A suspended ceiling (also known as a dropped ceiling) is simply a secondary ceiling installed below the original, structural ceiling. Suspended ceilings have been utilised for hundreds of years and are still very popular today; especially in commercial buildings and offices. They also have an important place in residential properties as they offer many advantages; such as being easy to install, easy to remove if repairs are required, soundproofing properties and allowing for easy installation of lights. The biggest plus is that they act to conceal pipes, wires and ductwork – making the ceiling area and room as a whole look much tidier.
A suspended ceiling usually consists of a framework (or ‘grid’) of metal channels suspended on wires from the structural ceiling. The channels form a series of ‘cells’ which are then filled with lightweight ceiling tiles or panels. The tiles generally come in two sizes to fit the most common systems. These are 595mm×595mm to suit a 600×600 grid system and 595mm×1195mm to suit a 1200×600 grid system.
Installation of the ceiling is relatively easy and only requires basic household tools. However, as with all structural jobs, it is wise to seek advice from a professional if you have any concerns.
Step 1: Work out how many panels you will need. You can do this by drawing a plan of your ceiling on graph paper. Measure the ceiling accurately and note the exact locations of the doors and windows.
Step 2: Take your measurements / diagram to your supplier to ensure you buy the correct number of panels. You will also need wall angles, main runners, cross tees and hanger wire.
Step 3: Determine the level that you want the new ceiling to hang at and mark a chalk line at this level around the room. Then, nail wall angle brackets along the chalk line all the way around the room. Fasten the brackets with nails and cut the brackets to the required lengths.
Step 4: Now install screw eyes at regular intervals. The panels of the ceiling grid will be parallel to the ceiling joists, so the main runner must be at right angles to the joists. Hanger wire can then be threaded through the screw eyes in the joists in order to suspend the main runners.
Step 5: Cut lengths of hanger wire (one for each screw eye) and fasten securely to each one. Then extend the wire down to the stretched runner string and fasten in place.
Step 6: Set the main runners into place. Thread each of the loose wires through the runner leg and fasten in place. Then, ensuring everything is level, make sure the length of the hangers is correct.
Step 7: To install the cross tee sections, push the cross tees into place at the appropriate intervals along the main runners.
Step 8. Finally – install your panels! Push each panel through a grid opening in turn, then lower it gently so that it sits on the bracket edges of the grid.