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How Much Does It Cost To Install A Drop Ceiling?

Typical Range: $1,027 - $2,807

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July 07, 2021

Reviewed by Robert Tschudi, Home Building & Remodeling Expert.
Written by HomeAdvisor.

Drop Ceiling Cost

Drop ceilings cost $1,027 and $2,807, or $1,848 on average, depending on the room size and material quality. Labor is $2 to $5 per square foot, while ceiling tiles and grid rails are $3 to $23 per square foot total. Rail covers, insulating tiles and lighting add more to the price.

Also known as a suspended ceiling, drop ceilings cover damaged/stained ceilings, decrease noise from outside the room and hide ductwork, plumbing pipes and wiring. They consist of two basic parts: the grid and the tiles. The grid attaches to the walls in a crisscross pattern of beams. The beams have a small ledge which supports the tiles and holds them in place.

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National Average $1,848
Typical Range $1,027 - $2,807
Low End - High End $450 - $4,900

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Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 538 HomeAdvisor members in .

Drop Ceiling Cost Per Square Foot

Installing a drop ceiling costs $5 to $28 per square foot for labor and materials. Add $2 per square foot if you want insulating panels that go behind the ceiling tiles and up to $1 per linear foot for decorative rail covers.

Labor typically costs up to $5 per square foot when hiring a ceiling tile installer near you. Grid rails and ceiling tiles are $13 per square foot on average, largely depending on the tile material you want. Fiberboard tiles are the cheapest at $2 to $7 per square foot, while wood could cost you up to $20 per square foot.

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Drop Ceiling Installation Costs

Expect labor to range from $2 to $5 per square foot, or $3.50 per square foot on average, for installation of the grid and tiles. You might pay $240 to $1,200 for labor alone for a 10-foot-by-12-foot, or 120-square-foot, room. Lighting, switches and decorative accents are more. Drop ceilings fall in the middle range for installation costs across all ceiling types.

Cost to Install Drop Ceiling Grid

The drop ceiling grid install makes up most of the $2- to $5-per-square-foot labor rate. Contractors have to take the time to make sure the grid sits perfectly level to get the right look. This can prove even more time consuming in areas with exposed ductwork and pipes.

Labor Cost to Install Suspended Ceiling

Suspended ceilings are $3.50 per square footon average to install. This is just another term for drop ceilings, so there’s no difference in price.

Additional Features

Add at least $400 to the total for the cost of a permit if you need one. Most cities do not issue permits for this type of project, but it is best to check with your local code enforcement office anyway. Ask about the minimum amount of space required between the old ceiling and the new one while you are there.

If you are adding or moving lighting (ceiling lights will need to be dropped down to the grid level), vents or other such features, you may need an electrical or HVAC contractor. They can let you know if you need a permit for any work they are doing upon writing up the bid.

Grids in very large rooms may need additional supporting wires. This might not only add to your material costs but also increase your labor rate since they can take a lot of time to install.

Average Cost to Put a Drop Ceiling in a Basement

Putting a drop ceiling in a 400-square-foot basement could run you $2,000 to $11,200. You need $1,200 to $9,200 in materials for that larger space. Labor also increases with the square footage and lands in the $800 to $2,000 range. Expect ceiling installation experts near you to increase the price even more if your basement has a lot of exposed wiring, plumbing pipes and ductwork. Working around those elements takes a lot more time and could extend the job out by a day or more.

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Acoustic Ceiling Tile Prices

Acoustic ceiling tiles are $1 to $20 per square foot. The price largely depends on their material with standard mineral fiberboard and plastic in the $1 to $4 per square foot range. High-end metal and wood are much more at $3 to $20 per square foot. You can get the tiles in one-inch and two-inch thicknesses in the standard two-foot by two-foot and two-foot by four-foot sizes.

Residential tiles come in different styles beyond the standard “pebbled” look most often seen in offices to stamped and embossed decorative tiles. They are also fire resistant and help block noise from coming through the ceiling. Among the major producers of ceiling tiles are Armstrong, CertainTeed and USG.

