finish a basement ceiling

How to Finish a Basement Ceiling

Most people prefer finishing their basement ceiling when they plan to add another room or widen the living space to the bottom floor. It’s a way of creating a better living atmosphere than leaving electrical wires and your plumbing visible.

After completion of your finishing project, note that the height of your room will be lowered drastically. Other people find the drop ceiling not correctly functioning in their basement setting. But then, you will end up having an inch right from the ceiling height using drywall having furring strips.

Step by Step Guide to Finish a Basement Ceiling

Acquire the necessary permits

Learn the code requirements by checking all details from your local zoning office. You’ll find some towns with specific provisions concerning distance required between the air ducts and material, electric wires, and plumbing. There are others even with the needed particular height of a finished basement ceiling. Always ensure the permits are displayed in the area; the cone enforcers see them.

Measure the basement to determine the materials required

Gathering all required materials for the project prior is essential if you need better results. Ensure you even order extras to avoid running out of drywall, ceiling tiles, and compound while still working on it. Measure the basement length and width carefully. Multiply the obtained figure to get the square foot covered by the basement ceiling. Mistakes always happen; for this reason, it’s crucial to add at least10% if some little errors might occur when measuring the basement ceiling or even mistakes during the installation times.

Preparation of the surface

Before applying any material, first ensure the surface is cleaned to get off any form of dirt, either the cobwebs, or dust and any other kind of dirt that might occur between the joists. If this seems to waste time, consider spraying latex paint on your plumbing, electrical boxes, air ducts and all other systems that you have in the ceiling.

Installation of the furring strips

Start installing the furring strips right from one corner along the joists. The furring strips need to span between the entire joists to be used as both a way of attaching the drywall as well as the spacer. Attach the strips using the nailer to the joists. As you keep moving, you need to be checking your strip level all along. Maintain the ceiling level by using some wood shims in this case.

Hanging the first drywall piece

Doing this should be best started from one corner as you move along the ceiling until you are through. Follow by applying some construction adhesive to the strips to hang your first piece of drywall. Use the edge in the corner to lift the drywall. Using a drywall hanger, hold the content up as you keep pressing the board into the construction adhesive. Secure the drywall into joists by driving screws into it. Do these repeatedly until everything is complete. Use the utility knife to cut pieces into the required sizes.

Application of the tape and compound

The drywall tape and compound need to be applied to all screw holes and seams. Wait until it’s dry to and sand it smooth.

Installation of the ceiling tiles

You are almost complete with your project. The last thing you should do is the installation of some ceiling tiles into the drywall surface. Apply it at the back of each tile using the construction adhesive. Press the contents for a few seconds into the drywall.

Frequently asked questions on finishing a basement ceiling.

The basement ceiling might not be the first consideration for most individuals whenever they contemplate a basement finish. This can’t even be a second or radar as such. But then, you will find unfinished basements having ceilings with different structural elements such as exposed pipes. All these lenders your plans did not fit the design you plan to have at large. Even though this isn’t the most exciting aspect of the design you need for your basement, little attention is required to the ceiling. As this sees a vital point to note, some critical questions are raised about this project entirely;

What is the recommended minimum height for a basement ceiling?

There is an international residential code to be followed. However, local codes may vary from one state to the other. The international recommendation is, for instance, a basement living space needs to be constructed with a clear floor to ceiling height not less than seven feet and six feet off from washrooms.  There are some exceptions to accommodate the mechanical system components, girders and other exposed structural beams that might be along with the ceiling. However, all these need to be spaced at least four feet apart, and they shouldn’t get extended more than six inches below the set house ceiling.

Can the basement ceiling raise? And how are they built?

It’s possible to create an additional ceiling height. However, the entire idea can be costly, complicated and it’s mostly not recommended as such. Raising the ceiling is done in different ways; you can do it by extending the height of the foundation walls in place or lifting the entire home. It’s a complex project that needs to be done by a specialist with experience in moving and lifting houses.

Alternatively, in the case of an extension of this for a few inches, excavating the floor can be added so that space can be added from below. It seems a simple task, but it’s a job requiring experts who will maintain the foundation integrity while working to create more space.

Should you insulate a basement ceiling?

This is a must to do the thing you need to consider. Basements lose heat easily as they are part of the home. Therefore, there is a need to insulate the basement ceiling to maintain a comfortable and energy-efficient home. The application is usually made using the rolled fiberglass batting in this case. This has been constructed of fiberglass placed between two paper sheets. It often cut and pressed tight between the joists of the floor and stapled at the joists’ sides to have them firmly attached.

Attainment of sound attenuation is also another added advantage of the ceiling insulation. It’s not meant to block noise passing through the lower and upper floors completely but tries to dampen it considerably.

Is the need for a vapor barrier in the basement ceiling?

By the virtue that the basements are below the ground, they become notorious at attracting moisture even in dry climates. For this reason, it’s crucial to install a vapor barrier with insulation to prevent majorly heat loss and also protection from the growth of mold and mildew. The barrier will effectively work properly sized to cover the insulation completely and stapled carefully to protect it from tear.


It’s not an easy task that can be completed in a single day, as most people think about it. However, the general improvement provides such a unique opportunity of creating a great kind of design worth investing in. With all this said, when an individual is provided with that level of creative freedom, and it happens to be your first time, it might turn out to be confusing where to start and where to move towards. To get you started better and bear fruits, keep all these steps in mind to quickly sort out your plans.

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