CommunityFinishing Basement

Finishing Basement

Ceiling of basement currently open floor joists (2×10). I do not want a suspended ceiling – I want drywall. Problem is the builder laid the electric across the edge of the joists instead of drilling through them. What do you recommend I do to prepare the joists for the drywall?

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Guest Staff answered 7 years ago

If you've got electrical cables running along the bottom of your floor joists, you can still install 1×3 furring strips (sometimes called "strapping") along the bottom of the joists and secure your drywall panels to the furring strips. This will bring the drywall down away from the cables and it will also allow you the opportunity to use shims to flatten and uneven spots where the joists might be uneven.

The National Electrical Code allows this method under section 300.4(D). There are a few things to be careful of though. Be sure to keep the electrical cables at least 1-1/4" away from the furring strips so that drywall nails or screws won't hit the cables. In the places where that's not possible, protect the cables with 1/16" thick nailing plates.

Editor's Note:  Jim Katen is a professional home inspector with Benchmark Inspection Service in Gaston, OR.  Jim volunteers as a guest expert in The Money Pit Community.  Learn more about Jim’s work through the American Society of Home Inspectors.