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Ceiling Tile Choices:
Important Considerations For Do-It-Yourself Remodelers

(HIT) - Ceiling tiles are a common choice among do-it-yourself remodelers … and for good reason. Ceiling tiles are relatively inexpensive and quite easy to install, requiring very little expertise outside of careful measurements and the use of some common household tools, like pliers and wire snips. Ceiling tiles are available in a variety of sizes and styles, and most ceiling tile remodeling projects can be completed with little mess.

But, for too many homeowners, the ceiling tile choices they make for their home are based purely on aesthetics and personal taste. However, functional considerations are also important, and should play an important role in the ceiling tile choices you make. "Many D-I-Y remodelers forget to ask the right kinds of questions when buying ceiling tiles. And that can lead to a ceiling that’s just not as functional as it should be," explains Jack Dobey, product manager for USG Interiors, a leading manufacturer of ceiling tile.

Instead of rushing out to home centers or hardware stores and choosing new ceiling tile purely on appearance, homeowners would be better advised to think about the various functions and benefits that different types of ceiling tile can provide. For example, a family with teenagers—or one in need of a quiet space for office work—should consider and evaluate the acoustical properties of different ceiling tile products.

According to Dobey, doing your homework involves thinking about the rooms you plan to upgrade and the ways in which ceiling tile can help. Here are some specific things to consider before making ceiling tile choices for your home:

How Much Noise Needs To Be Muffled?

There’s no such thing as 100 percent soundproofing—for any kind of material. But certain tile types will absorb up to 80 percent of the sound striking their surfaces and will reduce sound transmission as well. And that can be a true blessing for parents with aspiring teen musicians or for use in a noisy entertainment room.

How Does Humidity Affect Your Ceiling Tile Choice?

Moisture is a definite consideration when comparing ceiling tile choices. To avoid sagging ceilings in bathrooms, basements and other damp areas, fiberglass or mineral fiber ceiling tiles are best. Vinyl-laminated gypsum tiles, available from USG Interiors, are also a good high-humidity choice. Ceiling tiles made from wood fiber should not be used in areas of a home with high humidity levels.

What’s The Best Application Method?

Thanks to recent engineering innovations, the choices for applying ceiling tiles are varied. Ceiling tiles can be stapled, glued or installed onto a suspended grid system. What determines the best process? Quite simply, the condition of the ceiling.

A sound, level surface ceiling surface, or one with only minor cracks, can accept adhesive-attached tiles. On the other hand, a suspended grid ceiling system works to hide major surface damage, unsightly fixtures and exposed joints.

How About Cleaning?

"When a ceiling tile is marked as ‘washable,’ that doesn’t mean you can turn on the garden hose full strength and spray the tiles with water," Dobey explains. Instead, use a damp cloth or sponge to rinse off stains. An art gum eraser will also get rid of small smudges. The term "scrubbable" means that tiles can be cleaned using a brush and a little elbow grease. Some tiles simply require vacuuming every few months or so. Start the job right during installation by remembering to keep hands dry and clean. Or, sprinkle a bit of talcum powder on your palms.

What Are The Choices In Style And Design?

The most popular ceiling tile choice is white with a light texture, accompanied by a white-finish grid system. "Consumers seem to prefer adding color to their walls, their floors and their furniture, but they’re leaving ceilings relatively plain," Dobey says. But acoustical tiles are also offered in a variety of neutral shades and tones, from a corduroy-emulating motif to a checkered block pattern. Some feature a raised edge, like those in the USG Interiors Designers Ceiling Series, creating a three-dimensional look. Grids, come in brass and chrome finishes, as well as the standard white and woodgrain designs. Your choice here is largely a matter of personal taste and style, but consider natural lighting sources and the placement and number of light fixtures in a room as you make your decision. A well-lit room won’t suffer from a darker ceiling color, but dark basements with relatively few light fixtures may need the reflective qualities of a white ceiling to brighten things up.

If you’re installing a suspended ceiling in a previously unfinished basement, new light fixtures are probably needed. Choose lights that are compatible with your new ceiling’s grid system, and have them installed by a professional. A variety of translucent panels and lattice panels are available to accent your new ceiling tile.

For more information about ceiling tile choices and tips on how to install acoustical ceiling tiles, write USG Interiors, P.O. Box 4470, Chicago, IL 60680 or visit the USG website at

Courtesy: Home Improvement News and Information Center

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