Our Exposed & Painted Basement Ceiling: Why We Love It!

All the details on our painted basement ceiling, why we decided to leave it exposed, and why we love it!

We started finishing our basement last October, and I’m so thrilled that we completed it this week!  We did a lot of the work ourselves, and so it’s taken us awhile to get it done, but now that it is, we absolutely love it.  There’s a play room, game room, exercise room, movie theater, and bathroom–plus a large storage room and workshop that remain unfinished.

One of the things we decided on was a painted basement ceiling, instead of finishing it with drywall, or adding a drop ceiling.  We love love the way it turned out, and I thought I’d share all the reasons we did it with you!

Painted Basement Ceiling White

Before:

Painted Basement Ceiling White

WHY we decided ON an Exposed, painted basement ceiling

  • Budget

We did framing and electrical ourselves, but we hired out the drywall. Our quote for the ceiling alone was thousands of dollars. Neither a finished drywall ceiling nor a drop ceiling were in our overall budget for the basement.  The cost of painting it instead was much, much smaller.

  • Ceiling Height

Honestly, this was just as important of a reasons as the budget, perhaps even a little more. The ceilings in our basement are 8 feet, but the metal vents and beams hang down at least a foot. If we finished the ceiling, it would be way too low, and with a husband that’s 6 ft. 4 in., it just wasn’t a possibility.  Now that it’s painted, we get the full 8 feet, plus it seems like it’s even more, because of the open beams to the first floor.

  • Aesthetic

Granted, this did not play a major role (or even a minor one) in our decision to have a painted basement ceiling, but if it was going to look terrible, it would have been hard.  I love love the way it looks–so industrial, and it really matches the whole vibe of the basement.  I’m so happy with the whole look, and the painted ceiling plays a big part in it.

Painted Basement Ceiling White
Painted Basement Ceiling White

BEST PAINT COLOR FOR BASEMENT CEILING

I decided on white for our painted basement ceiling because there’s only one window down there, and I wanted it to be as light and open as possible. Many people go for black, which gives it a different vibe, but open, light, and bright were my goal. It’s not a true white, because it would show everything, so it’s tinted slightly gray, but still looks white when you look at it.

We did paint the movie theater ceiling black, and the walls are a dark gray, which is what you need in that type of space.

Painted Basement Ceiling White

We saved a ton of money, the ceilings are higher, and it looks awesome–can’t beat that!

Painted Basement Ceiling White

I chose pendant light fixtures that would hang down, making sure the light was even distributed, rather than up higher in between the beams. We put in quite a few (10) lights, and all of that also helps keep the whole space really light and bright, which I love.

Painted Basement Ceiling White

Affiliate links of products we use and love are included for your convenience. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Someone asked me for a picture of that the junction boxes look like for the lighting, and I thought I’d post it here, in case anyone else was curious and looking for that same information.

painted exposed basement ceiling

DIY: PAINT YOUR BASEMENT CEILING

If you’re hiring out the painting of your basement, you can choose to include this in the quote, or do it yourself. If you do it yourself, you will need a larger paint sprayer to get the job done more quickly and easily. Even investing in a paint sprayer will save you money hiring it out, and you will be able to use it again and again, for so many projects. After the basement project we built a barn, and used this same type of sprayer to paint it with three coats in just one day! You could also use this to paint your entire basement, if you planned to do it all yourself.

SOURCE LIST:

PAINT COLORS:

  • Walls:  Simply White, Benjamin Moore
  • Trim/Shelving/Doors: White, semi-gloss trim paint
  • Ceiling:  White ceiling paint with a bit of gray
  • Theater ceiling: Black

TRIM:

  • 3.5 inch MDF, around the top and bottom

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79 Comments

  1. Where did you get that cute buffalo couch cover? I’d love to get one for an oversized chair I have!

  2. I am told by many (even a decorator) that I will regret painting it light and should go for a more saturated color. Our ceiling has many nails etc sticking out and they say it will show every crack etc. I see how that is in your pictures but I think it just looks rustic. Do you have any regrets? Any saturated color you would recommend that is not black?

