Drop ceilings, which are also known as suspended ceilings, generally offer many more advantages than drywall ceilings. They are usually cost-effective, easy to install on your own, and also allow you to access ductwork and wires easily after it has been installed.
According to the report by Future Market Insights, the global suspended ceiling system market share is expected to reach US$ 10.5 Billion in 2032. Because installing a drop ceiling with careful preparation is an easy process that saves you money and refreshes the look of your space.
So, if you are looking for basement ceiling ideas, drop ceilings can provide a stylish cover for ugly drywall stains or exposed ductwork and plumbing. Now, if you want to know how to install a drop ceiling in your basement on your own, you will get your answer here.
It is not that hard and you can save a lot of money by doing it yourself. In this article, I have shared how to install drop ceiling and step by step process to install it.
Also, we have shared the tools and materials required for drop ceiling installation in this article. You should purchase these tools and materials as per your requirement.
So, let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Drop Ceiling Installation Tools And Materials
Not a lot of tools and materials are required in the installation process of drop ceilings. Some of the necessary tools are a tape measure, a utility knife, tin snips, a pencil, a ladder, and a power drill.
And some of the important required materials are ceiling tiles, cross tees, suspension wire, and main beams. Here, we have given the description of a few of those tools and materials.
- 4-foot And 2-foot Cross T’s: 4-foot cross T’s are like mini T-Channel that run parallel to your floor joists. If you are going with 4’x2′ tiles, 2-foot cross T’s are not needed. However, If you are purchasing 2’x2′ tiles, 2-foot cross T’s are needed to run between the 4-foot cross T’s.
- Drop Ceiling Tiles: These are the most expensive part of your drop ceiling project and they come in a ton of styles. These tiles can also be humidity and mold-resistant. And different types of tiles offer various levels of sound insulation.
- Tin Snips And Utility Knife: You will definitely need a good pair of tin snips to make all the required cuts on the L and T channels. And while cutting tiles, utility knives with sharp blades are very important. Cutting drop ceiling tiles dulls those blades quickly, so you need to stock up on utility blades before getting started.
- L-Channel and T-Channel: L channel is a metal channel that is shaped like an L. You will need to install this channel first around the entire perimeter of the wall, a few inches below your main ceiling. And T-channels run perpendicular to your floor joists.
How to Install a Drop Ceiling in 7 Steps
To put in a drop ceiling, you have to first install a grid system of runners to support your drop ceiling tiles. When the grid is securely installed, set the tiles in place to create your new drop ceiling. Here, we have explained how to install a drop ceiling in a 7-step process.
1. Contact Your Local Building Authority
Before you purchase the required materials, you should contact your local building authority. Sometimes, you may need a building permit before starting your project. However, it mainly depends on the state where you live.
Also, some municipalities require you to submit your drop ceiling designs in advance. You should ask your local building authority about any minimum ceiling height requirements when you reach out.
Most of the drop ceiling styles require a minimum of 4 inches of clearance from the structural ceiling or main ceiling of a room to allow access above.
So, you will need to verify whether a drop ceiling is possible in your space. You can also get some tips and advice from your local authority so that you can complete your work safely.
They can teach you all the safety measures you need to follow while working.
2. Measure Your Room and Purchase Required Materials
You need to take measurements with your measuring tape along each wall in the space where you will be installing your ceiling.
Now, you should use these measurements to plan out your ceiling project on a sheet of grid paper. When you plan your layout, keep in mind that you can cut your ceiling panels.
It means that you can choose to design your ceiling layout with border panels of the same width on opposite sides of the room rather than leaving a single odd-sized row at the end.
When you get your measurements in hand, you will have an installation plan and know how much material is required.
It does not matter what style of drop ceiling you choose, you will end up following the same basic steps for installation.
However, your options mainly come down to the size and look of your ceiling project. Standard sizes of panels include a 2-foot-by-2-foot square panel or a two-foot-by-four-foot rectangular panel.
After purchasing, unpack your panels at least 24 hours before you start the installation. So, they can acclimate to the temperature and humidity of the space where the drop ceiling will be installed.
3. Cut Your Border Panels With Safety And Create Your Ceiling Perimeter
If you plan to have even borders, you can do some simple calculations to determine the length and width of a border panel and cut your border panels according to that.
Before you make any cuts, you should always wear safety glasses and protective gloves. And always cut your border panels face up using a sharp utility knife.
Because cutting through the backside may damage the visible surface of the border panels. Also, some types of panels require special cutting procedures.
So, you need to check the manufacturer instructions that have come with your product.
Then you should choose a height for your ceiling, keeping any local regulations in mind. Now, place marks on the walls around the room at your desired height using a hand level and pencil. Also, you can use a laser level for simplicity.
