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Do it yourself

Installing a suspended ceiling

Suspended ceilings are the ideal solution for rooms in the basement where ducts, pipes and cables are located and require direct access. The installation is easy and takes less than a weekend.

Difficulty level: Intermediate
Duration: Weekend
Codes and Regulations
The finished ceiling needs to be at least 7 1/2' tall. Check your local building codes.

Plan the installation

  • 1.1 - Draw the ceiling grid on paper and include dimensions. For a small room, such as a half bathroom, use 24"x 24" ceiling tiles. For larger rooms, use 24" x 48" tiles.
  • 1.2 - Draw a line down the centre of the room in both directions.
  • 1.3 - At every 2', draw lines along the longest of the two lines.
  • 1.4 - At every 4', draw lines along the shortest of the two lines. The result should be a grid that shows roughly how many tiles are needed.

Pro Tip

If necessary, mark the places where light fixtures will be installed and orient the grid’s design around their location.

Install mouldings

  • 2.1 - Measure the bottom height of each joist and make sure it’s the same for every joist.
  • 2.2 - Mark the L-shape moulding at 4" from bottom of the ceiling joists. Mark at 6"-8" from the bottom of the ceiling joists if your plan includes light fixtures.
  • 2.3 - Install the first length of the L-shape perimeter moulding tight against one corner.
  • 2.4 - Install the second length of moulding into the starting point of the first piece of moulding.
  • 2.5 - Use tin snips to cut 45° angles for every corner of the moulding.
  • 2.6 - Complete the installation around the room.

Install the ceiling structure

  • 3.1 - With a chalk line, measure out and mark where the main runners will be placed.
  • 3.2 - Install the runners perpendicular to the ceiling joists, at 4' space intervals.
  • 3.3 - Along the line, insert eyebolts in every third ceiling joist. Attach 16-gauge wires to the eyebolts. Twist the wire at the top around itself at least 3 times.
  • 3.4 - Under the L-shape moulding, stretch a string across the room. This will help you level the runners as you install them.
  • 3.5 - Hold up the first runner and attach it to the hanging wires across the room, until fully installed. Continue the installation of all the main runners. If the room is particularly long in one direction, extended the runner by attaching 2 runner sections together at the slots and tabs at each end.
  • 3.6 - Add an extra wire support at each joint if there’s an overly long section of a main runner.
  • 3.7 - Next, install the cross tee members at a 2' space intervals along the main runners. The cross tees have a hook on each end that attaches to a slot on the main runners.
  • 3.8 - Install the final pieces that connect to the perimeter moulding around the room. Several runner sections will likely need to be cut to fit in at the end locations. Use tin snips to do so.
  • 3.9 - Then, square the grid. Measure across the diagonals of the 2' x 4' opening. The measurements will be the same if the grid is square. If the measurements are not the same, shorten one of the main runners until the diagonals are equal.

Install the tiles

  • 4.1 - Finally, install each tile into the grid system. Measure and cut tiles to fit smaller openings.

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