If you are fortunate to have a basement in your house, you know the additional space can be very useful. Whether you use it as a game room, home office, or for additional living space, you want to ensure the space is aesthetically appealing and inviting. In addition to painting the walls, you can also paint the ceiling, regardless of whether it is a finished ceiling or an exposed ceiling.

You may be wondering what color to paint the basement ceiling so that the room is not too dark or does not feel too cramped. In this article we will provide recommendations on basement paint colors. Painting the ceiling can turn a drab basement into a bright space that people actually want to use.


Best Colors to Paint Basement Ceilings

As you weigh your options for the color to paint your basement ceiling, the most common options are white, black, or gray. If you paint the basement’s ceiling white, the space will feel lighter with a more open, airy feel. Painting the ceiling black will give the space a more private feel. In addition, the dark paint will hide flaws in the ceiling. If you are torn between the two, gray paint may be a good middle ground compromise. Gray paint on the ceiling will provide a classic look that is more neutral.



Paint Basement Ceiling

Painting the ceiling white is a popular choice. It can make a room feel bright and inviting. It will also liven up the space in a trendy way.

If you have a small basement, painting the ceiling white is a good option. Doing so will make the space feel and appear bigger. You also get more light reflected in the room, so if your basement does not have much natural light, this will help with the visibility in the room.

Using white for the ceiling paint color can also contribute to the calming feel of the room. The white paint, especially if it has a slight tint of shading in it, can really make a room feel like a relaxing space that people want to hang out in.

Choosing white paint for the ceiling is the safest bet. If you are not sure if you will like the dramatic feel of painting the ceiling a bold color, opt to use white paint that is a shade or two darker than the color on your white walls. This will create some visual contrast in a more subtle way.

Keep in mind that you will likely need more coats of paint if you opt for a white ceiling. In addition, a special primer may be needed in order to prevent the ceiling from yellowing over time.



If you prefer a more modern look, painting your ceilings black may be the drastic statement you are looking for. Painting a basement ceiling black will hide flaws better than white paint and can give an older home a more sleek appearance.

If you pair the black ceilings with gray furnishings and flooring, you can enjoy a sleek, modern design. Other colors, such as the wall paint and the color of furnishings, will also pop more with this color combination. However, be aware that dust and cobwebs will be more visible against the dark colored paint.



Opting to paint your ceilings gray will create a more soothing or relaxing feel. If you are conflicted on what color to paint your basement ceiling, gray can be a nice compromise. Gray paint is available in a variety of shades, so you can use it to easily lighten up a dark basement.


Other Factors to Consider

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Whether you choose white, black, gray, or some other option, there are numerous factors to consider.


Basement Use

How you will use your basement should impact the color you paint the ceiling. If you will be working there, a lighter color may be more beneficial to help you concentrate and see better as it helps reflect more of the natural and artificial light in the room. If you use a bright light while working, painting the space white or a lighter color will help with the aesthetics.

Alternatively, if you want the basement to have a more private feeling, a darker hue of paint on the ceiling can help accomplish this. A basement with white walls and a darker color ceiling will create a strong contrast in appearance that can be eye-catching.

This is why it is important to consider how you envision using the space when selecting the paint colors. Something as seemingly simple as paint selection can really make a difference in the look and feel of a room.


Wall Color

The paint color used on the walls will impact the optimal ceiling color as well. Will you use the same or different colors?


Ceiling Color is the Same

If you choose a darker color for the ceiling, such as navy blue or black, it will probably be too overwhelming if the wall colors are the same.

Lighter paint colors will likely not have that same issue though. If you paint your walls a light gray or off white, having the ceiling painted the same color will not be as overwhelming as it would be when using a dark paint color.

Matching ceilings and wall paint colors will create a cozier feel in the space. If you want a more open look, lighter colors are better. Basements that have low ceilings or flat ceilings will have a more intimate feel if they are painted a darker color, but this can make the space feel cramped.


Ceiling Color is Different

If you opt to have the walls and ceiling painted different colors, painting the ceiling the darker color will result in a stark contrast between the walls and ceiling. This can create a dramatic difference that is visually appealing.

The color difference does not have to be drastic though. For example, you could paint the ceiling two or three shades darker than the wall color. The darker ceiling will create a more dramatic look, even if it is still in the same color family. This is especially the case if the walls are painted white.

If you want to update a dull basement and create a cozier space, paint the basement ceiling a darker hue. This will contrast against lighter color walls and give a totally different vibe than if the ceiling was painted the same or similar color as the walls.

If you choose to paint the ceiling lighter than the walls, the room will appear larger. If you have a low ceiling in the basement, this will also help open the room up. Keep this in mind if you have a small basement space and want to create a more open, bright space.



How much light comes into the basement will make a difference in the ceiling color selection as well. If there is a lot of natural light, a darker color ceiling may not be so bad. However, if there is not a lot of natural light, a lighter shade on the ceiling will help reflect the light and enhance the visibility in the basement.

