What Color to Paint the Basement Ceiling

The basement is one of the overlooked rooms in the home. It’s a waste of space if you leave it bare. How about turning it into something useful, making it your little project? It’s time to primp your basement up. Let’s start with what color to paint the basement ceiling, including the appearance of black or brown pipes overhead.

Spacious basement with wooden floors and white wall and ceiling


Quicklist: Tips on How to Paint the Basement Ceiling

• No rules say the ceiling needs to be the same color as the walls.

• Ceilings and walls having the same color create a cozier ambiance and a more polished look.

• Choose a darker color if you want a more intimate ambiance. Dark shades like black or brown can help conceal any imperfections on the ceilings, such as exposed pipes or uneven surfaces.

• Dark colors on white walls create drama.

• Bright and light colors make the drab low-light room appear bigger than its size.

• If you want to turn your lower room into a kid’s playroom, yellow might be a good choice. 

• Gray paint can be soothing and relaxing.

• When painting ceilings, consider applying multiple coats for a more professional finish and desired shade.

Color Ideas for Painting Basement Ceilings

Basement kitchen wood floor center island white walls ceiling

Your color preference depends on certain considerations. What are your plans for the space? What color do you plan to use on the walls of your bunker room? Does your lower-ground floor need help to look bigger? Do you plan to paint the ceiling the same color as the walls? These are only a few questions you need to answer before starting your project.

Here are some choices you can consider when you want to paint a basement ceiling:


White paint is often a generic choice for a small bunker room since it lightens the room and makes it appear more prominent.

Avoid going full-on by painting the ceiling white paint, as that has a cold vibe. Choose a cool and comfortable shade that can create an inviting atmosphere in any room.

Here are several white paint types to choose from, which all offer unique benefits:

Magnolia one horn white

Magnolia One Horn White

Extra-white by Sherwin-WilliamsExtra-white by Sherwin-Williams

Chantilly Lace OC-65Chantilly Lace OC-65


If you want to turn your below-ground room into a kid’s playroom, yellow might be a good choice. Here are some yellows to check out:

Benjamin Moore’s Morning Sunshine (2018-50)Benjamin Moore’s Morning Sunshine (2018-50)

Benjamin Moore Banana Yellow (2022-40)Benjamin Moore Banana Yellow (2022-40)


Contemporary basement with mindful gray and light color carpet

Gray paint can be soothing and relaxing. It can also be a timeless and classic look for a room. Some of the gray paint colors you can use for your lower-level room are:

Sherwin-Williams Mindful Gray (SW 7016)Sherwin-Williams Mindful Gray (SW 7016)

Farrow & Ball Purbeck Stone 275Farrow & Ball Purbeck Stone 275

Spacious basement in pastel blue tones and beige carpet floor

This large room lounge design has a sectional sofa, soft blue walls and a touch of warm red hues. Other lighter-tone accent colors for light blue are peach, grey, orange, and pink.


You can go for a sky blue to brighten up your subfloor or navy blue for a more classic look. Whatever vibe of blue you like, there is something you can use. Here are some choices to try out:

Sherwin-Williams Manitou Blue (SW 6501)Sherwin-Williams Manitou Blue (SW 6501)

Sherwin-Williams Inkwell SW 6992Sherwin-Williams Inkwell SW 6992

Benjamin Moore Light Blue 2066-70Benjamin Moore Light Blue 2066-70

Pantone PMS 5395-CPPantone PMS 5395-CP


Green is another safe shade you can also fall back to. A green undertone is relaxing, and the earthy feel gives off a more mature personality. Here are great green hues you can consider:

Sherwin-Williams Watery (SW 6478)Sherwin-Williams Watery (SW 6478)

Behr’s Moss Mist (S380-1)Behr’s Moss Mist (S380-1)

These are also excellent choices if you are still wondering what inviting color to paint belowground ceilings. Assess the natural and artificial light you’ll be using and what you want your subfloor to be. Make sure to coordinate your colors to complement each other.

Make sure to do your painting project in spring or fall when air circulation is more manageable, and the windows are left open for ventilation. [Source: cpsc.gov] Consult with professional painters for an accurate estimate of materials required and ensure quality results.