  • Fiberboard: Low cost but made from mineral fibers that are sensitive to moisture
  • Plastic: Versatile and resistant to moisture and stains but not as attractive as metal and wood
  • Metal: Expensive but are visually very attractive, especially when used as accents
  • Wood: Brings warmth and elegance to the space but costs the most out of all the options

Box of Ceiling Tile Cost

Ceiling tiles are usually sold by the case for $50 to $1,920 each.

  • Once-Inch Thick Tiles: covers 96 square feet. Has 24 two-foot-by-two-foot panels or 12 two-foot-by-four-foot tiles.
  • Two-Inch Thick Tiles: covers 48 square feet. Has 12 two-foot-by-two foot files or 6 two-foot-by-two-foot panels.

The total cost of the case depends on the material you choose and how many square feet it covers.

Cost to Replace Ceiling Tiles

Two-foot by two-foot ceiling tiles are $4 to $80 each, while two-foot by four-foot panels are $8 to $160 apiece. Buying just one or two can prove challenging since most sell by the case, especially if you want them to match perfectly. You can often find single tiles for sale at hardware stores, but it doesn’t hurt to have a case hanging around whenever you need to replace a panel.

Cost of Black Acoustic Ceiling Tiles

Black acoustic ceiling tiles cost $2 to $7 per square foot and sell by the case. A box of 16 one-inch thick, two-foot-by-two-foot panels might run you $160 or more. That single case typically covers 64 square feet of space, which means you’ll need about two for a 120-square-foot room. These tiles look fantastic and block a lot of noise, so they are a great addition to a gaming or movie theater room.

Cost to Remove Drop Ceiling

You might pay $2 to $7 for every square foot when removing a drop ceiling. For a 10-foot by 12-foot room, the cost to demo the interior materials could range from $240 to $840. You also want to add $60 per square foot to cover the cost of repairing the newly uncovered ceiling. Drywall, paint and lighting increase the price even more.

DIY vs. Hire a Drop Ceiling Pro

When deciding to DIY or call a professional, you might feel tempted by the chance to save $2 to $5 per square foot by doing the labor yourself. While it’s considered to be a relatively easy DIY project, there’s a lot of work involved. Ladders (and, in some cases, scaffolding) take time and labor to set up, and leveling the ceiling grid can be time consuming. For many people, it’s worth the extra cost to let someone else handle it.

When you hire a ceiling contractor, you can rest assured that it will look level, work just like you want it to and last for years to come. Get several bids from different contractors to find the one with good references, excellent past work examples and a solid guarantee on their workmanship.

FAQs

What questions should I ask my installer?

To make sure you know what’s involved and that you’ve hired a good team, ask the following questions:

  • Best tile size? Since both cost the same, the difference is in looks and potential for sagging
  • Fire rating? Class A is the best. Also, look for a fire barrier rating in the 0 to 25 range.
  • Licensed, Bonded, Insured? Ask all contractors or you’ll be on the hook for damages and injuries. While there is no license needed for this type of work, a contractor with a license (such as a general contractor) would be preferred.
  • How long should this take? The job should take about two days for a 120-square-foot room
  • What will the finished ceiling height be? Check your local codes for the minimum in your area

How much clearance do I need for a drop ceiling?

Your room must be at least 7-1/2 feet tall to install drop ceilings that abide by residential building codes in most cities. The rules vary considerably, so always check with your code enforcement office to make sure.

Is it cheaper to drywall or drop ceiling?

At $5 to $28 per square foot, drop ceilings are more expensive to install than drywall. Installing drywall costs $1 to $3 per square foot but that does not include painting prices, which are $2 to $6 for each square foot.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of drop ceilings?

Pros

  • Easy to install and repair
  • Conceals unsightly elements, including stains and ductwork
  • Quick access to ducts and wiring for maintenance
  • Available in many different styles

Cons

  • Lowers your ceiling height
  • Tiles may need replacing after a few years
  • Not as sturdy as a traditional ceiling
  • More time consuming to install than drywall
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How do we get this data?

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