Decorative Ceiling Tiles: Installing a Drop-In Ceiling

Written by Milan Jara on 6th Oct 2011

I discussed installing nail-up tin ceiling tiles in a previous series of posts, but what if you don’t want to go to the trouble of nailing plywood on your existing ceiling? Is there a method for installing decorative ceiling tiles that might be a little more suitable as a one person DIY project? Actually there is — a drop-in ceiling can easily be installed without a helper as there is no heavy lifting required.

Drop-In Ceiling Tile

A Drop-in Ceiling is actually installed below your existing ceiling so make sure the new height is going to work in the room you plan to upgrade. The ideal installation height is about 6 inches below the current ceiling, but you can usually get by with just 3 or 4 inches if need be. If you live in a home with 8 or 9 foot ceilings, losing 6 inches normally doesn’t make a large difference. However, if you happen to live in an older home with extremely low ceilings, a 6 inch reduction can make a significant change. You might want to consider nail or glue-up decorative ceiling tiles if your room has this situation.

Decorative Ceiling Tiles Drop-In Installation Considerations

There are a few items to consider when deciding whether your room can afford to lose 6 inches with the installation of drop-in decorative ceiling tiles. Examine where the new height will meet at your door and window trim — in most cases you should still have plenty of room, but you don’t want the new ceiling to hit right at or below the top of the trim as it can detract from the room’s appearance.

You will also have to make arrangements if you have any HVAC vents, lights, or ceiling fans in your ceiling. You can still proceed with the installation, but the appropriate contractors will need to adjust the fixtures or vents to the new ceiling height. This might also be a good time to decide if you want to add any insulation above the decorative ceiling tiles. Batt insulation can add a little more R-value to the room if there happens to be an attic or unfinished space above or be used to dampen sound from living space located on the next level.

Antique Copper Ceiling Tiles

There’s one more item to inspect before beginning the installation of your drop-in decorative ceiling tiles — the condition of the current ceiling. Even though you’ll be covering up the cosmetics of the ceiling, its condition can still affect your new tiles. If there is any loose debris such as flaking popcorn, cracking plaster or any other part of the ceiling in danger of falling anytime soon, it should be removed so that you’re starting the installation on a solid structure.

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