Now that you have the necessary tools and materials (see part 2), it's time to plan the layout of your tiles. The type of installation shown here is a new, improved method using metal “furring strips” and clips.
These strips, or tracks, are attached to the ceiling joists and support the tiles. The clips make it possible to remove ceiling tiles without damaging them in order to correct minor mistakes, insert light fixtures, or reach wiring and pipes between the joists. You merely slide the clip back along the track to release the tile.
This system reduces nailing by two thirds. Since the metal tracks don't have to be spaced precisely 12 inches apart, as wood furring strips do, this system gives you a greater margin of error. It also doesn't require that you to saw the tracks: they simply overlap at the end wall.
Leave your tiles in open boxes in the room for at least 24 hours, so they can become acclimated to the temperature and humidity. Also, fix any leaks or moisture problems before beginning. Inspect the ceiling for dips, swells, and other irregularities and chart these out on paper.
Laying Out the Ceiling
The layout for ceiling tiles is somewhat simpler than that for the suspended ceiling. The main thing you are planning for are the border tiles. These are the rows of tiles that run along the walls of a room. You want to plan so that these tiles are never fewer than 6 inches across (½ tile). Rarely do room dimensions work out in exact, 12-inch intervals.
For example, let's assume the width between two of the walls is 9 feet, 8 inches. If we made no adjustments, there would be 9 full-size tiles and two border rows of 4 inches each. To correct for these small border rows, convert 9 feet, 8 inches (116 inches) into 8 feet, 20 inches (116 inches). In this way, you can have 8 full-size courses and two border rows of 10 inches each.
Work out a similar layout in the other direction (in our example, 12 feet, 4 inches converts to 11 full-size tiles and two 9-inch border tiles). In this way, all four border rows of a rectangular or square room are more than 6 inches, and the two opposing border rows are equal. Now that you have a layout for your tiles, it's time to locate the ceiling joists in part 4.