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Old 12-28-2011, 03:46 PM   #1
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Paint Unfinished Basement Ceiling


We're considering tidying up our unfinished and essentially unused basement by painting the ceiling. We like the look of white, but realize that it would require gallons upon gallons of primer and paint, and also show quite a bit of imperfections. Our ceiling is low (just under about 6'8"), but we're considering black. Does anyone know if a standard primer (tinted) would work? The basement area is about 400 sq. ft., so I'd rather not get crazy with how much we spend.

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Old 12-28-2011, 04:00 PM   #2
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Paint Unfinished Basement Ceiling


I spray painted the ceiling (floor joists and subfloor) of the unfinished basement of our 1925 house about six months ago. I used white Zinnnser 123 primer and did not even bother to put anything over it. The point was to lighten it and brighten it up and it worked very well for that.

While black will cover imperfections better, it's going to turn your basement into a veritable cave.

Before and after:




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Old 12-28-2011, 04:04 PM   #3
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Paint Unfinished Basement Ceiling


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I spray painted the ceiling (floor joists and subfloor) of the unfinished basement of our 1925 house about six months ago. I used white Zinnnser 123 primer and did not even bother to put anything over it. The point was to lighten it and brighten it up and it worked very well for that.

While black will cover imperfections better, it's going to turn your basement into a veritable cave.

Before and after:



Was that just one coat? How many gallons?
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:30 PM   #4
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Paint Unfinished Basement Ceiling


One coat, seven gallons, the area is approximately 800 sq. feet. Applied with a sprayer rented from HD.

I never intended to make it look finished, just to clean and brighten it up. That said, the primer has a slight sheen to it so it looks a bit more finished than I expected. There are a few stray areas where it's abit thin that I did not discover until after I was done but nothing that calls attention to itself.
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:48 PM   #5
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Paint Unfinished Basement Ceiling


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One coat, seven gallons, the area is approximately 800 sq. feet. Applied with a sprayer rented from HD.

I never intended to make it look finished, just to clean and brighten it up. That said, the primer has a slight sheen to it so it looks a bit more finished than I expected. There are a few stray areas where it's abit thin that I did not discover until after I was done but nothing that calls attention to itself.
I did that on an old farm house we used to live in. I already owned the airless sprayer, for use on the out buildings. It used a LOT of paint, due to there being so much area to cover, and the fact that the hundred-year old wood was THIRSTY.

But in the end, I'm very glad we did it. Like you, my desire was to clean it up and just make it look better - which it did.
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:36 AM   #6
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Paint Unfinished Basement Ceiling


I have to say it did take more paint than I expected. I thought five gallons would be more than enough but I had to toss in two extra gallons that I luckily had on hand. I don't know that absorption was the culprit so much as the fact that I was really effectively covering at least 2400 square feet instead of 800 when you consider the sides of the joists. This was also my first time using a sprayer. I suppose if I had had more experience I could have been more efficient with coverage.

Spraying overhead in a basement is no fun. I had several large box fans evacuating air through the basement entrance, a respirator, goggles, paper suit... the fumes were still pretty fierce and I had to take a good number of breaks for fresh air.
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:59 AM   #7
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Paint Unfinished Basement Ceiling


Anybody else considering this- Zin 123 has a pretty strong ammonia smell- try using Smart Prime instead. Less smell, and better stain blocking.
But rafters like that will soak it up. One thing is to give it a fairly quick once through and let dry for an hour. that will seal it so the next round doesn't soak in so much.
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Old 12-29-2011, 08:41 AM   #8
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Paint Unfinished Basement Ceiling


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Anybody else considering this- Zin 123 has a pretty strong ammonia smell- try using Smart Prime instead. Less smell, and better stain blocking.
But rafters like that will soak it up. One thing is to give it a fairly quick once through and let dry for an hour. that will seal it so the next round doesn't soak in so much.
In hindsight, I think your advise would have helped me. I didn't really allow enough dry time, and the 100+ year old wood absolutely drank the primer & paint. I've never seen anything like it.
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Old 12-29-2011, 09:03 AM   #9
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Paint Unfinished Basement Ceiling


On second thought, we only have about 300-350 sq ft to spray. THe wood is older, but only about 25-30 years, nothing like what you've described. We would really like to use white since our basement has NO windows and little artificial light. We were just concerned at how much paint/cost we would use to put white on the ceilings instead of black. If I can get away with spending around $200 for paint and rental of a sprayer I would consider white.

We also used a primer (I want to say B-I-N) on our carsiding ceiling to seal the knots...it was a milky substance that ran like crazy but sealed every knot with one coat.


Last edited by cibula11; 12-29-2011 at 09:07 AM.
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