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. Your industrial look ceiling looks really good? Do you remember how much paint was required (gallons/ sq feet)?

    1. I’ll try!!! It’s so hard to get a good picture when the walls and ceiling are so dark. It’s been on my list, so hopefully soon!!

  2. Love your basement! We painted our ceiling white too and I came across your lighting and wanted to try the same. My question is what kind of light bulbs did you use? We are trying LEDs 16W soft white but it doesn’t seems to be very bright or crisp looking. Any help in this would be great!

    1. I will see if I can hunt that info down!! Would you mind emailing me in case I forget? oldsaltfarm@gmail.com

  3. I saw on the thread that you have exposed wires. Is all of your electircal exposed or did you run some of it through conduit prior to paint? I’m worried if each individual wire is exposed it may look sloppy (especially if the wiring is not super crisp). Wondering what your recommendation would be here to achieve the right look.
    Thanks,
    Jeff

    1. Hi, Jeff! Most of it is exposed, yes, But ours is pretty crisp and straight–and isn’t hanging loose at all. I’m pretty particular, and it’s never bothered me. Ours is also up in between the boards, so you can’t see it as much. We’ve been happy with it!

  4. Hello, I was curious if you could share how much you paid to get the ceiling painted? Did you have any help prepping the ceiling? The ceiling looks very neat so that is why I am asking. Did you have someone cut down nail heads in the ceiling or make sure all of your cords were pulled together with zip ties and holes drilled to string them through? Did you have to wrap your pipes in advance or just sprayed directly?

    Your ceiling looks fantastic. I would love to be able to recreate.

    1. Hello! We actually hired painters to paint the entire basement, so our quote included not only the ceiling, but also the doors, and our movie theater wall. I’m not quite sure what it would have been if the ceiling is all we hired out. Our ceiling was actually pretty neat before we even started. There weren’t a ton of nail heads to begin with, and our builder had actually already put most of the cords together that go across the rooms. The cords along the sides of the room we put together. We made things a little neater, and then the painter sprayed over everything. It worked really well!

    1. You’re so welcome! What do you mean by wrapped? Are you asking if we wrapped them in something additional?

  5. We are looking into doing the same thing with our exposed basement ceiling. However the house is older and we do need to clean the exposed wood in the ceiling first (to rid of cobwebs and what not.) Did you and your hubby do this and if so how did you prep the ceiling before painting?

    1. We did clean the exposed wood, but our house was only 2 years old, so there wasn’t as much to do. We just used a damp cloth to wipe down cobwebs, and clean any dirt.

  6. Hi, so super invasive question. What was your total budget for finishing the basement. We are about to ours but not even sure the amount it cost to finish. Ours is around 1550 sq. Even just a ball park would be greatly appreciated! Love love love yours!

    1. I don’t mind at all! We finished 900 square feet of the basement. We did our own framing and electrical work. We spent about $2000 on lumber, and $1000 on electrical. We subbed out the drywall, which was about $5000, painting (they did the walls and ceilings) for $3000, and bathroom plumbing and fixtures…no shower… for $2000. Carpet was $3000. Doors (5) and lighting (10) was $1500. Barn doors and hardware around $300. So a total of around $18k. Building supplies are higher now, so that’s something to keep in mind. If you have any more questions, let me know! I’m happy to help!

  7. Hi there,

    We are in the process of finishing our basement and we are very inspired your work! The basement you did looks great!

    We have a couple of questions for you.

    We have a bathroom in our basement, and wanted to know how you would transition the ceiling from the bathroom to the main area. I would think for privacy and sounds control you would want to drywall in the bathroom?? We don’t know what to do to be honest with you.

    Would you recommend putting a sand element to the paint to give it some texture?

    1. We actually didn’t have to worry about this at all, because we put our bathroom under the stairs! It already had a “ceiling” on it, so it was a non-issue for us. I can see where you’re coming from though. I’m thinking if it’s just the bathroom space, the transition would be fine, because it’s separated by a door. If I didn’t know the ceilings weren’t finished in the rooms off of our basement main area weren’t finished I would never know–and I think it would be the other way around as well. Hope that helps a little! If you have any other questions, please let me know!

  8. Your basement is beautiful (it’s actually our inspiration for doing it ourselves!) We are wondering if the junction boxes are exposed above the lights: if not, how? and if so, did you paint them to blend better? Can you share a photo? Thank you!!

  9. Love the storage closet with the barn door. Do you know the Dimensions of the storage closet? Do you feel it is the right depth or would you go bigger? I would like to be able to store a step stool on the interior wall. Is there anything you would do different like adding more shelves. My husband wants to put closets on each end for Winter jackets.

    1. Hi, Lela! The closet is 4 feet in depth, and 16 feet in width. The depth is perfect for what we need it for. Even with the shelving, I can walk inside the closet to either end. You would have room to store a step stool on the ground, but you wouldn’t have a lot of room in front of you or behind you if you wanted to walk in the closet to stand on it. I’ve used a stool in ours, and it’s been fine, but if you want it to be roomier, then I’d probably make it deeper. If you have any other questions, please let me know!

  10. Love the industrial look and strongly considering doing the same. My one big question is… does the central unit have to work overtime because of energy loss thru the uninsulated ceilings? Does it seem hard to heat and cool? I would greatly appreciate your thoughts since you’ve lived with it a few years now!

    1. Krys, I don’t know how I missed this, I’m so sorry! There’s been no difference in the heating and cooling needing to work harder, because nothing has changed. The ceiling is the same as it was when we built the home. The basement is naturally on the cooler side, so the summers are nice, and the winters can be a little chilly. I don’t mind that, but my husband does! We just use space heaters, and are considering adding the baseboard heaters to my husband’s office which is in the basement. But it was just like that before we finished it, so we were already used to it.

      Hope that helps! You may have already finished your basement–I’d love to know what you decided!

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