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 that holds the ceiling panels in place can become discolored, 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: coneal 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 takes it a step further and makes a sylish grid cover system called StyleStix which are detailed architectural moldings that cover old and industrial-looking metal grids and create a coffered-look to the ceiling.
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 $165 and save 37 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 2020