5 tips on How to Prepare an Open Beam Ceiling for Painting

Unfinished basements can be dark and dingy.  They usually come with an exposed or open beam ceiling that reveals all the pipes, vents and wiring that are the inner workings for the basic functions of your house.  Remodeling the entire basement as you might the rest of your house can be expensive, but there are ways to do it on the cheaper side.  One way is to paint an open beam ceiling rather than cover it up.  It can certainly be a big money saver, but there are a few steps you want to take before you start painting that ceiling.


Here are 5 tips for preparing an open beam ceiling for painting that will help you get the job done:



1 ) Inspect and secure all pipes and venting

Houses tend to shift after time and the basement if often the first place it shows.  Vents and piping can become loose and need to be refastened and adjusted.  Most hardware stores will carry pipe and venting hangers that will typically attach right into the wood of the beams for secure placement.


2) Bundle, tidy and secure ceiling wiring

Wiring can run in all different directions on the open ceiling of a basement.  Inspect and tidy up any and all wiring along the ceiling.  Secure any wiring that running along the wooden beams with wire staples.  Bundle any of the other wiring with zip ties.



3) Trim down ceiling nails

Ceiling nails that are actually from the underlayment of the flooring above can be found in abundance on an open beam ceiling.  These nails can be trimmed down with a rotary tool (Dremmel) .

Do make sure to wear protective goggles and clothing for this job.


4) Fill gaping areas with foam insulation

Unfinished open beam ceilings and basement window wells will have will have nooks and crannies that lead to places we’d rather keep closed off from basement access.

Fill these gaps with foam insulation, allow the foam to dry and then trim off the excess for a neat appearance.  Once the paint has been applied they will be rather inconspicuous, not to mention insulated from goodness knows.


5) Tape off furnace, water heater and other areas that will not be painted

Where and what to paint on an open beam ceiling in your basement is a personal preference.  The pipes or vents around the furnace and water heater can be painted; however the furnace and water heater should definitely be protected from any paint and the best way to do that is to mask it off with the tarp and tape method.

Wiring connections near the fuse box should also be protected from paint in the same fashion.

Mask off any other areas that you do not wish to paint, as well.

Note:  Make sure to TURN OFF the furnace and water heater by following the manufacturer’s directions (usually found on the appliance itself) before masking off and during paining.



Implementing these 5 steps as you prepare for painting your open beam ceiling should give you successful results when the ceiling painting is all said and done.

Do you know of any other tips that would make the job of painting your basement ceiling a success?


UPDATE:  The basement ceiling has finally been painted!!!
We were able to use a primer/paint combo with our paint sprayer.  You can read more about it in the post below.

Click the photo below to see 15 Tips for painting and exposed basement ceiling


Thank you for stopping by ~ Amy


You can see more posts on the basement update, here.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

, ,

19 Responses to 5 tips on How to Prepare an Open Beam Ceiling for Painting

  1. Anne May 7, 2014 at 7:42 am #

    Ugh – looks like an awfully big job!!! Good luck with the painting!

  2. Doreen@househoneys May 7, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    Anne is right Amy! What a job!

    When we bought the cabin the basement had an exposed ceiling. We decided to cover it using Luann which was a relatively inexpensive way to do it, and looks better than typical dropped ceilings.

    For anyone that opts to paint their basement ceiling,your tios are excellent!

  3. Feral Turtle May 8, 2014 at 7:54 am #

    What a great way to finish a basement. It is so much smarter to have access to all the inner workings of a home and what a great way to finish it! What color will you choose?

  4. Mel May 8, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

    Huge Job! Still I’d kill for the extra space of a basement. I’m sure it will be worth the time and prep when it’s done.

  5. Laurie @ Vin'yet Etc. May 10, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    I can’t wait to see it all done. I detest our drop ceiling… not sure what else to do, maybe it’s paint! Good luck, looks like a massive project! 🙂

  6. Bliss May 11, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    Someone is a busy painting bee.

  7. heather f May 11, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    Wow! Good luck with this. Looks like so much work, but I know it’ll look great when you’re done.

  8. Indianabound January 27, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    We have an unfinished basement that we would like to use. I never considered painting the ceiling with its accompanying spider webs – what a great idea! However, there are lots and lots of floor joists etc. How did you do the actual painting?

    • Amy January 27, 2015 at 10:02 pm #

      We used a paint sprayer and ended up painting the walls and ceiling the same color. This way we only had to cover the floor. I should have the painting post up real soon. I’ve been waiting to get the new light fixtures up, but I better get a rush on that. We have tons of floor joists in ours, too, but once they were painted a nice bright color, it made all the difference. There are so many less spider webs now because the paint sealed in all the little crevices where they like to hang out. Thanks so much for stopping by, and good luck with your basement!!!

      • Indianabound February 3, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

        Thanks, Amy! I’ve never used a paint sprayer but there are way too many joists to even think about using a brush. Doing ceiling and walls one color is a great idea so you don’t have to worry about over spray. We’ll need all the luck (and energy) we can get! I love your posts!

  9. Maicon July 31, 2015 at 2:35 am #

    What a great way to finish a basement. It is so much smarter to have access to all the inner workings of a home and what a great way to finish it! What color will you choose?

    • Amy August 1, 2015 at 8:10 am #

      I agree Maicon, it’s nice to have an open ceiling in the basement so that you can get to all the pipes and vents that are pertinent to keeping the utilities running in the rest of the home. Thank you for stopping by.

  10. Denise November 30, 2016 at 8:01 pm #

    You did a great job. Did you use oil base or water base paint for that clean look? Did the sprayer work Well?

    • Amy November 30, 2016 at 8:26 pm #

      We used a water-based paint and primer combined. The brand was Glidden Duo. It sprayed on very nicely with great coverage. Using the paint/primer combo made the job go much faster and the water-based option made clean up much easier. The paint sprayer itself did work well. I would recommend investing in a decent sprayer. Less expensive ones can tend to give out or jam. Make sure to read the directions for the sprayer. And make sure it is one that can be used on ceilings. I hope that helps. Thanks so much, Denise. Good luck if you paint yours!

  11. Mary May 5, 2017 at 11:26 am #

    Could you do this with a brush or spray paint in a can if you didn’t have a paint sprayer?

    • Amy May 7, 2017 at 9:41 am #

      Hi Mary,
      You could do it with a brush, or a brush and roller combined. I have seen that done by a few friends of mine. Note, you will not get as good a coverage and probably not as good of an insulating effect. Also, it will take longer to do (but then again, maybe not as much prep time). So brush and/or brush and roller is an option.
      Regarding spray paint. I would highly NOT recommend it because of all of the fumes. I do not know anyone who has done theirs with spray paint and I’m not an expert, but I honestly don’t think its a good idea. Consider this. You would probably need so many cans of spray paint, that the cost of a halfway decent paint sprayer would probably be comparable. I hope this info helps you in deciding what to do. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thank you, Amy | Stow and Tell U


  1. Tips for Painting an Exposed Basement Ceiling/ Stow&TellU - February 21, 2015

    […] project started out over a year ago, and one of the steps that took the longest was these first 5 tips in preparation for painting an open beam ceiling.    Pin […]

  2. Townhouse Hidden Workshop Reveal | Stow&TellU - November 15, 2015

    […] to “reveal”.  Ironically, as I planned the basement open layout with it’s exposed beam painted ceiling, this was a part of the basement that I was trying to keep hidden so to speak.  I didn’t […]

  3. Spray Painted Laundry Tub - April 28, 2016

    […] 5 Tips: Prepare an open ceiling for paint […]

Leave a Reply