Asked on Jul 08, 2012

Updating a Dropped Ceiling

Rhoda V
by Rhoda V
I'm renovating a 1979 fixer upper and have a dropped ceiling in the downstairs den. The tiles are probably original and I will eventually replace them with something. Has anyone updated these with another material besides the white tiles & is there anything to do to make this sort of ceiling look better? The tiles now are a little saggy, so I'm sure I'll replace them with new when I can, but thought some of you may have some other ideas? Thanks!
  28 answers
  • Hey Rhoda, you may want to check out the new options for ceiling tiles these days. You may find something that can slip right in yet still get you a totally different look. Or perhaps even covering new tiles with something unique. Here's some I found at Armstrong. That looks to be a great room! Things are really coming along! Donna
  • Kirt N Kirt N on Jul 08, 2012
    I think I would remove them, and use drywall. We removed ours, and did just that. Looks a whole lot cleaner, better, and lasts longer.We sprayed it with acoustic ceiling spray (popcorn), and it turned out great.
  • Rhoda V Rhoda V on Jul 08, 2012
    Thanks Kirt. Removing right now is not an option, so I have to live with it for now. I may just replace with new tiles and live with it for a few years. That budget thing again!
  • Drywall is one way as Kirt suggested, just be sure to use the 1/4" stuff as it will get a bit heavy. You can install cross bars and make the tiles 2 foot square instead of the 2x4 office style look as there are lots of design tiles that can be purchased. Still other ideas is to purchase metal or faux metal tiles and insert them. the last idea is to install a stretch ceiling. It may sound expensive but once you look into the better quality tile ceilings this really becomes more cost effective. Check out the web site. I have seen similar products sold at Home Depot.
  • Doreen S Doreen S on Jul 09, 2012
    Hi Rhoda! We used luann wood on our ceiling in the basement at the cabin. It's inexpensive, lightweight, relatively easy to install and paintable.
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jul 09, 2012
    We have never dealt with a drop ceiling, but sometimes you may just want to live with it because you do not want to spend a lot of money to close off plumbing, etc. only to have to take it out later if you need access. I would investigate the suggestion of Doreen S on the luann wood idea. Also, I would investigate styrofoam since I know they are now making molding out of it that looks just like wood.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jul 09, 2012
    A big advantage to a dropped ceiling is it does not permanently close up the space for any repairs or maintenance issues...the tile come in a number of may need to look at commercial suppliers...this type of ceiling is still popular in many office environments. I second the Luan....if you spray painted the "grids" you could get a nice wood toned ceiling...luan runs about 18-20 bucks for a 4 x 8 sheet.
  • Leslie D Leslie D on Jul 09, 2012
    There are so many more options out there now for acoustical grid tile ceilings than in years past...from a coffered ceilling, to tin tile to a wood look, although many can be more expensive than drywall finishing. If you decide to replace the tiles, just make sure you get a sample, or take one of your old tiles to compare the actual size. Tegular style gives a more finished look because the edge drops a bit below the grid, and is a little more expensive, but worth it.
  • Kelly Kelly on Jul 09, 2012
    You can paint them...something other than white.
  • Nancy Q Nancy Q on Jul 09, 2012
    I have a house like that and have a drop ceiling in the downstairs bathroom. When the upstairs tub overflowed, just replaced the ruined tile. Use the large ones like I see in your picture. I got mine at Lowe's in a plain white surface. I would not paint, replace, you don't know how old, etc. It will be a cleaner environment for your room. We will be putting that ceiling in our utility room in the fall, we have to work around the vents, etc., it is our best option that will allow us to get to wiring, plumbing and such. BTW, Great room!
  • Rhoda V Rhoda V on Jul 09, 2012
    Thanks all! This will be something I'll do down the road, too many other projects right now, but yes, I def. want to replace them, even if it's just new whiter ones. I'll be looking at all the options.
  • CreekLineHouse . CreekLineHouse . on Jul 09, 2012
    I have an old farmhouse with 10 foot ceilings, but at some point the old owners installed a drop ceiling at 8 feet. I can tell you what not to do. Don't try to hang a pretty lantern from them. Yup now my drop ceilings are a little more, um, droppy.
  • Karleen A Karleen A on Jul 10, 2012
    do you know what it looks like under those may not be that bad, it might need some paint...if you are not happy with pipes showing and painting them, you could always box them in...just a thought...I try looking for the least expensive way, while still making it look appealing to the eye.
  • Rhoda, I see they are 2x4ft. If you replace them with 2x2 tiles it would look better. Drop ceilings are rather outdated, if you can afford a drywall ceiling that would be the route I would take.
  • Rhoda V Rhoda V on Jul 10, 2012
    All good ideas, just have to save $$ to do it. I have so many other things right now to spend money on, but I will be looking into my options. Wish they were 2x2 also, but they are not.
  • Rhoda V Rhoda V on Jul 10, 2012
    Karleen, it's major pipe and ductwork above, so I don't want to show that off.
    • Nancy Nancy on Sep 14, 2013
      @Rhoda V got it, didn't see this earlier. I'm going to do a coffered ceiling (or something close to that) on my kitchen.
  • Chelsea F Chelsea F on Jul 10, 2012
    Are there "studs" holding the brakets up? If so you could tear out the drop ceiling and install planks (clad) directly to those studs. Good luck!
  • Rhoda, I've seen beautiful squares to replace the cheap particle board pieces. Or you could always go with tin tiles - here are some repros:
  • Rhoda V Rhoda V on Jul 10, 2012
    Thanks, Kelly! I think I may have found a good solution here. They have the 2x4' size that I need and I love the squares that look like 2 together. Good way to break up the rectangles. I just may check these out later:
  • Love those Rhoda! It's going to look fabulous!
  • Ceiling Tiles By Us Ceiling Tiles By Us on Sep 14, 2013
    Hi Rhoda, I second that has beautiful decorative tiles, but they also have a variety of affordable 2 by 4 tiles you can drop in made of particle board, also armstrong brand and so much more!
  • Nancy Nancy on Sep 14, 2013
    What is actually above the drop ceiling? Is there any water damage? We had a drop ceiling in my kitchen that really made it claustrophobic. My husband is 6'3", but it never bothered me. There were 6 (count 'em, SIX) fluorescent lights in a medium sized kitchen. It was blinding even when only 3 of them worked. I 'dropped' the drop ceiling in the garbage, lights are gone and Kitchen reno starts in 3...2...
  • Tom Stone Tom Stone on Dec 05, 2013
    The tin ceiling tiles that @Eclectically Vintage mentioned will probably look the best if you want to keep the existing grid. Personally in a house I think drywall ceilings are the only ones that look right.
  • You can buy decorative tiles to replace the ones you have.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Sep 03, 2023

    Take them down as they probably caused condensation snd soaked it up!

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Sep 03, 2023

    Some beautiful patterns at, you could also do different patterns for a border effect, some on clearance to.

  • Dee Dee on Sep 04, 2023

    Check for Asbestos before taking them down. They look like they are sagging, is anything coming down from the ceiling?