How low do we go?
When you are installing a drop ceiling you will lose some of your room height but you want to reduce the amount as much as you can.
As we mentioned earlier the fiberglass tiles provide great flexibility when you install them so they will allow you to position your grid system closest to the ceiling. Fiberboard tiles like we will be installing do not flex so there has to be enough room to get them into position. A trick to getting them into tight spaces is to slide them down your grid so you don’t have to twist them into place. However you will still need about 2 inches at minimum from the top of your grid rail to the bottom of the joist you will attach them to.
If you will be installing lighting in your ceiling as we will then the height needed to mount the light fixture may be your lowest point. Florescent lights give off very little heat and for that reason they do not need to be mounted with extra air space. Manufacturer’s directions will give you the exact distances for your lights and you must follow those recommendations to reduce fire hazards.
In situations where your room height is extremely important such as in older homes that do not meet the zoning requirements for ceiling heights there are special Tile systems that will minimize the required space to install tile. These systems are less durable and your selection of materials will be reduced.
Being underground in a basement you need to take advantage of as much of your ceiling height as you can so lets find out how we pick exactly how low we need to drop our ceiling.
The first thing you will come into contact with is an obstruction often either a plumbing pipe or a heating duct will extend down below the floor joist.
In this case you have 3 options:
Box in the obstruction – This is a good solution if a vent or pipe runs the length of your room but it is positioned near the edge of the room. You can build a box around the obstruction and tile around it. In our case we will have to do this for our heating duct.
Reposition the obstruction– There was a water pressure bladder tank hanging in the center of our room so we had to reposition the tank into our crawlspace. This was a simple solution because we were already moving our Water Meter to that area and this tank is installed right after the meter to protect from pressure surges.
Drop the ceiling height– This is often a quick and dirty solution and by dirty we mean that by dropping your whole ceiling height you will reduce the livability of your room. When possible you should always do the extra work to raise your waste lines or heating ducts into your joists. This often costs less then $100 for a few connectors and will greatly increase the quality of your final product.
Setting the Height
Find the obstruction on the ceiling that must not be moved and then measure down from the bottom of the nearest Joist.To make sure you are not measuring on an angle you can use a carpenters level or square.Now we have to add the height of our rails and room for our tiles to be moved and installed.This dimension is usually provided by the manufacture of the tiles and will be about 4 to 6 inches.So, lets say our obstruction sticks down 2 inches below the joists and we need 4 more inches to install and position our tiles. that means from the bottom of our joists our ceiling height will be 6 inches.We now know that we must come down from our joist a minimum of 6 inches all around the room.Next we will draw a line around the room at this height and install our perimeter molding.