A false ceiling, also called a dropped or suspended ceiling, is a secondary ceiling installed several inches lower than the structural ceiling of a room. While common in schools and offices, false ceilings can be installed in any room with adequate height clearance. You can install a false ceiling yourself with very little construction experience and a few tools. The design of the ceiling uses a lightweight frame, leaving empty boxes of space. These spaces are easy to fill with separate ceiling panels.
Measure four inches down the wall from the ceiling joists with a measuring tape. Mark this spot on the wall with a pencil. Make the mark at six inches below the ceiling joists if you plan to install lighting in the dropped ceiling.
Hold a chalk line horizontally against the wall at the mark you made. Stretch the line across the wall and use a level to make sure it is straight. Pull the line taut, then snap it to leave a chalk mark.
Repeat Steps 1 and 2 for the remaining walls in the room.
Attach the frame moulding to the walls along the chalk line, using a hammer and nails. Trim the ends of the moulding with tin snips to fit into the corners.
Snap together lengths of runners to fit across the length of the room. Orient the length of the runners so they are perpendicular to the ceiling joists.
Set the first runner length into the frame moulding in the middle of the ceiling. If ceiling joists are 10 feet long, the first runner should be placed at 5 feet.
Place the rest of the runners into the moulding at four-foot intervals.
Insert a screw eye into the joist at every point where a runner is beneath the joist. The screws will create suspension support for the runners, so line them up carefully.
Cut lengths of wire 4 inches long, plus enough extra to tie it at each end. Secure a length of wire to each of the screw eyes. Tie the other end to the runner directly below it.
Insert the cross tees between the runners at two-foot intervals. Snap them into place. Make sure the rows of cross tees are all straight or the panels will not fit properly.
Turn the first panel sideways. Push the short end through the first opening in the frame.
Twist the panel above the suspended frame and gently lower it into the opening. The flange of the panel should be resting on the runners and cross tees.
Insert all of the panels in the same way until the frame is filled.
If you want to insert a light fixture, trace the shape of the fixture mount onto the panel before installing the panel. Cut out the shape with a utility knife.
Do not hang from the ceiling frame or use it to support anything heavy -- it is not designed for that.
Tips and warnings
- If you want to insert a light fixture, trace the shape of the fixture mount onto the panel before installing the panel. Cut out the shape with a utility knife.
- Do not hang from the ceiling frame or use it to support anything heavy -- it is not designed for that.