How to Install Suspended Ceiling Tiles

Ceiling tiles.
  • 4-12 hours
  • Beginner
  • 250-750
What You'll Need
Metal grid system (runners, cross Ts and perimeter molding)
Ceiling panels
Chalk line
String line
Measuring tape
6d nails
Finish hammer
16 gauge wire
Wire cutters
Utility knife

This article will explain how to install suspended ceiling tiles in your home or office. The installation process requires no special skills or knowledge, and some basic hand tools and a ladder are all you need to complete the job. Follow the simple steps below and you will have a suspended ceiling that looks as though it were installed by an experienced professional.

Step 1 - Establish the Maximum Height of the Suspended Ceiling

To determine the new ceiling height, measure six inches down from the lowest protruding structural or mechanical equipment (ducts, conduit, joists, beams) and mark this height on the walls at several locations. Measure up from the floor at each mark to check that the perimeter will be level all around. Use a chalk line to connect the marks along the perimeter.

Step 2 - Install the Perimeter Molding

Align the bottom of the perimeter molding with the chalk lines and use 6d nails to install it in place Be sure to nail through the center of the molding into a stud. For outside corners, use a miter joint. For inside corners, use a butt joint.

Step 3 - Install the Runners and Cross T’s

The main runners span the full length of the ceiling. The cross T’s run perpendicular between each pair of runners. Attach eyebolts into the exposed wooden floor joists at every third joist. This will give you runners installed at four-foot increments. Use masonry screws if the floor above is a bare concrete surface. Suspend 16 gauge wire from the eyebolts and insert it into the perforations along the main runners.

Stretch a string line between the perimeter moldings at the lower edge as needed. Use the string line as a guide to make sure each runner is installed level. Install the cross T’s at two-foot intervals into the pre-made slots along the runners. If the end panels are less than full panels, use wire cutters — or tin snips — to cut and install the cross T’s.

Step 4 - Install Ceiling Panels and Allow for Openings

With the metal grid installed, the ceiling panels themselves are simply dropped into place from above. Use a utility knife to trim the partial panels along the perimeter, if necessary. Also, allow for any openings in the ceiling, such as diffusers or grilles. Determine the location of the diffuser and mark its position on the appropriate panel.

Make sure the duct extends down to just above the ceiling panel. Place the diffuser on the panel and trace around the shaft, not the flange. Use a utility knife to cut the opening in the panel, leaving the finished side facing upward toward you. Put the panel in place and insert the duct through the opening. Then, finally install the diffuser onto the duct.