14 basement ceiling ideas – take the wow-factor to another level (2022)

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Once just an afterthought, basement ceiling ideas are coming into their own. No longer thought of as just a blackhole for storage boxes, basement ideas are becoming more and more exciting, from home theaters and gyms to games rooms and bars.

With that in mind, it’s worth giving a little extra thought to your basement ceiling; it can make all the difference to the look and feel of the finished room. In some cases, you can use it to visually increase square footage, too – perfect if you’re working with a small space.

Basement ceiling ideas to impress

Refining your basement ceiling doesn’t have to cost the earth – there are plenty of ceiling ideas to try which will give you a stylish look on a budget, with minimum effort. Especially if yours is in good shape and if you’re a fan of a loft-like look.

On the other hand, if you can afford (literally and figuratively) to go a little bolder, we say go for it. Similarly to a powder room, basements offer the perfect opportunity to have fun and be a bit adventurous with your design scheme; ‘you can make statements with color and pattern without worrying about how it will coincide with the rest of your home’s interior’, says Megan Dufresne, Principal Designer at MC Design (opens in new tab).

So, if you’re planning your basement conversion, check out our roundup of best basement ceiling ideas, as well as practical advice, to ensure you get the best out of your fifth wall.

1. Keep it simple

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(Image credit: SACW)

Sometimes the simplest solution is the most stylish as proved here by The Stone & Ceramic Warehouse (opens in new tab). In this case, you don’t need to do anything at all to your basement ceiling – exposed metal pipes bring a seriously cool industrial vibe. If there are certain fixtures that you’re not keen on, consider hiding them behind strategically placed oversized lighting, or paint over with a matching gray paint.

2. Follow the curve

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(Image credit: SACW)

Basements come in all shapes and sizes, and to make the most of the available space, sometimes the ceiling must follow suit. This basement kitchen is an example of just how beautifully – and cleverly – this can be done. By bringing walls and ceiling together in a smooth curve, you can create the illusion of infinite space despite no extra square footage added.

3. Make the right lighting choices

(Image credit: SACW)

Basements aren’t often blessed with a lot of natural light, so factoring adequate lighting into your ceiling design is essential. The key is to install fixtures that don’t dominate the space, (particularly if you’ve opted for a drop ceiling) making recessed lighting a popular choice.

‘Spotlights are always a great place to start; they’re low profile and, paired with a dimmer, will allow for full control depending on the time of day or activity’, explains Jen & Mar from Interior Fox (opens in new tab).

4. Stay traditional

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(Image credit: SACW)

If you’re converting the basement of a traditional period property, consider installing features such as ceiling roses and crown molding to match the rest of the home.

‘Crown molding is a great way to lift a room – just adding this architectural detail can transform an area into a space that’s rich and brimming with character’, says Thomas Vibe, interior designer and founder of Stone Wizards (opens in new tab).

Paint them in a coordinating shade for understated style or choose a bold contrast color for a modern twist.

5. Get creative with color

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(Image credit: Crown Paints)

Why should walls have all the fun? Taking your feature paint color up and painting a ceiling not only creates the spacious illusion of a ‘fifth wall’, it’s also a lovely way of adding a bit of sunshine (quite literally, in this room’s case) to a basement, particularly if there’s no windows. Get the color look by Crown Paints (opens in new tab).

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6. Embrace existing wooden beams

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(Image credit: The Stone & Ceramic Warehouse. )

Leaving original wooden beams exposed is an easy way of bringing natural warmth, texture and rustic authenticity to a basement ceiling, and involves next to no DIY on your part – bonus! The vertical lines exaggerate the feeling of height and length, too. If the wood’s a little too rustic for your taste, give it a coat of paint – white creates an airy feel and allows the natural grain to show through.

‘For a really striking design statement, you may want to think about something unexpected like wood ceiling planks or cladding to give your basement more texture and dimension’, adds Jo Oliver, Director of The Stone & Ceramic Warehouse.

7. Consider adding new ones

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(Image credit: Decorilla)

If your original wooden beams weren’t up to par, consider adding decorative ones (faux wood makes for a more affordable option) to dress up a white ceiling. Be sure to consult a home construction specialist first to ensure you’re positioning them correctly.

