How to Replace Ceiling Tiles Fast and Easy
Written by Milan Jara on 24th Aug 2022
Ceiling tiles grow old, dull, or dirty. They may also get damaged by water or workers. Here’s how to replace ceiling tiles that are no longer appealing.
About every ten years, you will need to replace your old ceiling tiles with new ones or a suitable tile alternative to refresh the look of your ceiling.
The ten-year duration isn't a hard and fast rule, so you can always replace ceiling tiles when necessary. Whether your ceiling tiles are too old or outdated or you're dealing with damaged tile, replacing them is one of the best decisions you can make for your space.
This project doesn't have to be challenging. You can easily replace ceiling tiles alone or with the help of a friend if you are installing new ones for your home.
Commercial spaces like hotels can rely on professional contractors for ceiling tile replacements. Below are ways to replace ceiling tiles like a pro without breaking them or ruining your ceiling.
1. Installing a Brand New Drop Ceiling
If your old ceiling tiles were installed using the nail-up or glue-up technique on a flat surface, you can remove them and install a new drop ceiling to hold the new ceiling tiles.
However, adding a new drop ceiling where none existed is not a simple task. The initial surface must be strong enough to hold the heavy grid system in place. Constructing the system will require a lot of work, tools, and materials.
You need plenty of space between the floor and the ceiling to install a new suspended grid. If the new ceiling encroaches too much into this space, you might have to use other replacement methods.
In some cases, you can make a second drop ceiling below the original one, preferably if you have a lot of headroom and don't want to interfere with crucial objects above the old ceiling, such as ductwork, electrical cables, and plumbing systems.
Once you have a drop ceiling grid in place, you can install your new drop-in ceiling tiles, taking care to drop each tile carefully in its grid without damaging it with excessive pressure.
2. Installing New Tiles Over Old Tiles
If you already have a drop ceiling, you can install your new ceiling tiles over the old ones without removing them. With this ceiling tile installation, there has to be enough space to fit the new tiles within the grids.
A ceiling with old glue-up tiles can also work great if you glue up new tiles over the old ones. However, finding new ceiling tiles with the exact size, design, and pattern might be challenging, especially if the tiles are outdated and no longer made.
At Decorative Ceiling Tiles, we can help you salvage antique tin ceiling tiles through replication if the manufacturer no longer produces them.
The one advantage of installing new tiles over old ones is the minimalist nature of the process. You won't have the ordeal of removing the old tiles, which is usually time-consuming, tedious, and dirty work.
3. Removing Old Tiles for New Ones
To renew the look of glue-up and drop-in ceilings, you can remove the old tiles and replace them with new ones.
The size of the new tiles won't matter much for a glue-up ceiling compared to the old ones, but it is essential for drop ceilings. For example, if you have grids that take 2ft by 2ft ceiling tiles, you'll have to buy new drop-in tiles with the same dimensions.
Modifying drop ceiling grids to accommodate tiles of different sizes is possible, but, in most cases, it is a lot of work.
How to Remove Drop Ceiling Tiles
Removing old drop ceiling tiles is relatively easy. Start by gently pushing the tile upward on one side. If the drop ceiling tile is stuck, gently push it up along the edges to detach it from the grid.
Once the tile is detached, you can slide it through the grid by angling it slightly so that it assumes a slanting position.
When pushing up the tile and angling it to slide through the grid, you must not interfere with any ductwork, cables, or plumbing work that the ceiling may hide.
Removing the first drop ceiling tile might be difficult, but it should get easier as you progress through the project. Place all the removed tiles in a safe spot to prevent damage if you want to reuse them.
Now that the grid system is empty, start installing the new ceiling tiles by dropping them into the grids.
How to Remove Glue-up Ceiling Tiles
You need a utility knife or putty knife to remove old glue-up ceiling tiles. Find a weak spot on the ceiling where the adhesive may have peeled off, and the blade can fit in.
Slide the utility knife into the open slot between the tile and ceiling substrate and then gently push it down to detach the tile.
Gently removing the tiles will help reduce damages if you want to reuse them elsewhere.
Once all the tiles are off, clean the ceiling substrate by scraping off all the adhesive residue and dust. Use the glue-up ceiling installation method for the new ceiling tiles.
4. Replacing Ceiling Tiles with Other Ceiling Materials
Sometimes, you might want to shift from the usual look of tiles on the ceiling to other options like beadboard or faux wood planks.
The replacement material you choose will depend on material availability, your preferences, or your clients' preferences if it's a commercial space.
Regardless of your experience (or lack of experience) working with ceilings, we can help you with information on how to replace ceiling tiles and with part or entire ceiling tile replacements and new tile purchases.