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How To Paint A Basement Ceiling

How To Paint A Basement Ceiling

Deciding to paint a basement ceiling is an exciting project and there are steps you can take to ensure it turns out exactly the way you want it to.

It’s amazing what paint can do to a space. It can brighten it up, make it cozier, make it feel clean, or add a punch of color to an otherwise drab space.

But figuring out how to paint certain spaces, especially one like a basement ceiling, can be intimidating.

Figuring out what you need, where to start, and what the process is are only a few of the challenges to a ceiling painting project.

In order to successfully paint your basement ceiling, first decide on the look you want to accomplish, and then prep the space and remove any lights and wires before beginning. Make sure you wear the right gear as well, and then you’ll be ready to start painting!

Painting a basement ceiling can make a huge difference in your downstairs space. It can make a dingy room feel cleaner, a space feel more open and a ceiling higher.

But painting a basement ceiling can feel really intimidating.

There can be special equipment involved, and just the physical part of painting something above your head can be hard.

I love doing DIY projects and I think painting is one of the easiest ways of refreshing a room.

But painting a ceiling? That’s a challenge.

Here are the steps I took to make it easier and more successful.

1. Decide the Look You Want to Accomplish

Before you paint your basement ceiling, deciding what you want it to look like will be key in determining how you move forward.

There are so many options for this project, so take your time thinking about what look you are going for. 

Is this a paint job to a ceiling that is already in place, but just needs to be refreshed?

Are you tired of the drab white ceiling and want to try a pop of color?

Or is this an exposed ceiling with no drywall in place and you are going to be painting beams, wires, and pipes?

What you will be doing and what look you are trying to accomplish will make a difference in how you paint, what type of gear you will need, and how long it’s going to take you.

2. Prep the Space Before You Paint

This is an important part of your paint job’s success.

Even though most of us would like to just dive in, making sure your space is adequately prepped will save you time, money, and frustration later.

If your basement is unfinished, this won’t be as challenging since there will most likely not be as much furniture, equipment, and other personal items in the space to move or cover.

On the other hand, if you’ve already been using your basement as a workout space, hangout for the kids, or a place to chill at the end of the day, you may have workout machines, couches, or play items that need to be covered or moved. 

Be willing to invest in a few drop cloths if you can’t move the bigger items.

I promise you’ll be glad you spent the money since painting a ceiling can be even messier than just painting a wall. 

3. Remove Lights and Move Wires Before You Start

Just like when painting a wall, it’s a good idea to remove any hardware from the ceiling that you can before you begin.

Light fixtures should be taken down temporarily, as they will not only end up speckled with paint, but they will also be in your way and it will be frustrating to paint around them. 

If you are painting an exposed ceiling, make sure to move any wires before you begin to paint as well.

You can pin or staple them to the joist where you plan on having them stay, then paint them once they are in place. Be careful not to puncture a wire with whatever you decide to use to secure it.

Wire staples work best for this and are widely available in most hardware stores.

When stapling wires into place, try to place a staple every 4-6 feet so they won’t hang down and get in your way or look unsightly after the paint job is done.

Painting gear

4. Wear the Right Gear

Just like it’s important to prep your space, it’s important to prep yourself too!

Painting can be a hot and messy job and it’s easy to want to throw on an old t-shirt and pair of shorts, but think twice about not dressing the part before you begin to paint.

Paint fumes are highly toxic and the chemicals they contain can cause short and long-term medical issues if you breathe them in for too long, don’t paint in a properly ventilated space, or don’t wear protective gear to prevent yourself from getting sick. 

Most people prefer to try to keep doors and windows open when painting, but this may be difficult if you’re painting in a basement that doesn’t have outside access through a door or window. 

At the very least, you should consider wearing a mask, preferably an N95 mask that will block most toxins from entering your lungs.

If the job is a big one, or you’re painting with a pressure roller or spray kit, you should wear a respirator mask, since the chemicals in the paint will be more prevalent and will stay in the air longer.

5. Get Painting!

Finally, it’s time for the fun stuff. At this point, you have most likely picked out your paint color, the finish you prefer, and the tools you are going to use to apply the paint to your ceiling.

Thanks to the pre-paint work you’ve done, you are ready to get started.

It may take you two coats, but ceilings tend to be more forgiving than walls at hiding imperfections, so many people find that one coat will suffice.

Just remember to let the first coat dry completely before you assess whether or not another one is needed.

Summing Up Painting Your Basement Ceiling

Painting your basement ceiling can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to. As long as you adequately prep the space beforehand, clear anything out that’s in the way, and wear the right gear, it shouldn’t be too hard.

Just make sure you have a way to release those paint fumes while you’re painting so you don’t breathe in anything toxic!

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.