How to Install a Suspended-Ceiling Grid
How to Install a Suspended-Ceiling Grid
By Emily Beach, eHow Contributor
updated: October 15, 2009

A suspended ceiling is made up of steel framing that forms a grid structure several inches below the ceiling level. The grid is then filled with acoustical tiles, which are easy to insert and remove by hand. This type of ceiling is very affordable, and is easy to install using only simple tools and equipment. It can provide an attractive finish to a room while still allowing access to mechanical and electrical units above the ceiling. Grid ceilings are available in many different styles and designs, though each follows the same basic installation process.

.Difficulty: Moderate
Instructions.Things You'll Need:
Paper and pencil
Tape measure
Wall molding
Laser level
Grid (mains and tees)
Ceiling wires
Eye hooks
Tin snips
Utility knife
Straight edge
Ceiling tiles

Lay out your ceiling on paper. Check to see where your existing junction boxes and heating and air-conditioning components are located. Plan your ceiling around air intake or supply grilles to avoid compromising the heating and cooling within the room. If you plan to add drop-in light fixtures, try to locate them close to an existing junction box for the easiest installation.

Decide whether you will use 2 feet by 2 feet or 2 feet by 4 feet tiles. These are the standard tile sizes you'll find at most home improvement stores. Keep in mind that 2 by 4 tiles can be installed more quickly, but can also make a small room look smaller. Use 2 by 2 tiles to make the room appear larger if this is a concern.

Find the lowest point on your existing ceiling, whether it is the bottom of the ceiling joists or the lowest point of an HVAC duct or pipe. Measure down 4 inches from this point and mark this spot on one of your walls. This is the level where you will install your grid. If you plan to add drop-in light fixtures, measure down 6 inches to give yourself enough room for the lights.

Nail a single piece of grid wall molding along the mark you made in Step 3. Set a laser level to project across the wall or around the entire room along the same level as this piece of molding. You can buy or rent laser levels at your local home improvement or hardware store.

Install wall molding around the entire perimeter of the room, making sure to keep it even using your laser level. Use tin snips to cut the molding as needed.

Run your ceiling mains so that they are perpendicular to the joists. Mains are the long pieces of grid that run across the entire length of the room. Place eye hooks every 4 feet across the ceiling, and support the mains from the joists using ceiling wire. The wire threads through holes already cut in the top of the main, and the end of each main should rest on the wall molding. Mains should be placed every 2 feet along the length of the room.

Snap your tees into place. The tees are the shorter grid sections that run perpendicular to the mains. They can be installed by hand by snapping the connector at each end into the already drilled holes in the mains. Tees should be installed every 2 feet along the mains, or every 4 feet if you are using 2 by 4 tiles. Tees can be cut using tin snips as needed.

Add lights and HVAC grilles as desired. Drop-in lights can rest within the grid, though they should also be supported by ceiling wires hooked to the joists. Wrap the wiring for each light in conduit for protection, then connect the wires to the closest junction box. Have an electrician perform this task if you are not comfortable with wiring. HVAC grilles can also rest within the grid, though ceiling wires should be added for extra security.

Install your tiles. Hold the tile at an angle and fit it up above the grid. Hold it flat and let it drop down into place. Cut tiles as necessary using a utility knife and a straight edge.

Read more: How to Install a Suspended-Ceiling Grid |

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