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What are the Best Tips for Covering Basement Poles?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 16, 2024
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Basement poles are a necessary feature in home construction. The metal poles are used to support large open areas and prevent the collapse of the first floor into the basement. The problem with these poles is that they are not attractive and can be an eyesore in otherwise well-decorated areas. Fortunately, there are ways to cover the steel poles and make them appear as if they were intentionally installed for their aesthetic appeal. The poles can be enclosed in wooden or drywall structures which can be painted, wallpapered or carpeted to create visual appeal.

Once steel basement poles have been permanently placed and adjusted underneath a house, it is a common practice to box them in and cover them. By using small dimensional lumber to create a square structure around the poles, drywall can be cut and installed to finish the pole boxes. Once the drywall mud has been cured and sanded smooth, the basement poles are ready to be painted or wall papered. There are also methods to make the poles safer for small children.

By placing a thick layer of carpet padding around the bottom of the basement poles, a soft area is created to protect a child from injury in the case of an accidental collision. Carpet can then be installed over the padding to create a finished appearance to the lower area of the pole. In this type of installation, either matching or contrasting carpeting can be used to highlight the basement poles or aid them in fading into the background.

A feature that can turn a plain basement into an inside garden is a small planter box built onto the poles. By building a small open top box onto the pole covering, a planter can be made by lining the box with plastic and placing potting soil inside of the structure or simply inserting a potted plant. Adding a variety of plants and vines can help bring the look of an outside garden inside year-round.

Lights can also be easily integrated into the pole coverings. It is easiest to install the wiring inside of the boxed structures at the time of construction. Individuals can add a light fixture to the outside of the pole's covering after the structure has been painted or otherwise finished. This gives an Old World finish to the poles by creating an old-fashioned street lamp look on the basement poles when they are illuminated.

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Discussion Comments

By sunnySkys — On Mar 24, 2012

I think one important thing to take into account when you're covering basement poles is the cost to finish the basement. After all, finishing a basement can be pretty costly, especially if you're putting in plumbing or adding extra features.

I imagine by the time a lot of people get to the basement poles, they don't want to spend a ton of money just to get them covered! I can see why a lot of people just build a box around them or throw some carpeting over them and then call it a day!

By KaBoom — On Mar 23, 2012

@JessicaLynn - I've seen a lot of finished basements like what you're describing too. I often wonder why most people don't take the opportunity to use some creative finished basement ideas instead of doing the same old thing.

However, I recently saw a finished basement that I thought was really cool. Instead of covering the poles in the standard carpeting, the people who own the home had built around the poles so they looked like Greek style columns! It was probably the coolest basement I had ever seen, especially because the rest of the decor matched!

By JessicaLynn — On Mar 22, 2012

Most people I know that have a finished basement simply cover the poles in carpet. However, I would love to see some more unique basement pole wraps like the article is describing.

I especially love the idea of turning the poles into a light fixture. Since you can basically build a structure around the pole, the possibilities are pretty much unlimited. Also, with all the modern LED lighting that is out now, there are even more options.

I like the idea presented in the article of making them look like an old world lamppost. However, I think it would also be cool to use those LED lighting coils to make the whole thing kind of glow!

By SarahSon — On Mar 21, 2012

We are in the process of finally finishing our basement. I have looked at all kinds of finished basement pictures to get an idea of what I want, and what I can afford.

While hiding or enclosing the poles would be the best idea, the poles are already there, and it will be much more cost effective to cover them up somehow.

I really like the idea of using lighting to cover up the poles and the Old World look is very appealing. Usually basements don't have much light, so adding extra light fixtures like this could really brighten up the room.

Our family will probably end up spending a lot of time down there, and want it to look nice without spending a fortune.

By myharley — On Mar 21, 2012

At our church, the children's program is down in the basement. They covered up the poles by wrapping carpet around them.

While this helps cover up the poles, it would still hurt pretty hard if kids ran into the poles. Sometimes they can get pretty crazy, and it would be easy for the poles to get in their way if they are doing much running around.

When you have small children running around, I think it would be better to somehow enclose the poles, but that would also cost a lot more money than just covering them with carpet. At least it adds a little bit of protection instead of just having metal poles.

By John57 — On Mar 21, 2012

When you look at pictures of finished basement designs, you hardly notice there are poles there. To me, that is the sign of a well thought-out design.

