By Gene and Katie Hamilton
A drop or suspended ceiling is a good treatment in a basement because it's attractive while being a solution that conceals pipes and wires. However, the metal grid often discolors and becomes pitted and rusted. While you can restore its good looks with primer and paint it's a lot of work to remove all the tiles, sand the metal, then prime and paint and reinstall the tiles. We like the easier solution: cover them with grid covers, made of high grade PVC plastic that's easy to cut and install. The pre-notched covers provide a seamless transition at the cross-tees where they intersect and where the grid meets the wall. GridMAX covers are designed for either 2-foot-by-2-foot or 2-foot-by-4-foot grid systems; they're sold at home centers and may require special ordering.
Armstrong makes a sylish grid cover system called StyleStix which are detailed architectural moldings that cover old and industrial-looking metal grids.
A handyman will charge $264 to install the grid covers on 300 square feet of ceiling, which includes labor and material; but you can do the job for $185 and save 30 percent. It's a quick fix project that you can do in a few hours and get almost instant results.
If the tiles are discolored, give them a facelift with paint. Remove the tiles from the ceiling grid, lay them on a flat surface and use a primer like Kilz, followed by a flat latex paint applied with a roller.
Don't want to do this job? Here's a link to Home Advisor, a free referral service that matches homeowners with local contractors.
For more product information go to GridMAX and
The average price to install grid covers noted above is cost data to compare a contractor’s estimate with doing it yourself. Tweak the data by adding your ZIP Code to find a local cost.
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.