December 8, 2008

How To Cover A Basement Ceiling

Q. I want to do something inexpensive to the unfinished ceiling in my basement storage room. I will be using fabric to cover the shelving, so that will be used a lot. There are steel beams, copper, wood and wires in there, so I need something to cover all of these materials. I thought of paint, but I need help choosing a colour.

— Nancy

A. Installing a suspended ceiling is a more expensive alternative to paint, but will dramatically improve the look of the ceiling as well as the room. Ceiling grids can be installed with wires, and ceiling panels or tiles are placed into the grids, providing a finished look. Ceiling tiles are now available in many different textures and styles, unlike the old ubiquitous “stucco” look. Faux or real wood beadboard panels, coffered (recessed panels) or even vintage-look tin tiles would add interest while hiding the unwanted wires and beams.

If your budget will not allow for a suspended ceiling, painting with a spray application might be possible. Make sure your electrician inspects the ceiling before you paint. Choose a simple off-white for the low ceiling, to keep the room looking as bright and expansive as possible. Paint the walls the same off-white for a unified look, or tape off a horizontal line all around the room, just below the lowest point of pipe or ductwork. Paint the wall a different colour from the line down, defining the ceiling. Keep the wall colour light, like a buttery yellow or pale sage green, or any pale colour that will coordinate with the fabric you use for your shelving. Don’t forget to paint any pipes that run down the wall the same colour that you’ve chosen for the wall. Replacing your light bulb fixture with a simple, frosted wall sconce will provide better ambient light as well as add more style to your new storeroom.