Fitting Ceiling Tiles

The different types of tiles available and how to fit them

Types of ceiling tiles

To fit ceiling tiles could be easy and can make a big difference. First on the list of ceiling tiles is the acoustical ceiling tile, used for soundproofing and noise reduction. It is composed of spun mineral wool fibre mixed with starch. Not all of them has the same sound absorption properties, so it will be necessary to do some research on that first.

Tin and faux-tin ceiling tiles are made from various metals, including steel, copper, brass and tin. They have various designs stamped on then and come in large rolls. These are then cut and used as ceilings.

Mineral fibre tiles, classified as Class I and highly fire-resistant are often used with ceiling sprinkler systems. It is opaque and therefore is not a good tile to use under lighting fixtures. It may contain asbestos and is susceptible to water damage.

Ceilume ceiling tiles are made of UV-stabilised vinyl. It is classified as Class I and fire-rated at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. It can be used with lighting fixtures and with ceiling sprinkler systems. It does not contain asbestos and can normally be easily removed without damage. Polystyrene ceiling tiles were also popular, but they are considered to be a fire hazard and may even be illegal. It is best to find out at your local council about the regulations around it.

Installing ceiling tiles

Measure the ceiling from wall to wall in feet to determine the amount of tiles you would need. If you can't fit in whole tiles throughout, make provision for extra tiles. If you plan on applying the tiles with adhesive, make sure that the ceiling is sound and even. If this is not the case, furring strips should be used. If furring strips are not used the ceiling should be checked for paint that is flaky, peeling or chalky. A painted surface can be tested by installing tiles at various places on the ceiling, leaving it for a day or two and then pulling on them to see if they come loose easily.

Furring strips should be used on an unsound surface or exposed joists. It should be of soft, seasoned and straight-grained wood, such as fir or pine. If an existing ceiling covers the joists they will have to be located and marked. Joists can be found by driving nails into the ceiling or you could use a metal detector or stud finder. You should find the other joists every 16 inches or 24 inches from there. Having located the beginning and the end of each joist, you can mark them all with a chalk line.

Nail the furring strips across and perpendicular to the joists, starting immediately against the wall. The second strip must be positioned where the centre of the strip is exactly one tile width away from the wall or the width of the border tile. The width of the border tiles should be calculated on a piece of paper and should be equal at both sides of the opposite walls. The subsequent strips must all be nailed in the position where the centre of the strip is exactly one full tile width from the centre of the previous one.

All strips should be exactly parallel to the first one. To ensure this a template for control can be made from a wood panel by taking the width of one tile minus the width of the furring strip and cutting the template accordingly. Use a long spirit level and make sure all furring strips are level. If not, shims can be inserted between the strips and the joists until they are level. Where the ends meet at the wall, pieces of strips must be fitted in-between to fill the gaps and provide support for the border tiles.

Snap chalk lines all across the length and the width of the room on the furring strips at all the places where the edges of the tiles are supposed to end and form joints.

Cut the first border tile with a craft knife on a flat surface, face up, according to your measurements. The first one fits in the corner so it must correspond to the measurements concerning the border tiles along the long side as well as on the short side of the room, which may be something like 10 inches on the long side and 8 inches on the short side.

Cut the tile according to these measurements and staple it in place with three staples on each edge. From the edge of this tile that faces the length of the room as well as the edge that faces the width, staple a few border tiles in each direction. Install all the full-sized tiles while making very sure you keep to the chalk line guides.

Installing a border moulding will hold in place the tiles that has no flange left.