Earlier, it was very common for people to add attic spaces and basements to their homes to give themselves more storage space. As the years went on, the extra rooms slowly started transforming into more places for activities. Today, it’s very common to have a finished basement, including the basement ceiling, that works like an additional living space.
The new increase in usage for your basements did bring up an issue. Most basement ceilings aren’t finished, and this means that it’s common for them to have exposed wires, beams, and ductwork. While this can make cleaning these spaces more difficult, it also tends to distract from the total look of the room.
If you’re considering finishing your basement ceiling, we’ve rounded up 15 popular basement ceiling types that you can install. It doesn’t matter if your ceiling is at a low or standard height, and most of the ideas work well for people on a more strict budget.
Finishing your basement ceiling is a great way to turn your drab basement into a nice gathering or entertainment area in your home. Aech’s Basement – March 2018 by Inara Pey / CC BY-NC 2.0
1. Acoustic Ceiling
One of the biggest issues you’ll get in your basement is the fact that it can be very noisy. The basement is one area in your home where you hear people walking around upstairs, and this can be very distracting. If you want to use your newly converted basement as a space where you regularly spend time or as guest quarters, this won’t work well. However, you can solve this by installing a drop or acoustic basement ceiling.
These particular basement ceiling tiles come designed to dampen sound, so you’ll be able to screen out sounds that come from upstairs. Also, you won’t have to worry as much about sound traveling from downstairs to the upstairs living area. It’s a very highly sought-after option for musicians.
There are many people who choose to turn the basement into a music room because it gives them a spot to practice and play their music without worrying about disturbing anyone else in the house. These ceiling tiles are very useful, and you won’t worry about louder noises. Installing these tiles is the same as installing traditional tiles, so you could DIY it and save on labor costs.
This wood paneling style is very popular for people who have Cape Cod-style homes, but you can use it in virtually any architectural style. You’ll find it installed vertically on walls, and you can put the panels horizontally on the ceiling. You’ll commonly find them used as porch ceilings, and tongue-and-groove beadboard has individual boards that slot together. Sheet beadboard comes in four to eight-foot panels.
The boards have standard widths to them, including 1.5-inches and 3-inches, but you can have custom widths made too. Some people prefer to mix and match tongue-in-groove boards with 3 or 1.5-inch boards between them or alternate the size. Beadboard is labor-intensive and time-consuming to place because you install it one board at a time on a plywood base. You can varnish or paint the finished surface, and this makes it a great pick for a broad taste range, from classic to classy.
3. Box Ceiling
If your basement beams align the correct way, you can create a traditional box basement ceiling. This ceiling type is very appealing, and it can disguise the fact that your beams serve structural purposes. If you want your ceiling to really stand out and look nice while covering up some of the more undesired elements, this is a great choice. To start it off, you’ll have to put your ceiling panels up between the wooden beams.
Once you get all of the ceiling panels in the correct places, you can create a unique look. The ceiling is going to look much higher than it actually is, and the beams will hang down slightly between the panels. You put your ceiling panels down and secure them to the top of the beams. This gives the whole space an interesting aesthetic that draws people’s attention as they come into the room.
You can easily paint both the beams and the tiles the same color, and the color you pick out is entirely up to you. If you want to get an elegant but simple look, a neutral tone like white will work. You can paint the beams a different color, or you can leave them with the wood grain showing.
If you want to keep a natural look, you want to add some finish to the beams to help protect them. This will help your beams look vibrant instead of worn out and old. If you get it right, your beams in this basement ceiling idea will look like a design choice instead of necessary supports. It shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish on your own, and this can save you on labor costs.
4. Corrugated Metal
If you know what corrugated metal is, you may think using it as a basement ceiling material can be strange. However, you want to keep an open mind to ensure that you get a unique but durable look. A lot of basements come with limitations when it comes to what you can and can’t do, and there are basements with metal pipes, planks, and wooden beams.
You can work with these limitations by picking out materials for your basement ceiling that are interesting and textured. Corrugated metal fits the bill, but it’ll only work correctly if you have wooden beams in the basement. You can put the sheets of metal between the beams to create a very interesting ceiling choice.
The metal will contrast very nicely with the wooden beams once you get it installed, and it’s not all that difficult to take on by yourself to help save on labor costs. Metal is also resistant to rust and corrosion, so it’s a longer-lasting choice to consider if you want something most people don’t have. Also, it’ll withstand the basement’s humidity levels well without any damage.
To keep the project moving smoothly, you want to buy corrugated metal that you use for roofing. You’ve most likely seen this installed in sheds or other smaller structures, but metal roofs on houses are also popular. All you have to do is purchase as many sheets as you need and carefully install them between the beams in your basement ceiling.
