Replacing Acoustic Ceiling Tiles: a Guide

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Acoustic tiles
Measuring tape
Pencil or fine-tip marker
Utility knife

Acoustic ceiling tiles are simply ceiling tiles designed to dampen sound. They reduce echoes in a large or mostly empty room and prevent sounds in one room from traveling through the attic or rafter area into other rooms. Acoustic tiles can constitute a drop ceiling, or be mounted directly to the rafters or floor joists of the next room. Here’s how to replace a couple of water-stained drop-ceiling tiles in a basement.

Get Your Gear in Order

A good rule of thumb for this kind of job is to start with a freshly sharpened pencil and a new utility-knife blade. The tiles will be easier to cut and less likely to "rip" along the cut line if you have a sharp blade. After you put the new blade in your utility knife, use it to put a super-fine point on your pencil. Remember, your cutting blade is a razor’s-edge wide, so a narrow line will yield a more accurate cut.

Replace Drop-Ceiling Tiles

Remove the old tiles. Inspect the insulation above the tiles and make sure it’s in good condition. Replace or add more insulation as needed. If the tile must be cut to fit into a location, make the cut on the side of the tile closest to the wall.

To install a new tile, tip one edge of it upward and lift the tile through the opening until it has cleared the lips, which run around the opening. Drop the tile so that it falls onto that protruding lip. If the tile does not fall into place, try wiggling it a little from side to side. As a last resort, carefully trim the edge closest to the wall with your utility knife.

Replace Permanent Ceiling Panels

If your ceiling is not a drop ceiling, you will have to use a putty knife or a painter’s 5-in-1 tool to pry out the old tile and scrape away the glue that held it in place. Be careful not to damage the surrounding tiles.

With the old tile removed, place five nickel-sized dabs of adhesive on the back of the tile, one in the center of the tile and the other four approximately 1 ½ inches in from each corner. Press the tile into place and support it there until the adhesive sets.

Replace Water-Damaged Tiles

If you are replacing a tile due to water stains, find out what caused the leak and correct that problem before replacing the tiles, or else you will only have to replace the same ones all over again.