Installing the Second Row
After you put the first row in place in part 4, proceed with the second row. Remember, this row will be used to hold the odd-sized border row. When you install this second row of furring strips, do it so that they are placed a distance from the wall that is the size of the border tile, less 2 inches. In our example, where we have 10-inch border tiles, this second row would be placed 8 inches (10 - 2 = 8 inches) from the wall.
Measure along as you go; be sure you keep a constant 8 inches from the wall. Nail this row up in the same manner as you did the row next to the wall. Be sure to stagger your joints.
This means that the joints between two 4-foot sections of strips should not occur at the same place in two adjacent rows, but rather should be staggered. This assures that there will not be a series of joints in a row across the furring strip row that could cause a noticeable dip.
After the second row is installed, begin the remaining rows. These are all placed 12 inches apart. Again, the next to the last row should be at a distance from the wall equal to the size of a border tile, less 2 inches (8 inches in our example). The last row should be 1 inch from the wall.
Squaring the Ceiling with Strings
If your walls are meeting at true right angles, so that the room is a perfect square or rectangle, you can omit this step. Unfortunately, in many homes, especially older ones, this is not the case. In these instances you must set up strings that are at true right angles and lay the tiles according to these strings.
The strings will serve as guides for installing and cutting the border tiles. If you omit this step, the tile ceiling will look strange and out of line with the walls.
You will need to set up two strings that run at the level of the new ceiling and out from each wall the width of the border tiles at that wall. The strings are attached to nails temporarily driven into the walls. The two strings will intersect at a corner. The strings are placed in such a way so as to outline the edge of the two intersecting border rows. Let's say that one row is a 10-inch row and the intersecting row is 8 inches.
Set up one line so that it is at the level of the ceiling and running 10 inches from the wall. Do the same with the intersecting string so that it is running 8 inches from the wall. Once these are in place, take a framing square and, holding it steady, see if the two strings are square. Remember, if they are just a little off square over the 2-foot arm of the square, the walls could be a few inches off over the distance of the wall.
Be sure, therefore, that each line is running exactly along each arm of the square. If they are not, adjust one of the strings (preferably the one that outlines the border row that will be least noticeable from below) until the lines are exactly at right angles. You now have a square reference with which to start installing the tiles. The only thing left is to go to part 6 and find out how to install the tiles.