If you’re looking for a great ceiling solution, consider replacing it with a drop ceiling system.
If you have at least a foot of head-space to spare, a drop ceiling may be the answer, and the installation is not as complex as you might think. A drop ceiling, also known as a suspended ceiling, easily hides pipes and wiring and still allows easy access to the area above the ceiling, if needed.
Here’s what a drop-in panel looks like. It has the same pattern area as our surface-mounted ceiling tiles, but with a flat edge that bevels to nest flush into the grid system.
And, here’s a closer look at the beveled edge:
Before we look at how to install drop-in ceiling tiles, here’s a list of stuff you’ll need:
- The grid system – this includes wall angle, main runners, and all of the cross-sections
- Drop tile ceiling hardware – screws, suspension wire, and wire cutters, hold-down clips
- Circular or jigsaw with a metal-cutting blade
- Chalk box or laser
- Tin Snips
- Drill with eye bolt driver
Now the step-by-step guide to installation:
(1) Establish the correct height for the ceiling with a laser level or chalk box. [Tip: Though chalk line is always an option, a laser level will make the job much easier and will save you a whole lot of time. So if you don’t own one, and don’t want to buy one either, renting is always an option.]
(2) Fasten the wall angle pieces to the wall with screws. Make sure the screws are long enough to go through the wall and into the wall studs.
(3) Hang the suspension wires from the ceiling. Depending on what kind of ceiling you have, you can either attach the hanger wires using screws or bolts made for drop ceiling tiles applications or by wrapping the grid hangers around the joist or other stationary objects. The hanger wires are typically spaced apart by 48 inches through the ceiling. Also, they should hang at least a foot lower than the ceiling height.
(4) Hang the main runners of the metal grid using the hanger wires to tie the grid in place. The main runners will run from one side of the wall to the other. You’ll need to snap them into the trimming that runs along the wall. The runners will have pre-drilled holes that the grid hangers will slip through and tie. The direction of the main runners should run at right angles to the joist when installed. To make sure that the metal runners are level, use a laser to site the grid, or stretch out a string from the wall trim to the opposite wall trim.
(5) Install the cross tees between the main runners and secure them into position using the tabs at the ends of the cross tees, which engage in the slots of the runners. The typical ceiling tile will either be 2-by-2-foot or 2-by-4-foot.
(6) Drop the ceiling tiles in the grid flanges. If needed, secure the tiles with hold-down clips. Do not place hold down clips on tiles that may need to be lifted for access in the future.
A few additional tips to help along the way:
- Any steel material should be coated with an oil-based product for protection.
- If painting your metal ceiling, use an oil-based primer and paint. Steel can rust if a water-based product is used.
- Clean any unfinished steel with isopropyl alcohol before painting using a spray bottle and soft lint-free cloth.
- Use care not to scratch pre-painted finishes when dropping the ceiling tiles into the grid.
If you have any tips, or tricks to share with us, please feel free to do so!