Polystyrene tile installation

Updated February 21, 2017

Polystyrene tiles are typically installed to ceilings in both residential and commercial structures. The tiles are moulded in a variety of styles, from featureless flat surfaces to highly decorative patterns. Polystyrene tiles are easily maintained, cleaned with soap and water, and can be installed directly to the ceiling using an adhesive or to a suspended grid that makes changing the tiles quick and easy. You can install the tiles yourself, saving money by going the DIY route. With a bit of planning the installation can be completed with little difficulty and with no previous tile installation experience.

Adhesive installation

While polystyrene tiles can be installed to a textured ceiling, it's best to have as flat a surface as can be created to maximise the adhesive holding the tile to the ceiling. For a moderately flat ceiling surface, remove any loose materials from a textured ceiling by sweeping away at the ceiling with a broom. This is especially useful when you're installing to a popcorn ceiling. Place a tarpaulin under the ceiling before sweeping to catch the materials for easy disposal. Exercise caution when dealing with texture applied to your ceiling before 1980 as it may contain asbestos and should be tested prior to removing. For a completely flat ceiling, you can install plasterboard to the existing ceiling, applying mortar to the plasterboard and pressing it firmly to the ceiling's surface. Not only will this provide you with a flat surface, it will also guarantee you a level one, easing the placement of the tiles.

Turn off the electricity flowing to the room and remove any lights or other fixtures in your ceiling. It's best to begin placing the tile in the centre of the room. Chalk a line from the centre of each set of opposing walls to create a cross marking your room's centre. Use one of the angles formed from the crossing lines to corner your first polystyrene tile. Place a compatible adhesive on the rear of the tile and then press the tile firmly to the ceiling. A small amount of adhesive should do the job, but if the ceiling is especially textured, add more as needed. Using the lines as a guide, continue to place the ceiling tiles, covering one half of the room before continuing with the second half. Cut the tiles as needed to fit around ceiling fixtures, and at the edges of the ceiling cut and place partial tiles. Use a utility knife for making tile cuts, with a straight edge to cut the tiles cleanly.

Suspended ceiling installation

Installing your polystyrene tiles in a suspended ceiling grid can add to your ceiling tile options. By placing the tiles in a grid, you can remove them quickly and replace them with another tile design to change the looks of your ceiling. Use multiple tiles in a pattern and easily change the pattern by changing various tile locations. Change the tiles by sliding the existing tile out of the grid and sliding the replacement tile in. The heavy work involved in a suspended ceiling installation for your polystyrene tiles is mounting the metal grid that holds the tiles in place.

Mount the grid by suspending a series of gridwork rails, with ledges in which tile edges are placed from the ceiling. Purchase the grid system from a home improvement centre. It should come with everything you need to install a grid, including ceiling hooks, wall mounts and rails. Install the grid by placing the wall mount rails around the edge of the room at the desired ceiling height. You'll have to rewire the fixtures, changing existing light fixtures for tile based ones that can be slid into place in your grid. Be sure to cut the power to the room before doing the rewiring. Suspend the grid rails from the ceiling using hooks and wires to lower the grid rails to the desired ceiling height. The grid rails should extend the length of your room in rows spaced to hold the tile sizes of your choice. Place t-bars connecting the lines of rails to finishing creating the actual grid that holds the tiles. Once the grid has been placed, slip in the polystyrene tiles and ceiling fixtures for an easily modifiable suspended ceiling.

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About the Author

Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He's published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.