How to Cut Drop Ceiling Panels for Recessed Lighting


A suspended ceiling can give a new feel to a room. A suspended ceiling is made of a simple and lightweight material that is easy to custom cut for any size or shape room. The ceiling can also accommodate fans and recessed lighting, which makes it a great way to cover a ceiling that is not in the best shape. While installing the ceiling, you can custom cut the tiles to accommodate recessed lighting.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Pen or marker
  • Cardboard (optional)
  • Scissors (optional)
  • Drywall jab saw or sharp knife
  • Measure the location of the lamp in relation to the suspended ceiling grid. Make a line straight on the back of a ceiling tile from the edge of the next tile to the position of the lamp and repeat for all four sides of the tile. Make small marks on the back of a ceiling tile to center the lamp in its intended position.

  • Place the light fixture at those marks and trace the edges of it.

    If you cannot bring the light fixture down to the tile to do this, then place cardboard on the lamp and trace a template onto the cardboard. You will be able to feel the edge of the light itself through the cardboard. Cut the template out and trace that onto the tile.

  • Poke a knife or saw through the tile itself and cut the circle out.

  • Install the light onto the tile using its clips and any other installation hardware. Leave some slack on the wiring so that you can manipulate the tile after it has been attached.

  • Place the tile into the grid, it does help to insert it fully though the hole at a slight angle and then drop the tile onto the grid.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you cut a smaller, concentric circle out of the tile and then use the knife or saw to trim the tile to the right size and shape, you will be a little more exact and the shape will be more accurate.

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