Image via BasmentDropCeilings.com
A drop ceiling is a very common feature in offices, basements, theaters, and schools. It’s made from a metal grid and “tiles” or “panels” hung below the structural ceiling. Also known as a secondary ceiling, suspended ceiling, T-bar ceiling, or false ceiling, it most often conceals air ducts or pipes for a clean look in a previously unfinished area. Often, these ceilings feature recessed can lights – a sleek option to illuminate a space without diminishing any headroom.
Whether you’re building a brand new drop ceiling complete with recessed cans, or adding them to an existing ceiling, you’ll need to accommodate some special electrical and structural needs with your installation.
Follow these steps to add recessed lights to your drop ceiling:
1. Find the right lights.
Heat is your biggest concern when choosing recessed lights for your ceiling. If a light generates too much heat, especially around plastic surfaced or fiberglass panels, it can create a fire hazard. LED recessed light fixtures run cooler than other light sources, so they’re generally your best option. You should also choose lights with adjustable mounting arms, or heavy duty clips that can attach to support wires or bars above the ceiling.
2. Layout your lights.
Use graph paper to make a scale drawing of your room, so you can plan where each light should go. You should space them out according to your ceiling height, any focal points that you want to add, and how bright you want your room’s ambient light to be. For more detailed advice on how to layout your recessed lights, check out this blog post: How To Layout Recessed Lighting in 4 Easy Steps.
3. Establish supports.
Drop ceilings are too delicate to support the weight of recessed lights on their own. Also, as your structure settles and shifts, the drop ceiling will move. Install extra wire supports over the tile to help hold the lights – one wire for each of the four corners of the tile. Using support bars or blocks with an additional frame that rests on the ceiling grid will work too. Make sure you can mount the light so it’s flush with the face of the tile. For more info on using wire supports, check out this article from eHow. For more on support bars and frames, read this article from Armstrong World Industries. Continue reading »