April 2, 2012

Basement Update: Lazy Guide to Painting Drop Ceilings

I think I am the least glamorous blogger.  Other folks are doing major renovations with fabulous finishes and I'm trying to make a silk purse from a sow's ear.  A sow's ear with drop ceilings.

I hate drop ceilings.  But they are convenient and, with our goal of giving the basement a makeover for as little coin as possible (I'm talking pennies), drop ceilings and I have to learn to love each other.  Sadly, ours looked awfully shabby, so I decided they'd get a lick of paint.  I opted for the same colour as the walls, so the ceilings won't "pop" and the basement will look cozy and warm.  Plus, I'm not going to lie, I'm too lazy to cut in neatly.  Full disclosure: I'm still mid-task (because this task will never end), but I developed a little trick I thought I'd share.

We tried removing the ceiling tiles, but ours only move side to side (to access pipes, etc) so taking them down would have required dismantling some of the framework (too much work).  After much cursing, tugging and general wriggling, we gave up.  Next idea.  I tried painting them in place, like a plain 'ole ceiling.  The paint made the tiles stick to the frame and when they shifted a bit, I had weird cracks and peeling paint.  Arrgh.  More swearing.  Next idea.  With Hubby building walls and a nice, not-drop ceiling in the next room, I eyes some of his furring strips and we came up with this solution:
  1. Prop up a few ceiling tiles with furring strips
  2. Using a large paintbrush, paint the edges and the frame holding the tiles
  3. Once paint is dry, drop the tile back
  4. Using a roller, apply paint to the middle of the tile
  5. Congratulate yourself with a Guinness, for outsmarting a ceiling



Success!  It works pretty well, although I can only do about 6 tiles at a time - unless we were to splurge on some extra furring strips.  I'm up against the clock because Hubs needs those furring strips soon, so I better get cracking.  But I'm loving the painted ceiling because it blends it.  Yup, this makeover is all about concealing, masking and drawing the eye away from the uglies. 


P.S. We're using blue wood for the laundry room (more on that later) and the colour is so gorgeous.  I'm thinking that the laundry room, which will be the same shade of taupe, with some black & white textiles, will look cool with a deep turquoise floor.  Maybe?  Maybe not.  I just think the furring strips look so cool against the taupe.  Plus, you know I love me some turquoise.  

18 comments:

  1. This is a DIY I can get behind. I too am dealing with a plethora of "sow's ears". Brilliant job, it looks so much better. Have another pint :)

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    1. Happy to hear I'm not the only one with sow's ears! Thanks for your kind words. Is 2pm too early to crack a beer?

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  2. Good idea. Looks a lot better painted and hopefully it will all just blend together and we can focus on the fabulous art you put down there- I know it's coming.

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    1. You should buy a lotto ticket because you must be psychic! Art is my cure for every space and I am planning some cool DIY art projects and accessories for the basement.

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  3. It's the not so glamorous part of the renovation process but it needs to be done so all the pretty things can shine!!

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  4. Quick, easy and affordable solutions are the best kind in my book. That's your DIY'ers ingenuity at work there with the furring strips. :)

    As for feeling un-glamorous, you're not alone. I feel like lately all I have to blog about is "ooh I raked some leaves" while everyone else is being decidedly exciting with furniture refurbs and extensive renovations.

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    1. Thanks! Hey, those leaves won't rake themselves, right? I've given up on gardening because the condo's lawn mowers just demolish any of my half-baked efforts so I'll be blogging about sodding soon. Oooo, fancy-pants. Tanya will be getting a few new strips of lawn.

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  5. Yes! That totally works. Blends in nicely!! We had a drop ceiling on our MAIN level!!! Seriously, who in their right mind thinks that a drop ceiling for the powder room, that EVERY GUEST coming into our home uses, is okay?!! Can you tell I feel strongly about it. Basements, totally normal, main level, not so much. ;)

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    1. What an interesting choice for a main floor! Do you ever just scratch your head and wonder what previous owners were thinking? Someone who lived here once installed paneling, then filled, primed and wallpapered it!! Simple drywall would have been cheaper, prettier and more durable. What were they thinking?!?

      Oh yes, I can get a little lathered up, too, when it comes to home stuff.

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  6. The turquoise is definetely a nice contrast with the neutral wall color. You did such an awesome job :)

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    1. I'm glad you think it looks nice! How nutty will I look walking into a paint store with a scrap of this mold resistant wood to match too???

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  7. Great technique! Love how you came up with this...from the sounds of it this project would have driven me bonkers. Well done!

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  8. Thanks for the tips. I was doing a google search of painted drop ceilings and found your blog. I have an ugly drop ceiling in my living room that is driving me nuts! I thnik that I am gonna go for it- as soon as my husband goes on day shift. Have a great weekend!

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    1. Ooo, fabulous! Well, I can say my ceiling took the paint really well. I used a primer + paint in one and my quirky method worked pretty well. Good luck with your ceiling. I'd love to see photos when you're done!

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  9. isn't it just as easy to take out all the tiles and paint them rather than the prop all of them up with ferring strips

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    1. Ha! I wish! In the post I mention that the way they were installed by the former owners, they didn't come out. There was only room to move them up or over a teeny bit, not enough to slide to them out. It's a tight, tight fit. The only way to take them down would have been to dismantle the whole thing. I am betting $20 these were installed strangely like everything else the former owners did. But, this little trick was fabulous for us and got the job done. And we had bought the wood for another project anyway!

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  10. OK, I'll try to just post this one time and not delete it. I just wanted to thank you for posting about this and providing pictures because I would have never envisioned what you were talking about with the ferring pieces:). I have a similar situation in my kitchen (gasp) which makes it look like an old office building. It's horrendous, and with the musty dirty age color, I cringe when I have to look at it. I've tried to move them, and like you, can't figure out how they put them in as they don't just slide out. After countless hours spent searching online and talking with people at the big box stores on options for this nasty eyesore, I felt defeated. I didn't want to spend a fortune dealing with this thing, and every other site goes on and on about how you have to take them out individually and paint them. Well, I am here to say, you are a genius and I can't thank you enough for posting about this!

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    1. I'm so happy to help!! I had the same experience: everyone said just pop them out, but only one or two have room to slide out. They are installed so close to the ceiling, there's no wiggle room (and that's an official term, lol). Ours were built so they are permanent. They can slide over for repairs and whatnot, but not out! Happy painting! They will look a million times better with a coat of paint.

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