Drop ceilings are perfect if you want to hide plumbing and electrical wires in a basement, but they can also be used elsewhere as well to create a patterned, custom-built look without paying for a custom-built ceiling. Drop ceilings are also advantageous in that if you change the design of the room, you can change the look of the ceiling by just replacing the panels.
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Illuminated ceiling panels, called light lens diffusers, have been used in offices for years to provide light to a room from an unseen fixture. Without the diffuser, fluorescent light would be too bright in some spots and too weak in others. With a little planning you can create a mix of solid and translucent tiles to personalize the look of your ceiling. You can even purchase translucent fiberglass ceiling tiles with designs on them, making the tiles look like stained glass. For a little extra money, you can purchase acrylic light lens diffusers that can be printed with high-resolution scenic photographs, or even your own pictures.
You can use wooden tiles to give your space a more classic look. Choose the species of wood and the color of the stain to create a personalized look that works well with the space. The tiles come pre-finished and ready to install. The tiles also come with wood to cover the metal grid, including blocks for the intersections so that the wood can expand in changing environmental conditions. You can also get pre-mitered corner pieces to round out the look of the ceiling.
If you want to give your space an interesting look, you can replace your tiles with mirrored tiles. You can replace all of the tiles, or just a few to customize the look of the ceiling. Unlike mirrored wall panels, ceiling tiles are unlikely to be touched, so they only need an occasional dusting to clean. Mirrored panels can be made from glass, acrylic, polystyrene and Mylar. Some panels may require you to install your standard tiles above the mirrored tiles to provide rigidity, so check with the manufacturer of the mirrored tiles for installation instructions.
Hiding the Drop Ceiling Grid
If you like the idea of a drop ceiling, but hate the idea of staring up into a grid, you can purchase tiles that are manufactured to hide the metal framework. Some of these tiles hide the grid by giving the tile a thin three-dimensional design that incorporates the metal grid into the flow of the ceiling. Other tiles hide the grid by sitting up on the metal framework, making the face of the tiles flush with the metal.
Because drop-ceiling tiles are easy to remove and replace, you can paint the standard tiles yourself to give your ceiling a customized look. You can paint each panel with the same pattern to create a patterned look, or paint alternating panels in solid colors. If you have the skill, you can even paint a larger pattern across multiple tiles. Remember that you can also paint the grid structure to remove the look of a tiled ceiling system.