‘Adding beams to your basement ceiling can give it a more homely feel, especially if you’re converting it into a living or sitting room for the family’, says interior design blogger, Gina Kay Daniel (opens in new tab). ‘Opt for lighter wood and a neutral color scheme to avoid making the space feel smaller than it is’.

Basement by Decorilla (opens in new tab).

8. Mix up materials

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(Image credit: Decorilla)

The types of materials you choose will have a huge impact on the overall look and feel of your basement – not to mention your wallet. Opting for an inset ceiling allows you to incorporate high-quality materials into your design without using them across the whole ceiling – a neat way of finishing a basement on a budget without compromising on the result.

‘Drywall is available in an array of thicknesses and can be cut to size, making it a versatile material choice if you’re planning a ceiling inset’, says Laura A, Interior designer at Decorilla. ‘Here, the contemporary spin on a coffered style ceiling allows for wood beams to easily attach with construction adhesives'.

9. Disguise features you don’t like

14 basement ceiling ideas – take the wow-factor to another level (9)

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(Image credit: Decorilla)

The loft-style look isn’t for everyone, but there’s an easy solution if you’re not a fan of exposed pipework – paint it all the same color. Here, a moody coat of dark black paint transforms this room’s utilitarian features into unimposing sculptural elements, cleverly mirrored by an ornate lighting fixture.

This technique allows you to conceal any ductwork or pipes in the space while still enabling you to be artistic with your design choices’, says Michael Simons, real estate broker and owner of Tres Amigos Realty Group (opens in new tab).

Look created by Decorilla (opens in new tab).

10. Keep it cozy with a drop ceiling

14 basement ceiling ideas – take the wow-factor to another level (10)

(Image credit: Decorilla)

If you’re looking to create a cozy feel, a drop ceiling might be for you. Sometimes referred to as a suspended ceiling, they consist of a metal grid hung on joists by a frame and wires. Tiles or panels (available in a range of shapes, sizes, styles and materials) are then placed inside the openings. Unsurprisingly given its name, you do sacrifice on ceiling height, but they’re one of the best choices if you want your ceiling to look truly finished.

Leonard Aug, CEO of iProperty Management (opens in new tab) says: ‘If your basement ceiling is quite low already, a dropped ceiling is likely to mean tall guests will have to crouch a little if they want to see your lovely basement! Interlocking tiles that connect directly to the bottom of joists is a good alternative’.

11. Let white paint work its magic

(Image credit: SACW)

If you have windows in your basement, chances are they’ll be positioned at the very top of the wall, which doesn’t exactly flood the room with natural light. However, painting your ceiling bright white is a great way of ensuring what light you do have is as maximized as possible.

12. Add artistic flair with wallpaper

14 basement ceiling ideas – take the wow-factor to another level (12)

(Image credit: Rebel Wallis)

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Who needs paintings on the wall when your entire ceiling can become a work of art? Ok, so a sky mural might not be for everyone, but the concept remains the same ­– simply choose a wallpaper pattern that works for you. We suggest you stick to neutral shades throughout the rest of the scheme – this allows the ceiling to take center stage.

Look byRebel Walls (opens in new tab).

13. Let in natural light

14 basement ceiling ideas – take the wow-factor to another level (13)

(Image credit: Future)

Consider positioning light wells within the ceiling. They bring in maximum light and look stylish, to boot. If you’ve extended your basement out underneath your yard, installing an external window made from walk-on glass is an option – and makes for a bit of a talking point! Simple tricks such as painting the walls of any lightwells in bright white and keeping foliage above neatly trimmed will help natural daylight travel down into your basement space, too.

If you’ve got no natural light sources available, consider adding an internal window at the ground-floor level to bring light from the room above into the basement below.

14. Choose a two tone look

14 basement ceiling ideas – take the wow-factor to another level (14)

(Image credit: Emily Henderson)

Embrace the trend for monochromatic color schemes by painting your ceiling black and your walls white. A timeless classic, this color combination lends itself to a traditional décor scheme or contributes towards a more modern, cutting-edge look, as demonstrated here in this high-contrast basement design. Original rafters coasted in slate gray paint echoes the concrete flooring, while exposed wires and pipes add to the industrial feel.

