From Doctor Lom

How to make suspended ceiling Armstrong. Installation Guide

Suspended ceilings like Armstrong are usually making at the last stage of a repair. New floor cover may be or not to be in room, but the walls should be already finished - painted, papered or covered with ceramic tiles. Although, of course, you can make a ceiling at first, and then to hang wallpaper and to fix ceiling moldings.

How to make:

1. Marking on a perimeter.

Water level or laser level are typically used to mark level - to put labels on the walls at the same height of new suspended ceiling. Theodolite or geodesic optical level also may be used for very large areas. But you can use an ordinary building level. It all depends on your opportunities and skills.

If the walls are already finished, the marking should be done carefully, preferably by pencil. It's better to perform the marking at a height corresponding to the top of the angle trim (Armstrong corner profile). Then it will allow to fasten the corners as quickly as possible.

The minimum height of the suspended ceiling (the distance between the old and the new ceiling) is determined by the following factors:

  • The lowest point of the ceiling is determined by a building level or a laser level. As a rule, it's the middle of the existing ceiling, but if the foundation of the house sagged over the years or house builders didn't be friends with the measuring instruments, the lowest point can be anywhere. Floors on wooden balks have the maximum amount of deflection. Deviation can exceed 3-4 inches. The maximum height of the new ceiling in this case - is the distance from the floor (if floor is gorizontal) to the lowest point of the existing ceiling without 8-10 cm.
  • If you will use a built-in lighting the distance between the old and the suspended ceiling can be even more. In this case, the height of the new ceiling depends on the technical data of lamps, carefully read the instructions of lamp. Accordingly, it is desirable to buy lamps before to installation of the new ceiling.

2. Corner trim installation.

Corner trims are attached to the walls so that the top of the corner was below the level line. The fastest way to attach the corners by hammer screw anchors. But the profile can be fixed to wooden wall without flexible anchors simply by screws.

  • Usually there are no holes for screws in the corners and it's nessesary to drill holes by myself. It is better to use for it the drill for metal with a diameter of 7 mm. In this case anchors with the diameter of 6 mm don't be damaged when hammering. Holes are drilled through every 40-50 cm. (figure 1.1) If the walls of wood, it is possible to drill holes with a diameter of 3-4 mm. It can  be no drilled if the self-drilling screws will be used..
  • After that the corner drim is put to the wall so that the top corner was below the level line (figure 1.2).
  • Contours of the drilled holes are drawn on the wall by pencil or marker (if the walls are covered with ceramic tiles). 
  • Holes in the wall are drilled by perforator or by drill in perforator mode (figure 1.3).
  • After that hammer screws are hammered (figure 1.4) or ordinary flexible anchors are hammered then ordinary screws are screwed. Or screws simply screwed in wooden walls.
  • If the wall is very curve, it's better to use flexible perimeter trim.

Visually, it looks like this:


mounting of corner trim to the wall for the suspended ceiling Armstrong

Figure 1.

Corner trims are cut at an angle of 45° in the angles of room. If to leave corners with overlap, gap will be visible after the tile installation. If the room corners are not straight, first trim may be fixed at one angle without cutting. And then another trim is applied to the first to make marks on the intersection of profiles. Then trims are cut by shears for metal cutting:

how to mark line on trim for cutting in corners of the room

Figure 2.

3. Main Runner installation.

The distance from the edge of the wall to the first main runner (to middle or axis of the profile) depends on the selected plan. Further installation technology is described to cross tees with length 1.2 and 0.6 m. Marks for main runners are drawed on the walls over the trim or on the trim:

marks for axes of main runners

Figure 3.

Marks for axes of main runners are shown in red colour. At the same time you can just mark the axis for cross tees. That marks are shown in blue colour.

Main runners have locks at the ends (see Figure 4) to connect main runners with each other. But if the width of the room is less than 3.4 m there is no need to connect main runners between themselves, becouse the main runners have a length of 3.6 meters. But you have to cut main runners at the ends.

Usually there are three types of holes in main runner: circular holes with diameter of about 6 mm for ceiling hangers (1), vertical rectangular holes to lock cross tees (2) and a rectangular horizontal holes for ceiling suspension latches (that holes are not shown in Figure 4):

holes in the main runners for suspended ceiling like Armstrong

Figure 4.

To properly cut profile, you need to postpone the size of the cut tile from one of the holes (2) to end of main runner. It is red mark on Figure 5. Then it's need to cut the main runner by shears for metal or by other cutting tool. After cutting on both sides the main runner can be leaned on corner trims. For better fitting it ought to make the mark with a corner trim (mark is shown in blue colour in the figure 4) and to make additional cutting. It should be done as carefully as possible, because the joint will be visible from below.

Now it is necessary to attach the main runner to existing ceiling so it didn't sag. For it a hole is drilled in the ceiling above one of the holes (1). Then a spring hanger (or other type of hanger) is used to fix main runner at the needed level. Hammer screw anchors or flexible anchors with screws are used for it. If the main runners will be mounted on the ceiling spring hangers as shown on Figure 5, the holes must be drilled so the hangers would be vertical after fixing. A distance betwin the hungers is about 1.2 m.

The principle of action of the spring hangers is simple: when you press on the plates, they approach each other and the holes in the plates can glide metal rods.

spring hanger for a mail runner of the suspended ceiling

Figure 5.

4. Cross tee installation.

For the first row of cut tiles the cross tees with length 1.2 m are cut on one side on the same principle as the main runners. After that the lock of the cross tee is inserted into the corresponding hole in the main runner. To send the lock into the hole the cross tee is placed not perpendicularly to the main runner but at a little angle. After that the cut cross tee with length of 0.6 m is inserted, and so on.

installation of cross tees of the suspended ceiling

Figure 6.

After that you can insert two cut tiles. The size of the cut tiles should be on 5-8 mm smaller than the distance between the axes of the profiles, and in this case the distance from the wall to the axes the profiles. Then the next 1.2 m cross tee is cut and inserted into thebcorresponding hole in the main runner. After that the 0.6 m cross tee is inserted between the cut cross tees of length 1.2 m. At first 0.6 m profile is connected with the already installed cut profile to the click, and then it connects with the 1.2 m profile.

The second main profile is suspended freely, to be able to push it a bit and insert locks of 1.2 m profiles.

The only problem that arises at this stage - is to insert second lock of 0.6 m profiles into installed 1.2 m profiles. To do this the 1.2 m profile ought to be curved a little to increase the distance between the 1.2 m profiles and insert lock into the hole.

When that part of frame has been mounted, the main runner is set exactly in height.

5. Tile installation.

When the suspended ceiling is installed step by step many plates can be laid from above. Last tiles are inserted from below with slope. But this is not easy if the distance from the old ceiling to the bottom of the new ceiling is less than 10-12 cm. In such cases it is simpler to put gently the last piles on already installed piles and then to finish the profile installation.

The end result will be approximately as follows:

modular false ceiling above the stairs in the apartment on two levels

This ceiling I did 15 years ago above the stairs, it had to make a special scaffolding. And there is no my fault that some tiles are not in places, that is because host periodically moves the tiles and spends more and more cables, he still can not determine a proper provider.

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