking wood grains in an array of stains.
Play Up the Ceiling with Contrast
Painting the tray ceiling taupe to match the walls throws the surrounding white soffit into high relief. The contrast between the soffit and the tray enhances the illusion of height in this walkout basement living area.
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