Drop ceiling or drywall ceiling?

I know everyone wants a drywall ceiling, but I have a walkout basement that if I were to put a drywall ceiling in I'd have to put in 12 access panels for electrical boxes, water shutoffs, vent dampers, etc. in an area 18' X 27'. Here are couple pictures of what I've got in the way of "stuff" I need access to and what it might look like with all the panels. Would I just be better off going with a drop ceiling?
http://oi53.tinypic.com/2ry1y6x.jpg
http://oi55.tinypic.com/334nj2f.jpg
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Craig:
I only see ONE thing you need an access panel installed for...
Your furnace duct vent dampers shouldn't need to be adjusted unless you install a new furnace fan with a different performance curve than the one in place now... (subtract 7 access panels)
The water shut off for your refrigerator ice maker and filtered water dispenser should be relocated above the floor behind the appliance if you are going to finish the ceiling below -- then it is accessible... (subtract 1 access panel)
Now for your electrical boxes... Those can be extended and or moved by a qualified electrician with no problems... You did want to have lights in the basement after you finished the ceiling ? Or are there actually more electrical boxes just being used for lighting ? Anyway, they are not immovable objects just because you can't seem to figure out how to do it... (subtract 3 access panels)
BTW: were you planning to seal the smoke detector and its box in above the ceiling ?
Let's see, the only thing left that would be a true pain to relocate would be the gas shut off... So that is the only thing that truly needs an access panel...
Your furnace is only going to be replaced fairly infrequently so if you need to re-balance the duct system after that happens then it is worth cutting into the sheet rock ceiling to do that, but installing 7 access panels or a drop ceiling just in case you ever need to make an adjustment is foolish and would require quite a bit of extra labor or losing several inches of finished height in the room...
So it is just a matter of doing the job the right way and moving those things which are movable, realizing what things can be concealed and installing a panel for the one thing which you would actually need to get at above the ceiling...
~~ Evan
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DROP CIELING IS FAR BETTER, stuff comes up:( requiring basement access.
dont seal it up, and you can get drop cielings with just a inch of panel move space
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wrote:

Now for your electrical boxes... Those can be extended and or moved by a qualified electrician with no problems... You did want to have lights in the basement after you finished the ceiling ? Or are there actually more electrical boxes just being used for lighting ? Anyway, they are not immovable objects just because you can't seem to figure out how to do it... (subtract 3 access panels)
** So what psychic ability do you possess that you can determine from the little information furnished, how easy or difficult it will be to relocate the electrical boxes. From where I sit, I can't determine what type of boxes, number of cables in each, length and direction each cable travels, etc, etc. There is no question that eliminating them from their present location is possible, but there are sure a lot of possibilities that may make it impractical.
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wrote:

Craig:
I only see ONE thing you need an access panel installed for...
Your furnace duct vent dampers shouldn't need to be adjusted unless you install a new furnace fan with a different performance curve than the one in place now... (subtract 7 access panels)
The water shut off for your refrigerator ice maker and filtered water dispenser should be relocated above the floor behind the appliance if you are going to finish the ceiling below -- then it is accessible... (subtract 1 access panel)
Now for your electrical boxes... Those can be extended and or moved by a qualified electrician with no problems... You did want to have lights in the basement after you finished the ceiling ? Or are there actually more electrical boxes just being used for lighting ? Anyway, they are not immovable objects just because you can't seem to figure out how to do it... (subtract 3 access panels)
BTW: were you planning to seal the smoke detector and its box in above the ceiling ?
Let's see, the only thing left that would be a true pain to relocate would be the gas shut off... So that is the only thing that truly needs an access panel...
Your furnace is only going to be replaced fairly infrequently so if you need to re-balance the duct system after that happens then it is worth cutting into the sheet rock ceiling to do that, but installing 7 access panels or a drop ceiling just in case you ever need to make an adjustment is foolish and would require quite a bit of extra labor or losing several inches of finished height in the room...
So it is just a matter of doing the job the right way and moving those things which are movable, realizing what things can be concealed and installing a panel for the one thing which you would actually need to get at above the ceiling...
~~ Evan
Moving those electrical boxes might not be as easy as you think. This is a 2400 sq. foot quad level home. Most of those boxes have four wire runs coming from them. On two of the runs, I'll have to find the where they go and install longer wire, unless I can break into a wall on the main floor and install yet another (exposed) box to extend the wire. If I were to hire it out I'm sure the cost would exceed $500 vs. the cost and look of access panels.
I did not include the electrical boxes used for lighting, because they are of no concern and will be converted to can lighting which have integrated boxes.
As for the water shutoff for the fridge, if I were to move it behind the fridge it would likely cause the fridge to move out into the room more than the 1" of clearance my pantry door now has as it clears the front of the fridge.
As for the dampers on the ducting, I usually rebalance the system as the seasons change from heating to cooling, directing more airflow to the upper floors during cooling and more to the lower floors during heating season. It seems more efficient that way.
And, no, I wasn't going to put the smoke detector behind the access panel.
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Hi,
CraigT wrote:

I think you answered your own question. It may cost more but I always prefered drop ceiling. There are many choices for panels. My vote is drop ceiling on condition you have enough head room. My basement ceiling was 9 feet high before it was finished.
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On 4/16/2011 7:34 PM, Tony Hwang wrote:

IMHO, 8.5 feet between finish slab and bottom of centerline beam, should be a code requirement. My father always encouraged owners to spring for the extra foot of hole and course of block, as he was walking them through the design phase. The additional cost is relatively trivial, and it makes finishing out the basement SO much easier, without ending up with the usual finished basement look of a 7.5' ceiling and a head-banger running down the middle. He also encouraged putting the furnace toward the dead corner of the basement, behind the stairwell wall (he never did floating stairs), to maximize the easily finishable space while still leaving a large enough mechanical room for easy service and eventual furnace/WH replacement. (It sucks to have to demo a basement wall to change the water heater.)
--
aem sends....



