If you’re a homeowner who would like to increase your home’s living space but are overwhelmed by the cost of an addition, it’s time to explore the "land down under"- your basement.

According to survey of remodeling contractors, finishing an unfinished basement is one of the most inexpensive ways to add more space to a home. It is far less costly than an addition, and a proven way to increase the value of your home.

Regardless of whether you do the work yourself, hire a professional contractor, or combine a little of each, make sure there’s enough headroom. Most building codes require a minimum of 7 1/2 feet from floor to ceiling.

When planning the ceiling, interior designers say suspended or "drop" ceilings are usually the best choice because they cover exposed floor joists in an attractive manner while permitting access to pipes, ductwork and wiring above the ceiling.

The ceiling panels used in these ceilings are usually 2’ x 2’ or 2’ x 4’ in size. are installed in a metal grid system that is suspended from the floor joists, and are available in a variety of designs for any decor budget.

Some feature a subtle, overall refined surface texture. Others have a distinctive, smooth-surfaced raised panel pattern that is reminiscent of Old World woodwork. Still others offer a fine-textured repeating pattern with a stepped edge that helps "hide" the grid system.

One of the newest suspended ceiling panels on the market is called SuperTuff from Armstrong. This 2’ x 2’ panel has five times more impact resistance and two times more scratch resistance than most other panels. As such, it’s ideal for use in "active" areas such as a family room, game room, fitness room or a children’s play room. In addition, the panel absorbs 55% of that sound that strikes it, significantly reducing the noise level within the space.

To obtain additional information on SuperTuff and other ceilings used in finished basements as well as other rooms in the house, visit on the Internet. This interactive web site features numerous photos to help you visualize various ceilings in your own home.