Basement Finishing Ceilings Ideas

Ok you have designed your basement and come up with a winning floor plan! You have corrected any moisture or water problems. You laid-out your walls using the floor plan and permanently chalked lined those wall locations on the concrete floor in locations where they will be built.

Now it’s time to talk about that “ceiling-scape”! What is the “ceiling-scape you ask? Well that’s my new word for what’s really UGLY overhead in the basement, the UGLY that’s going to need to be hidden away from our view!

What are we going to do about these duct-work runs, and all these pipes and wires running 10 different ways? We can’t just cover them with new drywall! What is our next plan of action for hiding the UGLY “ceiling-scape” of our basement to make it both functional and pleasing to the eyes?

Well we are going to FRAME our way right around all of it, and it’s really very simple to do! Looking at it now it might seem a little overwhelming, but what we will do is break the ceiling framing down into a few stages, starting with the framing of the duct-work 1st!

Let’s quickly go through the mechanics of framing-in our duct-work:

1.) 1st build 2 “ladders” of framing from 2″x4″‘s to cover each side of the duct-work run from “end-to-end”. Make sure you make the bottom of these ladders 2″ lower than the bottom of the duct-work!

2.) Next, chalk a line on the bottom of the floor joists overhead 5″ away from the widest section of your duct-work on both sides of the duct-work run.

3.) Next lift up your framing ladders you just built and position them on the chalk line you just snapped on the floor joists overhead. Holding the ladders in place fasten them to the ceiling by nailing them up with 16 penny hand nails or by shooting them up with your framing air-gun.

4.) Once all ladders are in place from end-to-end on both sides of the duct-work, we now quickly level these ladders and temporarily ” hold them “plumb” with a few “kickers (short pieces of wooden bracing). Once both sides of ladders are nice and straight and plumb, we can now “cross over” the bottom of the duct-work with 2″x4″‘s by installing them “flat ways” between the two sides of ladders that we just finished installing. This “crossing-over” of framing on the bottom of the duct-work will “tie-in” this framing structure making it sturdy and secure thus completing the framing-in of all of our duct-work This framing is now “Drywall Ready”!

5.) Next we will tackle the remaining sections of the “ceiling-scape” which is the areas that are left between the framed walls and the sides of the duct-work “Framing Ladders” that we just finished installing in the previous step. Here we usually have Water pipes. electrical wires, waste pipes, misc. cables, phones lines, etc., all kinds of stuff that’s keeping us from being able to just hang our drywall ceilings with ease!

Solution? Simply “fir-down”(or make lower) these sections of “ceiling-scape” with 2″x4″‘s! Just nail-up long 16’-0″ sections of 2″x4″‘s from end-to-end in all of these areas, running them parallel with the duct-work runs (perpendicular to the existing floor joists). By doing this we make these sections of ceiling 1-1/2″ lower, and this gets all of our framing below all the pipes and wires that used to be our drywall’s road! We can now drywall right over everything that used to be in our way with ease!

6.) Remember to tie a piece of caution tape on any water shutoffs, gas shutoffs, outside faucet shut offs, or anything else that you will want to access later after the drywall is permanently hung! Otherwise you will never be able to access these important items at a later date. Just tie caution tape right on the handles or the center of all of the items you will need to access later, then when the drywall ceiling is being hung, just cut a 2″ hole out of the drywall so that the caution tape can be pulled through that hole. After the drywall is finished and paint-ready we will be installing finished plastic access panels at each of these locations so we can easily access all of our mechanical items forever!


That’s just a few of the tricks and Tips you will need to properly layout and frame a basement ceiling for drywall! In another basement finishing video series I go into much more detail on tackling finishing your ceiling spaces!