Home Garden

How to Put Up a Suspended Ceiling

For some homeowners, installing a suspended or "drop" ceiling offers advantages over traditional drywall construction. Obstructions that are difficult to enclose in drywall, such as air ducts, water and vent pipes and electrical cables, can be hidden with ease. Access for later repairs is almost instantaneous. A further bonus is that the installation, while requiring some practice, is straightforward and can be accomplished with hand tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Screw gun
  • Pencil
  • 3-foot carpenter's level
  • Pliers
  • 6-d nails
  • Tin snips
  • 3/8-inch eyebolts
  • Cross tees
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    • 1

      Choose a ceiling manufacturer that has the style, texture and colors that you wish to install. Be sure to order enough materials to complete the job, with spare tiles left over for future replacement as needed. Most large hardware stores will assist you in determining the correct quality of tiles and supporting materials needed.

    • 2

      Determine the height of the new suspended ceiling. Measure down from your existing ceiling joists 6 inches along each wall and mark this spot with a pencil. Along these marks, use a 4-foot level and draw a target line around the perimeter of the room. If the joists are not all level, use the single lowest joist, then draw a level perimeter line around the room.

    • 3

      Locate the vertical wall studs, then nail the perimeter molding (L-shaped pieces) into place along the marked perimeter of the wall. The top of the molding should align with the perimeter line. Use 6d nails in the pre-drilled holes found on the molding. Use tin snips to cut pieces as needed. At the corners, allow pieces of molding to overlap each other for additional support.

    • 4

      Cut the main ceiling runners with tin snips so that they fit in place across two opposing perimeter moldings. The runners should all run perpendicular to the ceiling joists. They must be placed exactly 4 feet apart, so begin in the center of the ceiling and work outward toward the walls.

    • 5

      Screw 3/8-inch eyebolts above the main runners into the ceiling joists. Fasten 24-inch lengths of 16-gauge ceiling support wire to each eyebolt hole. Then twist the wire three times clockwise around itself near the eyebolt hole. Insert the hanging end of each wire through a corresponding support hole located in the ceiling runners. Bend the extra wire upward so that the runners are fully supported. Twist each one three times clockwise to secure it.

    • 6

      Connect the runners together using cross tees spaced exactly 2 feet apart. Cross tees contain small hooks on each end that snap into place on the main runners. When finished, the entire ceiling area will be covered with 2-by-4-foot rectangles. Perimeter cross tees may be cut to length with tin snaps, then laid in place.

    • 7

      Level the ceiling by placing a carpenter's level on a main runner, then twisting each support wire slightly with pliers at all "low spots" located in the ceiling runners. Twisting the wire, commonly called "kinking it," will make it shorter in length, thus raising the runner in that particular spot. Always raise the low spots, rather than lowering the high spots, in the ceiling. Continue to use the level and kink method along all areas of the ceiling until all of the low spots have been removed.

    • 8

      Install the ceiling panels beginning in the center of the ceiling and working outward. Push each panel through the opening in the ceiling where it will reside, then allow it to drop down and lay flat in the grid. Slight adjustments can be made to the ceiling grid by applying pressure in the direction needed to get any stubborn tiles to drop into place.

    • 9

      Finish the ceiling by cutting the perimeter tiles to the exact shape and size needed, then installing them in the same manner as the full 2-by-4-foot tiles.