How to Install Suspended / Drop Ceiling Tiles

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Drop Ceiling Tiles Most Ceilume ceiling tiles and panels can be installed in an approved ceiling suspension system using standard 15/16 in. (often called 1 in.) face T-bar grid. Many 0.030 in. thick Signature styles can also be used in slimline 9/16 in. drop ceiling grid.

Check building codes as required.


  1. New and Replacement Ceiling Tiles
    1. Prepare Grid
      1. New Ceiling Grid

        Install drop ceiling grid in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. Center to accommodate border tiles (see Section 1.3.3.) and lighting.

      2. Existing Ceiling Grid

        Remove old ceiling tiles.

      3. Clean Ceiling Grid

        Thoroughly clean your room and T-bar grid. Remove contaminants (dust, oil, spackle, old paint, etc.), then wipe the grid down with a damp rag to dissipate static electricity, which attracts dust to the T-bar. Contaminants can accumulate during construction and remodeling, so even brand-new grid should be thoroughly cleaned.

    2. Install EZ-On Grid Covers, Strips, or Tape (If Applicable)

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      EZ-On Grid Covers, decorative and smooth strips, and grid tape are all designed to cover the T-bar in suspended ceiling tile installations. Strips and tape must be installed before you install ceiling tiles. Please see the instructions included with those accessory products for installation.

    3. Install Ceiling Tiles
      1. Before You Begin

        Ceiling tiles may come out of the box with a bit of a static electricity charge, which can attract dust and debris from construction and remodeling projects. We strongly advise you to finish sawing, drilling, sanding, and sweeping, and then clean room thoroughly before installing tiles.

        Don’t worry, our tiles don’t create dust of their own, and once they’re installed any static charge will dissipate.

      2. Install Main Tiles

        To install new ceiling tiles, simply pop them into place in your ceiling grid.

      3. Install Border Tiles

        In all likelihood, your ceiling will have some less than full-size grid squares (usually around the perimeter of room). These border tiles (sometimes called “edge trim”) should have a shallow or minimal pattern that lends itself to trimming and installing in these smaller areas.

        To install border tiles, simply measure your partial grid squares, cut tiles to size with scissors or snips, and place the trimmed pieces into grid with the cut side toward the wall.

  2. Refacing Existing Ceiling Tiles

    If keeping the acoustic and thermal properties of your existing ceiling is important, and the previously installed tiles are in good (if not beautiful) condition, most 0.030 in. thick Signature styles can be used as refacing tiles.

    1. Install EZ-On Grid Covers (If Applicable)

      EZ-On Grid Covers are designed to cover the T-bar in suspended ceiling tile installations. For installation, please see the instructions included with them.

    2. Install New Ceiling Tiles Below the Old
      1. Before You Begin

        Ceiling tiles may come out of the box with a bit of a static electricity charge, which can attract dust and debris from construction and remodeling projects. We strongly advise you to finish sawing, drilling, sanding, and sweeping, and then clean room thoroughly before installing tiles.

        Don’t worry, our tiles don’t create dust of their own, and once they’re installed any static charge will dissipate.

      2. Install Main (Full-Size) Tiles

        To install, simply slide your new refacing ceiling tiles (with their features projecting down and into the room) under existing tiles, and then resettle the new pairs back into the grid.

      3. Install Border Tiles

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        In all likelihood, your ceiling will have some less than full-size grid squares (usually around the perimeter of room). These border tiles (sometimes called “edge trim”) should have a shallow or minimal pattern that lends itself to trimming and installing in these smaller areas.

        To install border tiles, simply measure your partial grid squares, cut tiles to size with scissors or snips, and then place the trimmed pieces into grid with the cut side toward the wall.

  3. Lighting
    1. Recessed Lights

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      Grid-mounted recessed lights are a common illumination option, and these fixtures work well with Ceilume ceiling tiles and panels.

      Choose a tile design that has a sufficient flat area in the middle to accommodate the light opening and trim ring, and use a light fixture that comes with a grid-suspension bracket so that the weight of the light is supported by the T-bar grid system and not by the tile.

      Measure fixture to determine the size of the opening needed for the light and trim ring, make a simple cutting template, mark the location of the opening on tile, and use a utility knife, scissors, or snips to cut the hole. Then pop tile into place in your grid, position your light fixture above it, and finish with the trim ring.

      Coffered ceiling tiles like Madison and Westminster may require additional steps to install with can lights. Please feel free to contact us for more information about using these styles in combination with recessed lighting.

    2. Transluminous® Panels Beneath Light Fixtures

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      Translucent, Frosted, and Clear panels can be used beneath light fixtures or throughout the entirety of an installation for a fully-illuminated ceiling effect. Translucent and Frosted panels obscure the area above your suspended ceiling grid, whereas Clear panels, while not “window clear”, provide full visibility to everything above them.

      For best results:

      • Install panels at least 6 in. below light fixtures
      • Use LED fixtures to extend the life of Transluminous® Panels
      • Pair Translucent and Frosted panels with AcoustoTherm® Backpanels to obscure dust and shadows caused by debris accumulation on top of panels
  4. Insulation
    1. Soniguard™ Drop Ceiling Insulation

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      Soniguard™ is an itch-free non-fiberglass insulation that is pre-cut for easy installation. To install, simply drop ceiling tiles and pieces of insulation into grid in pairs: one piece of Soniguard™ resting on top of one ceiling tile.

    2. AcoustoTherm® Backpanels

      AcoustoTherm® Backpanels nest above drop-out ceiling panels, creating an insulating and sounddampening pocket of still air. Backpanels can also be used in lighting applications to obscure dust and shadows caused by debris accumulation.

      To install, drop ceiling tiles and backpanels into the grid in pairs: one backpanel on top of one tile.

