How to Change Out Ceiling Tiles

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What You'll Need
6-foot stepladder (or larger, if necessary)
Tape measure
Utility knife
Fine-tip marking pen
Screwdriver (for accessory removal)
Pliers (for accessory removal)

Maybe a tile was accidentally knocked out or broken, or perhaps a clogged drain upstairs has caused a couple tiles to show a water stain. It's OK because replacing ceiling tiles doesn't require a lot of skill or any special tools.

Don't Worry - It's Easy

The really nice thing about drop, or suspended, ceiling tiles is that when one section of the ceiling is damaged or stained, you won't have to replace the whole thing or struggle to blend a patched area into the existing ceiling. For all tiles other than those through which accessories are mounted or those that border the room, replacements take only a few moments.

Remove Old Tiles

Lift the old tile up and at an angle until it clears the ceiling grid. Twist it slightly to one side, and it will fit easily through the hole. If there are any items mounted to the tile, such as an exhaust fan or directional lighting, remove that item with whatever tools are required. Try not to break the tile, as it can be used as a template for the replacement.

Replace Field Tiles

The field is the main portion of your ceiling, any tiles that don't border a wall. To replace these, hold the new tile in both hands, with the face pointed downwards. Examine the directional mark on the back of the tile and make sure the tile is turned the correct way. Tip one end slightly edgewise and up and then lift the tile into the opening.

Replace Border Tiles

Tiles around the border of the room must be cut before they can be removed. Measure the opening carefully and mark the tile where you will be cutting. Put a new blade in your utility knife and make one continuous cut through the tile, using a yardstick as a guide. Insert the new tile using the same procedure you used for the field tiles.

Mount Accessories

If you have to replace a tile through which an accessory is mounted, use the old tile as a guide. If that's not possible, find the center of the tile and mark out the dimensions of the hole to be cut. Insert the blade at a slight incline away from the hole. This way, you can adjust the size of the hole by lightly sanding its edges.