Painting bare basement ceiling

schreibdaveFebruary 5, 2006

I am semi finishing my basement. Just a work out room, organized storage, and a place for the kids to play and roughhouse. For a variety of reasons ($, time, acccess), I dont want to sheetrock the ceiling or do a drop ceiling. I am planning to paint the ceiling - joists, electric cable, copper pipe, pvc pipe, hvac stuff - everything. Basically trying to brighten the area up.

Anybody done this or have a better idea for achieving the goal?

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Have seen this done two different ways. One is in flat black which makes the ceiling somewhat "disappear". The other is white. The white seems to brighten the room more and require less lighting to achieve a bright room. Model railroaders have used this technique as do most large retailers. Look up at the ceilings next time your out shopping.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 9:51AM
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Spray paint it before you finish the rest of the basement. We had the same idea...but decided upon it after the rest of the basement was finished (carpet, painted, etc).
Hand painting takes a l-o-n-g time....not only because because the bare wood really sucks in the paint (you really are better off with a coat of primer first) but because of all of the electrical connections, pipes, HVAC, etc. It really would be so much easier to spray both the primer and paint with abandon...which is MUCH easier to do in unfinished space, as you don't have to worry about overspray and all the hassles in protecting finished surfaces.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 1:07PM
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logic -

I bought a $30 sprayer that hooks to my compressor. I thought that would help, but an hr into fighting with that thing I had a mess and very little paint on the ceiling. I ended up doing the one room by hand which was a major PITA. May try to rent a professional sprayer for the remaining 3 rooms.

My plan is to prime the floors (Plan is to paint the concrete and then put down throw rugs) then paint ceiling, which makes a huge mess, then put second coat on the floor. This way the ceiling paint doesnt get on the bare concrete and keep the concrete paint from adhering. Then sheetrock, etc.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 10:43PM
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We never did spray...because of all the finished surfaces so I can't comment on if it would be any easier with a professional sprayer. However, since paint is sprayed on often by the pros, seems to me that their sprayers probaly would do a pretty decent job. Also, you may want to call a few painters to find out how much they would charge to spray it and get it over never just might be worth it. Either way, good idea about the floor!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 10:49AM
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I think if you haven't done all the other finish work first and want to do this, the best way to go is to use a HVLP (I think) gun and spray a heavy texture paint.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 8:42AM
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Can someone post a picture of the painted ceiling?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 7:19PM
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Desj -

I will try to post a picture tomorrow.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 11:48PM
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We rented a sprayer at a rental shop and it took an hour or so. I would cover the floor with plastic because there was plenty overspray. If you don't want to over work please cover your floor. I painted the pipes and everything. The insulation had the paper backing so it worked well. I did some touchup work with a brush, dryloked the walls then painted over that. Then painted the floor. We took a dungy storage room and made it into a storage rec room. I put in florecent lights, and put mirrors on one wall. It is now a room. My family thought is was a weird idea. I notice it a lot in restaurants too. I takes the focus off the ceiling and onto the room.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 8:38AM
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I'm planning on painting my basement ceiling as well. I have 2 questions though.

1. What do you (I) do above the concret wall, where there is roll insulation exposed between the trusses? It's small 16x10" pieces that are stuffed in each recess. I'm not doing any finished walls at this time, just paint. So do I just paint over that?

2. What about my canned lighting fixtures. Can I just paint them?

3. Okay one more. Water pipes. I see some people put the foam pipe insulation around them before painting. Is that recommended?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2008 at 7:42PM
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I have the same questions as captnmorgan above and I also want to know more about white vs. black paint on a very short ceiling...thanks and HELP!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 2:13PM
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Just a word: avoid latex based paint in the basement. Latex is an organic compound, and every below grade structure is prone to moisture and water problems. Organic matter + moisture = mold.
I usually recommend people to avoid anything organic (latex paint,wall paper, wooden studs, drywall, wooden subfloors, hardwood flooring, etc) when finishing basements for that reason.
Otherwise think of running a dehumidifier to keep the moisture under 50% at all times.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 9:00AM
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so what type of paint is they even sell oil anymore?

