Asked on Dec 07, 2014

Basement ceiling cover-up

by Stephanie
We live in a rented duplex, so we can't really do permanent upgrades. However, we would like to do something with the basement "ceiling". Actually there is no ceiling---just bare wood, ductwork and wires. We have some furniture (you know--the old stuff!) down there, and we would like to make it our crafting area (sewing, scrapbooking, floral, etc). Does anyone have an idea of how to make it look more "homey"? It's just basic like in this picture.
  24 answers
  • Shira Shira on Dec 07, 2014
    Hi Stephanie, would you be able to post a picture of the ceiling so that we can best advise you, thanks!
  • Divine Interiors Divine Interiors on Dec 07, 2014
    Without seeing your ceiling, may I suggest using burlap and nail it on the ceiling wood beams. You can pull it tight or if patient create a wavy pattern. You can also choose to use canvas material, outdoor material for the durability. and when you move, you can take it down. I hope this helps.
  • Lisa Weisedel Lisa Weisedel on Dec 07, 2014
    You should ask your landlord if he would mind if you painted all the ceiling wood white...would give the effect of a ceiling and "raise" it up because it would be lighter.
  • Dee Dee on Dec 08, 2014
    I was going to say painters drop cloths but i like the burlap thing better,only i would use tacks and not nails.
  • MarineMom MarineMom on Dec 08, 2014
    I, too, would use fabric tacked to the beams. you might consider a slight draping between each beam to add interest.
  • Adrianne C Adrianne C on Dec 08, 2014
    You could paint it black, tends to draw the eye elsewhere and appears taller.
  • Stephanie Stephanie on Dec 08, 2014
    Thank you all for you great ideas!
  • Samantha Pulliam Samantha Pulliam on Jun 07, 2015
    I agree with Adrianne C, I'd paint it black. I've seen several basement/garage ceilings on there painted black and the designers also said as she did, that the black ceilings actually make the rooms appear larger. Your landlord may be more likely to go for black as well since it doesn't start looking dirty nearly as quickly as black so it'd be low maintenance. Please post pics with your finished work! : )
  • Wanda Arganbright Wanda Arganbright on Jun 07, 2015
    Since it's a rental, I would not spend a lot of $ on it. I would go to the local thrift store and buy some flat sheets that are appealing and staple them up. It would liven it up for a crafting area.
  • B. Enne B. Enne on Jun 10, 2015
    Spray paint everything white or black (if you are allowed to paint wires and pipes)--make sure to turn off gas flames 1st.
  • Marylou Murdock Marylou Murdock on Oct 04, 2015
    I would get paint sheets that you cover things with make a design on them or leave them white whatever you like then hang them up on the rafters covering wires and duct work.
  • Denise Boyce Denise Boyce on Oct 04, 2015
    Go to the dollar store and get flat sheets in a color you like then staple then on. Or even those cheap woven beach mats, it's the end of the season and they'll be on clearance and come in great colors.
  • Lisa love Lisa love on Oct 05, 2015
    I like her beach mat idea too but if you could paint it that would look good too
  • Mark Mark on Apr 24, 2017

    I am debating what I am going to do to my basement, Just before I bought my house I practiced on the one I rented, the basement walls all were white so I painted them brick red and took a 1/2" brush and painted the mortar with light gray to give it a "brick" effect that really looked good especially at Christmas, and my coffee bar was a wooden workbench I got from a building supply that I covered with polyurethane until it shined, as for the ceiling I'm thinking of duplicating a bar I saw back in the 70's it was in the basement of an office building called the "Boiler Room" they painted the ceiling flat black and all of the pipes with florescent colors and lit the place up with a black light, I'm tempted to do that just to bring back memories. or I might polish all of the copper pipes valves and meter til it shines, while painting all of the iron pipe and PVC in Flat black, it's a simple theory "If you can't hide it make it a decoration". I am also leaning toward an office with the "Sam Spade" look with the antiques I have collected (roll top desk,1940's desk phone,file cabinet with real brass hardware, Grandfather clock with a Nixie tube display ("Steam punk" or "Dr. Who" style) that I built and a 1935 sears Silvertone shortwave radio I haven't fixed yet amongst other things.

    anyway these ideas might not fit your taste but then again they might give you hints in the right direction, since you are renting avoid doing anything you can't undo.

  • Marlene Millard Marlene Millard on Apr 01, 2018

    Using an electric stapler, (stapling every inch) along rafter I first covered rafters with flame retardant plastic sheeting from Menards. Then over that, I stapled large canvas sheets (used for painting) that I got from Harbor Freight. It's been up 3 years and not one staple has loosened, all holding tight. It looks awesome and not difficult at all, I had fun doing it all by myself!

  • Marlene Millard Marlene Millard on May 04, 2018


    Sorry, I'm learning to navigate and just found your post!

  • Staple curtains up from the joists.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Nov 26, 2023

    Board it in between rafters and decorate to taste or just Paint as is!

  • If you’re allowed, I too would paint it black. Make sure you get that agreement in writing with clear terms. Otherwise I might tack sheer fabric or other fabric up, maybe even in black, artfully with an intentional look.

  • Deanna Maidwell Deanna Maidwell on Feb 22, 2024

    they have rolls of reed roofing at Home Depot for $30 for fifty feet… I would use either that or burlap whichever is cheaper, staple, add trim if you want to make it look like ceiling panels… or I saw other posts about making removable panels, that seems to cost more, but they added wider pieces of trim on each rafter/joist and then added pieces between each rafter/joist, they just lay in place so if you need to get to anything above, you can… I’m working on a small studio apartment for my son and we’re using the reed roll and trim, I was going to use fabric, but I want something that won’t collect dust as much and that is more durable and since the reed rolls are made for outside, that seems more durable…

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Feb 22, 2024

    You can staple material to the beams if you just want to hide them. Check with the landlord and see if he is okay for you to paint the beams as well or stain them. It will help everything to blend in.

  • Janice Janice on Feb 22, 2024

    Just staple canvas drop cloths to the rafters (or any other fabric you like). Then you can take it down when you move.

  • Dee Dee on Feb 24, 2024

    I would go to the thrift store and get a sheet or a quilt and staple it to the rafters. Painters drop cloths would work well also because they are hemmed on all 4 sides