We have a finished basement and the poles are enclosed in wood that blend in with the rest of the basement. This actually adds some character to the room, but my husband gets frustrated because they are right in the way when they are playing pool.

This one particular area of our basement was designed to have a pool table there, but the poles are still in the way if you are trying to make a certain shot.

Since there is no way around having the support of poles in the basement, having them hidden or blending in is much more appealing.

By cloudel — On Mar 20, 2012
My parents always sent me and my two sisters down to the basement to play when we were little. After several incidences of injuring ourselves by running into the hard poles, they decided to cover them.

They used heavy padding for the first layer, and then they used a thick, fluffy carpet for the outer layer. Since we were the ones who spent the most time down there, they let us choose the colors, and we picked pink and purple.

We absolutely loved our thickly carpeted poles. It was nearly impossible for us to hurt ourselves on them anymore, and they looked like something that belonged in a giant dollhouse!

Now that we're grown, I wonder if my parents regret letting us have pink and purple pole coverings. I like to think that it reminds them of our childhood in a fond way, but I have to wonder if they look at them and ask themselves what they were thinking sometimes.

By LisaLou — On Mar 19, 2012

@OeKc05 - I had some of the same questions about using this space in your basement for gardening.

We have a large unfinished basement, and have not done anything to cover up the poles. They aren't very attractive looking, but since I rarely go down there anyway, I haven't given it much thought.

Since I love to garden I was fascinated by the idea of a planter box around the bottom of them. My first thought would be what would grow there since there isn't much light down there.

I have windows, but there is no direct sunlight coming in. It would be interesting to find some vines or trailing plants that grow well in the shade.

Then you could have them wind around the poles and help cover them up. This is something that would be interesting to try. It might take awhile for the vines to get very long, but you wouldn't be out much money to experiment with it.

By seag47 — On Mar 18, 2012

My best friend lives in her parent's basement, so she wanted to decorate and make it look as nice as possible. The first thing she undertook was covering up the unsightly poles.

Instead of just making a wooden box around them, she decided to make a hexagon. This gave the poles a very interesting shape, and the six flat surfaces became the base for shiny tiles.

She chose various shades of blue and green glass tiles to cover the pole boxes from top to bottom. When the light hits them, they shine, and they are so beautiful that I almost wish I had poles inside my house to decorate!

By StarJo — On Mar 17, 2012

@OeKc05 – I grow vines in a planter on my basement poles. I chose a variety that grow wild on the jungle floor, because they don't need sunlight to flourish.

I got a few different kinds of philodendron and planted them in several soil boxes around my basement poles. The vines grow rapidly and drape down, so I plant them at eye level. This allows me to reach them with the watering can, but it gives them plenty of room to cascade downward and cover the poles.

A couple of plants have dark green leaves, while a few others have red ones with little white stripes. All the leaves are heart-shaped, and they are a great choice to liven up boring poles.

By OeKc05 — On Mar 16, 2012

Planting a garden in a basement sounds strange to me. There usually isn't much sunlight down there, and many plants can't survive without it.

I guess you could install a fluorescent light for plants that respond well to this type of illumination. I don't know if you could grow any fruits or vegetables this way, though.

Has anyone here grown plants around your basement poles? What type of plants were you successful at raising in the basement? It would be neat to have some greenery to oxygenate and add cheer to a dark, dank room.

By ZsaZsa56 — On Mar 16, 2012

I am a general contractor and I have done a lot of basement renovations over the years. One of the biggest features of basement design is taking into account the basement pole covers because this is an issue in almost every basement.

You basically have two options. You can subdivide the basement into smaller rooms and hide the poles behind drywall, or you can come up with some kind of basement pole wrap that will hide the poles without cutting up the space.

Many of our clients elect for us to hide the basement poles behind little square frames that we construct out of lumber and a little drywall. The pole is still there, it just looks less unsightly and blends into the overall design better.

By gravois — On Mar 15, 2012

I wanted to set up a kind of lounge area in my basement but it had these huge rusty iron poles that really made the place look dark and dingy. It was not the kind of place anyone would want to hang out no matter how nice your couches were and how big the TV was.

But my mom suggested that I take a bunch of old Christmas lights that she had and wrap all the poles in them. I did and it worked and now each one of the poles glows like it's own homemade light fixture. It's better than any lamp I could have bought.

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