Lighting for low ceiling basement

coorsflashNovember 14, 2007

My wife and I have been going back and forth with design ideas for our basement we are finishing. We have a low (6' 7") exposed ceiling that we are going to just paint (still undecided on color, any example pics of a light and dark color would be great). The problem is how to light it. The lights will need to be between the joists since the ceiling is too low to hang anything. Has anyone had a similar situation? What did you do? Or do you know a link or have pictures of examples. Anything would help at this point. Thanks.

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Are the undersides of the joists clear - ie no plumbing or electrical suspended below them?

If that is the case, I suggest sacrificing another 1/2", drywalling the ceiling and installing can lights.

We have approximately 6' 7" (finished) below our heating ducts and have can lights installed at the center (between the hot and cold ducting).

Photos of our basement are linked from "My Page" however the low ceiling for the ductwork described above isn't well depicted except in the final photo.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 10:41AM
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I probably could put drywall, but that would just make the whole basement look smaller I think. At least with the painted ceiling it might look a little taller with all the space between the rafters. I've been kicking around the idea of just placing recessed can lights between joists and painting them along with the rest of the ceiling. It would probably add to the whole industrial look of the painted ceiling but am a little worried about the paint getting too hot on the recessed light housing and maybe starting a fire. Am I being too paranoid?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 1:46AM
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There are recessed cans which are rated for insulation to rest against them. If you use those you will be safe. they are more costly.

As a general rule, dark colors are viewed as being closer than light ones. Consider that industrial buildings paint the ceiling black to hide things and make the space more visually close. On the other hand, home builders paint rooms white so they look larger. You could do your own test. Paint a section, then invest in 1 sheet of drywall and hang it adjacent. Make your own determination.

Hope this is helpful.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 7:52AM
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I hung 2 bulb 4' fluorescents between the joists, nicely lights up the space. With low ceilings cans will leave the room fairly dark unless you put a lot of them in. Cans, IMO, are better for high ceiling rooms so the light has a chance to disperse.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 9:27AM
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You need to properly lay out your cans. There are formulas for this that use data such as the can diameter and the ceiling height to give you the "cone" of light. You should create a scaled floor plan and use the "cone" of light to figure out the can placement.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 7:02PM
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Your decision to have a drywall or exposed ceiling depends on how "finished" you want your basement to feel. If you are having drywall walls and carpet then I feel no matter what you do an exposed ceiling will leave you with a half finished feeling basement. If you are going for more of a rec room feel then that should be fine. I think no matter what you do, recessed can lights would work great.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 2:37PM
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