DIY Drop Ceiling Replacement

DIY Drop Ceiling Replacement

Sarah and Nick of The Surznick Common Room love taking adventures– in the kitchen, in their decor, in their travels. They’re even ready to tackle a DIY project now and then, including replacing the old drop ceiling in their basement.

Their drop ceiling replacement was a major step toward making their basement an inviting place for relaxing and entertaining.

Sarah shows how they completed the project.

Drop Ceiling Replacement

This past summer, my boyfriend and I purchased our first home – a mid-century ranch in Pittsburgh! We’ve been making renovations and updates room by room for the past few months, but one space that we’ve neglected so far is the basement. With a laminate floor, wood paneling, and a crumbling drop ceiling, it was a project that we just didn’t feel ready to tackle at the get-go.

Old Drop Ceiling in Need of Replacement

Seeing as our house is a small ranch, we really make use of our basement and need it for living and working space. It’s home to our TV room, laundry, and garage access, so we spend a lot of time there. The space wasn’t very comfortable or stylish, so we wanted to give it an update that made a huge impact but didn’t break the bank. Enter the Aria Suspended Grid Panel Ceiling Tile to replace our old, outdated drop ceiling.

The Outdated Drop Ceiling

Old drop ceiling in need of replacement

Old drop ceiling in need of replacement

By far the worst part of our basement was the old, crumbling, and yellowed drop ceiling and its accompanying brown frame. It was a huge eyesore that we knew we could make look 1000 times better with the help of crisp, white ceiling tiles and a painted white frame.

Here’s how we turned this ceiling from grungy and old to chic and clean!

Materials and Tools


Step 1: Remove old ceiling tiles

DIY Drop Ceiling Replacement

Carefully take down your old ceiling tiles. We recommend wearing safety goggles, as the tiles will likely be dusty and dirty. Set these tiles aside in a safe place, as you can use them as cutting/size templates later for your new tiles.


Step 2: Clean your frame

The inner rim of our drop ceiling frame was full of dirt and dust – something we didn’t want all over our new, white tiles. Fill a bucket with warm, soapy water and use a rag or sponge to clean the inner rims and outside of the frame. Allow time to dry before beginning the next step. This is a great time to vacuum your floor of any dust or dirt that may have fallen so it doesn’t get kicked up during painting.


Step 3: Prime and paint your frame

KILZ2 Latex Interior/Exterior Multi-Surface Primer, Sealer and Stain-Blocker

Drop Ceiling Replacement

Using a mini paint roller and brush, apply two coats of primer to your frame, with ample drying time between each coat. Then apply two coats of paint, again allowing ample drying time between coats. We used Kilz 2 Latex Primer and untinted Behr Premium Plus Ultra Pure White in Eggshell for our paint. This worked great for covering our brown frame and making it a crisp white that will blend in with our new tiles.


Step 4: Cut your new ceiling tiles, as needed

Drop Ceiling Replacement

Our basement has a few strange angles and ductwork breaking up the ceiling, so very few of our tiles could be installed without cutting them to size first.

The Aria ceiling tiles are made from ¼ in. recycled wood fiber, so the best way to cut them is with a circular saw or jig saw. To cut your tiles to the appropriate size, use your old tiles as templates. For instance, if your old ceiling tile has a hole for a ceiling light fixture, you can just trace the placement of the hole directly onto your new tile and carefully make your cut.


Step 5: Insert new ceiling tiles into your frame

Drop Ceiling Replacement

MONO SERRA Wall Design 2 ft. x 4 ft. Aria Suspended Grid Panel Ceiling Tile

After all of your Aria ceiling tiles have been cut to size, carefully insert them into your newly painted frame. Finally, give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate your awesome new ceiling!

Drop Ceiling Replacement: Before and After

Aria Suspended Grid Panel Ceiling Tile

Basement Remodel with Drop Ceiling Replacement

I truly can’t believe how much this simple project has transformed our dark and dingy basement. Simply swapping out ceiling tiles and adding a little white paint has turned this space into a bright and happy room that we can’t wait to spend time in. If you have an old drop ceiling in your home that’s in need of an upgrade, give this project a try!

Visit our Building Materials Department for the hardware and materials you’ll need for drop ceiling replacement or any ceiling project.

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