Finishing a Basement 10 - Finishing Walls and Ceilings

drywall in a basement

After all the hammering, drilling and sawing, you're getting close to finishing your basement project. The next step is covering up the stud walls, insulation, and wiring with your chosen ceilings and wall types. The work sequence depends on how you have chosen to finish your basement.

If you are installing a drywall ceiling, you'll want to put it up before you finish the walls. The ceiling will sit on top of the walls. If you are going to use a suspended ceiling, finish the walls before you move onto the ceiling.

Ceiling Options

Drywall provides a traditional finished appearance and makes the finished basement truly look and feel like a part of the house; however, drywall does have some downsides for the do-it-yourselfer.

It comes in large heavy sheets (4x8-feet or 4x10-feet) that are awkward to maneuver and difficult to install. Finishing drywall also requires taping and filling the joints with drywall compound. This is a messy, frustrating, and difficult job for an inexperienced person because even minor imperfections are quite noticeable.

Suspended, or drop ceilings, consist of ceiling tiles suspended in a metal grid attached to the bottom of the floor/ceiling joists. They are much easier to install. The metal framing is light and easy to work with, and the ceiling panels are relatively easy to handle since they are much smaller than drywall sheets. The major disadvantage to a suspended ceiling is that it gives your finished room an industrial look.

Wall Options

Your choices for walls are limited only by your imagination; however, since you went to all the trouble of making sure your walls were plumb and square, installing drywall is an obvious choice.

You'll still face the challenge of attaching large sheets of plasterboard, as well as taping and filling the joints, but you won't be working over your head, as you are on a ceiling, which makes the job much easier. You can apply a textured or stippled finish to hide minor flaws.

Solid wood or tongue and groove boards can make attractive walls. If you want to do something a little different, you could put drywall over half of your walls and boards along the bottom half. Angling the boards on a 45-degree angle will add an interesting touch.

Install a chair rail to cover the seam where the materials meet. The drywall can be painted to provide a bright color while the wood can be painted to blend or sealed with Polyurethane to allow its natural beauty to show.

Finishing Thoughts

Choose thin baseboards and molding. The room will likely not be as high as those on your upper floors. Wide moldings will make the ceiling seem even lower. Keep your color scheme light and bright. Most finished basements don't have much natural light, so light colors make them more visually attractive.

Remember that doors can be shortened by cutting something off the bottom and the majority of people won't even notice. This is a handy tip to keep in mind if you have any doors that you want to locate under ductwork or in a lower area.

When choosing furniture for you new basement, consider that everything will have to come downstairs. That sectional that looks so great in the store might not fit around the corners of your stairway.