Drywall vs. Drop Ceiling

Old 07-11-02, 01:00 PM
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Drywall vs. Drop Ceiling

I'm finishing off a basement for use as a home theater and play room for my daughter. I'm undecided between using drywall for the ceiling, or putting up a drop ceiling. I don't have much height down there, and I like the look of the drywall ceiling, but I like the idea of being able to get to pipes and wires, etc. Can anyone provide any opinions as to the pros/cons of both, and what the 'norm' is for this type of application?
Old 07-11-02, 02:37 PM
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Honestly not sure which is used more -- drywall is more likely to conduct sound directly to the floor above, but drop ceilings have the annoying tendancy to rattle.

Either way make sure you use materials designed with home theater in mind. For drywall there's various types of soundboard, and they can get very expensive. For drop ceilings, the general recommendations I've seen are to use insulation tiles (not gypsum tiles - they look like thin layers of insulation material fronted with a laminate or gypsum) with rolls of fiberglass batting laid down on top of them to reduce the rattles.

If a drywall ceiling is possible for you (e.g. - there's nothing hanging down below the joists), but you want accessibility, there are some products that look like a drop ceiling but mount directly to the joist underhangings. I know USG has one, but have seen others as well. Looks pretty easy to install too - screw the main bars perpindicular to the joists, attach the T-bars, put in a tile, and then put in the bottom struts. Of course, from an accoustical standpoint this combines some of the worst of both worlds... but life is a matter of compromises.

I'd also suggest going and asking this question on the Home Theater Construction forum over on www.avsforum.com -- it's the kind of question they'd be happy to help with.
Old 07-12-02, 04:19 PM
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From experience... if you close in the ceiling with drywall, I guarantee you'll have leaky pipe or need to get at a wire. I don't necessarily like the look of suspended ceilings, but I like the versatility for a basement. There are many styles and textures to choose from, including sound deadening tiles. Installation is easier than drywall.
Old 07-12-02, 09:06 PM
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Couple of things here. My building inspector mentioned that a drywalled ceiling in a finished basement adds 12 dollars more per square foot of value to your house than a drop ceiling. That being said, drywall is harder to do, but there are tradeoffs. Drop ceilings usually look cheesy and office-like, not consistent with the rest of your home. But on the other hand, you can get to your stuff if you need to. It is somewhat of an urban myth though that you should be able to get to all of that. When's the last time you had to do anything to those pipes or wires? As long as your home is not over 25 years old, I wouldn't worry about it. Worst case, you have to spend a couple hundred bucks if something leaks to take a sheet out and replace it. Small price to pay for a lot better looking living space, and a lot more value in your home.

Old 07-15-02, 05:38 AM
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Good input on the urban myth factor. While it's nice to know you can get at the pipes, I agree that it probably doesn't happen very often.

I'm not so sure about a drywalled ceiling adding value, especially $12 per square foot more than a drop ceiling. I just did my basement and put in a drop ceiling. The basement is 670 square feet, so the math implies that a drywalled ceiling would have added another $8,000 value to my house vs. the drop ceiling. Not $8,000 total, but $8,000 more. That's a hefty return for a less than $1,000 cost. With the availability of tile designs these days, I'd bet that drywall vs. drop ceiling is a personal preference for any buyer.
Old 07-17-02, 05:23 PM
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to drop or not to drop? that is the question

Yes, it is a tough decision... allow me to share my experiance:

I have done a combination of both methods in our basement of our age 30ish split back level recently. The 2 bedrooms were completed first(in a series of basement renovations), followed by the family room, laundry room, then office.

As it ended up, only the bedrooms have gyproc... and it does look better than the rest of the basement. The only downfall is that *Yes, we did need access to the ceiling of both rooms to run computer networking cable (cat5) to them, and the gyproc has prevented us from finishing that project. ohh well, its our own fault for having the other wiring as an oversight... it should have been done before the gypsum was installed.

The drop ceiling doesn't look bad in the family room or other rooms, but it certainly hasn't been as durable as the gyproc in the bedrooms. And too, it wasn't installed exactly perfectly, so its not as clean of a look as the gypsum is in the bedrooms. (when installed, the tile grid needed to be cut at certain places to fit the room, and where it is cut you can see it because it is slightly bent and doesn't lie straight.

As for sound, I myself am a bit of an audiophile, so I insisted on something to deaden the sound a bit, so we installed some fiberboard above the drop ceiling. This is slightly stupid tho, considering one of the major reason for drop ceilings are accesability! We did, however, cut out squares in the fiberboard at key areas, then screw a piece over the hole, to allow for access to that area.

I hope this helps... email me if you want to see some pictures of the finished basement! rpalmer@pei.sympatico.ca

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