Kight Home Center Building Tips

Installing a Suspended Ceiling

Following are tips and instuctions on how to install a suspended ceiling. Spend a few minutes reading the directions thoroughly. This can help save you time and effort.

Planning for a Suspended Ceiling
First, get the exact measurements of the room where the suspended ceiling will be installed. Use special care in measuring any odd-shaped alcoves, bays, etc.

Draw the exact dimensions to scale on graph paper (Fig. 1), or bring the room dimensions to your local retailer and ask a salesman to assist you in estimating the materials you'll need.

You can choose from either a 2'x2' or a 2'x4' pattern (Fig. 2). The pattern you pick will determine the material requirements for your ceiling.

For the 2'x4' pattern, decide whether you want to install the panels in a standard or reverse pattern (Fig. 3). Each pattern offers a different appearance.

Now that you've made these decisions, sketch the layout for the planned ceiling on graph paper. You can use the the main tees 4' apart. Position the tees so that the border patterns at the room edges are equal on both sides and as large as possible. Try sketching several layouts before beginning the actual installation to determine which one looks best.

It is important to space the cross tees so the border panels at the ends of the room are equal and as large as possible. If you are using a 2'x4' pattern, space the cross tees 2' apart. For a 2'x2' pattern, add 2' cross tees between the mid- points of the 4' cross tees (Fig. 2).

If the ceiling will be recessed and built-in lighting will be installed, decide where to locate the panels of light and clearly identify them on the drawing.

The drawing will help you pretty accurately estimate the total cost of the materials you'll need. Fig. 4 illustrates a basic plan for estimating costs. Add or delete materials for the job you're planning.

Installing Wall Angles
Determine the exact height at which the suspended ceiling will be installed. Allow a minimum of 6" clearance between the old ceiling and the new one if you're using recessed lights (Fig. 5). Such lighting fixtures should be installed before any other steps are taken.

After locating the exact position for the suspended ceiling, use a level to draw a line completely around the room indicating where the wall angle will be applied (Fig. 6). Don't assume the original ceiling is level - use a level for accuracy. Set the wall angle low enough to conceal as many pipes, ducts, etc., as possible.

Fasten the wall angles securely to the wall at all points. Nail them firmly to studs, or use screw anchors or other masonry fasteners on brick or masonry walls (Fig. 7).

Position the wall angle so that the bottom flange rests on the level line you have drawn on the wall. Take the time to do this right!

Overlap the wall angle on inside corners (A, Fig. 8), and mitre the wall angle on outside corners (B, Fig. 8) Make a temporary wooden mitre box if you don't have one. Cut any needed angles with a hacksaw.

If you are going to use recessed lights, install the wiring and lighting fixtures before putting the suspension wires into place (Fig. 5).

Locating & Hanging Suspension Wires for Main Tees
If you are going to use recessed lights, install the wiring and lighting fixtures before putting the suspension wires into place (Fig. 5)

For recessed lighting, you can center two fluorescent lighting tubes over 2'x4' panels, and use a luminous lay in panel instead of regular ceiling tile. This gives you an attractive and effective lighting panel with little effort.

Refer to your sketch of the room for the location of all main tees (Fig. 1). Main tees should always run at right angles to the joists in the room.

Locate the position of each main tee by stretching a tight line from the top edge of the wall angle on all sides of the room at each position where the main tees are to be placed (Fig. 9).

Now, cut the suspension wires to the proper length. The wires should be 12" longer than the distance between the old ceiling and the new guideline string you have stretched to indicate the position of each main tee.

Locate the first suspension wire for each main tee directly above the point where the first cross tee meets the main tee. Check your original sketch of the room to determine this location.

Be sure the suspension wires are securely fastened. Apply them to the ceiling with screw eyes, screw hooks, nails or drilling (Fig. 10).

Attach a suspension wire every 4' along the level guideline (Fig. 11). Stretch each wire to remove any kinks, and make a 90 degree bend where the suspension wire crosses the level line.

Installing Main Tees
Most main tees are 12' long and have cross tee slots punched every 12" beginning 6" from each end (Fig. 12).

Refer to your layout sheet to determine the distance from the wall to the first cross tee. Now measure this distance along the top flange of the main tee and locate the slot just beyond this point.

From this slot, measure back the same distance, subtract 1/8", and saw the main tee at that point. The 1/8" subtraction is for the thickness of the wall angle.

If the wall angles are not square, position the cross tee slots accordingly.

When main tees are installed in rooms less than 12' across, cut the main tee to the exact measurement of the room, allowing 1/8" for the thickness of the wall angle (Fig. 13).

For rooms wider than 12', the main tees can be spliced (Fig. 14). Be sure to align the splice so that the suspension wires are correctly positioned. Splice carefully, or all the main tees will be thrown off.

Install the main tees so that they are all level with the wall angle already mounted. Use a long level for this purpose (Fig. 15).

Installing Cross Tees & Border Cross Tees
Install the cross tees by inserting the ends of the cross tees into the slots in the main tees (Fig. 16). Use the manufacturer's instructions for fitting the cross tees into position.

Determine the location of the cross tees by the pattern you selected - either 2'x2' or 2'x4' (Fig. 2).

Be sure the lock tab on the cross tee is on the outside of the slot (Fig. 16). This attachment is slightly different in some types of tees.

You can remove most cross tees by depressing the lock tab with a screwdriver.

Border cross tees are installed between the wall angle and the last main tee.

Measure from the last tee to the wall angle, allowing 1/8" for the thickness of the wall angle. Cut the cross tees and install them by inserting the connector in the main tee and resting the cut edge on the wall angle.

Installing Ceiling Panels
Your final main and cross tee arrangement will look similar to Fig. 17. The top part of the illustration shows an arrangement of a 2'x4' layout, while the lower half shows main and cross tees arranged for a 2'x2' layout.

Drop the ceiling panels into position by tilting them slightly, lifting them above the framework and letting them fall into place (Fig. 18).

Check your state and local codes before starting any projects. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this internet brochure has been furnished by Kight Home Center and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither Kight Home Center nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information.