How To Lower A Basement Ceiling? (Step-By-Step!)

Lowering a basement ceiling isn’t as impossible as it sounds. In most cases, it requires basic woodworking skills, but it’s generally not so difficult to achieve.

There’s only one way to lower a basement ceiling, and it’s through the installation of a suspended ceiling, this type of ceiling can also be referred to as a drop ceiling.

High ceilings typically make rooms feel cavernous and imposing, so lowering the ceilings in these spaces isn’t an uncommon practice.

The only instance where lowering a high ceiling isn’t advisable is when there are tall windows in the room or area you’d like to carry out the project.

If you’re not too comfortable with lowering the ceiling of your basement or any other room in your home, you can do a few design tricks to give a room a low ceiling effect.

Keep reading to find out what these tricks are and how to lower a basement ceiling.

 How Do You Lower an Existing Ceiling?

As suggested in the previous points, you can lower an existing ceiling by installing a suspended ceiling. The process entails constructing a grid system of runners and installing ceiling covers.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to lower the ceiling in a basement or any other room in your home.

Step #1: Measure 3-4 inches from Your Existing Ceiling

Using a retractable measuring tape, measure 3-4 inches away from your existing ceiling and mark the spot with a pencil. The spot you mark is where your drop ceiling will be installed.

You can have as low as 1 inch of clearance and as high as 5 inches of clearance; the number of inches depends on how high your existing ceiling is.

If your existing ceiling is covered with tiles, panels, or drywall, you’re going to have to take out the covers.

 Step #2: Make a Straight Line from the Markings You Made

Locate the spots you marked, 3-4 inches away from your ceiling, and mount a regular laser level on your wall. Make sure you align the laser to the markings.

Use a pencil or marker to mark the top and bottom of the laser level so that if it falls or moves, you can place it back at the right spot with ease.

Step #3: Get Your Wall Angles and Cut Them to The Size of Your Walls

Wall angles can be found in almost any home depot store. These building materials are L-shaped and are used to support runners and ceiling covers.

Grab a pair of tin snips and use them to cut long wall angles to the size of your wall. If your wall angels are shorter than your walls, simply add another angle to the end of a shorter one.

You can also achieve a mitered joint with your wall angles by using tin snips to cut a 45 ° angle close to the end of the wall angle and bending the material into an L shape.

Step #4: Find the Studs in Your Wall and Screw the Wall Angles in

 Take your stud finder and run it across the top of your wall where you have the laser till it locates a stud. Mark the spots it locates with a pencil or chalk.

Once you have done the above, place the top of your wall angles on the red line from your laser level and screw it into the studs with an electric screwdriver. Ensure that you put a screw in every stud.

Assess all the wall angles you screwed in to make sure they are well-placed, then proceed to set up the grid system for your ceiling.

Step #5: Ensure that Your Runner or Tracks Are the Perfect Fit  

Your runners or tracks should be able to fit the span of your room perpendicular to the wooden ceiling joists.

So, if your tracks are too long, you must cut them to size with a pair of tin snips. You can use the clips at the end of a track to extend its length if the room is longer than the material.

Step #6: Measure the Amount of Space You Want Between Your Grids

The amount of space you can have between your grids depends on the size of your ceiling. For small spaces, you can measure 2 ft between your grids and 4 ft for larger spaces.

Make sure you leave a uniform amount of space between your grids. You can use chalk or a marker to mark the intervals so that you can easily install the grids.

Tying strings across the span of your ceiling is also a great alternative to marking specific areas with chalk or a marker.

Step #7: Screw Eyelets into Your Joist and Install Your Wires

Using an electric screwdriver with a lag bit attached to it, screw an eyelet into every 2 to 4 ft of your ceiling joist.

After you’re done screwing in the eyelets, get your 16-gauge wires and cut 8 to 10-inch-long pieces for each of your eyelets.

Pass 2 to 3 inches of the cut wires through your eyelets and use a pair of pliers to bend them until they are pointing downwards.

Step #8: Install the Main Tracks or Runners

With the wires you put in place, hang up a main track or runner by holding it up and fixing it into a wall angle, then pass the unbent part of the wire you previously installed through the track or runner.

Once you do the above, grab your pliers and bend the wire you passed through the runner upwards, secure the wire by bending it repeatedly, then proceed to install other tracks.

Inspect all the main tracks you hang up to make sure that they are level before proceeding to install secondary runners.

Step #9: Clip-On Your Secondary Tracks or Runners

Secondary tracks go into slots that can be found every 2 ft of the main runners. Subordinate tracks should be installed perpendicular to the main tracks.

You’d have to feed your secondary runners from above the main runner to install them properly.

Step #10: Hang or Install Your Ceiling Tiles

Get your ceiling tiles and proceed to make holes in them for any ductwork you might have or lighting fixtures.

If you do not have any ductwork and plan on using fluorescent panels, you don’t have to cut any holes in your tiles.

Cut your flange of every one of your tiles to the size of your ceiling grid, then proceed to install the ceiling tiles.

What is the Minimum Height for a Basement Ceiling?

Building codes vary from state to state, so there are slight variances in the specification of

The minimum ceiling height for a basement, but generally, the minimum height is around 7 feet.

To get the exact minimum height for your basement ceiling, you must determine what you’d like to use your basement space for and go through the building code of your region.

For instance, if you do not plan for anyone to inhabit your basement, perhaps you’d like to use it as a storage room. The recommended minimum height for this is 6’8″ or 6 feet 8 inches.

If you have contrary plans to the ones specified above, the recommended minimum height is 7 feet.

When measuring your basement, keep in mind that obstructions like plumbing, beams, and ductwork can reduce or lower the functional height from your flooring to your ceiling.

If your basement ceiling is quite high and you do not like the idea of installing a suspended ceiling, here are a couple of things you can do to make the area look less imposing.

  • Avoid using long curtains in your basement.
  • Paint a stripe of another shade of paint at the bottom of your basement walls.
  • Furnish your basement with tall or high pieces of furniture.
  • Use large pictures to create a low-ceiling effect.
  • Install lamps instead of fluorescent panels and studio lights.

Final Thoughts

Rooms with lower ceilings have better acoustics and heat up faster, so it is safe to say that lowering a room’s ceiling comes with a lot more benefits than a smaller and cozier space.

This article is just what you need if you’re looking for a concise guide on how to lower your basement ceiling or any other ceiling in your home.

You can check out our other articles if you need help navigating other DIY projects.