Install Basement Drop Ceilings Or Drywall Ceilings?

This is an easy one for me to answer, and if you have been following along with this series of videos from the beginning you have never once heard me utter the words drop ceiling. The reason for this is I despise them. Can you say tacky? Can you say ugly? Can you say outdated? I can’t think of any professional reason why anyone would want to have one of these ceilings installed in they’re new finished basement space.

*Top 10 reasons I prefer drywall over drop ceilings or “suspended ceilings” as they are sometimes called:

1.) they sag after time (after all the entire ceiling is “hanging’ on wires.)

2.) your lose no less than 3″-4″ of ceiling height once installed.

3.) the ceiling “tiles” or “panels” that you install get discontinued and can’t replace broken tiles anymore.

4.) drop ceiling tiles chip easily and flake easily when “bumped”

5.) the “grid-work” or metal skeleton that you install will become rusty over time (ugly.)

6.) recessed lighting fixtures do not work well in these ceilings (to much weight) making panels sag.

7.) you can’t paint them if you want to change the color or just “freshen” up the paint color like drywall.

8.) the surface of these ceilings breaks-down over time and ends up as dust all over your furniture.

9.) crown molding and other types of trim look ridiculous when applied to drop ceilings.

10.) they make your basement ” look ” like a basement..

I could go on about my dislike of drop ceilings, but I think you get my point. But I still get the same old questions about drop ceilings at least once a week. The most frequently asked question that my clients ask me about drop ceilings revolves around “accessibility”. An average client believes that they must “always” be able to access what is above the head in the basement (pipes, wires, duct work, etc.). Well these clients are partially correct in assuming this to be true. Some things in the basement ceiling do need to remain accessible, but not everything.

Here’s a list of what needs to be accessible to the client after the drywall ceilings are installed:

1.) water shutoffs (interior and exterior lines)

2.) gas shutoffs, certain types of gas fittings

3.) ice maker water line shutoff

4.) doorbell transformer (should be relocated to storage area or some other unfinished area)

5.) some ductwork “damper” handles (very rarely)

6.) any electrical junction box that can not be easily moved

Aside from these 6 items, everything else in the basement ceiling is considered a non-accessible item, and therefore can and should be covered by a drywall ceiling. All of the other electrical wiring, water lines, sewage drainage lines, insulation, floor joists, ductwork, etc. In the ceiling are non-accessible items and never needs to seen or touched again.

All 6 types of accessible items that we possibly need to “get-to” in the future for what ever reason, will remain accessible through the use of access panels. That’s right. Access panels. We simply install paint-able plastic access panels wherever we need to gain access in the new drywall ceiling areas. These access panels are very thin, open easily, can be painted the color of the new drywall ceiling, and they give us total access to what a lot of folks fear they will lose access-to if they drywall the ceilings instead of using “drop ceilings.

A lot of contractors will use “scare-tactics” when selling basement remodeling jobs, by telling the clients that they can not use drywall ceilings because they will never be able to access the items that we just discussed ever again. Well now you know that this is just not true. Anyone can have drywall ceiling in the basement…..Anyone.

I have been remodeling basements since 1992. I have finished hundreds of basements over these years and have never had 1 call-back related to a client not being able to access something that we covered-up with a drywall ceiling. The reason for this perfect track record with regard to accessibility is simply because we use access panels wherever they are needed in the drywall ceilings….Period.