Basement Ceiling - Take Out Old Popcorn Ceiling & Expose Rafters?

6 Replies

I own a 3-plex, which was converted from a large, old home (built in 1910, converted in the 1990's). The basement unit felt like a cave when I bought the place. Walls were brown, carpet was brown, and the ceiling is quite low.  It's a finished ceiling with popcorn over drywall, and it doesn't appear to be done very well.  You can see some discoloration and uneven spots.  Additionally, the ceiling fan hangs so low that I can almost hit my head on it.  

I've already removed the carpet and painted the walls white to brighten the space.  Now the ceiling looks dingy against the bright walls, and it feels very low.  I'm considering removing the ceiling to expose the rafters/ducts/pipes/wiring.  The plan would be to paint it all a single color.  This would also give the opportunity to replace low light fixtures with higher can lights.  I want to make it feel like a higher, more spacious area.

  1. What should I look out for in this process?  Potential pitfalls?
  2. What color should I paint the rafters/ducts/etc?  If the walls are bright white, would a dark ceiling make sense?
  3. Would I need to re-run the wires, if they are crossing the main part of the ceiling?
  4. Thoughts on flooring?

Thanks for the advice!

**First photo is from the original listing - The walls were MUCH darker than they appear.  First tenants also trashed the carpet, so it needed to be removed.

My first thought would be doing something to put a sound barrier between that unit and the unit above. This will cut into your overhead space, but would contribute toward the "peacefulness" of both units and make for happier (longer staying) tenants.

Originally posted by @Cathy T. :

My first thought would be doing something to put a sound barrier between that unit and the unit above. This will cut into your overhead space, but would contribute toward the "peacefulness" of both units and make for happier (longer staying) tenants.

Solid point about the noise barrier.  The floor above is old hardwood flooring, so I doubt it would do much to insulate noise.  The popcorn does a good job of that.

Given the age, I'd worry about asbestos in the popcorn ceiling. it is fine if left alone.  You could always remove the popcorn and have a smooth skim coat put on the drywall.  Open rafters will allow more sound to come through and you won't gain any ceiling height by removing the drywall.  If you keep the popcorn ceiling, a coat of ceiling paint will do wonders to lighten it up.

Position the ceiling fan so it is over a table and you won't have to worry about banging your head.

Originally posted by @Scott Mac :

Hi Jessie,

Maybe think about having an Asbestos test for the popcorn ceiling, drywall and the joint tape.

Good  Luck!

Thanks Scott.  I doubt there would be asbestos, since this ceiling was installed in the 90's, but always worth a test.

Originally posted by @Theresa Harris :

Open rafters will allow more sound to come through and you won't gain any ceiling height by removing the drywall.  If you keep the popcorn ceiling, a coat of ceiling paint will do wonders to lighten it up.

Position the ceiling fan so it is over a table and you won't have to worry about banging your head.

You're right, the actual ceiling height wouldn't change by more than the thickness of the drywall, but it feels more tall and open with the space between the rafters.  That and moving the lights up create the illusion of more space.

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