Installing Decorative Plaster Ceiling Tiles

An ornately patterned ceiling.
What You'll Need
Ceiling tiles
Furring strips
Tape measure
Metal square
Utility knife

Plaster ceiling tiles can look great in a room and add a final decorative touch. With many different designs of plaster ceiling tiles available, it’s easy to find something to make your room stand out more. It’s not difficult to install decorative plaster ceiling tiles, though. You'll have to put in some work if you want it to look good.

Step 1—Measure

The first step is to know whether you need a border of partial ceiling tiles around the room. To do this, measure the length and width of the room. As most tiles are 12 inches by 12 inches, if the room is, say, an even 12 feet by 10 feet, there’s no need for a border. If the room isn’t an exact foot measurement, you need to add 12 inches and then divide by 2 to know the width of your border tiles. For instance, if it was 10 feet, 6 inches, you’d add 12 inches to the 6, making 18. Divide that by 2 to get 9, the number of inches in the width of your border tiles.

Step 2—Put Up Furring Strips

You don’t apply the ceiling tiles directly to the ceiling. Instead, you put up furring strips first. To do this, determine which way the joists run. The furring strips will run perpendicular to them.

Start by nailing a strip along one edge of the ceiling, using 2 nails to secure it at every joist. From here, put in furring strips at 6-inch intervals across the ceiling until you are close to the other edge. Nail the final strip along the other edge of the ceiling.

Step 3—Cut Tiles

Where there’s a border you’ll need to cut the tiles. On a firm, flat surface, mark the line using a metal square and start to score it with the utility knife. Complete the cut with a saw and finish by sanding the cut edge smooth. Continue this process until you have enough tiles for the border.

Step 4—Install Tiles

Start in one corner. Cut one of the border tiles to a square and glue it in place on the furring strip. Have the cut edge face the wall, where it will be covered with trim. Put another border tile next to it and glue that in place. Follow this with a border tile on the other wall. Then, put in the first full tile, butting up against the border tiles.

Continue to work outward into the room until you reach the other wall and then fix the final plaster ceiling tiles in place. Make sure each tiles is firmly bonded to the furring strips. Finish by adding trim all around the edges of the ceiling.