Drop (or suspended) ceilings are faster and more affordable than a drywalled ceiling, and are a great option in basements with enough headroom where access is required for electrical, plumbing or other mechanical systems. You’ll need a minimum of 4” of drop in order to install the ceiling panels in the grid, so determining suitable ceiling height prior to installation is critical!
Suspended ceilings are composed of ceiling tiles (a wide variety of designs and colours are available), wall angles that are attached to the walls around the entire room to support the edges of tiles, main tees that carry the majority of the load and are hung from joists with wire, and cross tees that connect between main tees to create a 24” x 24” or 24” x 48” grid. You will also need eye hooks and tie wire to hang the main tees every 48” along their length.
The first step is to determine the amount of material you’ll require by measuring the length and width of the room – there is a handy material calculator in the store where you find the suspended ceiling parts. Next, find the lowest spot of your ceiling (usually a pipe or air duct), and mark a spot 4” below this point – you’ll want to use this point to transfer a level line on the walls around the entire room, and a 360 degree rotary laser works the best. If you don’t have a 360” laser and your ceiling is level, you can use your measuring tape to measure down and create the line around the room. Mount your wall angles around the room on this line, overlapping inside corners, and mitering the outside corners – short tin snips work well for cutting wall angle and tees.
Once your wall angle is in place, install your main tees with the eye hooks and tie wire to the same level – you’ll want to make sure the main tees are 48” apart, and positioned so that your ceiling tiles around the perimeter will be equal sizes on either side of the room. Connect the main tees with your cross tees by snapping them into place to create a grid, and install your ceiling tiles.
Be sure when cutting main or cross tees to cut all the tees on the same end, as connection points for the cross tees are set every 6”, and they have to line up. Yes, it sounds confusing – but it’s a very simple process, made even simpler with clear, detailed step by step instructions with diagrams available in the store.
With a little patience and a few hours of light work, you’ll have a brand new shiny ceiling and no drywall dust to clean up!