Friday, July 4, 2008

Months of thought, hours of "doodling"...

...but I think I finally, FINALLY, have devised what I want my basement ceiling to look like, at least in the main area. See the pictures added here to get the idea for the rough draft, drawn up in Sketchup (sorry for the sloppiness -- there are some rogue lines and planes floating around!

(EDITED, ADDED LATE JULY 4): Here are my thoughts on this whole basement ceiling thing.

1. I tore down drywall, so I didn't want to put up drywall again, since nothing was really wrong with what I tore down.
2. To the bottom of the joists, it's about 73 inches, so a drop ceiling was out of the question. There was no way to modify it and make it look OK that I could think of, either.
3. I wanted something more "sophisticated" looking than a drop ceiling anyway.
4. Leaving the beams and such exposed and painting it was not an option either, because of the total lack of sound insulation. Also, I hate track lighting. Also, it felt like a crime to paint what appeared to be beautiful woodwork on the underside of the floor. Also, the joists were in pretty decent shape, and it just wasn't for me.
5. Leaving the ceiling exposed created the difficult conundrum of what to do at the wall-ceiling corner. Examples I saw of this were not up to my liking, and I couldn't think of anything better.
6. The more I saw boxed beam ceilings, the more I thought that would look great in our family room downstairs and could be exactly up my alley.

So this is what I came up with when I finally sat down with all the ideas bouncing around in my head. It's actually a raised "drop" ceiling, in a sense.

I will buy nice flat trim wood to cover the bottoms of the joists. They will protrude just outside of the joist widths to create a mini (like, less than an inch) "shelf" above which I'll fasten some crown molding the entire length of the joists. On top of those joists, I will rest the acoustical panels that are typically used for drop ceilings.

As you can see in the cross-section version, there will be a gap above the panels, allowing me to tilt them up and pull them out. This way, if I ever DO need access, I'll have it. Furthermore, the acoustic tiles are probably lighter than drywall, so the weight load will be better on the crown molding/trim. I'm aware I'll have to cut the panels smaller to fit, but that's easier than cutting drywall, and they don't have to be perfect, just so long as they clear the edges of the moldings on each side.

Lighting: This is the tricky part. I know that I'm going to have a few fluorescents here. In the sketchup model below, in the righthand part between the joists, you can see my plan. It's going to be inset fluorescent lighting, with the housing separated out by a couple 2x6s (or so) that will run 90 degrees to the joists on each side...the molding will be parallel with the regular molding and I will hide a fluorescent bulb on each side behind it, bouncing the light off the ceiling and to the floor. I also plan to have small can lights throughout the room, assuming there's enough "headspace" for them above the ceiling panels.

Since I haven't officially measured this, it's probably not an exact representation, and the final version may differ. But at least I got these ideas into a working drawing that I can manipulate now.

Problems this doesn't solve, however, are workload (lots of cutting, staining, fastening, etc.), what, exactly, to do at the wall-ceiling corner to minimize drywall cutting and such, and how to maximize sound insulation. I know the acoustic panels are OK, but will they be enough, I wonder? I guess we'll see!

Have a happy Fourth of July!


fred@opc said...

Andy - intriguing! So, what materials do you have in mind for each segment? Can you upload a few other angles too - the one you uploaded is sort of messing with my mind (like an m.c. escher painting). We're getting close to needing to address the ceiling with a final solution - I'm on the third of four areas of the radiant flooring. Maybe in a month or so we'll have to commit to what we're doing so we can at least get the electric in place.

What lighting are you thinking about putting with this?

fred said...

[after 4th edit]: v. interesting idea all around. How will you handle where the raised panels will meet each other and create a gap penpendicular to the joists -- will this be done using standard up-side-down "T" molding like that used on most drop ceilings?

I'm really interested in seeing photos of the prototype. Perhaps this could be an option for our basement.

Andy said...

Hey Fred...I haven't come to a conclusion on the "gap" yet...first, I'll probably minimize those by using the rectangular panels (rather than square), obviously. But I'll have to see how they look just butted up against each other. If they are kept snug, somehow, they might not be noticeable, especially since most of the lights in the room will be pointing downward, leaving them "in the shadows."

Once I have a prototype (which could be a while), I'll be sure to send along photos and/or post them here...