    1. I don’t regret it all. I like the rustic look, and it fits in with the rest of my home, so it works! I agree in theory, but the trade off is that you have to go with a darker color, and that ultimately makes the rest of your basement darker–unless you have a ton of windows and natural light to compensate. Choosing between those options, I decided to lighten my space (we only have one large window), and I’m so glad I did. We did a black ceiling in the theater, and it’s amazing the light difference in just neighboring rooms! If I was going to go with a saturated color, I’d go with a gray–you can make it as dark or as light as you want it to be, and it’s neutral. Good luck!!!

      1. Thank you for the reply! What color is the light ceiling and walls? Do you have a picture of the theater room?

        1. The wall color is Simply White, by Benjamin Moore. The ceiling is a custom color—white with some gray in it. I don’t have a picture of the theater room yet…working on it. Because it’s SO dark in there (dark gray walls, black ceiling, no window light) it’s really tricky to capture it! But I will…:)

          1. Last question as I am headed out to buy the paint. Did you use matte or satin on the ceiling and walls? Did you prime first and finally when you say a bit of gray what do I instruct the paint mixer to add? What is a bit? :) Yes, I am paint challenged:)
            Thanks again!

            1. The ceiling paint is flat paint. No priming—just three coats of paint. I didn’t get the paint mixed, so I’m not sure how much gray–I’m sorry! But it’s not so much that it doesn’t look white anymore. I hope that helps!!

      2. Hello! I may have missed it. I see you used ceiling paint but how did you paint it? Did you have a sprayer?

        1. Yes, a sprayer was used. However, because we were finishing our entire basement at the same time, we had the painters do it along with the walls.

  3. Working on my basement right now! Did you use a sprayer to paint your ceiling? It looks so good!!!!

    1. Do you notice that sound is an issue? I want to do this with our basement but am worried you’ll hear everything upstairs

      1. We’ve had zero issues with sound. I totally thought we would, but I was ready to just deal with it. Before we finished the basement, we heard every little thing. However, now we don’t! We put carpet in down there, and I think it absorbs the sound. The only place we hear anything is in the theater, and our bedroom is above it. I can hear a movie up in my room if the sound is turned up really loud, but you can’t hear it anywhere else in the house. I am super happy with it!

  4. Now that it’s been a few months, do you notice if your basement has a dust or noise problem from having open beams? I have a finished ceiling that I’m exploring my options. (My bathroom had a leak and ruined part of the drywall ceiling.) So I’m trying to decide between an open ceiling or just repairing the drywall.

    Thanks.

    1. Hi, Carrie! Actually, I’ve been surprised (happily) at how little I do hear from the basement. We’ve had zero noise issues or complaints. Before we finished the basement, it was so noisy, but since we put in the carpet down there, it absorbs so much of the noise that it’s happily been a non-issue. I thought we’d give it a try and see what happens–we could always finish the ceiling later if we really needed or wanted to. But we will be leaving it as is! Hope this helps. So sorry about your ruined ceiling. :(

  5. Pingback: 15+ Best DIY Basement Ceiling Ideas & Designs For 2019
      1. Thank you!! It’s indoor carpet! We got it for a great deal at Home Depot in their 7 day section (meaning that it could arrive within 7 days). We LOVE it!!!

  6. Hi!kierste!!i love ur basement !!im planing to do the same ..in my house..did u use any kind of insulation in the ceiling before painting..and 2 ? Did u paint the electric wire? Or did u cover them?

    1. Hello! We didn’t put any insulation in the ceiling, and we did paint all wires!! Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions! xoxo

  7. Do you still love your white basement ceiling? I’m really torn between black or white. I’m worried black will make it too dark. Do you have a lot of floor dust from above that shows on the basement ceiling? Are you still happy with your choice?

