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Install a suspended ceiling

  • Difficulty: hammer hammer
    Close Difficulty
    Beginner Do-It-Yourselfer - Easy
    Intermediate Do-It-Yourselfer - Moderate
    Experienced Do-It-Yourselfer - Difficult
    Professional - Expert
  • Completion Time : Week-end Project

In the basement where there are many ducts, pipes, and cables that may occasionally need maintenance, installing a suspended ceiling grid system makes a lot of sense. The installation is easy and will make the basement space more appealing. Suspended ceilings are also ideal for first floor bathrooms where there is a bathroom on the floor above to allow for plumbing access. Simply select the style of acoustical tile, design the room’s grid on paper, double-check the room’s measurements, and begin the installation. Add fluorescent drop-in light fixtures that are designed to fit within the ceiling’s grid design.


Tools and materials required


  • Chalk line
  • String
  • Hammer
  • Tin snips
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Utility knife (with extra blades)
  • Level
  • Spirit level


  • 2' x 4' OR 2' x 2' acoustical tile
  • T structural system
  • Main T members
  • Cross T members
  • L-shaped angle mold
  • 16-gauge wire to hang the structural T’s
  • Eyelet hardware

Before Assembly


  • This suspended ceiling step-by-step installation guide is based on the room having wood construction walls.

  • If installing a suspended ceiling grid into a room that has masonry walls, the installation is virtually the same as that of wood construction. Simply use a masonry drill, bit, and screws.

  • If removing older tile, take care at how it is disposed of if it was installed before 1960 as there may be asbestos in the tiles.

  • Choose the style of the acoustical tile first and then begin the design, purchase, and installation work thereafter.

  • There are different types of acoustical tiles available. Keep in mind that regular tiles have recessed flanges that protrude below the grid roughly 1/4". Regular tiles may be tricky to cut and trim.

  • A licensed electrician may be needed to install light fixtures.

  • Check with local building codes before beginning work.

  • Check to find out whether permits are needed for the work before beginning.


  • An L-shaped molding spans the entire inside perimeter of the room.

  • From the L-shaped molding, main runners (the strongest structural stringers) will span from wall to wall at 4' spacing intervals. The main runners are supported by the L-shaped molding.

  • The suspended ceiling grid will need sufficient floor to joist height for installation.

  • The finished ceiling needs to be at least 7 1/2' tall; check local building codes however.

  • A suspended ceiling grid also needs at least 4" clear space between the joists and the structural T’s to maneuver the panels into place.

  • A total of 6"-8" between the joists and the bottom of the ceiling grid is also needed if fluorescent light fixtures will be installed into the grid.


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