The “Loft Look” Basement (and Why You Should Avoid It)


With modern and urban interiors becoming more popular, some homeowners are going after the “loft look” to finish their basements. Exposed rafters and polished concrete floors look cool and the style appears to be less expensive than more traditional finishes. However, looks can be deceiving. The result can often be more expensive than expected, and the aesthetics can leave the homeowner disappointed. In other words, it’s better to leave the loft look to lofts. Here’s why.

Leaving exposed rafters is more expensive than it looks because of the specialty paint job it requires. Professional painters need to prep the rafters and use multiple types of paint to finish the job. In addition to all the little nooks and crannies, you’ve got different surfaces to paint including wiring and metal. Labor is always more expensive than the cost of materials. In this case, it far exceeds the cost of paint. The exposed rafter look will end up costing you about 40 percent more than a traditional drywall ceiling.

When it comes to concrete floors, there are multiple ways to finish exposed concrete. And yes, finishing is necessary. It’s your basement, not your garage. This can be achieved with epoxy, polish or a stain. So it really doesn’t save money compared to common basement floor types like luxury vinyl planks or carpet.

Let’s say you don’t mind the cost. You also have to think about the look and feel of the basement. When you enter a basement, yours or someone else’s, the ceiling is probably the first thing you notice. A typical drywall ceiling indicates that the basement is finished. When you see rafters and beams, you think the basement is unfinished. So in other words, you could spend a bunch of time and money on the loft look, and your guests will still walk in and ask when you plan on finishing the basement. After all that effort and labor, it feels like your contractor stopped short of completing the project.

Polished concrete floors aren’t as jarring, but the payoff is underwhelming considering the cost and time required to do the job right. Instead of floors that look like garage floors, you’ll get something that looks like fancy garage floors. In an actual loft apartment, this style looks modern and edgy. In a basement, it just looks unfinished.

The bottom line
The only context where the loft look works in a basement is if the space is being used specifically as a workout room or home gym. Install a couple ceiling fans and some overhead lighting, and you’re good to go.

But if you want to use your basement for entertaining or a family hangout spot, the loft look isn’t the best idea. Luxury vinyl planks or carpeting is more inviting, and a drywall ceiling makes the room look more expansive and open. In the end, the loft look is more expensive, more labor-instensive, and it doesn’t even look that great.

When you’re ready to remodel your basement, regardless of the style you’re into, download our design guide and schedule your free estimate!

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