A small basement can feel larger and more spacious by using light, bright colors. Because the lighter colors reflect light, the room will look bigger than it really is. If you use a color scheme such as white, cream, or gray, you will enjoy a space that feels larger. You can also opt for a color scheme such as blue or a light yellow to brighten up the space.

If you choose to use a light colored paint option, continue the theme by having light-colored flooring and decorations in the entire basement. In this way, the paint, decor, and furnishings will all work together to create a cohesive visual appearance.



When deciding how to paint a basement ceiling, it is also important to consider the furnishings that will be in the room. Using vibrant colored furnishings can help a room feel more spacious.

Because bright colors reflect light, a room can feel bigger based on the color of the decorations and furniture. Paler colors like white and cream really open up a space, as do colors like light yellow, blue, or gray.

Similarly, the color of the flooring can make a big difference in the feel of the space as well. Using light colored flooring, baseboards and molding that are a few shades lighter than the color of the basement walls, and light colored decor can really turn a drab basement into a place people want to hang out and use.

It is important that all of the design elements work together to create the look and feel you are aiming for in your basement. Keep all of these pieces in mind when making your paint decisions, especially when it comes to what color to paint the basement ceiling.


Finished vs. Unfinished Basement Ceilings

Many basement ceilings are finished, meaning that they have drop ceilings with drywall on them, just like the walls. This creates the look of a traditional room in a house. However, in some cases, the basement ceiling is left unfinished without the drywall. In this case, you can see the ductwork, pipes, and other equipment that is typically hidden behind the drywall.

There are numerous reasons for a basement ceiling to be exposed.


Related:  What is a Finished Basement?


Design Choice

It could be a design choice. Exposed ceilings create an industrial look that is appealing to many homeowners.


Easy Access

With an open basement ceiling, you are also able to have easier access to the elements of your home. It is much easier to check on the HVAC ducts, electrical wiring, pipes, and plumbing in unfinished ceilings.



You are also able to create the appearance of more height in the basement by leaving the ceiling exposed. This is especially important in older houses that tend to have low ceilings, especially in the basement. Adding drywall will lower the ceiling height even more. This can cause you to feel cramped or like you have to hunch over when in the basement, especially if you or a family member is tall.



Paining the unfinished ceiling is also likely to be cheaper than installing drywall. This means that making such a design choice can also be more budget friendly.



It is faster to paint a ceiling than to install drywall. This is an important element to keep in mind when making your decision as well. Even if you have to apply two coats of paint, it is still faster than installing drywall which would likely be a multi-day project.

If you have exposed basement ceilings, you can still paint them. You just have to be sure to prime to space well and ensure to use the right kind of paint so that it will stick to the surfaces.


How to Paint Your Basement Ceiling

There are a variety of ways to paint your basement ceiling. You can use a brush or a paint roller to paint by hand or opt to use a spray gun for easier application.

The spray gun will be easier and faster than painting by hand. It also helps you have a more even finish that looks smoother. However, using a spray gun can be very messy.

Regardless of how you are painting, be sure to use drop cloths to protect your floors. You should also wear clothes that are okay to get paint on, as you will likely drip on your clothes at some point in the process.

If you have an exposed basement ceiling, you should check with the local codes so that you can confirm if painting pipes and ductwork is okay.


Painting Tips

Keep in mind that black paint offers better coverage so you do not have to use as much paint. You should prime the surfaces before painting to make sure that the paint sticks well. Using spray paint is not appropriate for painting your basement ceiling.

The best type of paint will depend on the surface you are painting. For example, if there is an exposed basement ceiling, use latex paint that is sprayable. This type of paint is suitable for a variety of surfaces such as metal pipes and rafters.


Rules Concerning the Paint Color Selection

The good news is that there are no hard rules pertaining to the paint color to use. You can use darker colors like dark grey or navy blue, or you can opt for lighter colors such as white, light gray, or pale pastel colors. To help you in making your decision, consider how you plan to use the space and the design look you are going for. Think about the light that comes into the room naturally, as well as the light fixtures, and whether you have bright furniture or darker pieces.


What color to paint basement ceiling FAQ

Should I paint the basement ceiling white or black?

If you are looking for a bolder, more drastic look or need to hide imperfections in the ceiling, you should paint it black. If you prefer to create a more open feel that is lighter and brighter, paint it white.


Should I paint the basement ceiling the same color as the walls?

If you have a lighter color paint on the walls such as white or gray, painting the entire ceiling the same color will create a unified aesthetic and make the space feel larger and more open. However, if you have selected a more drastic color for the walls, having a contrasting color on the ceiling can create a more dramatic look. For example, if you painted the walls green, a green ceiling may be too much, but white or gray paint on the ceiling may look better.


What colors are good for a basement?

Sticking with colors such as gray or white ceiling paint are the safer choices. Black paint can create a more dramatic look, but it is a riskier design choice that not everyone will find appealing.


What paint should I use for the unfinished basement ceiling?

If you have an unfinished basement ceiling and want to keep the industrial look, be sure to use the correct paint type. Latex paint that is sprayable is your best option because it is suitable for a multitude of surface types including the metal pipes and rafters that are prominent in unfinished basement ceilings.

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