Are there any ways of installing a basement ceiling that is seamless and does not look like a drop ceiling, but which can still be somehow disassembled?

Alternatively, are there more subtle forms of drop ceiling technology available?

My subjective opinion is that drop ceilings look ugly. But as I need to access the area above in my basement, at least until all my re-wiring-the-house tasks are done, I don't want to put up drywall, unless I can rig up some panes that I can later remove (which is one option I am considering). I could also just put up drywall, and cut holes in it, and patch it later.

What would you do? Put up with a drop ceiling? Make holes later? Third alternative?

  • 1
    How about waiting until you are done re-wiring to put up the ceiling? leave it "industrial" until you are done with what you need to do, this might also work as motivation.
    – Tester101
    Sep 9, 2011 at 2:31
  • 2
    @Tester101: 24 hours after you finish the ceiling is when you discover what you missed.
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Sep 9, 2011 at 3:17
  • Can you localize the places you need access, and install a removable panel or bulkhead in that area? Sep 9, 2011 at 20:51
  • I think that's a good idea, Alex. I think I need access ports every 6 feet, about 1 foot square, to be able to access and pull wires. I will pre-drill extra holes in the joists to allow easy routing of additional wiring. When I rearrange the kitchen, that will be a big job, requiring new stove wiring. I need the basement done now, thus the order being reversed.
    – Warren P
    Sep 10, 2011 at 16:41

2 Answers 2


You may be able to hang birch- or maple-faced plywood. You can screw it to joists and then unscrew a panel when you need to get in to change stuff.

My neighbor used this as a floor, with a urethane coating, but you may be able to skip the finish.

I haven't tried this approach myself. YMMV.


The big question is -- what's ugly? the tracks, or the panels?

If it's the tracks, I'd go with Jay's answer.

If it's the panels, consider putting something other than your standard acoustic tile in. For instance, you could cut down luan into the necessary panel sizes (although I don't know if you'd need to do something to dampen sound with them), or Armstrong makes ceiling panels that have a more pressed-tin look to them.


The next question is what sort of wiring are you doing, and where?

If it's all low-voltage, and you're running it along basement walls I'd tack all of the cables up in the corners of the ceiling, and then put up crown molding large enough to cover it once you're done.

  • +1. There are plenty of attractive tiles that you can put in the tracks, or improve them on your own with some spray paint. You can even get tiles with clips that overlap the tracks on two sides, for a more 'seamless' look. Sep 9, 2011 at 20:50
  • In looking online, I saw a forum where someone suggested facing the panels in fabric, or wih a photo mosaic, if you want to get fancy. (although, there might be issues w/ flamability of fabric)
    – Joe
    Sep 10, 2011 at 2:08
  • I'm looking for a clean white look like drywall. But I like the wood idea too.
    – Warren P
    Sep 10, 2011 at 16:40
  • 1
    If you hunt you can get acoustic tiles that are plain -- no patterns or textures. Plain white tiles with white tracks is not bad looking. They are not stock items at many of the big box stores but I know Armstrong make them.
    – Craig
    Oct 23, 2011 at 19:05

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