How to Install Suspended / Drop Ceiling Tiles

Drop Ceiling Tiles All 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 may also be installed in slimline 9/16 in. drop ceiling grid.

Check building codes as required.

Don't Be Clingy

Ceilume Ceiling Tiles can come out of the box with a bit of a static charge, which can attract the dust and debris from construction and remodeling projects. We strongly advise you to finish any sawing, drilling, sanding, and even sweeping or vacuuming - and give the space a thorough cleaning - before installing your new ceiling tiles and accessories. Don't worry - our vinyl products don't create any dust of their own, and once they're installed the static charge will dissipate, alleviating the attraction to debris.

Install Your Grid Tape or Strips FIRST

If you are not using tape or strips, skip ahead to the Install Your Ceiling Tiles section.

Before You Begin

Start with an Empty Ceiling

Remove your old ceiling tiles to give yourself access to your ceiling grid in its entirety. This is absolutely necessary to both properly clean your grid and to firmly press your tape/strips into place when installing.

The next installation steps will fail if you do not start with an empty grid.

Clean Your Ceiling Grid

Thoroughly clean your grid and remove any contaminants (dust, oil, spackle, etc.), then wipe it down with a damp rag to dissipate static electricity, which attracts dust to the T-bar. To ensure good adhesion, your ceiling grid must be clean and dry!

Dust and oil can accumulate during construction and remodeling, so even brand new grid should be thoroughly cleaned!

Install Your Grid Tape

If you are using strips instead of tape, skip ahead to the Install Your Strips section.

You'll begin by applying tape to the grid around the perimeter of your room. Peel off the backing on your tape to expose 1-2 ft. of adhesive. Beginning in a corner, grasp the backside of the grid with one hand and press the tape against the front of your grid with the other. Adhere about 2 in. of tape to your grid at a time, aligning the next section carefully before pressing it firmly into place. Press firmly and evenly over the full surface of the tape (a small roller can be helpful) to ensure that the adhesive forms a firm and consistent bond with your grid.

When you reach another corner, trim the tape to fit. Cut precisely, and when beginning your next run do not overlap any portions of tape.

After you've finished applying the tape to the perimeter of your room, move on to your ceiling mains (long seamless portion of grid), and then finish with your ceiling T's (shorter cross pieces of grid). Cut precisely, and do not overlap any portions of tape, particularly where the cross T's intersect the mains.

Install Your Strips

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You'll begin by applying your strips to your ceiling mains (long seamless portion of grid), and then finish with your ceiling T's (shorter cross pieces of grid). "Dry-fit" your first strip by placing one end of the strip over the intersection of four ceiling tiles, and its length over the grid between two adjacent tiles. If installing decorative strips, center the "dot end" of the strip over the intersection. Trim to length if necessary.

Peel off the backing of your strip to expose the adhesive. Line the strip up as before and press firmly into place. Grasp the backside of the grid with one hand and press hard and evenly over the full surface of the strip with the other to ensure that the adhesive forms a firm and consistent bond with the grid.

Butt the beginning of the next strip directly against the end of the first (do not overlap!). If you are installing decorative strips, pay close attention to the repeating dot-dash pattern; the dot on your second strip should land over the next intersection of four ceiling tiles.

Install all of the strips running in one direction (ceiling mains), and then finish by installing the set of strips that run perpendicular to the first (ceiling T's), trimming as necessary. If installing decorative strips, you'll need to trim the dot off the end of each strip in the second set in order to keep the dot-dash pattern consistent.

Install Your Ceiling Tiles

Remove your existing tiles (if you have them and you haven't already!) to give yourself full grid access, and then pop your new tiles into place.

If you are refacing an existing ceiling, slide your new refacing ceiling tiles (with features projecting down and into the room) under your old, existing tiles and resettle them in your grid.

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 your room). Border tiles have been designed with a minimum relief pattern that lends itself to trimming and installing in these smaller areas.

Simply measure each of your partial grid squares, cut your border tiles to size with scissors or snips, and then place them into your grid.

Drop Ceiling Insulation

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To install Soniguard™ Drop Ceiling Insulation, simply drop your ceiling tiles and insulation into your grid in pairs: one Soniguard piece resting on top of one ceiling panel.

If using standard insulation, attach it to the "real" ceiling surface above your grid. Do not roll out the insulation over your grid and ceiling tiles. The weight of the insulation may cause the tiles to bow.

