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Basement Ceiling

When it comes to your basement ceiling there are a few factors you must consider. Unlike your first or second floor, where you may have drywall or wood ceilings, your basement ceiling will need to be accessed periodically. For this reason we’ll go into the pros and cons of drywall versus panels, or tiles, and some of the options available to create a nice finished ceiling.

Dropped Ceilings – panels/tiles

Dropped ceiling

Providing your basement has enough clearance for head room the easiest solution to cover your basement ceiling is to install a dropped ceiling, also called suspended ceilings. These ceilings consist of a grid of metal bars in the shape of an upside-down T and are suspended on wires from the overhead joists. The metal channels snap together into 2x2 or 2x4 squares. The squares are then filled with the ceiling panels by dropping the panels into the grid.


The panels are easily removed and offer instant access to wiring, plumbing, and ducts. Rewiring, running telephone, cable TV, stereo, security systems, basement doorbell, and Ethernet wires from the basement to the second floor is effortless. You can easily add insulation on top of the panels. The panels’ acoustic properties help deaden noise and keep the basement and rooms above quieter. Tiles have come a long way over the past ten years. There is a large variety of styles, grids, and colors to choose from. There are some innovative and artistic tiles available to you in vintage tin, copper, wood planks, faux wood, faux metal, custom painted tiles, and custom made. Most tiles can be easily washed with a damp sponge.


You’ll lose a minimum of about eight inches of headroom. Some types of panels can sag and discolor over time – though you can easily replace a wayward tile. Some panel systems look too commercial.

Low basement ceiling alternative to dropped ceiling systems

Ceiling link

If you have a low ceiling basement but you don’t want to drywall, or you love the look of tile, you might try Ceiling Max or Ceiling Link. You’ll lose only about an inch of space and you can still remove the panels to service plumbing, electrical, etc. Ceiling Link is about 45% cheaper than Ceiling Max.


Price, ease, alternative to dropped ceilings and drywall. Removable panels allow easy access to plumbing, wiring, etc.


Ceiling Max has less flexibility compared with the Ceiling Links system, which self-levels and allows more variation, especially around the perimeter of an installation where the ceiling panels need to be cut to size. Periodic gaps in the grid from not lining up right.


Drywall ceiling

Finishing your ceiling in drywall tends to offer a warmer and more professional appearance than the more commercial looking suspended ceilings.


A drywall ceiling gives a more finished look to a basement and can help the space look more like the rest of your home.


Sheet rocking the ceiling involves installed framing for backing. Duct work needs to be box framed in and service panels need to be accounted for to obtain access to the upper level bathtub J-traps, plumbing valves, and other mechanical service areas. Sheet rocking the basement ceiling can be work intensive and expensive. Running wire and cables on the main floor, via the basement, is time consuming, difficult, and expensive.


Though drywall ceilings have a nice finished look ceiling panels are easily replaceable and, if you have a plumbing problem a ceiling panel can easily be popped out and back into place whereas drywall replacement involves cut-out, reinstalling, repeated patching, sanding, refinishing the drywall section and repainting.

If you just can’t choose between a drywall or a suspended basement ceiling then consider doing both. You could dry wall where you won’t need to access plumbing, wiring, etc., and use suspended ceilings over the rest of the basement.

All aspects of finishing your basement will take careful planning and forethought. Taking extra care each step of the way will ensure your investment is not compromised. Today’s housing market trends suggests that finished basements are highly sought after. Accordingly, if done right, a finished basement can be a real asset to your home’s long term equity. Protect your investment by hiring only licensed contractors who specialize in basements.

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