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  • Writer's pictureKiersten

Painting the Basement from Top to Bottom - Ceiling and Walls Done!

Seven gallons of primer, five gallons of ceiling paint and 10 gallons of wall color - in about 30 hours of painting from everyone in our family - and our basement walls are done and ready for trim! Phew! And yes I'm writing this with blistered hands. We worked HARD over the matter of couple of weeks to get everything painted before the doors and trim were going to be installed. Here's how we painted the basement from top to bottom with a few bonus tips for your next paint day.

Step 1: Priming the New Drywall Before Paint

New drywall is really porous and "eats paint" so rather than letting it suck in all the good (and more expensive) colored paint, we primed all of the new drywall. In the workout room, we had dark grey walls before and planned to paint this room even darker this go around, so we chose to use a grey primer to help coat the new drywall in something that would provide a darker base to help get good coverage.

zinsser grey primer gallon

Very quickly we learned out GREAT is is to paint in an unfinished space without floors and trim. While I always love to let the kids help, they really could participate without much concern at all. Abbey helped me for a solid two hours on a Friday night painting on primer. It took almost two gallons of primer for the grey room.

abbey painting on primer

For the rest of the walls and new ceiling areas, we used a basic white drywall primer.

zinsser drywal primer

Hank got in on the fun too and helped roll in the living room. He wants the man cave back just as much as dad does. We went through all five gallons of the wall primer after two coats on all the new drywall.

hank priming closet walls

Step 2: Painting the Ceilings

After the walls were primed, we painted the ceilings a new bright ceiling white.

dutch boy ceiling paint 5 gallon

I've never painted ceilings before so did quite a bit of research beforehand to make sure we did everything in the right order, and worked most efficiently. We pulled down the overhead lights we could and taped off anything we couldn't. Doing the ceilings next would allow us to make mistakes and hit the walls, but be covered up when se put the actual color on the walls.

workout room ceiling paint

Zach and I did this together - I worked on cutting in and painting the edges and he followed using a large 18" paint roller with a long handle. We chose to roll rather than spray to get even coverage and keep everything as clean as possible.

zach and Kiersten rolling ceilings with paint

My best tip for painting ceilings?

Cover yourself and your belongings. If you are OK looking like an absolute goof ball, I suggest buying one of these head socks! Sure, you'll look like a weirdo but you won't have to peel paint out of your hair! I also used goggles for a bit until I couldn't handle them anymore.

kiersten looking like a total goof wearing paint protective gear

We used plastic sheeting to keep things from catching drips that we didn't want to.

basement being painted

The ceiling also unfortunately needed two coats of paint everywhere. Talk about a shoulder burn! We were both SO SORE after painting- reno really is our cardio. We used all five gallons of ceiling paint. Well, maybe 4.9 gallons... the rest may have ended up on Zach.

zach covered in paint

With walls primed and ceilings painted, we were ready for color!

workout room with grey primer

Step 3: Painting the Walls

You should know by now when I say color, it's likely not actually a "color." We decided to keep things really simple, we'd carry the prime white color from the upstairs throughout the main living area and bathroom downstairs. It was a beige before, so this white would really brighten things up. We used Sherwin Williams White Flour in Satin. I was PUMPED to stumble on the last day of their 40% off paint sale - paint has really gotten a lot pricer so we took major advantage of their sale for all of our wall and trim paint.

sherwin Williams super paint 5 gallon

In the workout room, we are going totally opposite with a dark black. We settled on Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black which is a true deep black. The grey worked with the red and blue puzzle floor we had before, but we're going to amp up the style a bit in here and go all black with a more subtle floor. Picking a sheen for this room was tricky but I ultimately chose a Satin finish in a nicer paint base overall. This was supposed to have better coverage and really good wipe ability. Good for a workout room. The paint reads more semigloss than satin in my opinion, but it's not a problem. It just picks up and bounces around a lot more light.

sherwin williams duration tricorn black

The walls all needed two coats of color as well. Rolling paint without fear of hitting the floor is just so nice!

zach painting workout room

Two coats of paint on all surfaces and we were in business. We also hit all the vent covers as well to blend those in. We honestly forgot to put these on before painting the walls which is what I usually do, but we could paint them right on the floor. No drop cloth required!

painting vent covers on the floor

Sidebar: I started using this little paint brush cover box to keep paintbrushes wet and ready for use and it's worked great!

Walls and Ceiling Looking Fresh!

The crisp white ceilings and warm white walls really brighten everything up down there.

basement painted sherwin Williams white flour

The workout room black is oh so dramatic but feels equally as fresh.

workout room painted sherwin Williams tricorn black

That was exhausting! But we are working very hard to keep our energy and focus up. Now that walls are painted, building the wet bar is up next, followed by trim, doors and then flooring, and plumbing, and counters... oh boy. It really feels never ending but we really want to celebrate the holidays in a finished basement so we're focused and not wasting any time!


Need a paint fix? Here are our go-to paint day tools.

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we're kiersten and zach

Follow along with us each week as we work to make the very 2000s home we bought during the middle of a pandemic more “us.” We’ll share everything from quick fixes to more permanent changes, along with projects you can do in your own home. Zach will also share all his lawn and garden advice as he starts over on the yard.


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