A drop ceiling costs about the same if not more than a drywall ceiling. I'll tell you exactly why in just a minute.
When I was figuring out how to finish a basement I thought to myself "Self… should we save money and drywall the basement ceiling on our own?" Then I imagined the difficulty of recruiting my lazy friends to help me drywall the ceiling.
Then I thought "drop ceiling!" that's the answer. Cheaper, easy to do by yourself. The only problem...it screams BASEMENT!".
I did some research and pondered it for about 3 weeks.
That's the kind of guy I am. I get an idea, then I stew on it for a spell. I'm real old fashion that way. My wife thinks I should have been born in the 1820s.
After all that pondering I decided not to go with a drop ceiling also known as a suspended ceiling. Here are the reasons why I
think know that you shouldn't either.
Cost of a Drop Ceiling
If you're thinking of going with a drop ceiling to save money… think again. The savings are slim to none. If you're hiring a drywall crew to do the walls anyway (which I highly recommend) then it's not a much more to have them do the ceiling as well.
In newer houses especially, a drywall ceiling is about the same or cheaper compared to a suspended ceiling. Why?
Because the real cost of drywalling a ceiling in a basement deals is in framing around the pipes and wires that were installed below the joists. In almost any new house in the last 10-15 years all pipes and wiring are installed above the bottom of the joist - there's almost no additional framing needed to accommodate drywall.
Basement Head Room with a Drop Ceiling
Look here basement friends. I'm a 6 foot 3 inch giant of a man. I do not like hitting my head on a ceiling or feeling claustrophobic.
With a drop ceiling you're going to lose 4-5 inches of room height. In a finished basement that is a ton!
You are probably already dealing with a low ceiling it's not a good idea to make it even lower.
Yeah, but What About Access
So as I was doing my research for this article I ran across a common reason people give for installing a drop ceiling. Access. Easy access to the pipes, wires, etc.
It's true. A drop ceiling provides easy access. Honestly though, how often are you going to need access? And what for? A leaky pipe? The other floors in your house have the same pipes and wires and you don't see people installing drop ceilings in their house?
Drywall is not that hard to cut out and replace. It's done all the time. Easy access is not enough of the reason to deal with the drawbacks.
3 Reasons for Not Installing a Drop-Ceiling
#1 They're Ugly and Weird - You will deflate the value of your house
Several real estate agents I spoke to said that a drop ceiling will negate some of the home equity you'll gain by finishing your basement. People want the basement to feel like the rest of the house. They don't want some bastard room in their house. (excuse my language, I've been watching a lot of Downton Abbey "bastard child" is their favorite phrase)
#2 A Saggy Ceiling
Sagging ceilings, yup, that's just awesome. Especially in the basement where there's a tendency to have additional moisture in the air. The tile absorbs that moisture and begins to get weighted down. Armstrong now sells drop ceiling tiles with "Humiguard" to try and prevent that problem… which tells me it really is a problem.
#3 Not That Easy to Install
I know they tell you it's easy but it's still a fairly big project to tackle. The biggest issue I read about was leveling. If you don't get it level the whole look is off and you may not notice it until you're done and someone points it out. At the very least you need to buy and know how to use a laser level. (If you decide drop ceiling is for you, here's a very good and inexpensive laser level)
4 Reasons FOR a Drop Ceiling
#1 You Want A Really Cool Looking Ceiling.
Let's say you wanted a really cool tin or paneled ceiling look. Newer drop ceiling panel styles offer a lot more variety than the old white square blocks we grew up with.
But… could you just as easily buy that same finished panel without a drop-ceiling? You don't need the drop ceiling and it's drawbacks to get the same look.
Here's a great Pinterest page dedicated to ceilings - great ideas!
#2 Noise Suppression.
You need a lot of noise suppression for a movie room or recording studio. OK, now we're talking a real reason. Drop ceilings do help a lot with dampening noise. It's something to consider.
#3 Ceiling Mohawk
You're not installing drywall on the walls but you still want a ceiling. If this is you, email me, I want to know under what circumstance this style decision is occurring.
#4 Grandpa's General Comfort.
Your Grandpa had a drop ceiling and he'd feel more at home if you had one. 'Nuff said. Grandpa's are awesome!
Alright, I give. For some people a drop ceiling (aka suspended ceiling if we're going to be respectful) IS THE RIGHT CHOICE. And for more than the 4 reasons above. If you're thinking it may be the right choice for you click here to read Adam's article on why he loves his suspended ceiling.
And another bonus - he wrote all about how to install a drop ceiling, click through to read that.
Final Thought On Drop Ceilings
My recommendation is to drywall your ceiling. I don't recommend installing a drop-ceiling. Primarily because of the look. It just doesn't look as good because it doesn't match the rest of your house.
If you insist AND you promise to go with a newer design... then I guess we can still be friends. If you go with the old outdated white panels... I can no longer associate with you. You are dead to me.
Hey, I'm a fair minded 21st century man - if there IS a good reason to go with a drop-ceiling and I haven't covered it here - shout at me in ALL CAPS in the comment box below.
If you want a bunch more information just like this article plus my entire basement story, basement design files and more - check out the ebook (over 1,237 people already have)
Cheers - Jason
More Drop Ceiling Links:
- Read Adam's article on why you SHOULD chose a drop ceiling
- Here's Adam's article on how to install a drop ceiling
- Good forum discussion on drywall vs drop ceiling
Great discussion on pricing if you do go with a drop ceiling
- A video about suspended ceilings from AsktheDecorator.com