How to Install Glue-Up (Butt Joint) Ceiling Tiles

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Glue-Up (Butt Joint) Ceiling Tiles Glue-up tiles are mounted directly to a sound installation surface using adhesive. Tiles butt together when installed, and self-adhering strips are required to cover the joints between tiles.

Check building codes as required.


  1. Prepare Installation Surface

    Substrates must be flat, clean, and sound. Remove ceiling texture like popcorn or install furring strips. Patching and sanding may be necessary if installation surface is damaged or uneven.

    Your hands, work surfaces, and ceiling must be clean and dry. Dust, oil, grease, and other contaminants can interfere with the adhesion of ceiling tiles and strips.

    Remove electrical cover plates, pipe escutcheons, and other trim and carefully store for later re-installation.

  2. Plan Ceiling Layout

    We love the proverb “measure twice, cut once.” It’s important to accurately lay out your ceiling (or wall) and double-check your layout before cutting tiles and permanently affixing them!

    Draw a layout of ceiling; it may be helpful to use graph paper. Measure and draw locations of walls, hallways, closets, doorways, and ceiling-mounted lights, vents, speakers, fans, and other fixtures. Once you have a basic ceiling plan, decide how you want to lay out ceiling tiles.

    For most installations, try to create even borders around the perimeter of the room. In some cases, you may want to start at a location that will minimize the number of tiles being trimmed. In others, it may be desirable to center tiles around important ceiling fixtures or other features.

    After you’ve double and triple-checked the layout for accuracy, snap two perpendicular chalk lines, forming a cross at your starting location. Keep in mind that rooms are rarely square and chalk lines may need to be adjusted.

  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 the static charge will dissipate.

      We also highly recommend pre-testing materials before starting to ensure the best results for your specific installation.

    2. Install Main (Full-Size) Tiles

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      Apply a 1/8 in. diameter bead of adhesive along the perimeter and down the center of the back of the first tile. For tiles with a low relief, a bead around the edge and an “X” in the middle is all that is required. For tiles with deeply-formed designs, an additional bead of adhesive near the formed features will ensure a good bond with your installation surface.

      As you are applying your adhesive, remember, it isn’t how much adhesive you use, but that you use the right amount in the right places.

      Position ceiling tile about 1/4 in. offset from chalk lines and press it against substrate using light to medium pressure. Slide the tile into place against the chalk lines, allowing adhesive to spread. Press and rub firmly over the glued areas to smooth out any bumps in the adhesive and to seat the tile into place.

      Once first tile is installed, place adjacent tiles in a similar manner. Tile edges may vary slightly, so do not butt the tiles together with force; simply slide tiles into place. Joints will be covered with decorative or smooth strips in the final phase of installation, covering small gaps between tiles.

      Use a soft, damp rag to wipe up any excess adhesive while it’s still fresh.

    3. Install Border Tiles

      In all likelihood, your ceiling will have some areas that are smaller than a full-size tile (usually around the perimeter of room). Tiles with deep relief or molded shapes can look awkward if their cut edges abut walls. Border tiles (sometimes called “edge trim”) have a shallow or minimal pattern that lends itself to trimming and installing in these smaller areas.

      To install border tiles, measure from the edge of an installed tile to the wall and cut border tiles to size with scissors or snips. Adhere tile to ceiling with the cut edge toward wall.

      Crown molding or trim around ceiling perimeter can be used to complement new ceiling.

  4. Install Joint Strips (Required)

    Ceilume’s self-adhesive strips are designed to cover the joints between ceiling tiles.

    Before you begin:

    • Tiles must be clean and dry
    • Tiles must be installed correctly, evenly, and level
    • Room temperature should be between 60-80°F

    Dry-fit the first strip by placing its end over the intersection of four ceiling tiles and its length over the joint between two adjacent tiles. If installing decorative (as opposed to smooth) strips, center the dotend of the strip over the intersection. Trim to length if necessary

    Peel off the strip backing to expose adhesive. Line up strip as before and stick into place. Press firmly and evenly over the full surface of strip to ensure that adhesive forms a strong bond with tiles. Butt the beginning of the next strip directly against the end of the first. Do not overlap strips. If you are installing decorative strips, pay close attention to the repeating dot-dash pattern; the dot on the second strip should land over the next intersection of ceiling tiles.

    Install all of the parallel strips running in one direction, then install the strips in the perpendicular direction. Cut these cross strips to length as necessary, ensuring that they don’t overlap the previously-installed strips. If you are installing decorative strips, trim the dot off the end of each strip in the second set in order to keep the dot-dash pattern consistent.

  5. Recessed Lights

    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 install your tile and finish with the trim ring.

  6. 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.


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
  • Email:
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