Today, I have a basement progress update and DIY learning experience (lol) all in one—we painted our exposed basement ceiling black, and we absolutely love it! I truly can’t believe the difference it made in the space literally right away.
Want to see where we’re headed in the basement? Read all about our plans here.
So, today, I’m going to share a little about how and why you might want to paint your exposed basement ceiling instead of going to all the trouble of sheet rocking it.
Why Paint an Exposed Basement Ceiling?
Normally, when you finish a basement, you drywall the ceiling when you put in the walls. That makes it look like any other room in your house. We decided not to for a few reasons:
First up, we have an old house, which means the ceiling height in the basement is quite low. While it might not seem like much, adding drywall would lower the lowest point of the ceiling about an inch. By leaving it open, we not only have the actual extra height, but it feels even higher because of the up and down of the floor joists (does that make sense?).
Keeping the basement ceiling open means that we have access to a lot of the HVAC ducts, plumbing, and electrical in our house. Especially with all of the projects that we’re doing, having those things easy to access has been such a blessing. In the future, if something breaks or we just want to change something, it’s easier to deal with if everything is accessible.
Finally, it looks cool and industrial to paint the exposed ceiling instead of covering it up. And that’s as good of reason as any, right?
How We Painted the Ceiling
With an exposed ceiling, especially one like ours that has many pipes, wires, nooks and crannies, it’s best to spray the paint to get a good even finish. I can’t even imagine how long it would have taken with a brush, but it only took about 2 hours with our trusty paint sprayer.
We used Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black, in a matte finish, and we called and ordered a 5 gallon bucket since it’s a large space. They did contactless pickup and just put it in our trunk for us—so easy!
I only did one coat on this project, because we didn’t feel like anyone was going to be looking super closely to notice any drips, so I wasn’t afraid to go somewhat heavy on it. For any super noticeable drips, I kept a roller nearby and rolled them out before they dried.
Plus, I knew after getting drywall up and walls painted that I’d have to do touchups anyway.
We did this project before the room had walls (what you see is the spray foam insulation) or floors or anything, which was perfect because it would make a big mess otherwise. We just masked off the windows and the open spots where the light fixtures were going.
If you’re painting a ceiling after those steps, you will really need to prep. I would suggest this for your walls and contractor’s paper all over your floors. I cannot emphasize enough how much the paint got everywhere.
Personal Protection from Spraying Paint
Let me start by saying that I am obsessed with my paint sprayer. It’s been the gift that keeps on giving and gives me crazy ideas that I can probably paint the exterior of our house by myself, right??
But with any spraying project, you’re going to deal with a bit of mess and overspray, and given that this one was above my head, I knew it was going to be worse than usual. If you’re going to spray a ceiling, it’s important to protect yourself.
Now, I married a safety engineer, so it’s possible that I overdid it slightly, but the main concerns with spraying paint on a ceiling are your eyes and breathing in particles.
For your eyes, wear some good safety glasses and be sure they have coverage on the sides, because paint particles will 100% sneak in the sides. The paint sock on my head also helped cover the sides of my safety glasses.
I had Dustin nearby with a wet paper towel to wipe my glasses every once in a while. (He couldn’t hear me call him through my mask, so our system was that I would clap really loudly when I needed help, lol!)
For your lungs, paint is actually a big particle, so you’re going to be pretty safe if you just tie a bandana around your nose and mouth. (This does not constitute medical advice, I’m not a doctor!)
The other issue for me, though, is the smell, which can sometimes make me lightheaded. So, I wore this respirator mask, and it honestly completely blocked the paint smell. It was worth the investment because I also wore it while sanding drywall later, which is actually dangerous to breathe.
I also covered my clothes, even though I wore paint clothes, with a paint suit, just to avoid ruining them and/or tracking paint all over the house after. I was glad I did because it had a ton of paint on it in the end. And I wore a hair cover and latex gloves as well.
Finally, I didn’t wear shoes because, again, I didn’t want to track paint around. Instead, I wore a pair of old socks and threw them away as soon as I was done. (This led to the interesting result of having my foot prints in paint all over the concrete floor, lol!)
This has been such an exciting space for us to plug away on, because we’re truly doing everything ourselves and learning so much. Dustin even learned how to do electrical and hang sheet rock, and I mudded and taped all of the walls!
Here’s what the most recent picture of the basement looks like, but I’ve actually primed since then too:
Have more questions about how we did it? Let me know in the comments or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.