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rickkeeter 11-11-2009 08:54 AM

Suspend Drywall on wooden I-Beams

I have an idea for my basement ceiling and was wondering if anyone has
done something similar. I want access to the wires, pipes etc in the
basement ceiling and do not want to use the typical t-bar ceiling. The room is about 22' x 12'.

I was thinking about making thirteen I-Beams about 4 or 5 inches in height
out of wood and installing then to my floor joists. They would be
spaced about 24" apart. I then plan to rest a piece of drywall (about
26" wide) on the top edge of the bottom plate of each I-Beam. The
drywall would be suspended and easily removable. The bottom plate of
the I-Beam is then stained to match the fireplace mantle, wet bar, and
built in book shelves. (Drywall is painted before installation). The I-Beams will be 12 feet in length (think of these as Main-T's) and I will then place shorter wooden I-Beams at about the 6 foot mark (think of these as cross T's.)

Anyone see an issue with this method? My only concern is the sagging
of the drywall. If it is spaced no more than 24" apart, do you think
it will sag?

So...wooden I-beams like below with drywall resting on the lower plate
of each I-Beam. Issues?

__ -------------------__
_|_ _______________ _|_

Thanks, your opinions are more than welcome.

Anti-wingnut 11-11-2009 10:03 AM


Originally Posted by rickkeeter (Post 351705)

Anyone see an issue with this method?

What type of construction are your floor joists? If they are TJI's, you will be required to protect them with 5/8" drywall. I do not think that wooden pseudo grid will give you the need fire assembly.

If this is an older house, with dimensional framing, and no requirement for any type of rated assembly on the ceiling, your system would be OK. It would probably be wise to use 5/8" rock to avoid sags. Any spans should be less than 24"

In my opinion, it is going to look like some weird ad hoc design. What's wrong with a grid ceiling?

rickkeeter 11-11-2009 10:17 AM

Personally, I think grid ceilings are ugly. Yes there are nice tiles out there but you still end up with the cheap, commercial look.

The floor joists are 2x12 spruce lumber

Anti-wingnut 11-11-2009 10:24 AM

And re-invented wheels are good looking? How are you going to install the tiles? Four to five inches of vertical height is hard enough with ceiling tiles and 5/8" lip. Your tiles are going to be heavier, bigger, and I'm sure your grid lines will be wider

rickkeeter 11-11-2009 10:41 AM

Re-invented wheels are sometimes better...I guess it depends on the inventor. The grid lines will be wider - I want that. They will probably be 3 - 4 inch oak or pine that is stained. As for installation of the tiles, the bottom plate of every second I-Beam will be affixed with a bolt into a T-Nut. So easily removed if necessary. And yes, thanks for stating the obvious - drywall is heavier.

joan518 11-12-2009 03:57 AM

You will need 5/8 drywall for 2' spans so it will not bow. They also make firerated drywall in 5/8 also. I would pre-drill to attach wood assemblies to floor joists as they may be dry and more prone to split, you don't want to risk losing a joist and having to try and replace it. Good luck!

joan518 11-12-2009 04:11 AM

another thought - I would make the I beams as light as possible so as not to have too much weight pulling on your joists, you will have to be careful not to create a swag, especially since the 5/8 drywall will be heavy and you have to have that or the panels of drywall will bow. You may want to run some calculations on the weight. good luck!

rickkeeter 11-12-2009 06:13 PM

Joan518...some very good suggestions, thanks! I plan to make the I beams out 1x3 board for the top plate and center of beam (height). The bottom plate will be pine or oak - depends on how the stain takes to the wood. Mahogany is used in other parts of the room.

ArmchairDIY 11-12-2009 06:23 PM

You could break it up into squares instead of long runs. Search for a coffered ceiling photo. Just a thought

joan518 11-12-2009 07:42 PM

Bingo! Go to - they have 2'x6' ceiling panels that are plain and lighter weight. Isn't that what you will end up with 2'x6', they also have larger, and the plain panels don't look like ceiling tile. good luck! This may take care of the weight problem.

spark plug 11-12-2009 10:28 PM

Rikkeeter. (Poster #1) OP (Original Poster) (Personally. I hate to pour cold water on anyone's project. But. You will achieve the same results as with a Grid Ceiling, only with harder work. Besides. Handling Drywall is messy. Unless you want to invest an extra, extra amount of work in designing and detailing in terms of making curved cuts on the I beams (with a Router) and varnishing them. And SOMEHOW finishing the edges of Drywall, after painting them. They will still be more fragile than Ceiling tile. (No matter what) :yes::no::drink:Don't Drink and Drive, Ever!!!

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