Drop ceilings make for an easy way to cover pipes, ducts and wires in basements and commercial buildings while still allowing access without having to repair holes in sheetrock or other permanently affixed ceiling materials.
Drop ceilings consist of 2-by-2-foot or 2-by-4-foot tiles suspended on a grid system. The system is supported by hanger wires that are attached to the ceiling above and hold up the grid. The grid system consists of main tees which span from one side of the room to the other and 2- and 4-foot tees which interconnect between the main tees to fill out the grid. An L-shaped piece known as a wall angle or wall track is placed on the wall and it supports the ends of the tees as well as the edges of the ceiling tiles that butt the wall.
The quickest and easiest way to lay out a drop ceiling is to attach laser levels to the wall at the desired height of the ceiling. The laser levels itself and you just make marks on the wall along the path of the laser beam.
An alternative to the laser level is a standard level. Place the level horizontally on the wall at the desired height and mark along the level. Slide the level over and repeat until the room has been marked.
Tin Snips and Pliers
These snips are used to cut the mains and the tees to length where they butt the wall and also to cut the wall track. Pliers are used to fold and twist the hanger wire around the ceiling clips and the tees.
Rivet Hole Punch and Rivet Gun
The rivet hole punch is used to punch a hole through the wall track and the ceiling grid along the perimeter of the room so that a rivet can be inserted to keep the drop ceiling locked together.
The rivet gun is used to set the pop rivet in the hole made by the hole punch.
Alternatively, you can use a drill to make the hole if you don't have or can't find a rivet hole punch.
Powder Actuated Tool or Drill
The powder actuated gun is used to attach the hanger wire clips to the underside of the ceiling on jobs that have a steel or concrete ceiling.
For wooden ceilings, a drill is all that is needed to set the clips. The drill can also be used to attach the wall angle to the wall.
Large Speed Square
A 12-inch speed square is used to periodically check that the grid members are at right angles to each other. This is especially useful when installing grid on a diagonal.
The utility knife is used to cut perimeter tiles to size, and to also cut holes in the ceiling tiles for any sprinklers, can lights or other objects present in the ceiling.
Not a must, but a rolling scaffold makes the job go a lot easier. Easy to set up and able to fit through standard door openings, this scaffold allows you to keep all the needed tools and materials at hand and push yourself along as you complete sections. Plus you have the bonus of not having to climb up and down a ladder all the time.
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