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Basement Ceiling Inserts

  • January 14, 2017

by9238il
by9238il
by9238il
by9238il

We have lived in our house for over 35 years, and over the last 15 or so, I have been working to make our basement in our 2-bedroom house a usable area for our growing family. It used to flood, so once the over-head sewers removed this problem, I began by tiling the floor, dry walling the walls, and finishing the ceiling. This last task was the most challenging. Originally a tacked-up tile made the ceiling seem lower than the 7' it was, so I removed it and solved the problem by designing frames that fit between flush to the bottom of the joists, with hidden pins (finish nails cut short) that held each frame within the joists so they could be slid into the spaces between the joists. This made the job incredibly difficult; our 77 year old house joists were each slightly different in width from each other (even from end to end), necessitating my carefully cutting the 2x4 frames to exacting dimensions. As you can see from the accompanying photo's, the frames held interlocking 1/8" x 36" x 3/4" cross pieces, notched 3" apart and assembled egg-crate style to form a grid within each frame. I wired the ceiling with 18- 60 watt CFL lights (luckily these low-wattage lights became available right as I was finishing up!) that fit from the above floor between the joists. The grid system softens the lighting, yet hides the glare and creates a warm atmosphere for living in the space. I originally began the project in a run-down, leaning, dirt floored garage, cutting the frames from 2"x4" boards using a circular saw hung from my portable work bench! I was surprised by how accurately I could cut with this setup, but several years into the project was able to upgrade to a nice 10" table saw. We love the ceiling, and love the space we now have in our small house. Unfortunately, much of the space filled up quickly with toys and stored items once our daughter was born, and to this day I'm constantly working to remedy this. I'm not sure which was more difficult, building and installing the ceiling or constantly monitoring the junk buildup?! I'd like to think one day I will realize my 'man-cave', but at 73 am realistic! With each project I undertake, I love the learning process, and have been able to add to my tool collection. Often, as in this project, I spend an inordinant amount of time building and rebuilding prototypes, but I love it- anything I can do to work with wood is heaven to me- I hope there is a workshop up there! I'm retired now, and with my 35+ years of teaching animation, feel that's where I acquired my patience! I love the line of new Ryobi tools coming out and can't wait to put them to good use.

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Comments (4)



  • You did a nice job, different and classic.
    By Galicia2, on January 16, 2017

  • This really does look incredible! Your attention to detail and patience really paid off.
    By RYOBI Nation, on January 17, 2017

  • very nice and thank you for the idea I'm finishing my basement as well its all complete except the ceiling I just had no clue what to do like you said low ceiling mine 1s 7,4 inches I don't want to lower it so thank you for the idea I will be doing something like yours, very impressive and great job,
    By tommyhitech, on April 4, 2017

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Basement Ceiling Inserts

by by9238il
Jan 14, 2017

We have lived in our house for over 35 years, and over the last 15 or so, I have been working to make our basement in our 2-bedroom house a usable area for our growing family. It used to flood, so once the over-head sewers removed this problem, I began by tiling the floor, dry walling the walls, and finishing the ceiling. This last task was the most challenging. Originally a tacked-up tile made the ceiling seem lower than the 7' it was, so I removed it and solved the problem by designing frames that fit between flush to the bottom of the joists, with hidden pins (finish nails cut short) that held each frame within the joists so they could be slid into the spaces between the joists. This made the job incredibly difficult; our 77 year old house joists were each slightly different in width from each other (even from end to end), necessitating my carefully cutting the 2x4 frames to exacting dimensions. As you can see from the accompanying photo's, the frames held interlocking 1/8" x 36" x 3/4" cross pieces, notched 3" apart and assembled egg-crate style to form a grid within each frame. I wired the ceiling with 18- 60 watt CFL lights (luckily these low-wattage lights became available right as I was finishing up!) that fit from the above floor between the joists. The grid system softens the lighting, yet hides the glare and creates a warm atmosphere for living in the space. I originally began the project in a run-down, leaning, dirt floored garage, cutting the frames from 2"x4" boards using a circular saw hung from my portable work bench! I was surprised by how accurately I could cut with this setup, but several years into the project was able to upgrade to a nice 10" table saw. We love the ceiling, and love the space we now have in our small house. Unfortunately, much of the space filled up quickly with toys and stored items once our daughter was born, and to this day I'm constantly working to remedy this. I'm not sure which was more difficult, building and installing the ceiling or constantly monitoring the junk buildup?! I'd like to think one day I will realize my 'man-cave', but at 73 am realistic! With each project I undertake, I love the learning process, and have been able to add to my tool collection. Often, as in this project, I spend an inordinant amount of time building and rebuilding prototypes, but I love it- anything I can do to work with wood is heaven to me- I hope there is a workshop up there! I'm retired now, and with my 35+ years of teaching animation, feel that's where I acquired my patience! I love the line of new Ryobi tools coming out and can't wait to put them to good use.