DFW Drywall Installers

Suspended & Drop Ceilings

Suspended & Drop Ceilings in Dallas, Texas

Let’s talk about how to properly install a suspended ceiling system!

SUSPENDED CEILINGS

Sometimes these are called a drop ceiling, you typically will see them in a basement in residences and in many commercial office applications. The basis of the drop ceiling is a metal grid system suspended from the ceiling above and filled in with drop in tiles, two foot by two foot is common.

Suspended Ceiling Main Tees
Suspended Ceiling Main Tees

One important thing to pay attention to is to get a level mark all the way around the top of your room. That’ll give you the height of your ceiling. So, first of all, to determine what you’re going to use for lighting and what obstructions you might have in the existing ceiling that you need to workaround. Bare minimum, you’re going to need a couple of inches between the top of the ceiling grid and whatever the obstruction is. But if you’re using something like pot light type install for renovation, you need to make sure you have enough height for the lightbox above your tile. So, it takes a little bit of planning to figure out exactly where everything is going to fit so that nothing is going to be in the way.

LASER LEVEL

Once you’ve determined your height, you can use a laser level, which is a rotary level and shoots a level line around the room. Once you set that up, you can use a target that detects that level line. Most home DIY installers aren’t going to have this type of laser setup available to them. So in that case, a four-foot level is going to do the job, though it takes a little more time and work overall and may not give a 100% accurate result, you should be able to get it really close.

The first step after the level is mounting the wall angle. When working above the line with you level it may leave a bit of a mark on the wall, so you could put some masking tape on the edge of your level and then if you had to work below the line it wouldn’t leave a mark.

STUD FINDER

After that, you’ll want to use a stud finder to go around the room and mark where the studs are just above that line so you can see. You want to try to screw the right angle right into the studs, if at all possible to make it nice and secure. The line is going to go to the top edge, that’s your guide. I like to mark at the top, not at the bottom because at the bottom you you’re going to see that line afterwards unless you’re going to try to paint and cover it up, which is a pain so you might as well mark it to the top, then you don’t have to worry if it’s showing a bit. That way it’s all hidden once the ceiling is done. 

Something to watch for on all the different materials, the metal materials is for imperfections. At times, you’ll get scuff marks on the paint, so you want to work around that. When, I’ve got scuff marks on one side but not the other so I can always put the scuffed side against the wall. Nobody ever sees it as long as the bottom edge looks good. 

Suspended Ceiling Grid
Suspended Ceiling Grid

Right angle metal is is easy to cut, you mark it with your tape and pencil and just simply cut it with a pair of tin snips, cut straight through the metal. Simply measure it all out and make the appropriate cuts. Be sure that if you are going to cut it to the wrong length, to cut it too long rather than too short, so you can easily recover from the mistake. Measure twice, cut once, right? 

METAL DRYWALL SCREWS

Be careful when you’re screwing the metal to the wall that you don’t over tighten the screws. If you tighten it too much, it sucks the drywall back and you may pop those screws. So just try it you need it snug. Sometimes you will have to do a little bit of tweaking to get the corners to sit right. 

Once you’ve got our wall angle all up all the way around the room, you should really have a diagram of your room with some accurate measurements and draw out your grid so you have a visual. As far as what components you’re going to need, this will help you in laying it out. So it looks even in the room and plus gives you an easy way to count up how many pieces of each item you need. 

Basically, you want to center everything up so that your border panels are equal on each side of the room because it just looks better. You don’t want to start out with a full tile on one side and end up with a 6-inch strip of tile on the far wall, that just looks like an amateur job. Try to balance them out by doing the math and getting everything balanced. 

MAIN CEILING TEES

The next step is to put up the main tees, which are pretty heavy-duty, but still needs to be supported by anchors in the ceiling. So about every two to three feet, you’ll want to screw into a ceiling joist with a screw. You can get a special bit for in your cordless drill that puts the screws in and drives them into the ceiling joist above you.

One trick is to have a damp rag with you, just a little wet to keep your hands clean so you don’t mark up the materials as you do the install. It will look much cleaner once completed. You get the tees mounted and you’re going to have a piece of wire that that basically hooks in that part of the hook and hangs down and hooks into one of the holes in the top of that grid. You want to make sure you use a heavy enough wire that’s going to support the weight. There’s a lot of weight in these ceilings once you get all the tile and everything in.

Suspended Ceiling Tiles Installed
Suspended Ceiling Tiles Installed

Once all the mains are up you’’ll be ready to start putting some of the interlocking cross pieces in and you’ll start to see how this all comes together. They all have little clips on them when two pieces go together and those clips go to the outside every time and you’ll hear them actually click right in so. 

CEILING TILES

You’ll then be ready to start dropping in the tiles, which is pretty simple, you just want to be careful not to damage the materials. The only exception is when you have to cut holes for the pot lights and heat and air ducts. Again, keep your hands clean because you’re going to see fingerprints on the tiles if you’re not careful.

As always, if you don’t like to get your hands dirty, we are here to help! We are experts at installing suspended and drop ceilings and know all the tricks of the trade. We can install a suspended or drop ceiling that you will be happy with for years to come!

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