How to Hide Basement Ductwork

Hiding Basement Ductwork involves Building Straight and Level Soffits

By Mark J. Donovan

When developing plans for finishing a basement the inevitable question comes up on how to hide basement ductwork. Frequently basement ductwork is sitting below the floor joists and running perpendicular to them. Thus hiding basement ductwork can sometimes become somewhat of a challenge. This said there are a couple of options you can consider for hiding basement ductwork.

The simple, yet not very effective solution is to simply paint the ductwork the same color as the ceiling and go for that industrial look basement ceiling.

This type of solution really doesn’t hide the ductwork, but instead makes it less conspicuous to the eye when you walk down into the finished basement.

The second and most prevalent choice for hiding basement ductwork is to box it in. Boxing in basement ductwork involves building a soffit frame around the ductwork using a combination of 2x3s, 2x4s and/or 1×3 furring strips, a.k.a. strapping. Drywall can then be attached to the soffit to completely hide the basement ductwork.

When creating a soffit to hide basement ductwork, you want to make sure the soffit sits as close to the ductwork as possible without touching it. Creating too much clearance can result in low headroom, and having the soffit frame touch the ductwork could lead to vibration sounds.

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Typically a soffit frame is constructed such that it creates a U or L shaped frame around the ductwork such that it ties into the overhead floor joists. The framing of the soffit should be done on standard 16 inch centers to aid in the hanging of drywall. The U frame construction is required if the basement ductwork is not near a wall. The L frame soffit construction is used in the event the basement ductwork is near a wall edge.

The real art of creating a soffit frame to hide basement ductwork is making it level. If it is not level, you will end up seeing peaks and valleys in the drywall. Thus it is important to use a level and a chalk line to create straight and level soffits. In addition, use a miter saw to make the cuts, as the more accurate the cuts the less likelihood of un-level soffit frames.

With these simple tips you should be able to create a straight and level soffit such that you can nicely hide your basement ductwork in the ceiling of your remodeled basement.

Dropped down basement ceiling with duct work in it.

For more help on Basement Additions, see’s Basement Remodeling Bid sheet. The Basement Remodeling Bid Sheet will help ensure that your hire the right contractor so that your basement remodeling project is done correctly and you get the project finished on time and budget.

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