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Old 07-18-2012, 12:52 PM   #1
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unfinished basement ceiling questions


Hey. We have a 1979 bilevel. The lower level had a suspended ceiling but it was terribly installed and we knew we had to tear it out whether we were going to do another suspended ceiling or paint it.

The idea of painting it is very appealing. We hate the way suspended ceilings look, we'll get a ton more headroom, we like the industrial look, and the suspended ceiling didn't provide any sound isolation anyways.

But there's two issues I wanted to ask advice on. First, along the external wall above there's insulation in the cavity and it looks ugly. Some of the cavities are clear and it wouldn't be too hard to install some luon or other kind of wood to block it, but some of the cavities have pipes and ductwork that would not work well. I thought I was brilliant to suggest getting some thick cardboard, installing it very carefully, and when it gets painted along with the rest it will look great. My wife is very skeptical. We have a lot more renovation to do so we don't love the idea of working super hard on this part, but we'll do what we have to do. Any ideas?



And the second question: half of the lower level's ceiling is finished and it looks nice and it's painted white. It's most common to paint an unfinished ceiling black. We are worried that there would be a jarring disconnect between the two sections. Maybe charcoal instead of black? Maybe white? I really hate the idea of painting the finished part black, it's just too dark and ugly on a finished area. I'd love some advice or suggestions. Thanks everyone.

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Old 07-18-2012, 12:58 PM   #2
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I plan on spraying mine when I finish the room I have down there. It is my understanding that people spray it black because black hides imperfections better. It does have the potential to give you the "dungeon feel" though. If you don't mind the imperfections showing I would go with white or maybe off-white. I plan on doing mine in some sort of white. I'll give you the same advice my cousin-law just gave me since he just did his "Get a respirator, goggles, coveralls and prepare to still stink for 2 days after".

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Old 07-18-2012, 01:08 PM   #3
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I plan on spraying mine when I finish the room I have down there. It is my understanding that people spray it black because black hides imperfections better. It does have the potential to give you the "dungeon feel" though. If you don't mind the imperfections showing I would go with white or maybe off-white. I plan on doing mine in some sort of white. I'll give you the same advice my cousin-law just gave me since he just did his "Get a respirator, goggles, coveralls and prepare to still stink for 2 days after".
We are going to cheat and hire a pro to paint it ;-) We got a good quote already. I read that you have to use a special primer on galvanized ductwork which our painter will use so I think some of the details are being covered.

White or off white isn't a terrible idea.

Another idea I just had is to install a beam or piece of molding as a cosmetic divider of the finished and unfinished spaces and paint them black and white. The beam might really help the differences work. Any opinions on this idea?
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Old 07-18-2012, 04:36 PM   #4
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unfinished basement ceiling questions


Are your ducts tucked up between the joists? I have 1 running up there but I think I might cover it with a thin piece of wood just for coverage purposes.
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Old 07-19-2012, 06:56 AM   #5
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Are your ducts tucked up between the joists? I have 1 running up there but I think I might cover it with a thin piece of wood just for coverage purposes.
Actually no, there's several ducts hanging down, and there's lots of pipes below the joists too. Which is why we decided not to put drywall up yet, we don't have the resources to move all those pipes.

What do you mean by cover your duct with a thin piece of wood? Why not just paint it along with the rest?
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Old 07-19-2012, 12:41 PM   #6
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unfinished basement ceiling questions


My only thought was that the paint would look different on wood vs. metal and by covering where the duct was with wood I would get a sliiiightly more uniform look. Maybe i'm crazy...
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Old 07-19-2012, 01:27 PM   #7
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My only thought was that the paint would look different on wood vs. metal and by covering where the duct was with wood I would get a sliiiightly more uniform look. Maybe i'm crazy...
Ah hmm, yeah maybe. Not sure. Though I kind of think you're doomed with consistency on an unfinished ceiling. Joists, and plywood, and pipes, and ducts, and romex....
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Old 07-21-2012, 12:19 AM   #8
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Please check with your local AHJ, the wiring may need to be run in conduit and the fire Marshall will have something to say on exposed light framing. Against all building codes too....

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Old 07-21-2012, 06:59 AM   #9
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...there's two issues I wanted to ask advice on. First, along the external wall above there's insulation
in the cavity and it looks ugly. Some of the cavities are clear and it wouldn't be too hard to install
some luon or other kind of wood to block it, but some of the cavities have pipes and ductwork that
would not work well. I thought I was brilliant to suggest getting some thick cardboard, installing it
very carefully, and when it gets painted along with the rest it will look great. My wife is very skeptical.
We have a lot more renovation to do so we don't love the idea of working super hard on this part, but
we'll do what we have to do. Any ideas?

And the second question: half of the lower level's ceiling is finished and it looks nice and it's painted
white. It's most common to paint an unfinished ceiling black. We are worried that there would be
a jarring disconnect between the two sections. Maybe charcoal instead of black? Maybe white? I
really hate the idea of painting the finished part black, it's just too dark and ugly on a finished area..
Along the external wall there should be a pad of insulation (about 6 inches thick if fiber glass batting) inside
each joist cavity. You could cut a Masonite or thin plywood panel to fit over that. However you should
remove or refluff insulation so there is no insulation between any water pipe and the panel (or interior air
space).

Incidentally it is common to paint the ceiling (suspended ceiling tiles and all) black or really dark gray if you
will have a home theater.

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Last edited by AllanJ; 07-21-2012 at 07:55 AM.
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