Learning to do a drop ceiling installation can be a rewarding experience and a money-saving skill. Get ready for your install with safety reminders, helpful hints, a list of tools needed, and detailed instructions.
Read all included safety instructions and warnings on all material packages.
Know your ceiling and grid terms.
Let your ceiling panels adjust to the environment in the room of installation.
Unpack all panels at least 24 hours prior to installation. Panels may be stored in areas with a temperature between 60°and 80°F. Also, be sure to check that the relative humidity is below 70%. You may consider purchasing a dehumidifier with a humidity reader for this.
Find and mark the joists with your hanger wire locations.
For joists that are hidden behind drywall, you’ll want to use this tip to mark where they are:
Knock on the drywall. You should hear a solid thud when you tap on a joist. You can also use a stud finder to help with this task.
Don’t forget to determine the direction of the joists as well. Helpful hint: joists are usually 16” apart on center.
Plan the location of each ceiling panel for an even layout.
If your new drop ceiling installation will have border panels, make sure that the opposite sides of the room have the same border width. Always cut panels face up with a sharp utility knife.
Place all ceiling and grid materials in one location. Be sure to check out the drop ceiling calculator tool to help with the layout and a list of the materials needed for your project.
You will need:
Install Fasteners and Hanger Wire
Pre-bend Hanger Wire
4. Pre-Bend Hanger Wires – Suspend a leveling string between two nails. Each nail should be 7/8” up from the bottom of the wall molding (Most Armstrong Ceilings wall molding is already 7/8” high). Bend each wire hanger 90° where the wire meets the string. Repeat for each section and remove strings when finished.
5. Hang the First Main Beam – Make sure the first cross-tee hole in all main beams line up and that there is a cross tee hole where your pre-determined first border cross tee is to be located. It may be necessary to cut the main beam. Always put the cut end of the main beam on the wall molding. To hang, simply slide each hanger wire through one of the small round holes in the main beam. Click additional main beams together as needed. Tip: When main beams are properly connected an audible click will be heard.
Cross-tee slot at border panel distance
Hang first main beam with hanger wire and connect multiple main beams
6. Install the First Cross-Tees – Place cut end of tees on wall molding. Be sure the distance for the border panels is correct and that the grid is square.
7. Finish Grid – Repeat steps #4 and #5 for all other main beams and cross-tees.
8. Install Panels – Lift tile above grid at an angle and carefully drop in place. Cut any border tiles or required openings with a utility knife with the panel face up.
Drawing of snap-in cross-tee
Drawing of hook-in cross-tee
When installing 24” x 24” ceiling panels, you will need to lay out your grid differently.
Preparations help the drop ceiling installation process go faster and more smoothly. Take your time and get ready to be surprised by how handy you are. Also, be sure to check out videos, more how-tos, and the full set of installation instructions below.
Tell us your room dimensions and joist direction, and we'll tell you how to layout your 24"x 24" or 24" x 48" drop ceiling grid and provide an accurate materials estimate for your space.Layout Grid and Estimate