Installing Suspended Ceilings

by Bill Prudehome - Date: 2007-03-21 - Word Count: 785 Share This!

Suspended ceilings, using a metal lattice or grid and acoustical ceiling tiles are one of the easiest ceilings to install. Yet, home handymen seem to run into numerous problems that result in a poorly crafted overall project.

Following are a few tips from the pros that will result in a ceiling that looks as if a professional installed it.

The placement of the L channel is the most critical structural element of the ceiling. All other dimensions and channel placements work from the position of the L channel. If your ceiling height will allow, install the bottom of the L channels 6" below the lowest point of the ceiling. If the ceiling height is critical, you can raise the L channel to 3" from the lowest point of the ceiling. If you place the L channel any higher than 3", you will not be able to maneuver the ceiling tiles into position once the grid is complete.

Do not set the position of the L channel with a tape measure. Measuring from the floor up or from a ceiling joist down is a sure method to install a ceiling that is not level. Use a laser level to set the positioning of the L channels. Install all of the L channels, securely to the walls before you do anything else.

The ceiling tiles should be balanced. By that, I mean that the size of the tile on one side should be the same as the size of the tile on the opposite side and the same scenario applies to the ends.

To make the ceiling tiles equal on the ends and on the sides, you have to determine the size of the ceiling tiles that you are planning on using. Ceiling tiles come as 2' x 2' and 2' x 4'. If you are using 2'x 4' you must determine whether you want the 4' dimension running the length or width of the room. Using the 4' dimension length wise, will make the room look longer and narrower, using the 4' dimension width wise will make the room look shorter and wider.

It really doesn't matter which direction you choose, the method of calculation is the same. However, the resultant will be different. For explanation let us assume that we have a room that is 11' x 10' and we are going to use 2' x 4' tiles and run the 4' dimension of the tile against the 11' dimension of the room. You will require 3 tiles, which was determined by dividing the 11' room dimension by the 4' tile dimension. However, in this example you will see that you really need two full tiles and 1 tile that is 0.75 of the length of a full tile, in this case 3'. You can of course start putting in the grid by measuring 4' from the wall and having two 4' tiles and one 3' tile. This however will not give a professionally installed appearance. You want balance - hence you divide the non 4' tile in half and make two pieces 1.5' long. The result is a ceiling that has an initial tile of 1.5', followed by two tiles 4' long, and finished with another 1.5' tile.

The same scenario should be applied to the width. In this case, in order to maintain a balanced appearance you would require five tiles, as the width of the tile is 2' and the width of the room is 10'. Had the width of the room been 9' you still would have needed five tiles in total - four at their full 2' width and two at 0.5' or 6" width.

As the main Tee members are notched to accept the Tee cross members it will be necessary to cut the end of the main Tee in order to have the cross members positioned at the proper starting distance from the wall. The main Tee members are usually installed perpendicular to the longest wall and should be supported every 4'. It is best if the support wire hangs straight down from the joist. If the wires are on angles, they may cause the ceiling to shift.

If you are installing pot or recessed lights, for best visual appeal they should be in the center of a ceiling tile. If you are installing 2' x 4' florescent light fixtures in a ceiling tile position, the light fixture should have support wires attached to at least two opposite corners. A suspended ceiling is not designed to support the weight of a florescent fixture without having the fixture supported independently. By directly supporting the fixture, you will avoid having the ceiling sag.

As with most home improvement and remodel projects, planning and knowledge are the keys to success.

Related Tags: home, improvement, grid, pot, ceiling, recessed, remodel, light, hanging, lite, tile, tee, hang, suspended

Detailed information: Installing a Suspended Ceiling.

For additional information on other home improvement projects, including landscaping, visit Renovation Headquarters.

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