How to Hang Fixtures From a Suspended Ceiling

A suspended ceiling.
  • 3-5 hours
  • $30-150
What You'll Need
Screws or hooks
Phillips and flat headed screwdrivers
Small chain or heavy tensile strength wire
Stud finder
Tape measure
Wire cutter
Masking tape
Utility knife

When finishing certain space in the home such as a bathroom, workroom, office or basement, you may be thinking about installing a suspended ceiling. The suspended ceiling consists of aluminum rails that are suspended from the permanent ceiling. Ceiling panels are then placed on the rails. Suspended ceilings are less expensive than other ceiling solutions.

Hanging anything from a suspended ceiling comes with several risks. You cannot hang anything directly from a suspended ceiling without first modifying it. The article that follows will show you how to hang fixtures and other objects from a suspended ceiling.

Step 1 - Place the Fixtures

In order to hang fixtures from a suspended ceiling, you first need to identify where they can be hung. If you are hanging decorations such as balloons or a pinata for a party, then you can tie a string around the metal frame.

Fixtures that weigh considerably more than the suspended ceiling frame can handle require some extra effort. Remove all of the suspended ceiling panels. Use a stud finder to find the studs in the permanent ceiling. Mark their spots with a small piece of masking tape.

Step 2 - Install the Fixture Supports

You would normally install the fixture flush with the existing ceiling, but that is not possible on a suspended ceiling. The fixture weighs too much to be supported by the suspended ceiling alone. For this reason, you will either use a chain connected to the fixture or metal wire.

Use the screwdriver to install screws into the ceiling studs if using metal wire, or screw a hook into the stud for a chain. Use the tape measure to determine the distance from the permanent ceiling to the suspended ceiling. Cut the wire and the chain to this length plus a few inches.

Step 3 - Install the Fixture

In order to make the fixture look like it is directly connected to the suspended ceiling, you have to cut the suspended ceiling tiles. Place the fixture on top of the panels through which you will install them. Depending on the style of the fixture, you may cut the suspended ceiling tile to allow the insertion of the entire fixture.

If the fixture will rest upon the suspended ceiling tile, you will only have to cut a small hole through the center of the suspended ceiling tile. You can use a utility knife to cut out the area.

Replace all of the ceiling tiles except for one panel that is next to the fixture panel. Doing so gives you a much-needed access point. Gently lift the fixture to the suspended ceiling tile while threading the chain or wire through the trimmed hole. Hang the chain from the hook or wrap the wire around the screws and tighten the screws. You can now properly wire the fixture to the electrical wires within your ceiling.