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How Much Does It Cost To Install A Drop Ceiling?

Typical Range: $1,032 - $2,265

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On This Page:

  1. Install Costs & Considerations
  2. Acoustical Tile Prices
  3. Drop-Out Tiles
  4. Conclusion

Acoustic ceiling tiles are lightweight tiles hung in a framework called a drop ceiling. Also known as a suspended ceiling, they are used to hide damaged/stained ceilings, to lower the height of a high ceiling, to muffle noise from upstairs, and to conceal ductwork and wiring while providing easy access for repairs. They are also a quick way to finish a remodeled room.

A suspended ceiling consists of two basic parts: the grid and the tiles. The grid is attached to the walls in a crisscross pattern of beams. The beams have a small ledge which supports the tiles, suspending them overhead. Grids in very large rooms may need additional supporting wires. The tiles are made from fibers of mineral, plastic, tin, composite, and/or fire-rated wood. They are installed one at a time onto the ledges of the grid work. The tiles are most commonly available in 1’x1’, 2’x2’, and 2’x4’.

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National Average
$1,626
Typical Range
$1,032 - $2,265
Low End - High End
$600 - $3,500

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Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 303 HomeAdvisor members in .

Install Costs and Considerations

The average cost for a 10’x12’ room is around $1,500.00 installed. If you do it yourself, the material costs are:

  • Tiles - $30.00 to $55.00 per case (check the quantity per case as it varies, the lower end is usually 20 tiles per case, 2’x2’)
  • Gridwork – about $72.00
  • Level – Laser level from $20.00 to over $500.00, carpenter’s level $10.00 to $30.00
    • A laser level is recommended for accuracy across the room and along the walls.

Additional Considerations

Although you probably don’t require a permit to install a drop ceiling, check with your local codes anyway. There may be a minimum amount of space required between the old ceiling and the new one. Also, if you are adding lighting, vents, or other such features, you may need an electrical or HVAC contractor.

When deciding to DIY or call a professional, you might look at the average 75% savings of DIY. While it’s considered an easy job, there’s a lot of work involved. Ladders and scaffolding take time and labor to set up, and levelling the ceiling grid can be time consuming. For many people, it’s worth the extra cost to let someone else handle it.

Questions

To make sure you know what’s involved and that you’ve hired a good team (even if the “team” is yourself and some good friends), ask the following questions:

  • 2x2 or 2x4? – There is no significant cost advantage between the two main tile types. The 2x4 is less expensive only by a small amount (about 15 cents per square foot). The difference is in looks and potential sagging. The longer pieces may begin to sag in high humidity areas.
  • Fire rating? – Find out the fire rating of the tile material. None of it will be fire-proof, but some materials are better than others at withstanding a fire, or at least not helping it spread. A fire rating of Class A is the best. Also note the Fire Barrier Rating. The lower the number, the better, with the best being from 0-25.
  • Licensed, Bonded, Insured? – This should be asked of any contractor. Being sure that you will not be responsible for on the job injuries or damages is the best way to protect yourself.
  • How long should this take? – The job should take about two days for a typical 15x20 room. Multiple rooms or low ducting can make a job take longer.
  • What will the finished ceiling height be? – Check with your local codes about minimum allowed ceiling heights. Be sure your finished height is within that standard.
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Acoustic Tile Prices

Acoustic tiles are produced for both home and business. Tiles most commonly seen in commercial use include light-diffusing tiles that soften florescent lighting suspended above the ceiling. These can be expensive, costing from $14.00 to $30.00 each. Residential tiles come in different styles from the standard “pebbled” look most often seen in offices to stamped/embossed tin decorative tiles. They are usually sold by the case, which lists the square footage the case will cover.  Remember that the tiles usually measure 2’x2’. Among the major producers of ceiling tiles are Armstrong, Certain Teed, and USG. Other producers include Genesis, Mono Serra, and Ceilume. Ceilume is known for its embossed designs suitable for Victorian décor and other more decorative settings.

The type of ceiling tile can affect your cost. A basic white acoustic tile with pebbling will be on the lower end of the scale. This will most likely be a simple mineral fiber with minimal fire spread ratings. However, there are other types of tile.

  • Standard tiles are made of mineral fibers. They can become easily damaged by moisture, but they are also easily replaced. In general, they cost from $1.80 to $6.68 per square foot.
  • Tin tiles are expensive, but are visually very attractive. They are stamped into patterns and are often found in metallic finishes such as nickel or copper. They cost from $11.95 to $20.00 apiece for a 2’x2’ panel, and are most often used as accents for a less costly material.
  • Plastic tiles are made of PVC and can mimic the look of plaster quite easily. They are resistant to stains and moisture damage. Some tiles are translucent, meaning you can install a light behind them to make the panels themselves seem to light up. However, use of translucent tiles as normal tiles isn’t recommended. They are quite thin and won’t support insulation material very well. They generally cost around $5.00 to $9.00 per tile. Plastic tiles can be textured to mimic other materials such as wood.
  • Wood tiles are done as a veneer, a thin layer of the desired wood. They offer warmth and elegance, and the darker woods are popular in home theaters. However, they can be quite expensive. A basic oak tile costs about $8.66 per tile. A cherry wood tile can cost $68.00 per tile. Because they are wood, they will be prone to problems caused by moisture and humidity.

Additional Features

Because a drop ceiling is made of individual tiles, you can add fixtures in lieu of certain tiles. Some fixtures are added to a tile, but because the tiles are very lightweight, the fixtures themselves must be lightweight or else supported above the tile.

  • Lighting: Light panels are tiles that have a lighting fixture made up as an entire panel. They are available in many different trims and colors for about $175.00 to $200.00.
  • Ceiling Fans: Drop ceiling fans have a lightweight but effective fan built into the tile. These fans usually cover a 6’ area at medium speed and many have wireless remotes for control. They cost about $160.00.
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Drop-Out Tiles

“Drop-out” tiles work in conjunction with fire sprinkler systems. If you have a sprinkler system, they sit above the tiles, safely out of the way. When heat from a developing fire reaches the tiles, they soften and drop out, allowing the sprinkler system to engage. The cost of these panels varies based on residential fire safety codes and the type of sprinkler system installed.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Easy, if time-consuming, to install
  • Easy to replace damaged tiles
  • Conceals stained or damaged ceilings, hides ductwork and wiring
  • Easy access to ducts and wiring for maintenance
  • Available in many different styles
  • More economical than replacing your original ceiling

Cons

  • Will lower your ceiling height
  • Deteriorates faster than traditional ceilings, tiles may need replacing after a few years
  • Not as sturdy as traditional ceiling, earthquakes can cause grids to come free of their supports
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In Conclusion

Suspended ceilings are an economical way to finish a room. With ease of maintenance both for the drop ceiling itself and the house, many people are moving this traditionally office-oriented ceiling style into their homes. Rather than remind them of work, they’re finding it offers less work and more comfort at an easy cost to fit into any budget.

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