How to Install Glue-Up Ceiling Tiles

Download our full installations instructions here (PDF).

What do I need to know about direct mount ceilings?

In direct mount installations, ceiling tiles are mounted directly to flat ceiling surfaces using adhesive, staples, or a combination of both. Self-adhesive Decorative Strips are then used to hide the joints between installed ceiling tiles.

Ceilume's 0.030" thick Signature Ceiling Tiles can be used in both glue-up and staple-up installations. They are easy to install, clean, and maintain, and create the look of a classic tin or plaster ceiling at a fraction of the cost.

Glue-up or staple-up, which is better?

The answer to this question depends upon the tools you have available, the type and condition of your existing ceiling surface, and your personal preference.

Most customers prefer to glue-up their ceiling tiles. Ceilume Ceiling Tile Adhesive is a glue specially formulated for use with ceiling tiles, is very easy to use, and allows you ample time to position ceiling tiles before it dries completely. For a glue-up installation you will need:

  • Clean and structurally sound installation surface
  • Signature Series Ceiling Tiles
  • Ceilume Ceiling Tile Adhesive
  • Ceilume Clean-Cut (An adhesive tube cutting tool that comes free with every adhesive order!)

Some customers decide to staple-up rather than glue-up their ceiling tiles. In most cases attaching your tiles with staples is just fine, but please be aware that staples may not be suitable for hard sub-surfaces like plaster and old wood. For a staple-up installation you will need:

  • Clean and structurally sound installation surface
  • Signature Series Ceiling Tiles
  • T-50 staples of long enough to attach your tiles securely to your installation surface
  • Hand or air-powered staple gun

Your surface type will decide your method of installation.

  • Sheetrock, Plaster, Cement
    Install your ceiling tiles directly to your sheetrock, plaster, or cement ceiling using Ceilume Ceiling Tile Adhesive. Do not use staples.
  • Wood Paneling, Plywood
    Install your ceiling tiles directly to your wood paneling or plywood ceiling using Ceilume Ceiling Tile Adhesive or T-50 staples of an appropriate length to provide a firm hold.
  • Wood Furring Strips
    Install your ceiling tiles directly to your wood furring strips (positioned 23.75" on center in a graph or cross pattern) using Ceilume Ceiling Tile Adhesive or T-50 staples of an appropriate length to provide a firm hold.
  • Popcorn
    Ceiling tiles cannot be glued or stapled directly over popcorn ceilings, as they do not provide a flat, even, or sound installation surface. In order to proceed with your installation you must first remove your existing ceiling texture, add a new layer of drywall over it, or install wood furring strips. When that is complete, you can then proceed with the method of installation for your new surface type.
  • Fiberboard, Mineral Fiber Ceiling Tiles
    If your existing fiberboard or mineral fiber ceiling tiles are sturdy and attached firmly to your ceiling, install your ceiling tiles directly over them using Ceilume Ceiling Tile Adhesive. If your existing fiberboard or mineral fiber ceiling tiles do not provide a sound installation surface, we recommend that you remove them or install wood furring strips over them prior to the installation of your ceiling tiles.

How do I prepare my installation surface?

Your installation surface should be smooth, clean, and dry. Taping and bedding, patching, or sanding may be necessary if your ceiling is damaged or gapped. For glue-up installations, a primed or painted surface is recommended for best results.

What tools do I need?

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Chalk line
  • Scissors or aviation snips
  • Glue-up installations: Ceilume Ceiling Tile Adhesive, Clean-Cut, water, and paper towels
  • Staple-up installations: T-50 staples and hand or air-powered staple gun

Step 1: Take your time laying out your new ceiling.

It is incredibly important to map out your ceiling on graph paper prior to attaching your first tile. Measure and mark all of your walls, hallways, closets, and doorways, and be sure to locate and draw any lights, heating vents, and other ceiling mounted fixtures. These features will sometimes influence where you start your installation, place your tiles, and the look of your finished ceiling.

Taking into account the room variables listed above, place lines along your ceiling's midpoints:

  • If there are no obstructing elements, simply snap a chalk line in the center of your ceiling from one wall to its opposite parallel wall.
  • Find the wall perpendicular to the first and snap a chalk line in the center of your ceiling from that wall to its opposite parallel wall.

The midpoint chalk lines that you've just created should intersect at 90° and create a cross in the middle of your ceiling. Keep in mind that ceilings are rarely square and chalk lines may need to be adjusted.

Step 2: Install the ceiling tiles in the center of your room and work out.

Now that your ceiling is laid out and your chalk lines are drawn, it's time to apply some adhesive (or break out that staple gun!) and install your ceiling tiles.

Pre-test is best! It is very important to pre-test your materials and installation method before installing your new ceiling tiles in order to identify which combination will produce the best results for your particular situation.

If you are using adhesive to install your tiles make sure that your hands, work surfaces, and ceiling are all clean and dry. Dust and oils can affect the adherence of your ceiling tiles.

Next, cut the tip off of your Ceilume Ceiling Tile Adhesive tube using your Clean-Cut tool. The Clean-Cut will allow you to make the perfect tip angle and opening for an efficient 1/8" to 3/16" bead of adhesive.

Apply a perimeter and pattern-appropriate center bead of adhesive to the back side of your tile. For a flat tile, a bead around the edge and a simple center pattern is all that is required. For a three dimensional tile, an additional bead near the formed features will ensure a good bond.

As you are applying the adhesive remember that it isn't how much adhesive you apply that matters (in fact using too much can work against you), but that you apply the right amount of adhesive in the right places.

