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Painting the Basement Ceiling

Monday, July 11, 2016



One thing that Hubby and I agreed on pretty quickly about the basement was that we wanted to paint and then leave the exposed ceiling.  Since we are trying to keep this remodel on the cheap and because the rafters are not a full 8 ft off the bare cement, we were pretty sure that we did not want to do a dropped ceiling. We also want the ability to do additional lighting and electrical work down the road, so we were very opposed to drywalling it.  And did I mention that I actually like the way the painted joists look?

The one thing we were not in agreement on was the color.  I wanted to do white, and Hubby wanted black.  My argument was that the white would reflect light better so that it would feel less like a dungeon and provide more balanced lighting for my craft room and the game area.  His argument was that the white would show everything (the staples from the old kitchen linoleum, the glue drips, and every splinter, etc) while the black would hide everything.  He was still making his argument with me all the way up to actually beginning to spray on the white paint...

Anyway, the first thing we had to do was get all the stuff out of the way.  So back up the stairs went all the boxes that we had carried down here just a couple weeks before and into one corner went all the furniture.


My poor garage!  So much for the idea of parking my van in there!  Sigh, maybe by winter time....

We looked into the price of renting an airless sprayer, but since we wanted it for two days (because of that wonderful corner full of furniture), it was going to cost almost exactly the same amount as buying an equivalent sprayer.  Crazy high rental prices.  Harbor Freight had one for sale for $200, it had good reviews and seemed to be basically the same as the name brand sprayer that cost $300 from the other home improvement stores.  This seemed like a no brainer.  Now we have the sprayer to use for the walls and for future projects as well.


We also bought a tip for the sprayer that would control the spray according to the space we were working in.  $25


While researching paints we discovered contractor grade flat finish paint for $13.98/Gal.  Since we were expecting to pay nearly twice this price, we were pretty excited.  They also have it in 5Gal buckets for $60 ($12/Gal) which can save you a few more pennies and these work nicely with the sprayer (insert hose of sprayer into bucket and TaDa!), however they do require some muscles to lift.  The folks at the store will be happy to help you get the buckets into the car but getting them out will be all you!  

In order to estimate how much paint we would need for the basement ceiling we multiplied the floor square footage by two.  This will account for the joists and uneven surfaces around pipes, wires, etc.  Our space is approximately 800sq ft so we rounded up to 2000sqft of coverage.  Our primer says that it will cover an average of 400sqft per gallon, but since we were working with the sprayer I wanted to be a bit conservative.  So we bought 7 gallons of primer and 5 gallons of paint (remember that you will need less paint than primer because the bare wood will soak up the primer).  Our cost of paint = $200


Add to those the many drop cloths, painters tape, paint respirator, and protective gear (disposable overalls, hat, goggles and booties) = $75


Friday night, Hubby and I taped up all the areas that are not going to be painted... this includes the area around the furnace, the storage space under the stairs, the stairs themselves, the windows, and our two bare concrete walls around the garage that will not need any insulation.  We also covered the floor the best we could since we plan on applying an epoxy to those soon.  By the time we were done protecting, our basement looked like a scene from Dexter...




Then Saturday morning we got set up for the actual painting.  Here's Hubby showing off his awesome protective gear... Goofiness aside, this is a must - since you are spraying overhead, the overspray is fairly significant.  Also, we are fortunate enough to have two opening windows in our basement, but we left them closed during the actual spraying, which means that you will really need the respirator mask as well to block the fumes.  I think it's got serious potential for a new fashion fad...




Since we left a considerable amount of furniture actually in the basement, we split the project into two parts - the main room and Hubby's office.  The bad news: this made it a two day project with double clean up.  The good news: I didn't have to help carry up those horribly heavy desks and the couch bed (which would have been impossible, not just a pain, btw... my arms are just too scrawny for that!)  + it gave us this beautiful side-by-side Before and After!



 I have to admit that Hubby was right, the white paint really does not hide the imperfections of the ceiling.  I still think that it looks a hundred times better than the bare wood, but you can see the glue drips, staples, the grain of the particle board, etc.  However, I was right about the way it would brighten the space.  Oh my goodness the difference it made is truly amazing.




 Here is the After of what is going to be the Game Room




And the After of what will be Hubby's office




And this is my office after we moved the furniture for Day 2.  This is how it will stay until the floor is finished in the main area and Hubby's office.



Bright side: The ceiling only took us a day and a half and was really just a one person job.  Hubby did all of the spraying and I just played assistant running back and forth with fresh supplies and helping clean up in between coats (which was quite a chore) and entertaining munchkins.  It would have been a one day project if we hadn't left so much junk down there that needed to be worked around.

We really came across no surprises during the process.  Expect to do some prep work, get messy, and to spend more time cleaning your sprayer than you spent actually spraying.  Otherwise there isn't much to it.

We also stayed exactly on our original estimate of $500 - we did end up needing two more gallons of primer, but we were able to return two gallons of unused paint so the cost came out exactly even.  In the end we used 9 gallons of primer, which applied two thin coats.  And less than 5 gallons of paint which applied one coat.  There was a little bit of uneveness in the coverage, but afterall, its a ceiling and with that uneven surface it's going to throw so many shadows that those uneven spots will just blend in anyway.  And because it brightened up the space so much, I really feel like its a winner.

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