I'm planning a refresh on a ~400sqft space in my split level home. Its a walkout basement that currently has shiplap walls and a dated drop ceiling. Ideally I'd like to drywall both the wall and the ceiling. There is no plumbing in that section of the ceiling, but there are ducts. I would likely leave those partially exposed.

The part I'm not sure how to handle is how to prepare the ceiling for drywall. The home's breaker panel is in that room on an exterior wall. The wiring runs under the floor joists. Would the best course of action be to drill holes through the joists to re-run those cables? Would I need an electrician for that?

Diagram/pictures for reference

Another complication is that the floor joists from the room above are not level. There is about a 3/4 inch variance I'm trying to figure out how to level. Should I be looking to add strapping perpendicular to the joists and shim them to level? I've also seen suggestions to sister all the joists to level them, but that seemed like more work.

If I went with the option to add strapping, could I avoid the need to drill holes for the wiring and instead have run in the space between the strapping and the joists and add nail plates?

I'm going to outsource much of this work because I don't trust my electrical or drywall finishing abilities, but I'm trying to educate myself so I know what to advocate for.

  • 1
    New drop ceiling panels seems like the better approach here. There are many options in appearance, (you might need to go beyond what the big-box home-center stocks for most of them) and the grid you have already solves the variance in joist height and cables under joists.
    – Ecnerwal
    Aug 17, 2023 at 12:41
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    You have a reasonable question until the last paragraph which asks for opinion and that's explicitly off-topic. Because of that, I edited it out.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 17, 2023 at 13:15
  • Thanks for the edit, it's difficult for me not to wander off into the realm of opinion Aug 17, 2023 at 18:32

1 Answer 1


There is a lot of work there to get to where you could drywall the ceiling.

The easiest way would be to add "strapping" or furring strips attached to the underside of the joists, installed perpendicular, as you suggested. Then the wiring could be above the furring and below the joists. The level can be addressed, but it would be unnoticeable for the most part. There are many ceilings that are not perfectly level. It is not as critical as a floor.

Since you asked for it; My opinion is that the amount of height that can be gained is not worth all the work and accompanying expense. Again, just my opinion.

FYI: I have sprayed suspended ceilings. The results have been great. It can refresh an old looking ceiling to one that even satisfied my wife and my business partner's girlfriend. ( 2 of the biggest critics we have.)

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