Thursday, September 23, 2010

How To Install a Drop Ceiling

Give your basement a more finished look by installing a drop ceiling. A suspended ceiling looks good and will give you access to pipes and electrical wiring.

Materials and Tools
Pop rivet gun and rivets 
Drill with eyebolt driver
Measuring tape
Tin snips
Utility knife
Straight edge
Laser level (optional)
Spring clamps
Fence staples
Safety goggles
Suspended ceilings consist of ceiling tiles that are held in place by pieces of track. Ceiling tiles are available in a variety of sizes and styles.
  1. Determine the location for the ceiling. A general rule of thumb is that the ceiling should be located at least three inches below the joists. This will allow enough room to tilt the panels so that you can install or remove them.
  2. Make a level mark around the room. Although you can use a long level to place the marks, you can rent a laser level to make the job easier. The laser level is attached to the first piece of wall molding and produces a laser "guide" for installing the remaining molding.
    - Mark a level line on the wall at the height you plan to hang the ceiling.
    - Measure the length of the wall and cut wall molding to length with tin snips.
    - Fasten the molding to the wall using fence staples placed approximately 16 inches apart.
    - Hang the laser level on the wall molding, make the necessary adjustments so the laser is aligned with the wall molding, and attach the rest of the moldings on the wall based on the laser beam reference.
    * Caution: Don't look directly into the laser light.
    For inside corners, you can butt the ends of the molding against one another. For outside corners, cut a 45-degree miter angle.
  3. Determine the layout for your ceiling by drawing a diagram. Base the diagram on the actual measurements of the room. Design your layout so that the tiles next to the wall are at least six inches wide. If possible, design the layout so that the main runners are perpendicular to the joists.
  4. Using your diagram as a reference, mark layout lines on the wall for the main runners.
  5. Use a drill with an eyebolt adapter to drive eyebolts into the joists. The eyebolts will be used to support the main runners and should be spaced 48 inches apart; if your main runners are perpendicular to the joists and the joists are on 16-inch centers, then the eyebolts can be placed on every third joist. Eyeball the placement of the eyebolts to keep them in as straight a line as possible. You can also stretch a piece of string between the two ends to act as a reference.
  6. Wrap a piece of suspension wire through each eyebolt, pulling it taut so that it hangs in a straight line.
  7. Position the first main runner along the layout line. Make sure it's parallel to the wall and clamp it in place.
  8. Place the next runner along the layout line, but do not clamp it in place.
  9. Set cross pieces into the slots on the runners and lock them in place.
  10. Check the runners and cross pieces for square by measuring the diagonals to be sure they're even.
  11. Clamp both ends of the second main runner and attach the suspension wires to the runner. Use the laser level to aid in proper positioning.
  12. Secure the runners in place with pop rivets. Because the metal of the runners is soft, you can use a pop rivet punch to make the job easier.
  13. Repeat the procedure for each runner until you complete the grid.
  14. Finish the job by installing the tiles.

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