Photography by Emily Henderson (opens in new tab).

How do I make my basement ceiling look good?

When deciding on what looks good in a basement ceiling, it’s important to take the room you’re decorating into account. An industrial-style unfinished ceiling may look good in a kitchen, bathroom or games room, but wouldn’t suit a bedroom, for example.

If you have existing ceiling features in place, such as wooden beams, rafters or pipework, consider leaving them exposed as a stylish focal point within the room. If there are certain fixtures that you’re not keen on, you can hide them behind strategically placed oversized lighting, or paint over with a darker paint shade.

Drop ceilings suit cozier spaces, such as bedrooms, snugs and home theaters, and allow for personal style, with a range of tile options to choose from. Probably the most flexible of ceiling choices, a drywall ceiling suits any room type, and lends itself to easily updated transformation in the form of wallpaper, paint or paneling.

How can I cover my basement ceiling cheaply?

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to achieve a stylish basement ceiling, there’s plenty of options available. In fact, if you like the loft-style look, you can get away with doing absolutely nothing – can’t get much cheaper than that!

A drywall basement ceiling is inexpensive and leaves you with a smooth, clean surface to do with as you please. Leaving it white reflects light well, but it’s easy to add color; ‘if you have a modest renovation budget consider painting your basement ceiling. It’s arguably the most cost-effective way to create a pleasing update’, says Michael Simons, real estate broker and owner of Tres Amigos Realty Group (opens in new tab).

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Drop ceilings are also cheap to install, plus it’s one of the best choices if you want your ceiling to look truly finished. You can also adjust overall cost depending on your budget by choosing from tiles or panels in a range of shapes, sizes, styles and materials.

FAQs

What kind of ceiling is best for basement? ›

Suspended ceilings are one of the most popular basement ceilings. Consisting of a simple grid and lightweight tiles or panels, a suspended ceiling covers exposed beams, ductwork, and electrical wiring, while allowing easy access for repairs or leaks.

What is the best basement ceiling height? ›

In most regions, the average basement ceiling height falls in the 7 feet to 9 feet range. While older basements built before the 7-foot requirement was added to building codes are grandfathered in – allowing them to remain as living space even if they fall below the 7-foot mark – those aren't the norm.

Should you drywall a basement ceiling? ›

The Drywall or Sheetrock Ceiling for Basements

A big advantage of having a drywall/sheetrock ceiling in a basement is that loss of headroom will be minimal. Drywall uses less space so it is a good choice when you have low ceilings and need to take advantage of all the headroom possible. Drywall will not sag.

How much does it cost to put a ceiling in a basement? ›

Raising a basement ceiling typically costs about $19,200 and can range from $16,000 to $24,000.

How much does it cost to increase ceiling height? ›

Most homeowners pay around $60 per square foot to raise a ceiling. The price range for this project—between $50 and $75 per square foot—varies by home type and location.

Are 7 foot ceilings too low? ›

How low can a ceiling be? Lots of people think 8 feet is the minimum ceiling height because that's a common height in most homes, but it's actually 7 feet according to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI Z765). Technically ANSI says it's okay to have a ceiling height at 6'4″ under beams though.

Can I make my basement ceiling higher? ›

Believe it or not, there are two methods to increase a basement ceiling's height. The first method is to dig the basement down deeper. The second method is to lift the house and build the basement walls higher.

Is it cheaper to drywall or drop ceiling? ›

Drop ceilings are more expensive to install than drywall making drywall the cheaper option. However, if you can install a drop ceiling by yourself, you can save on labor costs. You should also factor in paint costs for a drywall ceiling and whether you are hiring a professional to install and paint for you.

Can you raise a low ceiling? ›

In an existing home, however, raising the ceiling in the living room, or anywhere else, is a complicated process. Yes, it's doable, but if it involves changing the roof structure, a structural engineer is necessary.

What is the average size for a basement? ›

The average size of a basement is usually between 500-1500 square feet with of 8 foot ceilings. The footprint of the basement can vary depending on the square footage of the main house.

