Try adding an extra course of block to your basement wall. Why, you may ask, is because the more courses of concrete block you use in your basement the higher your ceiling is going to be. The higher your ceiling is, the more it will feel like the rest of your house, and you will still have a space in your ceiling to run wiring, plumbing and heating and air conditioning duct work.
Figure out your Basement Ceiling Height.
Most standard building specifications call for 12 courses of concrete block in a basement. Each course of block is 8” tall (That is 7 3/8” block and a 5/8” mortar joint.) and multiplies that by 12 courses and you have a wall that measures 8’. Now that seems to be great, because a standard interior wall is approximately 8 feet tall. The problem is that there are a few things that you have to subtract from that 8 foot height to get your actual finished ceiling height.
Actual Ceiling Height
The first thing you have to subtract is the height of the concrete slab. Because the bottom of the concrete slab and the bottom of the concrete block both sit on the same footing you have to subtract that height. See the basement diagram to the right to help you visualize this. The second thing you have to subtract is the lowest object that drops from the ceiling. This lowest object will most likely be the main house beam, the heating and air conditioning ductwork, or a series of drain pipes from the floors above. You can definitely subtract at least 10” for your house beam.
So is an extra course enough?
After all that subtracting what is left? It is now less than 7 feet. Adding that extra course of block will add an additional 8 inches and that will take you to above 7 feet for your finished ceiling height. That will leave you just enough room for a drop ceiling or frame out for a drywall ceiling.