Although a metal ceiling may be far from your mind when you consider your basement ceiling, it’s a very durable and viable option. It resists rust and corrosion, so it can withstand a damp basement easier. Alvar Aalto House by Penn State University Libraries Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library / CC BY-NC 2.0
5. Drop Ceiling Tiles
One of the most popular ways to add a ceiling in an older home is a drop ceiling. You get a cost-effective but attractive solution if you can stand the height sacrifice. A lot of people use drop ceilings to make older homes feel more cozy, and they’re a great basement ceiling option because you could have pipes or wiring hanging down beyond the beams.
You also get long-term savings with this type of ceiling. If you accidentally damage a tile, you can lift it out of the frame and put a new panel in instead of trying to fix the whole ceiling. It’s also easy to get light fixtures that fit into the frame to give the room ample light without protruding down into the basement.
Also, drop ceilings offer excellent noise dampening capabilities, and the modern frames have a lot of versatility. You can get anything from traditional white foam or particle board, or you can have classic tin tiles to fit a much more decorative style.
One of the most widespread and popular basement ceiling options is drywall. Drywall allows you to create an attractive and smooth living space. All you have to do is apply a coat of primer and your favorite colored paint to finish it. You can pair it well with recessed lighting to give your basement a very futuristic and modern appeal. Also, it’s easy to cut and fit in during normal repairs.
However, drywall does come with a few downsides to it. Ant or termite infestations are usually a big problem for drywall, and it’s easy to damage it with moisture. You should keep these factors in mind when you pick out your basement ceiling type.
7. Painted Beams or Pipes
Trying to work around a basement ceiling that is littered with beams or pipes can make everything challenging. The goal is to get a very presentable ceiling that will work well in your space, but beams and pipes limit what you can feasibly do. In turn, this can make you think outside of the box. If you want to get a nice end result, you’ll have to include any beams or pipes that are present in your overall design.
One of the easiest solutions you have is to paint your beams or pipes. It may even surprise you how much a fresh coat of paint can do to a ceiling. If you paint the old pipes a bright, solid white, they’re going to look more inviting and cleaner. This can really switch up the look of the whole basement, especially if there isn’t a lot of light.
It’s highly recommended that you use brighter colors to help liven the space up. If you plan on regularly using the space, you want to create a space that you enjoy. You may have to scrape and clean off the beams or pipes before you apply another new coat of paint. If you have pipes, you might have to address rust issues first. This shouldn’t be a huge deal, and it shouldn’t delay your project a lot.
8. Painted Rafters
Some basements have rafters in them, and you need to be able to work with them to create your new basement ceiling. In some ways, your rafters are very practical, and you could end up storing items there. You can put different items in your rafters to keep them safe, and this allows you to store them without having to worry about covering them. When you want to leave your rafters like they are, you have to find another way to change how your basement ceiling looks.
Painting your rafters is a nice way to give them a little makeover, and it should be a relatively straightforward project. You should take time to look at the different colors and choose them carefully. Try to think about what you want to use your basement for and the types of decorations you plan to hang up.
This will give you an idea of the colors that’ll work well. A lot of people choose lighter colors to help brighten up the space. You could also go with something more muted, like a soft grey. If you want to keep your natural wooden rafters, you can simply clean them up before applying a coat of stain. This can help enhance the natural look of the wood for a more rustic feel.
Painting the rafters in your basement is a very quick way to refresh the overall look of the space, and you can easily brighten up the whole area. Freshly painted basement floor by Wonderlane / CC BY 2.0
9. Painted Wooden Plank Ceiling
As we touched on, wooden planks are very nice on their own. However, you may find that this simple look isn’t all you want. If your wooden planks don’t look as nice as they could and you can’t fix them, you might not want to leave them exposed as they are. This is where a fresh coat of paint comes into play.
If you’re using reclaimed wooden planks and don’t fancy the rustic look they give you, paint is going to be the best option. You can paint them before or after you install them, and most people choose to go with after because they don’t want to damage or scuff the paint job while they do the installation. This is completely up to you, and you may find that one way works better than the other.
A lot of people choose to paint their wooden plank ceiling the same color as they have on the walls. If you want to go with a natural white tone, it can help to create a very welcoming environment. You can also pick to go with a more vibrant color, but the goal should be to make the area seem inviting and relaxed. You could even use chalk paint on the interior to give it a more calm vibe.
The painting process itself shouldn’t be a long process. The wooden planks give you a very durable ceiling that withstands years of use while looking great. It’s something to consider if you want something quick and easy to help brighten up your basement ceiling, and it can create a modern and clean look.
