Painted Basement Ceiling (Open Floor Joists)

There are benefits to painting as a basement ceiling option. It is a cheap option which can significantly improve the appearance of the basement. Also, you can save more by doing the job yourself, since it doesn’t require as much expertise as other basement ceiling options. A painted basement ceiling will also give you the most clearance when compared to other options. However, you won’t get the sound suppressing benefits of other basement ceiling options. Also, no insulation can be placed between the basement and the floor above, but depending on the purpose of the basement room that may be fine.

Here’s how to get started.

Materials and Equipment

Gather all the materials and equipment you will need. This includes drop cloths, plastic sheets for the wall and items you don’t want getting paint on. Plastic sheets are very cheap.

Rent or purchase a paint sprayer. An airless sprayer is preferred. There are a few airless paint sprayer options, but one with the paint canister on the ground instead of the nozzle is also preferred. Trying to roll or brush the paint on will take a very long time but you can try it.

Purchasing spray paint cans is another option but not ideal since you have to point the spray paint upwards and will reduce the amount of coverage you get from each spray can. It also cost a little more when compared to purchasing the paint and using an airless sprayer. The airless paint sprayer will also yield better looking results.

There are several brands of paint to choose from. Some manufacturers make paint specifically for basements. Depending on the material of the basement ceiling, you may want to prime first. Some paints come with the paint/primer in one which will save you some time. A lighter paint color will make rooms look larger. If you have a low ceiling, this may be a good option. A darker paint will cover up any imperfections and hide what’s on the ceiling much better.


Before you start painting the ceiling remove as much dust, dirt, and grease as possible from all pipes, ceiling, and any area you plan to paint. Use a shop vacuum if you have one. You won’t be able to all the dust, but get as much as possible. This will go a long way in making sure the job last a long time. If you have bare copper heating pipes, it is a good idea to wrap the pipes in insulation and paint over that. You also should not paint unshielded wires.

You are almost ready to begin, make sure the area is well ventilated. Wear a mask if needed. Setting up fans may be helpful in ventilating. Also make sure to wear protective eye wear.


Paint the ceiling by spraying the paint in straight lines. You will want to overlap each line by approximately half the width of the spray. Keep the sprayer about a foot to a foot and a half from the ceiling. It is best to spray as vertically as possible.