Then draw a chalk line to connect all of your pencil marks into a level perimeter.
4. Position and Attach the Wall Angles
Wall angles, which are also called wall molding, consist of L-shaped rails that attach to your wall. These rails form the perimeter of the grid that supports your drop ceiling panels. Wall angles attach to your main beams and cross-tees, which form the rest of the grid system.
Now, you need to locate wall studs using a stud finder. Then you will need to screw your wall angles to your wall studs along the perimeter line.
You should install each section of the wall angles, so it butts up against the end of the sections next to it. Use tin snips to cut corner sections to length at a 45-degree angle to make joints.
You will also find some drop ceiling products available in the market which includes clip-on corner pieces to hide these joints.
However, if your walls are stone or concrete, use the appropriate fasteners that come with your ceiling products.
5. Hang Your Main Beams Using Suspension Wires
This is the most important step in the installation process of your drop ceiling. So, you need to carefully follow any instructions with your product.
First, use your installation plan which you have already made to mark the position of your main beams where they will rest on your wall molding. Now, stretch and attach pieces of leveling string between opposite marks as a guide.
Then, you need to find your ceiling joists with a stud finder. At the end of your first string, install a hook in the ceiling joist directly above where the first main beam and the cross-tee will intersect each other.
Now, move down the line and install a hook at each intersection and repeat the process along each string. You should cut a length of suspension wire for each hook that is 12 inches longer than the distance between ceiling levels.
After that, fasten the wire to each hook and stretch it tight with your pliers and bend it at a right angle where it crosses the string. Then, you need to slide each wire through one of the small round holes in each main beam.
Sometimes, you may need to cut the first main beam to ensure that there is a hole where the first cross tee will be.
6. Complete The Grid With Cross Tees
Once you have completed the process of hanging your main beams with suspension wires, you will need to install the cross tees to complete the grid.
Therefore, you should first measure and cut your border tees. So, they easily match the size of your border panels. Before cutting, you should always wear safety glasses and protective gloves.
Now, you need to place the cut ends on your wall angles and connect the uncut ends to the nearest main beam. After that, you should insert your uncut cross tees in line with the border cross tees until you reach the opposite wall.
So, now just connect tees by snapping them into precut openings along the main beams. Every time you connect any two grid elements, you should hear an audible click. It indicates a proper connection between those grid elements.
7. Install Drop Ceiling Tiles
Now, we have come to the final step of this installation process. To put your ceiling panels in place, you should start at the center of the ceiling grid to help force loose gridwork into alignment as you work toward the edges.
Most of the drop ceiling designs usually require no hardware to secure ceiling tiles. Simply, you just need to tilt each panel and slide it through a grid opening at an angle, and carefully lowering it into its place.
If you need to make any cuts on the ceiling panels for lighting or other required openings, do so with the panel facing up just as you cut your border panels.
Because cutting through the backside may damage the visible surface of the drop ceiling panels.
It can cost you $3 to $30 per square foot for materials and you have to pay an additional $2 to $5 per square foot in labor costs if you hire any local suspended ceiling installers to do the job for you.
So, you can save your money by doing it yourself after following this process.
Wrap Up On How To Install Drop Ceiling
Here we have highlighted all the key steps of a drop ceiling installation. Also, you will get the list of the required tools and materials and you should purchase them as per your budget.
We strongly recommend you to read this full detailed guide. You should not miss any step of this article to avoid mistakes.
While taking measurements, you should always double-check to make sure they are accurate. If you have a partner to help you, it will be easier to hang runners and tiles.
And you should also avoid using power tools while working with tiles since they could create a lot of dust.
Also, while installing a drop ceiling, you should keep your personal safety in mind and follow all safety measures. After reading this article, if you have any questions on how to install a drop ceiling, please leave a comment below.
FAQ: How To Install Drop Ceiling
Modern-day drop ceilings generally provide thermal insulation, reduce the need for materials needed for construction, and may use recyclable materials. There are many questions in the minds of people related to this, here we are answering some important questions.
Q1. How much does it cost to install a drop ceiling?
Ans: Installing a drop ceiling can cost anything between $5 to $28 per square foot for labor and materials. It usually falls in the middle range when it comes to installation costs across all ceiling types. If you want insulating panels behind the ceiling tiles you should add $2 per square foot.
Q2. How long does a drop ceiling last?
Ans: Many of us might be surprised to know that drop ceiling tiles are designed to last around ten years. After ten years, if they have not been damaged or discolored by some other factor, they may start to become brittle and you will need to replace them.
Q3. Are drop ceilings waterproof?
Ans: Plastic materials are a very popular choice for drop ceilings. Because they are entirely waterproof, nonporous, are not prone to rust, and also don’t absorb moisture. So, whether your drop ceilings are waterproof or not, will depend on the materials used.