How to reset ceiling tiles

July 28, 2015

There are two kinds of ceiling tiles: suspended and attached. It's an easy job to reset either type. Here's a quick primer on how to do them.

How to reset ceiling tiles

Suspended ceiling tiles

  • Suspended ceiling tiles fit loosely in a metal grid and are held there by gravity.
  • Any number of things — even the breeze created by closing a door — can jostle them. If they slide around enough, they'll fall out and often break on impact. If you can see the edge of a tile, it's slipping out of place. Get out the ladder, lift the tile gently, and slide it back where it belongs.

Attached ceiling tiles

  • Attached ceiling tiles are either glued directly to the ceiling or stapled to narrow wood furring strips on the ceiling. They're usually 0.1 square metres (one square foot) and have flanged edges.
  • To fix an attached tile, use a utility knife to cut a line close to each edge of the damaged tile to create a square that you can pry out with a putty knife. Scrape away debris and any adhesive you've exposed. Then cut off the flanges from the replacement tile to fit it in the space you've cleared.
  • If the tile was glued to the ceiling, put four golf-ball-sized dabs of ceiling tile adhesive on the back about five centimetres (two inches) from the edges, and then press the new tile into place. If the old tile was stapled to furring strips, apply carpenter's glue to the strips and to the parts of the new tile that touch the strips. The glue will hold the tile in place as you drive 2.5 centimetre (one inch) nails at each corner to hold the tile to the furring strips. Sink the nails just below the surface with a nail set.

Watch for leaks

  • If an attached tile — one that's glued directly to the ceiling — falls on the floor, the cause is usually water leaking from above that's caused the glue holding the tile to give way. Fix the leak, whether it's in the plumbing or the roof, before you replace the tile.
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