Drop ceilings are great in rooms that require easy access to wiring or pipes. So if you've decided to install a drop ceiling, you might be wondering how many tiles you need and, therefore, how big a drop ceiling tile is. Well, we've done the research for you to find the common measurements of a drop ceiling tile.
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Drop ceiling tiles come in more than one size. The most common drop ceiling tile sizes are 2' x 2' and 2' x 4'. You'll likely need to cut tiles during installation to fit unique spacing or fixtures --although drop ceiling tile sizes are relatively standard in shape, being either rectangular or square.
Now that you know the size of a drop ceiling tile, keep reading as we answer more questions about drop ceilings and their tiles. We'll discuss the grid systems used for drop ceilings. We'll also go over the materials the tiles are made of, whether they are fire-resistant, and what you can use to cut them.
Drop Ceiling Tiles
Drop ceiling tiles come in two main sizes. They are usually either a 2' x 2' square tile or a 2' x 4' rectangular tile. Any light fixtures needed for the drop ceiling will also come in the same sizes as the tiles. It's unlikely that your room will fit a perfect number of tiles without some having to be cut to a smaller size. We'll discuss this more later.
What are drop ceiling tiles made of?
So the size of drop ceiling tiles is pretty standard. You don't have much choice when it comes to choosing between a square or rectangular tile. You have more of a choice in the material the drop ceiling tiles are made of. We'll also review those materials no longer used if you're determining the material of your current tiles.
Between the 1950s and 1980s, drop ceiling tiles were commonly made with asbestos. Although fire resistant, asbestos is a known carcinogen, so drop ceiling tiles are no longer made with it. If your building was constructed later than 1980, it would not have asbestos ceiling tiles.
Check the tiles for a manufacturer's date. Any tile manufactured before 1980 might contain asbestos. If your drop ceiling tiles are made with asbestos, call a professional to dispose of them. They should not be placed in household trash containers.
Textured ceilings are also infamous for containing asbestos. This article, "How To Clean A Popcorn Ceiling – Everything You Need To Know," will discuss how to clean a popcorn ceiling but also contains instructions on how to tell if your textured ceiling contains asbestos.
The most common material used for drop ceiling tiles is mineral fiber. Mineral fiber tiles are made from various recycled products and can include wool, glass, slag, or clay. These are the tiles you're likely to see in everyday classrooms and offices. Unfortunately, mineral fiber tiles are highly susceptible to water damage and can become discolored from second-hand smoke or a nearby heat source. On the plus side, mineral fiber tiles are relatively inexpensive and easily replaceable.
Click here to see 2' x 2' Armstrong mineral fiber tiles on Amazon.
Some drop ceiling tiles are made of PVC. PVC is the third most popular plastic polymer. PVC is a popular choice because, unlike their mineral fiber counterparts, PVC drop ceiling tiles are waterproof and easy to clean. Humidity can affect mineral fiber ceiling tiles, so another option, like PVC, might be better if you have a room that does get humid.
Click here to see Genesis 2' x 2' Smooth Pro white PVC ceiling tiles on Amazon.
Some drop ceiling tiles are made of metal. Steel, aluminum, or tin, are some examples of the metals used to make drop ceiling tiles. They require more care for installation as metal tiles can have sharp edges. Therefore, most manufacturers recommend wearing gloves for installation.
Click here to see corrugated ceiling tiles on Amazon.
Are Ceiling Tiles Fire-Resistant?
You may be concerned about how fire-resistant your ceiling tiles will be. After all, it's not uncommon to see drop ceilings in schools or offices where many people gather. Fire-resistance depends on what ceiling tiles are made from. All ceiling tiles should be at least Class A fire rated, and there are many fire-resistant options available. Most ceiling tiles won't prevent a fire from spreading. However, ceiling tiles also don't make it spread faster.
Commercials buildings will need to meet fire codes, so don't hesitate to contact your local fire marshal or read up on the local fire codes. They will be able to inform you of any requirement.
What Can You Use To Cut Ceiling Tiles?
Occasionally you might need to cut a ceiling tile. Fortunately, cutting a ceiling tile is relatively easy to do. Most mineral fiber ceiling tiles can be cut using a utility knife or carpenters knife.
Click here to see REXBETI 12-pack utility knife on Amazon.
For a tutorial on how to measure and cut mineral fiber tiles, check out this YouTube video below:
Utilize your utility knife by also using it to cut PVC tiles. Use the utility knife to score the tile and then snap the tile to size at the cut. If you need to cut multiple PVC ceiling tiles, you can also use a table or circular saw.
Click here to see Goplus table saw on Amazon.
To cut tin ceiling tiles, you should use tin snips. Remember to wear gloves when handling metal ceiling tiles as the edges can be very sharp, especially after cutting.
Check out this video tutorial on cutting tin ceiling tiles with tin snips:
Click here to see MetalMaster compound action snips on Amazon.
What Types Of Grid Systems Are Used For Drop Ceilings?
Grid systems attached to walls create the foundation for a drop ceiling. The tiles will simply lay on top of the grid. To access wiring or plumbing above the ceiling, the tile can be pushed up and easily moved. The standard drop ceiling grid is the 15/16" grid. It is the most readily available and most commonly used grid system. Therefore, you've likely seen a 15/16" grid before.
Another type of grid is the 9/16" grid. Often referred to as the narrow or fineline grid, this grid is slimmer and is a great option for those who don't like the look of a wider grid.
Grid systems come in a variety of materials, including metal and PVC. PVC grids are available in an assortment of colors and styles, so you don't have to stick with a plain white or metal grid. You can often match tiles with the grids for a more inconspicuous and seamless look.
Click here to see CeilingMAX 100 sq. ft. Copper Fantasy surface mount grid kit on Amazon.
There are two common drop ceiling tile sizes. However, if you need a smaller size, drop ceiling tiles are relatively easy to cut. Drop ceiling tile grid systems accommodate the 2' x 2' and 2' x 4' tiles by design, so you should have no problem with the installation. Hopefully, our post has helped clear up some questions you might have had about drop ceilings.
Basements often contain drop ceilings. If you have a small basement and you need some ideas with what to do with it, check out our other blog post: "23 Spectacular Small Basement Ideas."