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 12:25PM
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The comment on latex and question on oil gave me an idea: The "Aura" bathroom paint by Benj Moore, which is designed for damp areas, and has beautiful coverage. Porch and floor paint still comes in oil, but I think that would be a nightmare to clean up (do you have a haz-mat suit?) and has a long dry time.

I'm thinking of doing the same thing in white or sky blue (I have friends that did their's in black and it has a very "retail" or yes, "sports bar" feel to it)--we have a low ceiling and I want mine brighter.

I'm a little weirded out about spraying all the pipes and electric--does anyone have any recommendations or thoughts before starting? Thanks! TR

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 12:24PM
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If you don't keep basement relative humidity well below 50% and attend to any leakage, in any case you will encourage mould growth.

Latex paint is fine in a basement.

I've torn out a lot of light steel-framed basements where the base plates and more were rusted away. So if you use steel framing be sure it sits on a strip of XPS and is part of a wall cavity that doesn't attract condensation or moisture.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 2:47PM
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You definitely want an acrylic paint down stairs. Oil based would be disastrous for mold growth. Painting the ceiling black will make it disappear and white will keep it bright. Just make sure you have enough lighting for a black ceiling. They look great! Have remodeled several basements.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 8:31PM
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OK. So the final word on basement ceiling paint is acrylic? Is that the same as latex? I have no idea!

Also, how does everyone think it would look to paint the ceiling the same color as the walls of my basement? I have an extremely pale butter yellow on the (previously horribly dark and shiny fake paneled) walls now. I'd really love to not paint the walls again, and I think taping them off will lead to huge amounts of paint coming off with the tape since the walls were so shiny and fake in the first place. It seems like this would be a good look that would also make the ceiling disappear, but since no one has mentioned I wasn't sure.

If it helps, my basement has several small windows and gets fairly good light at certain times of the day, but needs brightening up.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 10:11PM
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We will be painting our basement ceiling this summer. Thanks for all of the advice. I will be doing my homework and talk with experts before I attempt the job. We are planning on spray painting. We live in a 133 year old home with a limestone foundation. First we will paint the ceiling, Second we will be purge the limestone with a combination cement and sand mixture. Our ceiling is wood and we have metal pipes and ducts;most likely we will use white paint since it is dark. Lighting fixtures will be put up after we paint. I would take the lighting fixtures down if you have any, before you paint.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 6:30PM
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I would SO love to do this.
I like the joists and ducts/plumbing exposed for ease of service, but I would like it brighter.
But it's full of furniture- despite it's unfinished state it's where we spend the most time- sort of a rough house/dog area/family room.

But it was built in 1955 and I just know that old oak is going to suck up paint. I would love to spray but moving everything around would be a nightmare, and painting it by hand would take me a million years and I'd be in traction for the rest of my life afterwards.

So I keep dreaming.
I joke about buying one can of spray paint once a week and doing it piece by piece but at that rate I'd not finish for five years.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 12:21PM
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Hi - we live in a house from the 40s & our basement is lower so we painted the bare ceiling as opposed to drywalling it and were happy w/the results

Here is a link that might be useful: painted bare ceiling

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 11:45AM
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Just had my basement ceiling painted black and it is so cool... You don't see it anymore.. It really does recede. but you must have lots and lots of lighting...

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 1:27PM
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Earlier this year, hgtv said basements should be designed like any other room in your house. Repeat the same color schemes throughout the entire home for continuity, so that the basement doesn't feel like a completely different structure. I say choose ceiling colors to match the rest of your home or a lighter shade of your walls will look the best. The black ceilings look like a Vegas convention demo booth to me.

Another thing to consider is what type of paint works best with the sprayer that you use.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 4:23AM
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