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How to Finish Walls & Ceilings in an Unheated Garage

By Alexis Lawrence ; Updated September 21, 2017

Just because it sits outside the main living area of your home doesn’t mean that you must leave a garage undone. An unheated garage typically has concrete or cement walls and ceilings, although some have drywall in place, if insulation has been installed. Regardless of the material covering the walls and ceilings of a garage, you have options when it comes to finishing the surfaces.

Step 1

Stain the surfaces of concrete or cement walls in an unheated garage with acid stain for a look that allows the surface material to show through. Clean the walls with a TSP cleaner and rinse well with a garden hose before staining, and then apply the stain from the top to the bottom with rags. Use a push broom to etch the stain into the wall, and wipe any stain that remains on the surface off of the walls after the amount of time that the stain manufacturer recommends on the stain packaging.

Step 2

Paint both ceilings and walls in an unheated concrete or cement garage with masonry paint if you want to cover the wall material completely. Clean the walls with TSP cleaner first, and then apply masonry primer over the surface. Paint the ceiling and wall surfaces with two or three coats of paint until the concrete or cement no longer shows through.

Step 3

Lower the ceiling of an unheated garage, and get a finished look, by installing a drop ceiling. Install the wall angles and brackets for drop ceilings using masonry or drywall screws, depending upon the wall material, and anchors, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the grid work for the ceiling and place the tiles.

Step 4

Texture the walls and ceiling of the unheated garage if you would like to change the flat surfaces. Mix a batch of thinset mortar or mud, and prime the surfaces with paint primer to give the mortar or mud something to which to cling. Fill a texture gun with the mortar or mud, and spray the material onto the walls to create a uniform pattern. Apply the mortar or mud with a putty knife randomly to create a less uniform appearance.


Things You Will Need

  • TSP Cleaner
  • Rags
  • Garden hose
  • Acid stain
  • Push broom
  • Masonry or drywall primer
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint tray
  • Roller with extension pole
  • Masonry or drywall paint
  • Thinset mortar or mud
  • Texturing gun


  • Always wear protective clothing, including goggles, gloves, a long-sleeve shirt and long pants, when working with acid stain.
  • Do not attempt to spray concrete stain onto a wall or apply stain to a ceiling. Acid stain is a volatile substance that can be harmful if it blows or drips onto the skin. All efforts should be taken to avoid skin contact.

About the Author


Alexis Lawrence is a freelance writer, filmmaker and photographer with extensive experience in digital video, book publishing and graphic design. An avid traveler, Lawrence has visited at least 10 cities on each inhabitable continent. She has attended several universities and holds a Bachelor of Science in English.