How thick are most basement walls? ›

As a practical consideration, residential designers need to keep in mind that concrete foundation walls are typically 6, 8 or 10 inches thick (nominal). The typical concrete compressive strength used in residential construction is 2,500 or 3,000 psi, although other strengths are available.

What is the minimum height for basement? ›

i) Every basement shall be in every part at least 2.5 m. in height from the floor to underside of the roof slab or ceiling and with maximum height not more than 4.5 m. ii) Adequate ventilation shall be provided for the basement.

How much height is lost with a drywall ceiling? ›

Drywall can be fixed directly to the joists, so you only lose a half an inch of headroom -- the thickness of the material. With suspended systems, you can lose about three to five inches.

Is it worth insulating basement ceiling? ›

Yes—in most cases insulating your basement is a good idea because it will pay dividends down the road. Not only does wall insulation help keep your home warmer but it may also help soundproof the space.

Can you put drywall directly on basement ceiling joists? ›

Yes you can, but it is not always easy to do. The joists may not be perfectly spaced and you only have a 1-1/2 inch target for attaching two edges of the drywall.

Whats the most expensive part of finishing a basement? ›

Floors. Believe it or not, floors are often the most expensive thing that goes into your finished basement. Part of that stems from the fact that the poured concrete in most basements isn't installed with a finished basement in mind. That means that the current floor may require leveling before any other work gets done ...

How much does it cost to drywall a 1000 sq ft basement? ›

Average Cost to Drywall a Basement by Basement Size
Average Cost to Drywall a Basement By Size
Cost to Drywall a 1,000 square foot BasementTotal Cost
Low Cost x 1,480 square feet$2,740
Average Cost x 2,220 square feet$8,880
High Cost x 2,960 square feet$17,000
8 more rows

What is a drop ceiling in a basement? ›

A drop ceiling is just that, it is dropped from the floor joists above your basement space. Many homeowners prefer to have a drop ceiling in their basement because plumping and wiring is typically installed in the space above and getting to it is easy.

Is it worth raising a ceiling? ›

High ceilings can increase a home's value by five to 25 percent. In fact, raising the height of a ceiling added an average of $4,000 to home values, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders. That said, high ceilings remain more common in high-end homes than in low- to mid-range homes.

Is vaulting a ceiling worth it? ›

Vaulted ceilings can take advantage of otherwise wasted roof space and create a larger dramatic room volume. Vaulted ceilings will make your home appear larger than it actually is. Vaulted ceilings do a wonderful job of enhancing your home's natural light, especially when accompanied by larger windows.

Are 12 foot ceilings too high? ›

Ceilings can go beyond the industry standard, to 10 and 12 feet high. Higher ceilings, up to 12 feet, are not uncommon, especially in renovated loft apartments and pre-war style architecture (between 1890 and 1940). A new house can also be designed with varying ceiling heights.

Is 9 ft ceilings worth the money? ›

It is absolutely more desirable to haveif you 9' ceilings, and will more than pay for itself in value added to the home. Consider choosing more economical finishes like counters and bathroom floors that can be upgraded down the road, ceiling height is forever.

What was standard ceiling height in 1970s? ›

In the 1970's, the average ceiling height was 7 feet 9 inches. Today a standard ceiling height is nine feet on the first floor and eight on the second.

Why do older homes have low ceilings? ›

Homes built before the advent of efficient heating systems and proper insulation often used fireplaces both as a source of heat and a place to cook. Lower ceilings and smaller rooms were much easier to heat with fireplaces, therefore many period farmhouses were built with a seven-foot or so ceiling height.

What color should I paint my ceiling to make it look higher? ›

Use white – and more white. Naturally, white will do the trick very successfully – and there's something serene and beautiful about white walls and ceiling. One continuous shade will blur boundaries and create the illusion of height.

Are 8 ft ceilings too low? ›

Low ceilings in your home isn't necessarily a bad thing. Before modern times, 8 feet was typically regarded as the standard height for ceilings. Today, however, not uncommonly, most ceilings are 9 or even 10 feet in height.

