Ceiling Panels: How to Install Floating Ceiling Joints

What You'll Need
Tape measure
Level (Preferably a Laser level if you can get one.)
Electricians pliers
Utility knife w/extra blades
Pencil or felt tip pen
Tin snips/Hack saw
Stud finder
Screws and/or nails
Wall angle
Ceiling panels
Floating ceiling joints

Installing a drop ceiling with floating ceiling joints is an inexpensive alternative to traditional sheetrock or woodwork when finishing a space in your home. If you take your time and plan in advance, this job doesn’t have to be an overwhelming nightmare. In fact, it can be a rewarding experience.

 Step 1: Measure and Prep

Examine your room to be sure that no pipes or duct work will get in the way, and that you have adequate attachment points for your grid work. Any electrical or re-routing work needs to take place at this point.  Next, take accurate measurements. The length times the width equals the square footage of the room. Make note of any jutting walls and alcoves. Plot measurements onto a map of the room. This will help in figuring out amount of materials needed and serve as a reference point during installation. Tiles come in 2x4 or 2x2 sizes. Make note of ceiling lights and design the grid, so that outer borders are as equal and as large as possible.

Step 2: Wall Angle

Next, install the wall angle, which supports the bordering grid. Using a level, mark a line around the entire room at the height you’ve chosen (about 7 ½ ft).  It must be level. Allow enough clearance for doors and tiles (about 3 or 4 inches). Attach the wall angle along this line.  Screw into the studs. To create a more finished look, miter cut the corners at a 45degree angle. Outside corners of walls, that are jutting out, need a miter cut to wrap around the corner. Inside corners are when the walls meet at 90 degrees, and need to be cut inwardly for a smoother fit.

Step 3: Main Runners

The main runners are installed perpendicular to the ceiling joists, using support wires secured to the joists at every other point where the main runners and the cross-tees will intersect (every 3 or 4 feet). Use your drawing as a reference. Take care that your wires are firmly secured. Strings, stretched between the walls at the bottom of the perimeter angles, keep everything level. Bend your wires 90 degrees at this level line and attach the main runners, twisting the wire at least 3 times.  Double check for a level reading and follow this procedure until all your main runners are in place. 

Step 4: Cross-Tees and Tiles

After all your main runners are in, place your cross-tees. Each one has a tab which locks into slots along the main runners.  Lay out your grid as designed, from the center out, finishing up with all your border-tees.  Now, you can put in your tiles.  Use a straight-edge and your utility knife for any cuts.  At this point, installing the lights would be a good idea.

Congrats, you have installed your drop ceiling.  Remember, though, that if this project becomes too much, it is always preferable to call a qualified installer.  Sometimes unforeseen circumstances can cause a project to get out of control, so be sure and take time for these considerations and always follow the manufacturers’ guidelines for installation.