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My basement is built from concrete, and I am thinking about removing the (gypsum) drop ceiling (like this) that is attached to the concrete ceiling. This should be fairly easy, since the drywall parts are just simply screwed to some metal bars, which in turn are attached to the ceiling (not sure I want to remove the metal bars as well).

I know structurally this should not be a problem, but I'm wondering if I am missing something: would this largely effect soundproofing (e.g., the noise will be much more obvious from the basement); will the basement become more damp, possibly colder?

Another question: should I paint over the concrete ceiling or should I apply something on it?

Or any advice or hints, ideas are very much welcome!

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    Why do you want to remove it only to then be asking questions about how to post finish the ceiling surface?? – Michael Karas Jan 13 '17 at 7:41
  • In its current form it simply looks boring. Plus I want to install a home cinema system with screen, projector, speakers, etc suspended from the ceiling and this can not happen with the drywall still on. The way I saw it, the concrete ceiling doesn't look too bad, it may not even need any post finish, I am just simply not sure about some of the details, that's why I am asking here. – vivasra Jan 13 '17 at 7:48
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    If the drywall is mounted from the metal bars that you mention you should be able to mount your equipment from the same bars as well - even if that entails mounting an interfacing board or plywood panel for cases where the equipment mount points do not match up with the metal bar positions. It just seems to me to be a lot of work to remove the drywall and possibly harder to mount the equipment directly to the concrete ceiling. The only thing that would would make me consider removing the drywall would be to gain overhead clearance in a low ceiling situation. – Michael Karas Jan 13 '17 at 8:08
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    Please explain the situation that would require removal of the entire drywall ceiling in order to install a few support rods for the home entertainment system. Also, if the drywall is being removed because it looks "boring", why isn't adding molding and trimwork or using paint an option? – James Olson Jan 13 '17 at 13:10
  • I forgot to mention that by removing the drywall I will get a much better overhead clearance (about 40cm). Installing anything from the current ceiling may work, but we would bump our heads in it. Also, "boring" means that every office and public building uses the same type of drywall ceiling here in Japan, I would prefer not to have it in my own home. like this one – vivasra Jan 13 '17 at 14:33
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The picture you linked, having 40cm of clearance, and being typical of offices sounds like you are describing a 'drop ceiling' (aka 'suspended ceiling') -- this is different than drywall.

drop ceiling

A drop ceiling is composed of 2x4' or 2x2' removable panels sitting in a metal grid system, and the panels are usually mineral fiber or fiberglass but can also be wood or plastic.

You absolutely can remove this, but there are of course drawbacks

Acoustics/Soundproofing

It will definitely heavily affect acoustics in the basement. In fact these are also sometimes called 'acoustic tiles' because they do absorb sound. By contrast a concrete ceiling is going to make the room very echoey.

As far as separating noise to the upstairs, I suspect it will not have a huge effect, though it'll definitely be non-zero. Concrete does transmit low frequency sounds, and a soundproofing layer can help to minimize this.

Design

The best way is to lift a tile and inspect the concrete. Does it look decent enough for your tastes? Is it full of holes drilled to hang the ceiling, or does it have wiring or other utilities running across it? If there is any wiring, plumbing, HVAC or gas lines installed by people after (or knowing about) the drop ceiling, they may not have done as neat a job as if it would be exposed.

Replacing with drywall

An actual drywall ceiling can look pretty nice. For reference/comparison, that would be something like this (picture is before painting):

unfinished drywall ceiling

One of the benefits of a drop ceiling is after it's installed, you can still easily run wiring above it -- for example if you want to install a home theater, or upgrade to the next generation video cables, or go to a 7.1 or 9.1 or 24 channel surround system.

Drywall requires cutting holes, patching and repainting -- or having strategically run conduit behind it to exactly the places you need.

Other drop ceiling tiles

There are ways to install low-clearance drop ceilings. The minimal you can get down to is around 2 to 3" (5 to 8cm) -- it just depends on being able to get the tiles in.

You can also replace tiles. There's some neat tiles that definitely don't look like your typical office -- just be aware some may lose some of the acoustic benefits. You can compensate for this by insulating above, but then you need more space.

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Painting tiles

Finally, you can just paint the tiles, which is easy and cheap and can vary the look quite a bit.

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  • Thank you, I had no idea that you call that a drop ceiling. Also cheers for your detailed answer, this was really comprehensive! I did lift up a few tiles and it does look pretty decent: no wires, the concrete surface is fairly smooth, I don't think I need to apply anything on it. I'll have to deal with the metal grid, but I may just leave it like that for a while, just in case painting the tiles will seem like the better idea. Thanks again! – vivasra Jan 13 '17 at 23:35
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This is all assuming that the basement is already insulated.

If you take out the ceiling, there's undoubtedly some insulation above it which will have nothing to support it afterwards. The insulation helps to keep the cold air from the outside out and does assist with soundproofing.

To answer your question, yes, taking that out would affect it.

  • Thank you! Is it customary to apply anything on the concrete ceiling itself? I don't mind about it's look. – vivasra Jan 13 '17 at 14:36

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