Position your ceiling tile about 1/4" offset from the intersection of your chalk lines and lightly press it to the ceiling. Then "slide it home" (into its final position directly alongside the chalk lines) to help your adhesive spread just a little. Finally, press and rub firmly over the glued areas. This will smooth out any bumps or lumps in the adhesive, and seat your tile firmly into place.

Once your first ceiling tile is installed, begin placing adjacent tiles. The second ceiling tile you install should be placed directly against the first. The seams between tiles may vary slightly, so do not butt the tiles together with force, simply slide them into place. All joints will be covered with Decorative Strips in the final phase of installation, so do not worry about any small gaps between your ceiling tiles.

If you are using staples to install your tiles position your first ceiling tile at the intersection of your chalk lines, with two sides of the tile directly alongside two of the lines. Then apply three T-50 staples along each side of your ceiling tile within 1/4" of the tile's outer edge (this will ensure that the staples will be covered by your Decorative Strips in the final phase of installation).

Once your first ceiling tile is installed, begin placing adjacent tiles. The second ceiling tile you install should be placed directly against the first. The seams between tiles may vary slightly, so do not butt the tiles together with force, simply slide them into place before stapling. All joints will be covered with Decorative Strips in the final phase of installation, so do not worry about any small gaps between your ceiling tiles.

Step 3: Trim and install the tiles around the edge of your ceiling.

Edge trim tiles will be necessary around the border of your ceiling if it is too small to accommodate full-size tiles. These border tiles have been designed with a minimum relief pattern that lends itself to cutting and trimming.

To begin, choose a non-corner border tile location and measure the distance from the edge of an installed ceiling tile to the wall. Using that measurement, cut your edge trim tile to size.

If you are using adhesive to install your tiles apply a bead of adhesive to the back side of your ceiling tile around its perimeter. Position the ceiling tile with the cut edge toward the wall, 1/4" offset from its final position and lightly press it to the ceiling. Then slide it home and press the tile firmly into place. Finally, press and rub firmly over all glued areas.

Repeat this installation process with your remaining border tiles, proceeding from one adjacent tile to the next until your border is complete.

Clean tools with warm water and paper towels while the ceiling tile adhesive is still wet. Dried material can be scraped or chipped off if needed.

If you are using staples to install your tiles apply three T-50 staples within 1/4" of the tile's outer edge along each side of your ceiling tile except for the side (two sides for corner tiles!) that meets the wall.

Repeat this installation process with your remaining border tiles, proceeding from one adjacent tile to the next until your border is complete.

Step 4: Finish your ceiling tile installation with Decorative Strips.

Decorative Strips are 2' long, self-adhesive, and designed to cover the joints between ceiling tiles. Each strip has a decorative pattern that begins with a dot and ends with a dash.

Before applying your Decorative Strips:

  • The temperature of your room should be between 60°F and 80°F with low humidity.
  • Clean your tiles thoroughly with a soft cloth and rubbing alcohol. This will remove any dust or grease, as well as dissipate static electricity which attracts dust to the tiles.
  • Make sure that your ceiling tiles are installed correctly and are even and level. Decorative Strips will not adhere properly to bumpy or poorly installed tiles.

A couple of installation tips:

  • Do not remove the peel surface on the adhesive backing until you are ready to install the Decorative Strip. If the adhesive comes in contact with dust, oil, or grease of any kind it will not adhere to your tiles.
  • Be sure not to overlap strips, one on top of another, as this will create gaps that will encourage the adhesive to release.
  • If your Decorative Strips do not adhere for any reason, simply apply a small amount of Ceilume Ceiling Tile Adhesive and reinstall.

Start by dry fitting your first Decorative Strip. To dry fit, place the dot end of the strip directly over the intersection of four ceiling tiles and the length of the strip over the joint of two adjacent tiles.

Trim to length if necessary then remove the backing on the strip, exposing the adhesive, and press it firmly into place. Make sure to place the dot end of the strip over the intersection of four ceiling tiles and its length over the joint of two neighboring tiles.

Butt the next Decorative Strip directly against the end of the first, creating a repeating dot dash pattern. The dot on your second strip will be placed directly over the next intersection of four ceiling tiles. Remember to dry fit and trim as necessary before installing every Decorative Strip.

Install all of the Decorative Strips running in one direction first and then finish by installing the set of strips perpendicular to the first. Trim the dot off of the end of each strip in the second set to keep the dot dash pattern consistent across the entirety of the ceiling and to create visual symmetry.

When all of your Decorative Strips have been installed, your beautiful new ceiling is complete!

Painting

All Ceilume products can be painted before or after installation.

Be sure everything is clean and dry before painting, experiment on a sample before painting your entire ceiling, and do not use solvent type thinner or cleaners.

Painting voids all fire ratings.

Storing

Do not store in direct sunlight or in contact with any heat that may reach temperatures of over 110°F. When temperatures reach these levels the vinyl may distort.

Cleaning

Ceilume products require no special cleaning - just wipe them down with a soft damp rag. Small, stubborn spots can be handled with cleaners such as Fantastik® and Windex®.

There is no risk of water damage during cleaning, and there is no need for scheduled professional maintenance and resurfacing to prevent environmental and aesthetic problems.

Cleaners containing organic solvents or other aggressive ingredients should not be used because they may affect the surface appearance of your ceiling tiles. Examples of such cleaners: chlorine bleach, liquid grease remover, nail polish remover, furniture polish, and detergents containing organic solvents.

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