Determine the maximum height of the suspended ceiling. Typically about 4 inches from the existing ceiling joists. This will provide enough space to angle the tiles into place. However, if installing drop lights, then go 6 inches from the joists. Mark the wall and then draw a line around three sides of the room using your level. A 360 degree laser level work best, or use a standard a 3-foot or 4-foot level to draw a line around the entire room. If using a hand level you'll need to use a chalk line once the marks are made, so you have a straight line. Laser line levels will provide a nice bright red line around the room.
Nail or screw in the perimeter molding once the perimeter lines have been established. Drill pilot holes with a drill and a bit for the screw installation. Screw the L-shaped bracket, that came with the grid kit, into place. Use a stud finder to screw them into wall studs, so that the top edge of the bracket lines up with the perimeter line. Cut the molding to fit with tin snips in corners or along oddly shaped walls. For long walls, butt the ends of two pieces of molding. For outside corners miter each bracket at 45 degrees and butt together.
Before installing main runners, use string to lay out where the main runners are to go. They will sit perpendicular to the joists and should be 4-feet apart. Measure the length and width of the room from the center of the string runners, so the ceiling appears balanced from side to side, depending on the size tile you are using. Doing this saves time as the string is easier to move than the main runners.
Once the string grid for the runners are in place, and you are happy with the balance, install the main runners perpendicular to the joists 4-feet apart. Depending on the type of ceiling grid system you use, the main runners will either be in sections of 4-foot, 6-foot or 8-foot sections that snap together. Support the main runners with 16-gauge wire into eye bolt screws that you will screw into the floor joists about every third joist. Use string stretched between perimeter moldings to determine height of runners. Use a smaller level every 4-feet across the runners as you hang with wires, to keep your runners level all the way across the room.
Tie the runners together with the cross tees. Start in the center of the grid to square the grid. Keep in mind the type of system you've chosen, either 2 x 4-foot or 2 x 2-foot panels, and place the cross tees in accordingly. It's a good idea that as the cross tees are placed, place a few tiles in along the way. Not all the tiles should be placed at this time in case you need to move a few of the cross tees.
Trim the tiles to fit as needed. If the tile you choose is smooth cut on the finished side, cut on the back side to trim. Always use a sharp utility knife because there will be less dust and better results than with power tools.
Things You Will Need
- Laser level or level
- Tin snips
- Chalk line
- Utility knife
- Ceiling grid kit
- Ceiling panels
- A hanging laser level works better than a standard level for this task. When hanging main runners start both from the same side of the room