Cost to Install a Suspended or Drop Ceiling – 2021

| Last Updated: August 21, 2021

National Average Improvement and Repair Cost







$ 1482

$ 365

Would you do this project? According to our survey, 67% of respondents preferred DIY compared to hiring a pro.

The average price to Install a Suspended or Drop Ceiling noted above is cost data to compare a contractor’s estimate with doing it yourself.

How much does it cost to install a suspended or drop ceiling system? Compare $1,482, what a contractor charges with $365, what a handy homeowner can do the job for and save 75 percent.

Make the most of an unfinished basement and take advantage of untapped living and storage space. A suspended or drop ceiling is the solution to cover up the maze of electrical wires, plumbing lines, and heating ducts.

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 $1,482 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 $365, saving 75 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.

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.

Welcome! We hope you’ll find the job costs of home improvement projects useful when you’re deciding whether to do a job yourself vs. hire a contractor. We’re the authors of 20 home improvement books, most notably Home Improvement for Dummies©, Bathroom Remodeling for Dummies©, Carpentry for Dummies©, Plumbing for Dummies©, and Painting and Wallpapering for Dummies©. Our most recent book Fix It and Flip It is in its second edition. We’ve appeared as home improvement experts on television programs such as CNN, Dateline, the Today Show, HGTV and many others.