How to Finish a Low Basement Ceiling

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Many people finish their basement to add living space and increase resale value. One of the challenging aspects of finishing a basement is deciding what to do with a low ceiling. Many products normally used for ceilings can make the ceiling appear even lower than it is.

  • Check with your municipality or county to see if there is any code regulating what you can do to your basement ceiling. The code may regulate the height, type of ceiling, access to pipes and ducts and what can be exposed in a residential basement.

  • Spray paint the ceiling, including pipes and ducts, in a light color. Apply primer first, then spray with a latex spray paint suitable for metal. This is a painting job that can be messier and more difficult than most, so hiring a professional might be worth the cost.

  • Attach furring strips perpendicularly to the bottom of the joists. Check with a level every 2 to 3 feet. Use shims to adjust the height if necessary.

  • Hang drywall. Apply adhesive to furring strips. Start in a corner. Prop drywall against the ceiling with a drywall hanger. Nail to the furring strip. Continue until the first row is complete. Stagger the drywall on the remaining rows. Once the drywall is hung, tape the seams.

  • Put up ceiling tiles or wainscot paneling as an easier alternative to drywall. Apply adhesive to the underside of the furring strip. Staple or nail the material directly to the furring strip.

  • Purchase ACP's CeilingMax system. CeilingMax preserves the ceiling height, does not require leveling and is easy to install. Follow the directions to install CeilingMax. Add 2-by-4 foot or 4-by-4 foot tiles of your choice.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consult with an architect or interior designer if your budget allows. A professional can give many options for finishing the ceiling. They can make recommendations that will tie the ceiling in with the design in the rest of the room.
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