    3. Rolled and Batt Insulation

      If you are using standard, rolled or batt insulation in combination with Ceilume ceiling tiles, attach it to the surface above the suspended ceiling. Do not install rolled or batt insulation directly on the grid or ceiling tiles as the weight may cause the tiles to bow.

  5. Temperature Warning

    As a guideline, Ceilume’s ceiling tiles and panels are not affected by ceiling level temperatures up to 120°F. In some installations involving halogen lights, metal heat registers, or heat sources (stoves, ovens, etc.), localized ceiling temperatures can be much higher than anticipated. Please contact us for advice if your installation has any of these special conditions.

  6. Fire Sprinkler Systems

    Before using Ceilume ceiling tiles in buildings with overhead fire sprinkler systems, the first and most important step is to consult local building and fire officials to make sure that the intended use conforms with appropriate local codes. Ceilume’s fire ratings, approvals, certifications, and compliance documents can be found on the Fire Ratings page of our website.

    We offer three (and only three) safety tested and approved methods of installation. If you have ceiling sprinklers, you must install tiles in one of the following ways.

    1. Drop-Out Ceiling Tiles Beneath Sprinklers

      Many of Ceilume’s ceiling tiles and panels are suitable for installation beneath fire sprinklers. When exposed to heat from a developing fire, these drop-out tiles soften, distort, and fall from the ceiling grid. Heat from the growing fire activates the sprinkler, which, unimpeded by the tiles, can perform its intended function.

      Per IAPMO UES Evaluation Report 310, all Feather-Light and Signature styles are suitable for use beneath Quick Response (QR) and Standard Response (SR) sprinkler systems rated with an activation temperature of 135°F or above, in Light Hazard and Ordinary Hazard Group I occupancies and where allowed by local safety authorities.

      Of the Signature series styles, Ceilume only recommends using Oxford and/or Fleur-de-lis ceiling tiles in drop-out installations.

      Suspension systems for drop-out installations must:

      • Support all tile edges
      • Provide no more than 0.375 in. horizontal edge support
      • Comply with ASTM C635, Heavy-Duty Classification (16 pounds per lineal foot)

      Ceilume’s AcoustoTherm® Backpanels, Soniguard™ Drop Ceiling Insulation, EZ-On Grid Covers, and uplift prevention clips are also listed for use with Ceilume tiles and panels in these installations.

    2. Ceiling Tiles with Sprinkler Penetrations
      1. Restraining-Type Trim Ring/Escutcheon Warning

        Never use a restraining-type trim ring/escutcheon at a sprinkler penetration without an appropriately-sized tile opening or mineral fiber ceiling tile backer.

      2. Ceiling Tiles with Oversized Holes

        Method 2: Sprinklers Penetrate through Ceiling Tiles - Oversized Hole

        When sprinklers penetrate through ceiling tiles and you are not using a refacing style with a mineral fiber backer (see section 6.2.3.), per IAPMO UES Evaluation Report 310, sprinklers must be located a maximum of 3 in. below ceiling grid, and sprinkler-penetration holes must be at least 0.25 in. larger in diameter than sprinkler trim rings/escutcheons (or the sprinkler itself if no trim ring/escutcheon is being used).

        An appropriately-sized hole saw can be used to cut clean, smooth, and neat sprinkler-penetration holes. Run the saw in reverse in order to keep tile material from binding.

      3. Refacing Ceiling Tiles with Mineral Fiber Backing Panels

        Method 2: Sprinklers Penetrate through Ceiling Tiles - Refacing Style with Mineral Fiber Backer

        If you are using a refacing style with a mineral fiber backing panel above it, per IAPMO UES Evaluation Report 310, sprinklers must be located a maximum of 3 in. below ceiling grid, and sprinkler-penetration holes must be 0.25 in. smaller in diameter than sprinkler trim rings/escutcheons.

        An appropriately-sized hole saw can be used to cut sprinklerpenetration holes through both mineral fiber and Ceilume ceiling tiles. Run the saw in a forward direction to cut holes in mineral fiber tiles; run the saw in reverse to prevent tile material from binding when cutting holes in your Ceilume tiles.

    3. Rectifying Fire Sprinkler Non-Compliance

      If you find yourself in a situation where sprinklers are penetrating through Ceilume ceiling tiles, the corresponding holes are not large enough, and you are not using a refacing style with a mineral fiber backing panel, there are two acceptable remedies:

      1. Enlarge the holes per IAPMO UES Evaluation Report 310 (see section 6.2.2.)

      2. Use a refacing style with a mineral fiber backing panel at those locations where sprinklers penetrate tiles (see section 6.2.3.)


How to Maintain Tiles

  1. Painting

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    Ceilume tiles, panels, strips, tape, and grid covers can be painted before or after installation.

    Before you begin:

    • Make sure that everything is clean and dry
    • Do not use solvent-type thinners or cleaners
    • Experiment on a sample tile before working on ceiling in its entirety

    Painting voids all ratings, approvals, certifications, and listings.

  2. Cleaning

    Your new tiles require no special cleaning agents - just wipe them down with a soft, damp rag. Small, stubborn spots can be handled with an all-purpose cleaner. Tiles are 100% waterproof so there is no risk of water damage during cleaning.

    Do not use cleaners containing organic solvents or other aggressive ingredients as they may affect the surface appearance of tiles. Examples of these types of cleaners include chlorine bleach, liquid grease remover, strong detergents, and nail polish remover.

  3. Storing

    Store any extra boxes of ceiling tiles upright in a single layer (do not stack). Choose a cool spot out of direct sunlight.


We Are Here to Help!

We hope that the information above is clear and provides the answers to any questions you may have along the way, but if it does not, please do not hesitate to contact us directly for help.

  • Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM, Pacific Time
  • Phone: 1-800-557-0654
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