We’re planning to live in the basement while we finish the other two main floors of the house at the same time. Eventually we plan to put insulation between the joists and install a drop ceiling in the basement. We also plan to insulate and drywall the exterior walls. However, because we know there will be ongoing work to run electrical, plumbing, and HVAC to the other floors, plus we’re putting in a couple of temporary walls for bedrooms, we can’t really put that in yet. At the same time, we don’t want to have the dark exposed joists and subfloor for a ceiling while we’re living in the basement. The solution is to paint the joists and the underside of the subfloor. There are other reasons to do this as well. We used a sealing primer that is mold and mildew resistant, and we used a flame retardant additive that gives it a Class A fire rating. If the paint is exposed to fire, it will char and create a protective barrier that prevents the wood from catching on fire.

Sarah painting

Sarah painting

Because we’re planning to stain and seal the concrete, we wanted to do the painting before the floor was poured. The paint sprayer has a way of coating everything in a mist of paint that wouldn’t be fun to remove and it’s a large space to put down drop cloths. It was a good thing we did because the flame retardant makes the paint thinner than usual, and when we started spraying the paint dripped off the rough sawn lumber rather than soaking in. We discovered that a roller works a lot better than the sprayer to get the paint worked into the wood, but even so it was going to take more than one coat and the roller was way too slow.

We went back to using the paint sprayer, but in light passes. Even so, it went through five gallon buckets of paint fast. It took three coats to get to an acceptable level, and we went through fifteen gallons of paint in the process. After all of that, there are still places where the dark wood peeks through and other spots where the wood stained the paint yellow. Ultimately, it’s a basement. Nearly all of this will be covered up by the drop ceiling when we eventually finish it, and it’s a big improvement over how it looked before.


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