Use the colors to your advantage and to meet the goal of your project – whether it is a playroom or a man cave.

Do You Paint The Ceiling The Same Color As The Walls?

Living room in basement with indoor plant window and ceiling lights

The bottom line, it is a matter of choice. No rules say basement ceilings must be the same color as the basement walls.

There may be pros and cons to whatever color preference you may have. Find your happy medium and that element that can satisfy your project vision. Read more about our guide on basement wall colors here.

Matching Ceiling and Walls

Renovated modern stylish basement living room with wood tile flooring

Ceilings and walls having the same color create a cozier ambiance and a more polished look. This color combination works best for basements with low or flat ceilings.

Choose a darker color, like black, if you want a more intimate ambiance. Lighter shades create depth and tend to widen the space.

Do you want to paint the room ceilings the same color as the walls? The answer is yes if you want to tie a room together and create a cozier vibe.

The Ceiling Has A Lighter Color Than The Walls

Basement bedroom with light green walls

The lower-level living room above has muted grey-green walls, rich brown furniture, a cream ceiling, and subtle purple undertones:

Painting the ceiling with a lighter finish than the walls opens the room. Most are dimly lit, so the lighter-ceiling-with-darker-wall color combination would be the way to go.

You can choose a lighter color for your basement ceiling if you want:

  • To make the dark basement look larger 
  • To open up a room with lower ceilings
  • A room with a low-contrast look
  • Subtle and straightforward tone changes and clean lines

However, if your basement already has significant lighting, with beams illuminating all of your space, go ahead and paint the walls and ceilings with the same color. Incorporating warm, muted tones like soft orange, pink, or purple can enhance the room and give a playful ambiance.

The Ceiling Has A Darker Color Than The Walls

Basement home office design with built in desk living room sectional accent wall

Dark colors combined with white walls can create a dramatic appearance. If you don’t like the striking contrast, choose a hue only two or three shades darker for a sophisticated look. Read more about our guide on paint colors that go with dark wood floors here and discover the benefits of various shades.

Consider a darker basement ceiling color if:

  • You want decorative things like crown moldings to pop out.
  • You only want subtle changes in your color palette.
  • You want to match it with white walls or light color furnishings to have that high-contrast look.
  • You want a basement with a more dramatic vibe. 

What Color Makes a Basement Look Bigger?

Spacious basement with wooden floor sofa chairs and ceiling lights

You can apply color combination techniques for a small room and basement to make it appear larger. For instance, select a bright ceiling color if you have a cramped basement with a low ceiling and just artificial light.

Bright and light colors make the drab basement room appear bigger than its size. Choose light colors like white and cream and pale yellow, blue, and gray. 

Apply the color scheme to the entire room, not just the basement’s ceilings or walls. Here are some tips you can do and choose from:

  • Light-colored and water-resistant flooring
  • Paint the baseboards and molding with several shades brighter than the walls
  • Install light-colored decor and carpet
  • Try a glass table with transparent or even bright furniture

If you are using your basement as a living area, we have an article on the best paint colors for living rooms here, including the advantages and visual benefits of each shade.

What Type of Paint Can Be Used For An Exposed Ceiling?

Basement with exposed ceiling and drywall

Now that you have a general idea of your design, you can start your project soon. Your exposed ceiling, though, can be a problem if you don’t have a plan for that yet. What type of paint can be used for an exposed basement ceiling? 

One thing you can do is to leave the ceiling exposed, free from drop ceilings and drywall. Painting it directly can be a good idea, especially if your bunker room is already small. 

Use latex paint for the exposed wood in the basement’s ceiling. You may also want to try a mix of primer and paint with matte or satin finishes for easy cleaning. 

Do you now have a general idea of what your room should be like? Have you figured out what to do with your exposed ceiling? Great! Let your personal preference and personality be the guide to your room painting preferences.

“Before you commit to a color, buy a quart and put it on the wall. That’s the only way you’ll know what it’s going to look like in your room.” – Roger German, Remodeling a Basement – Expert Advice from Start to Finish

See more related content in our article about the different man cave colors on this page.

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