How to hang stuff from a suspended ceiling

Written by tom raley
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A suspended ceiling, often referred to as a drop ceiling, is functional as well as cost effective. While this type of ceiling has many advantages, it also has some limitations. These ceilings are intended to support the weight of the bracket and ceiling tiles and very little else. If items such as ceiling fans or light fixtures are to be installed, some modifications will need to be made.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Pre-drilled L bracket
  • Hanger wires
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Anchors: nails, screws or eye bolts

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Determine the location of the item you will be hanging, be it a ceiling fan or light fixture. Mark the location for the item on the ceiling tile. If adding a ceiling fan you will need to insert a junction and mounting box into the tile. For items such as track lighting you may need only to drill small holes matching the mounting holes on the track or light fixture. Remove the ceiling tile and make the necessary cuts or drilling.

  2. 2

    Cut the predrilled "L" brackets. The brackets will need to be long enough to span the entire ceiling tile, slightly overlapping the brackets on either end of the installation area. Attach the track light or junction boxes to these brackets through the holes you have prepared in the ceiling tile. (Do not mount the actual item at this time.) If installing a junction box you will want to place an "L" bracket on either side of the box, securing the brackets to the box with screws. You will now have the L bracket on the upper side of the ceiling tile and the track light bracket on the exposed side of the tile. Place the ceiling tile back into the overhead grid.

  3. 3

    Install anchor points in the overhead ceiling. These anchors can be nails, screws or preferably eye bolts. These bolts will be anchored in the overhead joists or flooring. Place the anchor points over the "L" bracket(s), spacing them approximately 12 inches apart. These anchors will be supporting the weight of the item you are mounting, so set them securely in place.

  4. 4

    Measure the length from the "L" bracket to the anchor directly overhead. Cut hanger wires to accommodate this distance, allowing enough distance to tie the wire on each end. Secure the wire to the anchor point first, twisting it until it is secure. Loop the opposite end of the hanger wire through the "L" bracket. Keep the bracket level and flush with the ceiling tile as you secure the second end of the wire. Place a hanger wire approximately every 12 inches along the "L" bracket. These wires will keep the weight distributed between the anchor points and off the ceiling tile.

  5. 5

    Install the item by securing it to the mounting brackets you installed earlier or attaching it to the junction box now securely held in place by "L" brackets. Although the hanger wires will support the weight, you should proceed carefully, so as not to twist or put the ceiling tile in any type of bind.

Tips and warnings

  • If mounting a slightly wider item, you may connect two "L" brackets using nuts and bolts to form a wider "T" type bracket. This will double the surface space against the tile as well as provide you with double the mounting holes.
  • You need adequate room for the item you are installing. For instance, you will need a minimum of approximately 7 feet above the floor to mount most models of ceiling fans.

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