How to install a suspended ceiling track
Suspended ceilings bring a lot of benefits to commercial buildings and it’s helpful to know how to install one. In this article we explain how to install a suspended ceiling so you have a complete step-by-step guide to follow.
What is a suspended ceiling?
A suspended ceiling is an additional ceiling that is fitted to hang from the main structural slab above it. They are also known as dropped ceilings or an MF Ceiling Grid, with the space between the structural slab and the suspended ceiling usually between 3-8 inches. You will usually find suspended ceiling tiles in commercial buildings as it allows space to conceal wires and other components that would otherwise reveal the inner workings of the alterations made to the structure of the property. The space is also used to aid the distribution of air conditioning, ventilation and heating systems, as well as wiring and plumbing services. CCTV, light fittings, speakers, fire and smoke detectors and sprinklers.
How to install a suspended ceiling
Planning the suspended ceiling
The first step involves planning the layout of the ceiling, which requires you to do the following:
• Measure out the dimension of the room you are installing the ceiling into.
• Using either a 600 x 600 or 600 x 1200 configuration, draw the dimensions to scale. The configuration will play a big role in the materials used for the job.
• Ensure the tees cuts are as large as possible and equal on both sides, which will help later when it comes to cutting the tiles.
• The 1200mm cross must be spaced 600mm apart when using the 600x 1200 version. Alternatively, place 600mm cross tees in the midpoints of the 1200mm cross when using the 600 x 600 version.
• Plan where any recessed lights will be installed at this point, if they are part of the project.
Installation of the perimeter and edge trim
• A minimum of 100mm gap must be left between the suspended ceiling and the structural slab above. If recessed lights are being installed, it is recommended the gap is a minimum of 200-300mm.
• Next, indicate where the perimeter trim will be installed by drawing a line around the room using a level. If you own a laser level this will produce more accurate results and make the process faster.
• Install the perimeter trim using drywall screws for stud walls, or masonry nails for block walls.
• Be sure to keep the perimeter trim square to help later stages of the project you position the perimeter trim to your level line.
• Overlap the trims where they meet in the corners and trim them at an angle using tinsnips to create a mitred finish.
Main Runners: fixing and positioning the suspension points
• Measure and then mark the position of the main tees on the trim. Cut off the clip located at the end of the main runner so it can rest on the trim.
• If the ceiling is suspended from timber joists, secure the ceiling brackets, or if suspended from metal purlins secure the purlin clips. Ceilings that are suspended from a concrete ceiling should use wire hangers.
• Ensure the suspension wire is straightened so the main runners can be hung. You can do this using a hook or vine eye into a drill that is attached to a fixed secure point. Although only do this until the wire straightens as it could otherwise snap. And wear gloves and safety glasses during this process too.
• Measure the length of the wire based on the drop calculations. This is the gap between the structural slab and suspending ceiling. It’s a good idea to add 300mm to the length so it can be wrapped around the main runner.
• Place the wire through the fixings via the location holes before wrapping round the wire. Tug the wire afterwards to ensure it is fully secure.
• Position the first suspension wire at 400mm to 600mm for each main tee from the perimeter trim. Then attach subsequent suspensions at every 1200mm along the main runner.
How to install 3600m main runners
• 3600mm main runners will feature cross tee slots that have been punched very 10mm, starting from 50mm in.
• Put the first main runner nearest to the perimeter trim. Check the slot for the cross corresponds with your original drawing.
• Measure and cut the main tees to the right size and check the main runner slots are aligned with the cross tees. You can use a string line across the room to the location of the first row of cross tees. This will tell you where the first pre-punched slot should be. Then the main tee can be placed on the wall angle.
• If the room is less than 3.6m in length, cut the main runner to size and ensure the end clips are also removed. If the room is longer than 3.6m you can join the main tee.
• Install the main tees and ensure they remain level with the perimeter trim. You can check this by stretching a between the two wall trims at 90 degrees.
How to install 600mm and 1200mm cross tees
• Connect the cross tees to the main runner by using the slots provided. • Refer to your drawing to see where the cross will be positioned. This will vary depending on whether the ceiling is either 600 x 600 or 600 x 1200.
• 600 cross tees fit into the centre of 1200 tees to form 600 x 600 squares. 1200 cross tees fit into the main runner. When installing 1200 x 600 tiles you may not have to use 600 cross tees. This is also true for 600 x 600 ceilings that may not require 1200 cross tees.
• Cut the perimeter tees to size and rest them on a wall angle.
Installing the ceiling tiles
• With the grid in position the suspended ceiling tiles can now be installed. Angle the tiles up and into the MF ceiling grid and lower them into place. Be sure to keep an eye on any patterns so they are aligned with each other. Also use gloves to avoid fingerprints and marks being left behind.
• Use a Stanley knife to cut tiles that go around the edge of the ceiling to complete the job.