By Gene and Katie Hamilton
Do you want to remodel a basement to take advantage of untapped living and storage space? Consider installing a suspended or drop ceiling to cover up the maze of electrical wires, plumbing lines and heating ducts. It's the best solution we know. Suspended or drop ceiling tiles are 24-inch square or 24- by 48-inch panels that fit into a metal grid; the system is also used to lower or level an existing ceiling, often a concern in large older homes.
The metal grid is permanently fastened to an old ceiling or from exposed floor joists; the ceiling panels are then placed in the grid. That means a damaged panel can be quickly and easily replaced, and it's no trouble to access the lines and wires for repair work. Compared to a permanent drywall ceiling, this removability factor is a plus.
A contractor will charge $1,287 to install a drop ceiling in a 15-by-20-foot room using 24-inch square panels, which includes the labor and material. If you have some carpentry experience you can buy the grid and panels for $325, saving 76 percent. The job will cost more if you incorporate recessed or surface-mounted lighting. And it's not a trivial job, figure you'll spend the better part of a weekend completing the ceiling installation.
Here are instructions from Armstrong to Install Ceiling Panels.
When you’re planning a ceiling in a room, figure you need at least a 7-foot ceiling height. The channels usually require about six inches of space below the lowest obstacle or pipes in the ceiling, which gives you a finished ceiling height of about 6 ½-feet. That’s the minimum ceiling height for most building codes.
You'll need the following tools and equipment: tape measure or measuring rule, straight edge, hammer, carpenter's level, utility knife, tin snips, line wire cutting pliers, string and chalk, safety glasses and a ladder (two, if you have a helper). You'll spend the most time planning the grid layout and installing it; inserting the tiles goes quickly, which completes the job.
DIY Hassle Alert
To make layout easier and be assured that the ceiling is level, rent or buy a laser level.
That sums it up. Knowing the average cost to install a drop ceiling lets you compare doing it yourself with what you can expect to pay a contractor. To customize the cost to where you live add your ZIP Code in the cost box.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2019
The cost and time data is generated by averaging labor and material data from annually updated cost books used by contractors and refined by the authors'
experience remodeling 13 houses. They are authors of 20 home improvement books and Do It Yourself or Not, a weekly column syndicated by Tribune Content
Agency. The national cost can be adjusted by ZIP Code.