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Basement Ceiling Options

There are a number of things to consider when making a decision on what ceiling to put in a basement.

For example, if your budget is tight like when I finished my first basement, I decided to go with a suspended ceiling because it's something I could add at a later date when I had the money. My basement was done except for some trim and the ceiling for about a year before I could afford to buy the product to install. Keep in mind however, that depending on which suspended ceiling you choose, it may not be any cheaper than going with a drywall ceiling.

On my second basement development project, I knew from the beginning that I wanted a drywall ceiling in the family room, bathroom, and hallway. I wanted as much as possible for the basement to feel more like the upstairs living area. So clearly the decision was based on aesthetics.

Drop Ceiling or Suspended Ceiling

Suspended Grid Drop Ceiling Basement

May also be called suspended grid ceiling, drop ceiling, etc. Really the big advantage for installing a drop ceiling is to retain access to things like plumbing, ducting, wiring, etc. that is running through/by the main floor joists. Not only that, but if you want to add wiring, plumbing, etc. in the future, it's much easier to add with a drop ceiling installation.

This is a popular choice for DIY (do-it-yourselfers). The reason being is it's relatively easy to install, you don't need special tools like a drywall lift or drywall screw gun. The downside to the drop ceiling is the loss of three to four inches of height. The drop ceiling cannot be mounted at the bottom level of the floor joists, it needs to drop down (thus the name) so if you have an already low clearance in your basement, you'll want to keep that in mind.

Drywall or Sheetrock Ceiling

Drywall Finished Basement Ceiling

A drywall basement ceiling is a good choice if you want a clean, smooth finish, or if you need that extra few inches of clearance. At one point I was told by someone that putting in a drywall ceiling actually decreases a house's resale value by $2,000. Now, I don't know if there's truth to that, but in my case I was putting up the ceiling I wanted. I'm not creating a basement for someone else, I'm doing it for me :-) In my second basement development I chose to use a combination of drop ceiling and drywall ceiling in different areas, giving me the best of both worlds, in my opinion.

Due to the layout of my home the drywall ceiling in the bathroom and hallway will not pose a problem because I have basically complete access to those ceiling areas from the surrounding rooms that have a drop ceiling. The exception to that is the family room. It would definitely be tougher to access the area above there, which happens to be the living room on the main floor. Now, the living room on the main floor contains no plumbing and just one water line to an outside tap and one Cat5e line, so I was pretty safe to go with a drywall ceiling there.