How can I raise the height of my ceiling? ›

It typically involves removing horizontal beams called joists and installing a new ceiling. If you don't have sufficient space above the room, then a contractor has to raise the roof in order to elevate the ceiling. They make the surrounding walls taller, often by adding taller support beams.

Does a basement ceiling need insulation? ›

Yes—in most cases insulating your basement is a good idea because it will pay dividends down the road. Not only does wall insulation help keep your home warmer but it may also help soundproof the space.

What is the ceiling of a basement made of? ›

Basement ceilings typically fall into one of two general categories: suspended ceilings or hard ceilings. Suspended ceilings use acoustical panels or tiles placed into a frame on the ceiling. Hard ceilings include those made of wood, plaster and drywall.

How much does it cost to drywall a basement ceiling? ›

Drywall: It costs around $1.50 per square foot to hang drywall in your basement. Ceiling: Basic ceiling installation can cost as little as $1-2 per square foot. But, if the project is complex, it can cost around $6 per square foot.

What are basement ceiling tiles called? ›

The Drop or Suspended Tile Ceiling for Basements

There are many advantages to installing and finishing your basement ceiling using ceiling tiles. Also called “drop ceilings”, the use of tiles in a basement is a popular way to complete a ceiling.

Should I put a vapor barrier on my basement ceiling? ›

If the basement is finished and has no moisture issues, the vapor barrier is not needed. If it has moisture issues, the vapor barrier is probably a problem.

What type of insulation is best for basement ceilings? ›

Mineral Wool Insulation

It boasts a higher R-value than fiberglass, and it's often made from 30% recyclable materials. It's also moisture-resistant and can slow the spread of fires in the home, so it's ideal for basement walls and ceilings.

Should you insulate your finished basement ceiling? ›

Yes. Faced insulation is actually recommended on basement ceilings and ceilings in general. The covering or "face" of the insulation prevents it from falling out and trickling down into the basement air. This is especially advantageous if the insulation is made of fiberglass, which can harmful if it's ingested.

Can I make my basement ceiling higher? ›

Raising the ceiling height in a basement is possible, but requires a lot of planning and structural construction. More often than not, working around the ceiling height that you have is best. Structural engineers and foundation experts would need to be involved in order to raise the ceiling height in the basement.

How do I cover basement ceiling pipes? ›

Fabric Water Pipe Cover

Like painting, fabric offers a quick, inexpensive way to conceal pipes in your basement ceiling. Staple the fabric to your ceiling's joists, and drape it across the ceiling in soft folds to create a canopy of sorts.

Is it cheaper to drywall or drop ceiling? ›

Drop ceilings are more expensive to install than drywall making drywall the cheaper option. However, if you can install a drop ceiling by yourself, you can save on labor costs. You should also factor in paint costs for a drywall ceiling and whether you are hiring a professional to install and paint for you.

How much does it cost to drywall a 1500 sq ft basement? ›

Cost to Drywall a Basement

Installing drywall costs an average of $1,850 or about $2 per square foot. Finishing basement walls in a 400 square foot space may run you $800, while 1,500 square feet is closer to $3,000.

What kind of drywall do you use for a basement ceiling? ›

Due to the often damp conditions of the basement, be sure to choose sheetrock that is at least moisture-resistant (often call greenboard) but be on the lookout for products that are specifically resistant to mold and mildew (some kinds of purple board).

How much height do you lose with a drop ceiling? ›

The acoustical panels, depending upon the type, may reduce the ceiling height another one-quarter inch. The height from the concrete floor to the dropped ceiling is about 7 feet 5 inches.

Can you drywall a basement ceiling? ›

Adding drywall to the basement ceiling is possible. With drywall, you can add some style to your basement. In the installation process, you can place the drywall panel on ceiling joists. Also, adding the drywall is easier if you start from the ceiling down to the walls.

Can I replace drop ceiling with drywall? ›

If your drop ceiling is looking a little shabby and you're ready for a change, the first step is to remove the suspended ceiling in the opposite order it was originally installed: tiles, lights and metal grid. Once removed, you can repair the original ceiling, if possible, or add new sheets of drywall.

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