When finishing a basement to create either additional living space for items such as a game room, bar or spare bedroom, it will often be necessary to install a new ceiling. Overhead objects such as HVAC duct work, plumbing and electrical items can make this difficult. It is also desirable and advisable to conceal and partially contain exposed insulation. This can be done in a variety of ways.
You can conceal overhead obstructions and insulation by installing conventional drywall. Rather than relocate duct work, plumbing and electrical items hanging below the existing floor joists, it is often necessary to install a secondary framework below the obstructions. This secondary framework will be heavy and expensive to install. This solution is also far more work than other options. The most cost-effective and fastest method is a suspended ceiling. These ceilings, also known as drop ceilings, are installed below the obstacles, with no heavy framing required. The ceiling tiles hang level and smooth regardless of the obstructions and uneven ceiling above. If access is required to the items above, the tiles are easily removed and replaced without tools and without damage to the tiles.
Installing a Drop Ceiling
Installing a suspended ceiling is a straightforward process but must be accomplished in the proper order if it is to result in the appearance you want. Carefully mark the height at which you want the ceiling. Then, using a level, extend the line around the entire room. On top of this line you will install L brackets, using screws to secure the brackets to the walls. At four-foot intervals you will install anchors in the existing ceiling. From each anchor attach a hanger wire, which will hold the new ceiling just below the obstructions (duct work, piping, wires). The main tees should be installed on four-foot centers across the full width of the room. The main tees will be directly below the rows of anchors. The wall brackets and main tees make up the main portion of your ceiling frame.
Finishing the Project
With the main framing installed, begin inserting the cross tees. These will be 2 feet in length and will be spaced every four feet along the rows of main tees. The result will be a grid of 2 foot by 4 foot openings. The final row, unless the length of your walls is evenly divisible by four, will be an odd size. Measure each opening and custom cut each tile to fit. With this row of tiles installed, begin in one corner and install the standard-size tiles to complete the ceiling.