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.
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Here are 5 tips for preparing an open beam ceiling for painting that will help you get the job done:
First and foremost, clean, clean, clean. We used a shop-vacuum with almost every attachment.
We decluttered the whole basement, and then I went to town vacuuming every nook and cranny. Not once, not twice, but three times.
It’s a bit of a daunting task to try to get every visible speck of dirt, so my first vacuum run through got the basement mostly clean, but then I took another round to get in all the nooks and crevices (lots of cobwebs). The last run through with the vacuum was right before we started taping off areas. And ideally, once the basement is mostly clean, it is pretty easy to run the vacuum over everything to remove dust before moving on to taping and painting.
I also took a damp rag with a vinegar solution to the tops of the duct work as best I could. There were some areas I just couldn’t reach.
Once the basement was clean enough to work in, these are the steps we followed:
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, wire 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 using a rotary tool and cut-off discs.
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) using these Dremmel Reinforced cut-off discs.
Please read these notes:
- Do make sure to wear protective goggles and clothing for this job.
- For best results, do not use the standard cut-off wheels, Ken recommends using the “Dremel Reinforced 1-1/4 Fiberglass Rotary Tool Cut-off Wheels”
Ken was able to find this item at Menards, but I would imagine Home Depot and Lowe’s carry them, too.
He said these will not shatter like the heavy duty ones. They will wear down instead and then you just have to change out the wheel. They should last for 30+ nails before you have to change out the wheel because it has worn down.
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.
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