Styling an Exposed Basement Ceiling

Your ceilings are possibly one of the most underrated steps in your renovation process. Throughout the rest of your home, you aren’t walking around looking at your ceilings all day. If you did, you may trip and hurt yourself, so we would strongly advise against it. Nevertheless, when looking at each room as a whole outside of your basement, your ceilings are seen more as part of a whole room as opposed to a vital part on their own.

This is because in your main floor and upstairs rooms, your ceilings play a part in perception of space and lighting. The remainder of that can be modified with windows, additional lighting, and the arrangement of your furniture. In your basement, one of the best ways to elevate the look and improve your overall perception of the space lies above your head.

Types of Basement Ceilings


Enclosed ceilings are the typical ceilings that you find when you are looking throughout your home. All of your support beams and any additional wiring is hidden by building materials. You look up and see either a solid canvas or something a bit more creative. You can also experiment with textures and lighting depending on how you would like your ceiling fans to look.

  • Tile

A tiled ceiling is one of the easiest ways to incorporate decorative elements into your basement. You could go the traditional route and stick with the shades of white and toupe tiles, OR you could try something a little differently. Tiles are a great way to examine different patterns, textures, colors, and overall design elements. It is also a way to get that “luxe look for less.” There are plenty of marble-looking tiles that could be an option for your basement ceilings (or floors) for that matter.

  • Acoustic Tin:

Tin ceilings were made famous by old-school pubs. Their reflective surfaces helped with transmitting that dim lighting. This allows for vibes to be set for relaxation  and possibly connections. This could be a great option for those that are looking to create a downstairs bar or entertainment space for friends and family.

Tin ceilings are also good for adding texture to your space without the monochromatic nature of common sheetrock ceilings. In those classic pubs, you would normally see really ornate patterns on those ceilings. Some of them were embossed and raised. It allowed for the creation of an intimate space as well as additional character to your space.


Exposed ceilings are those where you look up and see support beams, rafters, and pipes. These were definitely popularized in the industrial or modern-industrial design aesthetic. It provided that edgy minimalist look. Commonly the perception of spaces with exposed ceilings are dim to no lighting and even darker aesthetics. However, with the right choices, your space can be as well-lit, warm, and welcoming as you would like.

You can incorporate different elements into your exposed ceilings that would express your creativity and transform your space into something you would want to regularly inhabit.

Pros and Cons of Exposed Ceilings vs. Enclosed Ceilings in a Finished Basement

Enclosed Ceilings

  • Pros
  1. Incorporation of design elements such as patterns and textures
  2. Energy efficient
  3. Creates uniformity within your whole house
  • Cons
  1. Can seem boring and too traditional
  2. Often includes lowering the ceiling and decreasing the overall height of the room
  3. Makes the space feel cramped and smaller

Exposed Ceilings

  • Pros
  1. Makes the space look larger and less cramped
  2. Adds elements of modernism to the space
  3. Great for Industrial design
  4. Adds levels to your vertical space
  • Cons
  1. Potentially less energy efficient
  2. Wiring concerns (exposed wires)
  3. Plumbing concerns (exposed pipes)
  4. Insulation concerns

What to Do with Your Exposed Basement Ceilings

If you are looking for an exposed basement ceiling for your finished basement, you definitely have options when it comes to making your space feel cohesive.

  1. Paint your pipes and beams: This would be an amazing way to incorporate color and light into your space. Brighter colors will brighten up the space and make the space appear even larger. Also, the contrast of the bright colors with the colors of the exposed ceiling will also add a nice design element to your space.
  2. Lighting: With an exposed ceiling you now have more opportunities to experiment with different lighting sources. You can use different types of lights and ceiling fans that would complement your aesthetic with no problem.
  3. Seasonal decor: you should feel free to create your own winter wonderland during the holidays. You could easily hang holiday lights, ornaments, and many other things from your support beams to transform your ceiling into whatever fantasy you are imagining. Even if you are celebrating your favorite sports team (University or Michigan vs. Michigan State…you decide.), you can hang banners and many other ornaments to let everyone that enters the spac know who you are rooting for!

Fun Fact: Basements Plus has great options for your finished basements ceilings including our Suspended Ceilings and Painted Joist ceilings that provide a great solution for you regardless if you desire an exposed ceiling or a enclosed ceiling, or if you are torn between the two.

Styling An Exposed Basement Ceiling

  • Rustic

Exposed ceilings are great for the rustic design, due to the vintage elements that come along with it. You could create a space that looks more similar to a wine cellar or an underground bar and enjoy a nice glass of your favorite beverage.

  • Industrial

The industrial design aesthetic was derived from the industrial era with the rise of factories and other buildings like this. These buildings were known for having exposed walls and ceilings.

  • Modern

When it comes to the modern interior design, less is always more. Those intricate ceilings do not go as smoothly with the modern interior design as well as the exposed ceiling does. When done properly, the exposed ceiling allows for cleaner, sleeker aesthetic while still maintaining interest.

  • Farmhouse

If you are looking for the warm, welcoming vibe that comes with a farmhouse interior design, exposed ceilings work well here also. You can feel fully inspired by older farmhouses and even barns with your new exposed ceilings. It will give you the height you need to contrast the slightly cluttered feeling that many farmhouse designs give while brighter painting on the beams and pipes will bring in the light you need to make it all work.

Regardless of if you decide to go with an enclosed or an exposed finished basement ceiling, Basements Plus is here to help you make it happen. When you are ready, feel free to contact one of our consultants TODAY to discuss how to turn your unfinished basement into one of the favorite spaces in your home.

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