    1. Hello! Yes, I still love my white basement ceiling, and I would definitely do it again. I didn’t want it to be too dark either, which is exactly why I went with white. One of our rooms, the theater, has a black ceiling, so I can really compare the difference, and it’s huge. We have carpet in the basement, which I think has cut down on the dust, and I’ve not noticed it being dirty. It’s been about 9 months, so not a super long time, but so far, so good!

  8. HI. I love your pictures and especially the ceiling. Did you paint the silver HVAC ducts? or replace them ? I’m concerned the paint wont cover well.

    1. Hello! We painted everything up there, even the silver ducts. There are a couple of coats on the ceiling for coverage (plus a primer), and a year later, it’s still totally fine.

  9. This is very inspirational. My basement is finished except for the ceiling and I really don’t want to put a lot of money into it. Why did you paint it with a hint of grey and not pure white? Did you also paint out the lighting cords or leave them black?

    1. Adding the tint of grey makes it just a tad darker, and not as likely to yellow or show dirt. Are you asking about the electrical cords for the lighting? Anything on the ceiling–ducts and cords–we also painted white. Then we hung lighting from the ceiling, and left it as is. It saved a ton of money, and we love it!

      1. I love this post! I want to do our basement ceiling the same way. Our contractor has said she’s not sure if an inspector will be okay with painted wires. Was that an issue for your team?

        1. Hi, Hannah! No, that was not an issue for us, but I’m sure the rules can differ from area to area. I’d reach out to your city or town inspection office and ask if there is something prohibiting it. We didn’t have any wires that would have been affected by external paint. Good lucK!

  10. We painted our exposed basement ceiling white about five years ago. It still looks great. No dirt, no mold. Our basement just has those tiny basement windows so I didn’t want to go dark. We had an electrician install white IKEA track lights all over and painted the walls a pale happy yellow. We love it.

  11. We are in the process of painting our basement ceiling. We finished the first coat of Kilz and will be painting white over the weekend. The ends have insulation showing, did you paint that white or make something to hide it from below. We haven’t put up the sheetrock yet so anything could be done easily at this stage. Thought?? Ideas?,

    1. Hi, Michelle! The ends of what? Where the ceiling meets the walls? I just want to make sure I understand before I answer!

      1. I’m guessing she is talking about the Rim joist. Between the joists, above the block.concrete wall. I’m curious about this as well. I don’t know if painting fiberglass insulation is a good idea or not.

        1. I’m so sorry, what is your question? I couldn’t find what this was referring to. We didn’t paint insulation–just the drywall and trim at the top of the wall.

          1. I actually was looking thru this post because I have the same question! I wish I could send a picture to help explain! Let me take a stab at it… we have drywall on the walls, it obviously stops at the bottom of the floor joist. So above the drywall and in between the floor joists there is exposed insulation… we dont know how to finish that… do we just paint it the ceiling color?

            1. Hmmmm…I think I know what you’re asking! So we do have exposed insulation at the top of the basement wall where the drywall meets the floor joists. However, it’s pushed back quite far, and I can barely see it. I had to go downstairs and look at it, because it’s just not noticeable. We didn’t paint ours at all. With the drywall and then trim above that, and the fact that it meets the floor joists going across the basement ceiling, it’s just a non-issue for us. If you email me, I’ll send you a picture of the top of the wall, so you can see what I’m talking about. So I would suppose it depends on how far forward your insulation is.

      2. Hello! At what stage was the ceiling painted? After drywall installation and before flooring/carpet? Thanks :)

  12. Hi. I am doing the same with my basement. Wondering
    How you installed the lights. Are they hardwired to the light box fixture? I just have bare bulbs and don’t know what type of light fixture to use. Any help on this would be greatly appreciated!!

    Thanks!

    1. Hello! They are hard wired lights. We originally had bare bulbs as well–we removed those bulbs, and put these in their place. Email me if you have more questions!! simplykierste@yahoo.com

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