What To Do With Concrete Ceiling? (The 5 Options)

As architectural trends tend to do, concrete ceilings have made a significant comeback in recent times. While these potentially stark ceilings are not suited to everybody’s taste, they can undoubtedly make a significant positive contribution to the suitable space if appropriately executed.

When it comes to concrete ceilings, the best option will usually be to keep the concrete ceiling “as is” while finding ways to enhance it in whatever manner you see fit. Other options include painting, texturing, staining, crown moldings, and skim coating.

cement ceiling

While there are many options available in terms of what can be done to concrete ceilings, most of these interventions will generally take away from the character of the concrete itself and the original intent of the designer who created the ceiling in the first place.

What To Do With Concrete Ceiling

Concrete ceilings are most commonly found in apartment buildings and condominiums. This is because most of these types of buildings are created primarily using concrete to ensure a lower overall cost and generally lower maintenance requirements.

Concrete also has several advantages over other building materials, such as durability, water resistance, and rot & fire resistance. Concrete ceilings are usually poured during construction, and the forms are then removed. 

Alternatively, concrete planks can be set in place and then secured. In this case, several coats of skimming plaster are required to cover up the joints and create a smooth, even surface. This will significantly improve its appearance.

what to do with concrete ceiling

Suppose you are the type of homeowner who finds concrete ceilings too cold, uninspired, or overly industrial. In that case, you will most likely be better off hiding the concrete ceilings altogether. 

However, before you opt for one of the options that will conceal the concrete completely, consider an option that will enhance the concrete instead of hiding it. You may be pleasantly surprised at the result.

In terms of hiding the concrete ceiling completely, your options include false ceilings, plaster, paint, and texture. Suppose you decide to enhance the concrete instead of hiding it. In that case, your options include staining, crown molding, or sanding and coating with acrylic emulsion.

Alternatively, you can consider a series of décor changes, including careful lighting design, the addition of soft textures in the form of rugs and furniture, or making changes to walls and other fittings.

Décor Considerations For Concrete Ceilings

Before delving into the interventions requiring significant changes to the ceiling itself, let’s consider some simpler and easier interventions that will require less effort and structural change.

One of the first considerations is lighting. This can go a long way in enhancing the existing texture of a concrete ceiling without requiring any significant intervention. Dramatic lighting, a multi-layered lighting approach (generally the best approach to apply in any interior design project), and a significant amount of natural light are all effective at enhancing concrete ceilings.

Another consideration is the addition of texture in the form of rugs and other fabrics such as those used in your upholstery. Incorporating softer textures into the room will negate the hardness and harshness associated with concrete ceilings. 

When it comes to the other fittings and finishes in your rooms, consider retaining a neutral aesthetic for the room overall and using white as your main backdrop. By adding wooden elements, you will bring a degree of warmth to the space while increasing the amount of contrast in terms of texture.

Another option is to incorporate exposed brick as a texture in the space. The interventions mentioned above will help draw your eye towards the concrete ceiling without creating a sterile space overall.

Bear in mind that the more raw the concrete ceiling, the less modern the interior will be. Suppose the concrete ceiling in your space is exceptionally raw and highly textured. In that case, you will best be served by incorporating a more eclectic approach to the interior design of your space.

1. Skim Coating Concrete Ceilings

When concrete ceilings are built, the condition of the final result will vary significantly. Some ceilings will come out smooth, while others will be extremely rough. Skim coating consists of a thin plaster coat of drywall composite that is spread over the surface of the concrete. 

This will ensure that a level and uniform appearance is created for applying paint or another ceiling texture. This will ensure that you can create an acceptable ceiling for an interior space. 

Remember that before a skim coat can be applied, the concrete must be allowed to cure for sixty days. A concrete primer must be applied to ensure proper adhesion of the materials used for skimming.

2. Staining Concrete Ceilings

Staining concrete is similar in some ways to staining wood. The chemicals used for this, however, are somewhat different. Acid staining is used for concrete, and this coloring process is caused by a chemical reaction.

The result is a varied, mottled finish that boasts plenty of texture. The concrete can be scored to enhance the texture and create an appealing patterned effect.

3. Adding Crown Moldings To Concrete Ceilings

crown molding ceiling

The addition of crown moldings is a simple way to add visual interest to walls and ceilings in any interior space. These are fitted where the wall meets the ceiling, which helps soften the effect of the concrete, creating a new style altogether. 

Crown moldings can be made of timber, MDF, or polyurethane foam. Several designs are available, from the narrow, simple type to the broader, more ornate type of molding. 

By painting the moldings to match the color of the ceiling, you can make the walls seem somewhat taller than they are. Another alternative is to match the color of the walls or use a complementary accent color.

4. Texturing Concrete Ceilings

popcorn ceiling

Texturing concrete ceilings is a technique that has gone out of fashion somewhat recently. Still, it was often used to cover up mistakes and issues that appeared on concrete ceilings. 

Popcorn texture is one such intervention that was immensely popular at one stage. Some other examples include sand swirl and Spanish knife texture.

Other than hiding imperfections, texturing your ceilings does have the added benefit of creating more aesthetic interest than a traditional smooth ceiling.

5. Painting Concrete Ceilings

painting ceiling - concrete

Naturally, one of the easiest ways to cover up your concrete ceilings is to paint them. The best paint for concrete ceilings is epoxy paint explicitly designed to adhere to concrete surfaces. This type of paint can also fill in cracks and chips to allow for a smooth finish overall.

When it comes to choosing a color, the color of your ceiling will make a significant difference to the room on the whole. White paint will lift the room and allow it to feel bright and full of light. Opt for light neutrals such as cream or ivory to create a warmer feel. 

These colors will help maintain the light and spacious feel associated with white paint without the coldness. Opt for deeper, warmer hues if you prefer to make your ceilings feel lower and cozier.

Conclusion

To some individuals, concrete ceilings can be extremely aesthetically pleasing and significantly contribute to their space in an architectural sense. Concrete ceilings can be incredibly stark, uninspired, and industrial-looking to others. While many interventions involve hiding the concrete, the best solutions are usually those that work with the aesthetic of the concrete to enhance it rather than hiding it.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.