How to Install a Drop Ceiling


Drop ceilings, also known as a suspended ceiling, offer many advantages over drywall. Drop ceilings are cost-effective, easy to install on your own, and allow you to access ductwork and wires easily after it’s been installed. In order to put in a drop ceiling, you need to first install a grid system of runners to support your ceiling tiles. When the grid is secure, set the tiles in place to create your new ceiling!

Part 1
Placing Your Wall Angles

Placing Your Wall Angles on How to Install a Drop Ceiling

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Use a tape measure to find the length of each wall in the room where you’re installing your ceiling. Write the dimensions of your room either in a notebook or directly on the wall 2–3 in (5.1–7.6 cm) from the top so you can easily reference them later.[1] If your room is square or rectangular, you only need to measure the length and width.

Placing Your Wall Angles on How to Install a Drop Ceiling

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Leave at least 4–6 in (10–15 cm) of space from the top of your wall to your line so you have room for fixtures and to put in your tiles. Use a 4 ft (1.2 m) level and draw a straight line with your pencil completely around your room.[2] Snap a chalk line if you don’t want to draw the lines on yourself. Hold the string of the chalk line against your wall and snap it so the line transfers onto the drywall. If you plan on installing a large fluorescent light panel, make your line 6 in (15 cm) down.

Placing Your Wall Angles on How to Install a Drop Ceiling

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Wall angles are long L-shaped pieces used around the walls of your room to support the tiles and runners. Since wall angles are usually sold in 8–12 ft (2.4–3.7 m) lengths, trim them down with your tin snips to match the lengths of your walls.[3] If you have a corner that juts out from your wall, cut the wall angles going on those walls 1⁄2 in (1.3 cm) longer than your measurements. If you want a mitered finish in the corners, cut the wall runner bottom-most wall angle at a 45-degree angle. If your walls are longer than the wall angles, butt 2 of them together by lining up the ends.

Placing Your Wall Angles on How to Install a Drop Ceiling

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Use a stud finder to locate the studs in your walls and mark their locations with a pencil. Line up the top of the wall angle with the line you’ve drawn on the wall. Use 1 1⁄4 in (3.2 cm) screws and electric screwdriver where you marked the studs to secure your wall angles in place.[4] Double check that your wall angles are level as you install them. Tip: If a wall angle bows out,don’t try to tighten it flatagainst the wall since it maywarp the metal. Instead, keep thewall angle straight by placing awooden shim between it and thewall. When your ceiling iscompletely finished, fill the gapin with caulk.Tip: If a wall angle bows out, don’ttry to tighten it flat against thewall since it may warp the metal.Instead, keep the wall angle straightby placing a wooden shim between itand the wall. When your ceiling iscompletely finished, fill the gap inwith caulk.Tip: If a wall angle bows out, don’t tryto tighten it flat against the wall since itmay warp the metal. Instead, keep the wallangle straight by placing a wooden shimbetween it and the wall. When your ceilingis completely finished, fill the gap in withcaulk.Tip: If a wall angle bows out, don’t try to tighten it flat againstthe wall since it may warp the metal. Instead, keep the wall anglestraight by placing a wooden shim between it and the wall. When yourceiling is completely finished, fill the gap in with caulk.Tip: If a wall angle bows out, don’t try to tighten it flat against the wallsince it may warp the metal. Instead, keep the wall angle straight by placinga wooden shim between it and the wall. When your ceiling is completelyfinished, fill the gap in with caulk.

Part 2
Putting in the Grid System

Putting in the Grid System on How to Install a Drop Ceiling

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The main runners will support the bulk of the weight of your ceiling. Measure the length of your room that runs perpendicular to the wooden joists of your ceiling. Cut the runners with a pair of tin snips to the correct length.[5] If your room is longer than the length of a main runner, use the clips on the ends of the piece to attach them together.

Putting in the Grid System on How to Install a Drop Ceiling

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2 m). Secure the end of a chalk line on one end of your room and pull it tight to the other side. Snap the chalk line to leave a line on the joists. Move over 4 ft (1.2 m) and make another line on your ceiling. Keep moving across your room until you reach the other edge.[6] You may also tie strings tight across your ceiling if you don’t have a chalk line.

Putting in the Grid System on How to Install a Drop Ceiling

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Eyelet screws have holes on the end so you can run wires through them to hang your main runner. Attach a lag bit onto your electric screwdriver, and set an eyelet inside the bit. Start placing your eyelets 3 joists away from the wall along each of your chalk or string lines. Keep adding an eyelet at every third joist.[7] Eye lit screws can be purchased from your local hardware store.

Putting in the Grid System on How to Install a Drop Ceiling

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Cut a 8–10 in (20–25 cm) piece of 16-gauge wire for each of your eyelets. Feed about 2 in (5.1 cm) of the wire through the eyelet, and bend it with a pair of pliers until it points down.[8]

Putting in the Grid System on How to Install a Drop Ceiling

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Hold one of your main runners up so the ends rest on your wall angles and so it’s perpendicular to your joists. Feed the other end of the wire through one of the circular slots on the runner, and bend it up with your pliers. Twist the wires around themselves at least 3 times to keep them secure.[9] Make sure your joists are level as you keep adding wires. Adjust where the bend is in the wires if one side is higher than the other.

