How to Install Ceiling Tiles

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required
  • Stapler
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk line or laser level
  • Carpenter’s level
  • Utility knife
  • Hand saw
  • Hammer
  • String
  • Safety glasses
  • Ladder
Materials Required
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Furring strips, shims and nails
  • Cove molding and finish nails

Before You Begin

Store and install ceiling tiles in an area with a temperature range of 60° to 85° F and not more than 70% relative humidity. Remove the tiles from cartons 24 hours before installation and allow them to adjust to normal interior conditions of the installation area.

Allow tiles to adjust to conditions in room

Plan the layout so tiles on opposite sides of the room are equal in size. Measure the room width and length in feet and inches. To calculate the width disregard full feet measurement, in this case use 8''. Then add 12'' to the remaining inches (8+12 = 20), divide result by 2 (20/2 = 10).

The border width is 10''. The length is 14’ 2’’ so use 2 and add 12'' (2+12 = 14), divide by 2 (14/2 = 7) The border length is 7.

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  • Step 1 : Install furring strips

    Nail the furring strips to each of the overhead joists with 2 8d nails. Butt the furring strips together at a joist and nail in place. Stagger these joints so that the joint in each new row does not accrue at the same joist.

    Install the first furring strip perpendicular to the joists flush against the wall. Install the second furring strip so that its center is 10 ½'' from the wall (10" border width + ½'' = 10 ½''). Install the remaining furring strips on 12-inch centers. When necessary use shims placed between the furring strip and the joist to create a level ceiling surface.

  • Step 2 : Install border tiles

    The tongue and groove design of the tiles lets you slip them into position and secure to the furring strip with a stapler. Start in the corner and begin by cutting a tile to size leaving the flange edges. Cut the tile ¼’’ short of the border width and border length dimensions you used during the furring strip layout. Staple the first tile in the corner, then cut several border tiles to extend down each wall and install them.

  • Step 3 : Install field tiles

    Slide a full tile into place and staple it into place. Then install several border tiles along both walls and work your way from one row to another until the ceiling tiles are installed. When cutting is necessary to fit around a ceiling box or any obstruction, carefully use a utility knife after outlining the shape. To install a last row of tiles cut off the excess on the grooved edge and install the cut edge toward the wall; then face nail the tiles or glue them in place.

  • Step 4 : Finish with molding

    To cover up the gap between the wall and tiles install a cove molding with finish nails. It’s easier and less messy to finish or paint the molding before installing it.