How to Paint Unfinished Basement Ceilings

Becky Lower

An unfinished basement ceiling is an unsightly portion of any home. Even if you only use the basement for laundry and storage, it can look much better if you take the time to paint the ceiling.

What lies underneath the floor, the basement ceiling, can be pretty unsightly.

A painted, but otherwise unfinished, ceiling takes on the look of an industrial space and can turn an eyesore into a cool, hip area.

  1. Clean the ceiling area of all cobwebs, debris and dust. Use a broom and rags soaked in cleanser to thoroughly clean the area.

  2. Tape up plastic sheeting to close off the section of the room that will be painted. Put drop cloths on the floor. Position fans so they will draw the air out of the room. If you will be using a paintbrush instead of a sprayer, you can omit the plastic sheeting and the fan.

  3. Spray the outside of the airless sprayer with silicone for easier cleanup of the equipment. An airless sprayer costs about $400 (as of 2010) but can be rented from most home improvement stores.

  4. Fill the sprayer according to the manufacturer's directions and begin spraying with the primer first. Check with a home inspector to see if any areas, such as heating ducts, need special paints or if they need to be left free of paint. If they need special treatment, tape plastic over them so they won't be sprayed. Make sure you wear protective gear and a breathing mask during priming and painting.

  5. After the primer is dry, paint the area with two coats of ceiling paint. Light colors will make the room look brighter and will visually raise the space, but white is hard to keep clean. Instead, opt for a cream or light gray shade. Dark colors will visually lower the ceiling but will give it a very industrial look. Once the paint is dry, remove the plastic sheeting.