Putting in the Grid System on How to Install a Drop Ceiling

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Locate the slots on the main runners every 2 ft (0.61 m). Lift your 4 ft (1.2 m) runners above the main runners and feed them into the slots on the mains. Put a secondary runner every 2 ft (0.61 m) along your main runners.[10]Tip: If you want a 2 ft× 2 ft (0.61 m × 0.61 m)tile system, click 2 ft(0.61 m) secondary runners inthe center each 4 ft (1.2 m)runner.Tip: If you want a 2 ft × 2 ft(0.61 m × 0.61 m) tile system,click 2 ft (0.61 m) secondaryrunners in the center each 4 ft(1.2 m) runner.Tip: If you want a 2 ft × 2 ft (0.61 m× 0.61 m) tile system, click 2 ft(0.61 m) secondary runners in the centereach 4 ft (1.2 m) runner.Tip: If you want a 2 ft × 2 ft (0.61 m × 0.61 m) tile system,click 2 ft (0.61 m) secondary runners in the center each 4 ft(1.2 m) runner.Tip: If you want a 2 ft × 2 ft (0.61 m × 0.61 m) tile system, click2 ft (0.61 m) secondary runners in the center each 4 ft (1.2 m) runner.

Part 3
Installing the Ceiling Tiles

Installing the Ceiling Tiles on How to Install a Drop Ceiling

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Locate any areas on your ceiling where you need to make an opening for your ducts or light fixtures. Trace the end of the duct or the size of the light feature onto the back of one of your tiles. Cut the shape out of the tile with a sharp utility knife.[11] If you’re installing a full-panel fluorescent light fixture, you don’t need to cut any shapes from the tiles.

Installing the Ceiling Tiles on How to Install a Drop Ceiling

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Your room will most likely have edges that won’t fit full-sized tiles. Measure the grid opening for the tile and add 3⁄8 in (0.95 cm) to the measurement you found. Transfer that measurement to tile and cut the piece to size using a utility knife.[12] Avoid using any power equipment to cut your tiles since it will generate a lot of dust. Tip: Tiles usually come in 2 ft× 4 ft (0.61 m × 1.22 m)or 2 ft × 2 ft (0.61 m× 0.61 m) sizes. While 2 ft× 4 ft (0.61 m × 1.22 m)tiles use less material and aremore cost effective, they do nothave the same versatility as2 ft × 2 ft (0.61 m× 0.61 m) tiles.Tip: Tiles usually come in 2 ft× 4 ft (0.61 m × 1.22 m) or2 ft × 2 ft (0.61 m × 0.61 m)sizes. While 2 ft × 4 ft (0.61 m× 1.22 m) tiles use less materialand are more cost effective, they donot have the same versatility as 2 ft× 2 ft (0.61 m × 0.61 m) tiles.Tip: Tiles usually come in 2 ft × 4 ft(0.61 m × 1.22 m) or 2 ft × 2 ft(0.61 m × 0.61 m) sizes. While 2 ft× 4 ft (0.61 m × 1.22 m) tiles useless material and are more cost effective,they do not have the same versatility as2 ft × 2 ft (0.61 m × 0.61 m) tiles.Tip: Tiles usually come in 2 ft × 4 ft (0.61 m × 1.22 m) or2 ft × 2 ft (0.61 m × 0.61 m) sizes. While 2 ft × 4 ft(0.61 m × 1.22 m) tiles use less material and are more costeffective, they do not have the same versatility as 2 ft × 2 ft(0.61 m × 0.61 m) tiles.Tip: Tiles usually come in 2 ft × 4 ft (0.61 m × 1.22 m) or 2 ft× 2 ft (0.61 m × 0.61 m) sizes. While 2 ft × 4 ft (0.61 m× 1.22 m) tiles use less material and are more cost effective, they do nothave the same versatility as 2 ft × 2 ft (0.61 m × 0.61 m) tiles.

Installing the Ceiling Tiles on How to Install a Drop Ceiling

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95 cm) flange in any cut edge of your tiles. The flanges rest on your runners and make the tile have more dimension when you put it in your ceiling. Measure in 3⁄8 in (0.95 cm) from any edge that doesn’t have a flange and draw a line with a pencil. Follow along the line with a utility knife, only cutting halfway through the tile. Make another cut on the side of the tile at the same depth as your first cut to remove the flange piece.[13] This only needs to be done if your tiles don’t have flanges already.

Installing the Ceiling Tiles on How to Install a Drop Ceiling

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Start in the center of your room and work towards the edges. Angle the tiles and lift them through the grid system. Straighten the tiles out before setting the flanges on the runners. Continue putting the tiles into your ceiling until it’s completely covered.[14] Make sure the tiles are level as you install them. If you find any that aren’t level, adjust the runners before moving on.