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Drop Ceiling Cost

How Much Does a Drop Ceiling Cost?

low costDo-It-Yourself: $300-$400average costRoom: $600-$1,200high costBasement: $2,400-$6,000
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Also called suspended, drop down or dropped ceilings, drop ceilings are installed just below a primary ceiling to hide wiring, pipes, ductwork, cracks, water damage or other unsightly problems. Made up of panels resting in a grid system suspended from the ceiling joists, a drop ceiling can also cut the amount of noise coming from or going to adjoining rooms.

Typical costs:

  • A do-it-yourself drop ceiling in an average room requires about $300-$400 in materials (depending on the ceiling tiles chosen) and around two days of work, according to[1] . This is considered a relatively simple project, and the only special tools needed are aviation snips ($8-$50, averages $10-$20) and a standard carpenter's water-bubble level ($10-$70, averages $15-$25).
  • Having a drop ceiling installed runs about $2-$5 a square foot depending on the type and size of the panels, the height of the ceiling (including if a rolling scaffold is needed), whether the ceiling covers one large open space or several smaller rooms (which requires more labor), and the type and amount of additional lighting or other extras. It could run around $600-$1,200 for a 15x15-foot room or $2,400-$6,000 or more for a 1,200-square-foot basement.
Related articles: Basement Remodeling, Roof Repair, New Roof

What should be included:
  • Most often drop ceilings are installed during a basement remodel, to give the room a finished look while still providing relatively easy access to ductwork, pipes or wiring under the tiles. If there's a problem, you can pop out a tile or two, deal with the situation, and then replace the tiles. And if the original ceiling is not level, the drop ceiling can disguise that as well. discusses when a drop ceiling can be an attractive option[2] .
  • Drop ceiling panels are typically available in 2 -by-2-foot or 2-by-4-foot sizes, in several different textures and styles. Some have a square pattern to make the suspension grid look less obvious. Adding a drop ceiling requires installing a wall molding at the height desired for the new ceiling, installing the grid suspension system and then lifting the panels into place, trimming some as needed. There should be at least 3"-4" clearance between the old ceiling and the new one, to allow room to insert the panels. Ace Hardware provides instructions for installing a suspended ceiling[3] .
  • Usually installing a drop ceiling doesn't require a building permit, but check with your local planning department to see if there's a minimum floor-to-ceiling height for the room, or a minimum clearance needed between the old ceiling and the new one.
Shopping for a drop ceiling:
  • Major drop ceiling manufacturers include Armstrong[4] , CertainTeed and USG[5] .
  • The Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry lists suppliers and manufacturers[6] and contractors[7] .
  • Get several estimates; request and check references; ask about the contractor's length and type of experience; and be sure the company is properly bonded, insured and licensed in your state[8] . See if there are any complaints with the Better Business Bureau[9] .
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