How to Cut Suspended Ceiling Light Panels

Suspended ceilings are often used in basement or utility room remodeling and finishing projects. Suspended ceilings are relatively easy to install and can be easily modified with different tiles at a later date. Suspended ceilings aren't designed to hold heavy loads, so lights are often mounted above the suspended ceiling and semi-clear light panels are positioned below them. In some cases, you may need to cut the light panel to let it match the size of the opening in the suspended ceiling. You need to take some care in how you do this to prevent cracking of the plastic.

A utility knife is an essential tool for this job.

Step 1

Measure the opening in the suspended ceiling where the light panel will be placed. Measure from the inside of the lips of the suspended ceiling stringers, not just the visible part of the opening.

Step 2

Transfer the measurements to your light panel, Draw the cut lines onto the panel with a straight edge and a felt tip marker.

Step 3

Place masking tape on the inside edges of the panel -- the part that will be installed in the ceiling.

Step 4

Draw your utility knife with a steady pressure along the cut lines, using your straight edge as a guide. Your goal is to score a straight and accurate line into the plastic of the panel. Draw the knife along the line several times until you've made a significant cut into the plastic.

Step 5

Grasp the panel on either side of the score mark and gradually bend the plastic until the panel snaps at the score mark.

Step 6

Remove the masking tape from the panel and install it in the ceiling.

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