Recessed Lights

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Grid-mounted can lighting is a great illumination option. Choose a tile design that has sufficient flat area in the middle to accommodate the light opening and trim ring, and choose light fixtures that come with grid-suspension brackets so that the weight of the light is supported by your T-bar and not by your tile.

Measure the 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 your tile, and use a utility knife, scissors, or snips to cut the hole. Then pop your tile into place in your drop ceiling grid, position your light fixture above it, and install the trim ring.

Coffered ceiling tiles may require additional steps. Please contact us for more information.

Luminous Ceiling Panels Below Light Fixtures

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Translucent and frosted ceiling panels will obscure the light fixtures above your lay-in ceiling grid, so inexpensive fluorescent units work well. Clear ceiling tiles, while not "window clear", provide full visibility to everything above them, so extra light fixture consideration should be made.

For best results, install translucent, frosted, or clear ceiling panels at least 6" below your light fixtures, and use translucent and frosted panels in conjunction with AcoustoTherm® Backpanels, which will obscure dust and insect accumulation.

Ceiling Level Temperature

As a general rule, Ceilume Ceiling Tiles and Panels will not be affected by ceiling level temperatures up to 120°F. In some installations involving halogen lights, metal heat registers, and radiant heat sources (wood stoves, kitchen ovens, etc.), localized ceiling and ceiling tile temperatures can be much higher than anticipated. Please contact us for specific advice if your installation has any of these special conditions.

Fire Sprinklers

When fire suppression sprinklers are involved with your drop ceiling installation, your first and most important step is to consult with your local building and fire of officials to make sure that your intended use will conform with the appropriate local codes.

All fire ratings, approvals, certifications, and compliance documents can be found on our Fire Ratings page.

Sprinklers Penetrating Ceiling Panels

Ceilume's ceiling panels and tiles are designed to be sensitive to heat from a fire; that is why they can be used as drop-out ceiling panels (see next section). When a fire suppression sprinkler passes through a tile, the tile cannot interfere with sprinkler operation in the event of a fire. When it is necessary for your sprinklers to penetrate/pass through your ceiling tiles and be visible in the room, you must...

Cut the opening in the ceiling tile a minimum of 0.25" larger than the outer diameter of the sprinkler head or trim ring/escutcheon (whichever is larger). This enables the tile to fall from the ceiling grid without becoming entangled with the sprinkler or interfering with its operation.


Use a 0.030" thick Signature Ceiling Tile backed by a mineral fiber ceiling panel at each sprinkler penetration. This holds the tile in place and keeps it insulated, preventing it from interfering with sprinkler operation.

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

Drop-Out Ceiling Panels Beneath Sprinklers

All of Ceilume's 0.013 in. thick Feather-Light ceiling panels and two 0.030 in. thick Signature styles, Oxford and Fleur-de-lis, are suitable for installation beneath fire sprinklers in Light Hazard and Ordinary Hazard Group I occupancies. When exposed to heat from a developing fire, these drop-out ceiling panels soften, distort, and fall from the ceiling grid. Heat from the growing fire activates the sprinkler which, unimpeded by the panels, controls or extinguishes the fire.

All Feather-Light panels, Oxford, and Fleur-de-lis are suitable for use beneath Quick Response (QR) and Standard Response (SR) sprinkler systems rated with an activation temperature of 135°F or above, where allowed by local safety authorities. See IAPMO UEL-5021 for further information. Ceilume's AcoustoTherm® Backpanels, Soniguard™ Acoustic/Thermal Insulation, EZ-On Grid Covers, and Uplift Prevention clips are also listed for use with Ceilume panels in these installations.

Please note: Grid tape, decorative strips, and smooth strips have not been tested for use in drop-out installations, though there is no mechanical reason that the use of our tape or strips, when installed properly, would affect the panels' ability to drop from your grid.

Drop-out installations must use grid that provides up to a 3/8" horizontal edge support on all four sides and has a load bearing capacity of no less than 16 lbs. per lineal foot, or be rated as Heavy Duty Grid per ASTM C635.

Consult with your local building and fire officials to make sure that your intended use will conform with the appropriate local codes.


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All of our ceiling tiles and strips can be painted before or after installation.


Your new ceiling 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.

Panels are 100% waterproof so there is no risk of water damage during cleaning, and there is no need for scheduled professional cleaning and resurfacing to prevent environmental and aesthetic problems.

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


Store any extra boxes of ceiling tiles upright in a single layer (do not stack) in 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.

Guiding Principle #7: Be profitable. Financial stability allows us to provide great products.