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Choosing between drywall or a drop ceiling for your basement can be very hard as both materials have their pros and cons. Luckily we have researched and asked the experts the things to consider for both materials as you pick which one best suits your needs, so stick around to find out.
It boils down to personal preference. For drop ceilings, you can install them yourself -they are also easier to access for wires and plumbing. A drywall ceiling is more aesthetically pleasing. You would also want to consider what type of look you would like your basement to be.
Continue reading down below as we detail the key differences between a drywall and drop ceiling, We will also be discussing distinct features of one another to help you make up your mind on which one you should choose
What is better drywall or drop ceiling: do I really need them?
Unlike other parts of the house, your basement ceiling will depend on what type of basement you have. Since the main difference between the two comes with their appearance, as drywall is more aesthetically pleasing, if you are only using your basement as storage then you can go either way.
You can even go without a ceiling if you are so inclined. This is because if you spend on a ceiling for your basement and it is not being used for recreational purposes or family time it might just be a waste of money.
You can have your regular basement with floor joists as your ceiling. But if you will be renovating your basement to a living space then we recommend that you install one.
Pros and cons of drywall and drop ceiling
In this section, we will discuss to you what are the different pros and cons of the two ceiling choices. by listing multiple areas where they are compared to one another. After every area, we will choose what ceiling choice has the upper hand when it comes to the criteria we have listed down below.
Compared to drywall. installing a drop ceiling is fairly easy as it can be done by one person. Drywall sheets are heavier and bigger compared to drop ceilings that are tile sizes. Usually, when installing drywall you would hire someone who really installs them and is rarely done DIY.
As we also mentioned earlier, since drywall is a single big sheet, accessing the wiring from behind it for installation or maintenance checks would be harder. You would have to remove the entire drywall and put it back up after.
As for the drop ceilings, you can easily remove the section where you need to access behind and put it back after without taking down the whole thing. So for installation, the point goes to drop ceiling.
Height is a common issue for basements as they are usually cramped spaces. Ceiling height would be a major issue if you or any member of your family is tall. The recommended height of a basement from for to ceiling is at least eight feet.
With drop ceilings, they take up to four to six inches of space from the floor joists to be installed, whereas drywall takes up nearly no space at all. This would be something to consider especially if your floor-to-ceiling height is very short.
You would have to take into account your light bulbs as they will make your ceilings shorter. Also, they can add another four to six inches of lost height ceiling, depending on how big your light bulb is.
You can remedy this by underpinning your whole basement floor, but that is a very costly solution just to have a drop ceiling in your basement. So for height, the point would have to go to the drywall.
We previously wrote an article that tackles underpinning titled, "How Much Does Basement Underpinning Cost?" You can go ahead and check it out.
As we have earlier said, looks are the main advantage of drywall compared to drop ceilings. Even though new designs are available now for drop ceilings, the reputation for drywall still overpowers.
Because of this, a lot of people choose drywall, especially if you are looking to renovate your basement to boost the value of your house. Drywall is also very easy to decorate and paint making it very customizable to your preferred design.
Though drop ceilings have improved throughout the years as manufacturers have come up with lots of designs and options, but we would still have to give this one to drywall as this is what they are known for.
Both materials are very easy to maintain. When it comes to drywall it can be easily painted if it gets scratched or chipped. Washable paint is also very easy to remove from drywall.
One of its downsides is that if a portion of it gets damaged, the entire drywall sheet that would have to be replaced. You can patch it, but its aesthetics might get affected.
Dropped tiles are also very easy to maintain and if a part of them gets damaged, you can easily replace just the damaged tile or tiles, this is not the case with drywall.
Although dropped tiles are also more susceptible to mold and water damage. As both materials fairly performed equally in this category, we will put them both as a tie.
Fire hazard safety
Fire-rated materials are very important as a safety precaution in an event where a fire is taking place. Both the drywall and drop ceiling have options to be made fire-rated, meaning they can be non-combustible materials.
We recommend that when you order either one of them, get them fire-rated as this adds extra protection for your house, this can also be a way of fireproofing your basement. For this category, we will award it a tie again.
For drop ceilings, the cost can range anywhere between $1,026 and $2,931, or $1,946 on average. While you can expect to pay for labor anywhere between $2 to $5 per square foot, ceiling tiles and grid rails cost $3 to $23 per square foot total. The total would depend on the ceiling area to be covered.
Meanwhile, the national average cost for drywall construction is $3,046, with prices ranging from $1,619 to $4,750 depending on the size of the well, the labor involved, and the materials used.
Base on price, the clear choice for this category would be the drop ceiling as it is nearly half the cost as drywall as vinyl or expanded polystyrene, the materials that makeup drop ceilings, is much cheaper than plywood and wood pulp, asbestos-cement board, and gypsum materials that makeup drywall.
Here is a related topic that we previously answered about drywalls titled, "Should You Drywall A Basement Ceiling?" Go ahead and check it out.
What are other ceiling options? - are they better?
If you choose a cheaper alternative than the common drop and drywall ceilings. Options like plywood, fabric, and tarps can be used if you just want to cover your unfinished ceiling.
As we mentioned earlier you can go ceilingless and just paint your floor joists to match with the tones of the basements, although your wires and plumbing can be exposed. A good fix for this is covering only those that need to be covered.
When choosing what kind of ceiling should you use really boils down to what best suits your preference. Both ceiling systems have their own pros and cons and it is up to you to weigh them.
If you have enough money you can try out the other one first and just swap them to see which tickles your flavor. The most important thing is to choose what makes you happy.