Last time we talked about preparing to install a drop ceiling, now on to the installation.
Use a chalk line and a level and mark the walls one inch higher than the preferred height. This leaves the chalk at the top of the wall angle where it will not be visible. A laser level is also good for leveling and installing the wall L track and main T’s. When installing the wall L track it’s important that you make the inside corners overlap, and that the outside corner should also overlap or be cut at a 45-degree angle. Be careful though if you are overlapping the outside corners that the part that attaches to the wall is cut back so it doesn’t interfere with the tile. After the wall L track has been fastened to the complete perimeter of the room you’re ready to install the main T’s.
The main T’s are placed four feet apart, and as mentioned previously are positioned centered on the width of the room. This places the partial panels at the sides of the room. The other thing is you need to measure from one of the cross T slots in the main T towards one end of the main the measurement of the partial end tile determined during layout. The main T will need to be cut at this mark and each main T will need to be started the same way. Now using a string attached at each end of the room to the wall L (or by using a laser level) suspend the main T with sixteen-gauge wire attached to the structure above. The string helps you keep the main T straight from end to end of the room. These wires need to be set approx. every four feet and should be about twelve inches longer then the distance to the ceiling height. This added length of wire gives you enough length to properly secure the main T.
After all the main T’s are installed and hung straight and level the hard part of the job is done. All you have to do now is install the cross T’s. This is easy as they just snap into those slots every two or four feet depending on the orientation of your ceiling tile. Here is the second use for the string. Fasten the string to each end of the first main T and use it now for a sideways straight for to cut the side cross T’s to the wall. The wall may look straight but it most likely isn’t and you should measure and cut to length each cross T from the string to the wall. After you have installed the first wall T’s fill in the rest of the cross T’s. And then finish off the far wall by cutting and installing the last row of cross T’s.
If you’re going to install drop in lights, this is when you need to do it.
Finally, you get to cut and place the ceiling tile into the ceiling, and you’re done. Note: Make sure you have clean hands when you start to handle the tile. There is nothing worse than having your tile with finger prints all over them and they are not easy to get off.
Wow you just went from no ceiling to a great ceiling in only a few hours and what a difference it makes!