Replacing Drop Ceiling Tiles

Lead Image
  • 2-8 hours
  • Beginner
  • 100-120
What You'll Need
Replacement tile
Box knife or cutter
Tape measure or ruler
Goggles or eye protection
Adhesive or silicone caulking (for interlocking tiles)
Putty knife or scraper

Replacing drop ceiling tiles is a really easy do it yourself project. It can be completed in just a few minutes with tools you will most likely already have around the house. You will need to determine which type of ceiling you have before you begin your project.

There are two types of drop tile ceilings. One is the type where the gridwork is suspended from the ceiling and tiles fit into and lay upon this grid work. This is called a suspended tile ceiling. The other type is interlocking tiles that snap together like hardwood or tongue and groove flooring and are adhered to furring strips attached to the original ceiling. This is an interlocking suspended tile ceiling. Either type of ceiling is also sometimes installed by placing liquid nails on the ceiling and then pressing the tiles directly onto it until it adheres firmly.

Step 1 - Remove the Old Tile

On a suspended ceiling, removing the tile is very easy. Just push up on the tile, slightly turn it and then pull it out. Save this tile to help you measure for the new tile. For an interlocking tile ceiling you will need to make cuts in the damaged tile across the tile in an "X" shape. Starting in the center, pull pieces of the tile down and discard. Then scrape any excess adhesive and remove the old nails and brads.

Step 2 - Prepare Your Area

If you have the whole tile you've removed, use it to make sure the tile you are replacing it with is the correct size. You can trim the new tile with your box knife. For the interlocking tile ceiling you will need to remove the lip that protrudes on one side of the tile so you can get a flush fit. Check again for fit before you apply any adhesive to the furring strips.

Step 3 - Replacing the Tile

For the suspended tile ceiling all you need to do is put the tile back onto the grid in the reverse order in which you removed it and drop it into place. For the interlocking tile, apply adhesive to the furring strips or wood that is underneath the suspended ceiling. Then press the new tile into place making sure to evenly align it with the other tiles so the spacing between tiles is even. Push snugly, but not hard, on the new tile to lock it into place.

Step 4 - Finishing the Project

You may find that if the ceiling is more than a few years old your new tiles will be a lighter color than the rest of the ceiling. In that case, the entire ceiling will need to be painted to achieve a uniform look. This type of ceiling will accept paint more readily if you prime it first. The paint job last longer if you prime first. Finally, apply a good ceiling paint.