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below the beam. If I wanted to go higher and box in the beam I'd also have to box in the large square heat vent and the large square cold air return along with two six foot long round vent runs that snake down into that space then go back up again. I think I'll live with a dead flat 7' 6" ceiling.
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CraigT wrote the following:

boxed in beam across the ceiling that is 6' 6" from the floor. The only problem I have with the dropped ceiling, is that I am 6' 2" and I can't do jumping jacks. :-) I have removed panels many times over the years to install new electrical or cat5 wiring and even Pex tubing. I also had to remove some panels along the edge of the outside wall to replace a frost proof sill cock (it didn't freeze, just broke).
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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CraigT wrote the following:

boxed in beam across the ceiling that is 6' 6" from the floor. The only problem I have with the dropped ceiling, is that I am 6' 2" and I can't do jumping jacks. :-) I have removed panels many times over the years to install new electrical or cat5 wiring and even Pex tubing. I also had to remove some panels along the edge of the outside wall to replace a frost proof sill cock (it didn't freeze, just broke).
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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CraigT wrote:

Why not both?
A drop ceiling with drywall panels.
The fire-retardant properties of drywall make it worth considering.
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Unless you do something with the edges I don't think it'll last long. It'll be some PITA to get in without making a major mess.

Without tape, I'd think a fire would go right around it. Aluminum rails aren't going to stop much of a fire.
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== Having installed a drop ceiling for an entire basement, I would say that it would be my choice. I used fiberglass drop panels and the whole thing turned out great. There is a good choice of colors and finishes available. One can use either the plastic or metal hangers and rails. I chose the plastic...not only cheaper but easier to work with. Follow the instructions...VERY IMPORTANT. ==
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For the abitilty to have future access, I'd always go with the drop ceiling, as long as you have the extra few inches to work with. There's a lot of stuff running down there and you never know when you will want to run an extra circuit, water line, gas line, etc. With drop ceiling, that's easy.
I've been helping a friend who bought a 4 year old house where the owner drywalled the basement. Already, it's limited options of how we could add things without tearing up the drywall. And the guy who did this job should go in the Guiness book. He drywalled around everything. Like I think all of us here would wall off the area that contains the furnace and water heater and create a utility room with a door. But he drywalled around all of that, around each duct, water pipe, vent pipe, etc. Must have taken forever. And in other areas of the basement, there are drops of 2 or 3" where he went around ceiling areas instead of just dropping the whole area the 2 or 3" and making it uniform.
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CraigT wrote:

If you do decide to do a drop ceiliing, you may want to take a look at this style that I saw at Home Depot:
http://www.armstrong.com/resclgam/na/ceilings/en/us/prod_detail.asp?itemIdD650.0 .
They are Armstrong 1201 Prestige 2'x2' ceiling tiles and they look pretty good to me -- at least not like typical ceiling tiles. They are 2'x2' panels, but each 2'x2' panel contains four 1'x1' recessed square-pattern tiles.
The price was $8.68 per 2'x2' tile, or $2.17 per square foot. And, the tiles seem solid so they won't sag etc.
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I've heard about using Wallo access panels to cover vent damper access holes on a drywall ceiling
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On 5/10/2011 5:14 PM, V wrote:

IMHO, lots of access panels look nasty. If I needed easy future access, but still wanted max headroom, I'd get one of those snap-on ceiling systems that fits up tight to the joists, but is still easy to open when needed.
--
aem sends...

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A drop ceiling provides the access you want and I would go with it. When we built our new house we only finished about 2/3 of the basement. We did sheet rock most of the finished area, but with a little planning and consulting with our plumber, we kept nearly all of the plumbing runs in the unfinished area. The main exception was the guest bath which was directly beneath the kitchen and edge of the upstairs was room. We opted to put a drop ceiling in that bath. The only two upstairs pluming runs not accessible from the basement are 15' of hose bib run and some gas line.
So it stands to reason one of these is going to shoot craps. Hope it ain't the gas line!
RonB
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Which is why if you were that concerned about such things you would supply your home's water with Pex tubing used in a home-run/manifold configuration with a separate line feeding each point of use and use flexible gas tubing, neither of which would have any connections made in a concealed and inaccessible location...
If the piping itself fails (not at a connection between two segments) then you will know with water or gas, the leaking area will be wet with a water leak and you would smell the gas leak...
Leaving your ceiling unfinished in a basement won't make the piping any more or less likely to fail in the exposed and totally accessible area... That is where the elements of chance and luck factor in...
~~ Evan
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