How to Cut Recessed Drop Ceiling Tiles

Written by debbie tolle
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How to Cut Recessed Drop Ceiling Tiles
Cutting Drop Ceiling Tiles (sensor of broken window on ceiling image by StarJumper from

Recessed drop ceiling tiles, or drop-in ceiling tiles, sit inside of a suspended metal ceiling grid. This type of ceiling tile is used most often in commercial buildings because it is easy to repair, and makes it easy to gain access to electrical components in the ceiling area. Most ceiling tiles are pre-cut 2-foot by 4-foot tiles that fit into the grid without being cut, but areas around the ceiling's perimeter may be odd-sized and the drop tiles need to be cut to fit. You also have to cut tiles to fit around poles, lights, alarms, sprinklers and anything that is suspended from the ceiling and in the path of the tiles.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Straight edge
  • Utility knife
  • Blades

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  1. 1

    Measure the width of the section of the grid that the replacement tile is to be dropped into. Place the end of the tape measure on the outside edge of the grid, and measure across the grid to the opposite outside edge. Write this measurement down on a piece of paper. Repeat this step to measure the length of the same grid.

  2. 2

    Lay a drop ceiling tile face up on a solid surface. Recessed drop ceiling tiles are fragile and break easily.

  3. 3

    Mark the same measurements of the ceiling grid onto the ceiling tile. You can also lay the old ceiling tile on top of the new tile and trace around it if the old tile is still intact and not warped.

  4. 4

    Insert a sharp blade into the utility knife before cutting the tile. A dull blade will not cut a ceiling tile even though it is a soft material, it will just rip through the surface.

  5. 5

    Follow each step for every tile that you need to replace.

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