10. PVC Tiles
When you hear the term PVC, chances are, you’ve never thought of using them on your basement ceiling. This is because the durable vinyl material is very commonly used to mimic other materials ranging from copper and tin to particle board. The advantage of this material is that it is very durable, lightweight, mold-resistant, mildew-resistant, water-resistant, and it won’t sag. You can even find interlocking garage tiles made out of this durable material.
Most PVC tiles come designed to work with a suspension frame. However, it’s possible to buy tiles that can attach directly to a drywall or plywood base. You’ll need this if you have a lower ceiling to work with.
11. Stretch Ceiling
Choosing a stretch ceiling on your basement ceiling is going to be one of the most expensive options available. It takes time and money to get everything set up properly, but it has a very nice finished look to it. It’ll give your basement a huge amount of visual appeal that you simply can’t get with other options.
Since a lot of basements have issues with humidity, it’s common for them to be extremely damp. This won’t be a problem for this basement ceiling type, but you will have to adjust your budget accordingly to accommodate the higher costs. As a bonus, this ceiling is usually easy to install, and you won’t have to move your items or furniture to install it. You can install this ceiling relatively quickly, but it does tend to make a mess.
A suspended ceiling is a secondary ceiling that gets suspended from the floor slab. In turn, you’ll get a 3 to 8-inch gap. Typically, this is a popular choice in commercial buildings because it works well to high wires. It’s also possible to install it as a basement ceiling alternative to help hide wires, pipes, or beams.
A lot of people go with this basement ceiling option because it’s easy to install. All you do to install it is to make a metal frame and hang it on ceiling joists. You can now start installing your tiles. Putting the frame next to the joists can be the hardest part, but the following steps are easy to finish. It’s a budget-friendly option that you can DIY to create a fantastic-looking ceiling.
Suspended ceilings are great for higher basement ceilings because they lower it to leave a small gap between the ceilings. This can help to deaden sound. Suspended Ceiling in Progress by Epic Fireworks / CC BY 2.0
13. Tin Tiles
Depending on the type of feel you want in your basement, you might want to be more creative with your basement ceiling idea. A lot of people convert their basement into a recreational area or den, and it’s not uncommon for people to have games, pool tables, or even a full bar stocked down here. A tin ceiling is a nice way to give you a bar or club feel in the basement if you want to go this way.
There are a lot of older bars that use tin tiles in the ceiling, and this can create a very visually-appealing look for the basement. It shouldn’t be too difficult to source your tiles that you need to finish this project. You’ll get a very lovely aesthetic without a huge amount of work, and if you’re someone who is looking to create a more laid-back and fun atmosphere in the basement, this is one worth considering.
One of the best things about this type of basement ceiling is that the tile will reflect light. They can also reflect sound to make the space more unique. It could add a charming feel and look to the basement that is hard to replicate with anything else. You could even get a Victorian flair to this ceiling because it has a very decorative element to it. If you want to make it more flashy, you can consider adding a host of lighting options to the space that will reflect back off the ceiling.
- HappyDIYHome Tip: You can also get copper tile over tin, but copper has a much higher price point. This makes it a poor choice for a lot of homes.
14. Wood Paneling
The look you’ll get on your basement ceiling with this option is very similar to the one you’d get with a good wooden floor or beadboard. You get an instantly classic look and feel without having to worry about fitting the boards together. It’s available in a huge range of styles and finishes, and you can get flexible or rigid options. Flexible wood paneling is a great way to cover curved surfaces like archways.
One big advantage of using this material on your basement ceiling is that you can attach the panels right to the basement’s support beams without taking a huge amount of height. The range of design options also make it very easy to create a unique feel for any theme.
15. Wood Planks
The final basement ceiling idea is another each option. Wooden planks as a ceiling will work well with most basement designs. If you have support beams in the basement already, it’s very easy to add the wood planks. All you have to do is purchase the planks, cut them down to the right size, and put them on the ceiling by the beams.
If you pull it off, you’ll create a very tight ceiling that is very visually-appealing. All you have to do is purchase a little lumber from the local hardware store and get ready to take on this project. If you’re someone who likes how wood naturally looks with a more rustic feel, this is going to be an excellent choice for you. As a bonus, you don’t need a huge amount of knowledge or tools to install the boards, and this allows you to do it on your own without hiring a professional to further save you money.
We’ve showcased 15 basement ceiling types that you can consider when it comes time to finish your space. You do want to think carefully about which one you pick because some will work better than others. However, if you get it right, you can easily transform your basement into an area you love to gather or relax in.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.