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Old 02-23-2010, 09:50 AM   #1
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More Basement Dropped Ceiling Installation Questions


Hello everyone-
I am still planning out my dropped ceiling and how to lay it out. I came across some more questions... This is for my basement. First, I apologize because I may not know the proper words for some things..

Ok, in my basement there are two things that drop down further than the rest of the joists. There is one heating vent that runs the length of my large room, and then there is one main beam that also runs the length of the room. Not sure if there's a more techincal word for this beam, but it's thick, like 3 or 4 pieces of wood put together. This is the beam that has a few support poles installed underneath it. Seems like this is the "main beam" of the house. Now because there are two of these things that drop down and they are maybe 5 feet apart from each other, I don't think that we're going to go the route of boxing them in. It would just seem weird to me to have two big boxes in things so close together. Instead, what we want to do is drop the entire ceiling down past the vent and the beam. That way, the the entire ceiling will be flat, and I won't have to box that stuff in. I believe the beam is maybe about an inch further down than the vent is. So the beam is the low point and we need to install under.

Now, I've read that for dropped ceilings you need to leave at least 3 inches from the JOIST when installing ceiling panels. My question is, do I really need this 3 inch clearance for the beam and the heating vents also? I just want the ceiling to be as high as possible. So I don't want to drop the entire ceiling another 3 inches, just because theres a 6 inch(-ish) wide beam running down one spot in the ceiling if I don't have to. I mean, I recognize that I would need to drop it a little bit, just so I can slide the panel in, but I don't think an entire 3 inches would be needed for this. Maybe I'm splitting hairs here, but an extra 2 inches, is an extra two inches. Especially on a ceiling. It seems like I'd be able to just drop the ceiling maybe an inch, or an inch and a half below the big beam, and make it work. I mean, I can get the panel up there in the space next to it, and then I should be able to slide the panel over and under that main beam.

Does that make sense? Do you guys think that will work? I mean, provided I drop it enough so that I could slide a panel in there? Is there some reason why this 3 inches is needed? Either for the beam or the heating vent?

Let me know if you need any more details!

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Old 02-23-2010, 10:03 AM   #2
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You can have the face of the tiles down about 2 inches from the beam, but 3 inches will make installing/replacing tiles much easier.

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Old 02-23-2010, 10:32 AM   #3
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Ok, so that 3 inches is just for ease of replacing the tiles. I guess most importantly, I wanted to make sure there's no other reason I would need that distance. I mean, the heating vent would at least be 2 if not 3 inches away I would think, and I don't think vents would get all that hot anyway.

Thanks
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Old 02-23-2010, 11:09 AM   #4
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correct.
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Old 02-23-2010, 03:25 PM   #5
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Ok, next set of questions.

What length/type of nails should I use to attach my wall angles for my dropped ceiling to the walls? My walls are just normal walls that are drywalled and plastered.

Second question is, can someone please clarify the different parts involved in the ceiling? Or confirm that I have them all correct. From what I understand there are three main parts. Theres the wall angles, which is the part that goes around the outside walls of the room. Then there are the mains. The mains are the ones that will be suspended via the wire and will run perpendicular with the joists. And lastly, there are T's. I think that's what they're called. These just connect the two mains at either 2 or 4 foot intervals. Is that right? Are those the right names for everything? Are there other pieces involved that I am missing?

And lastly, can someone please clarify for me where I need to install the pop rivets? Do I pop rivet the mains to the wall angles? And is that it? Or is there something else I need to pop rivet?

Thanks!
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Old 02-25-2010, 08:10 AM   #6
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Sorry, don't mean to be a pest, just wondering if anyone is able to help me out with these questions.

Also I've read somewhere that people attach the wall angles with screws and not nails. Is that what you would suggest for my situation? New walls with drywall and plastering? If so, what type of screws would I buy?

Thanks,
-Mark
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Old 02-25-2010, 09:29 AM   #7
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I use regular 1-3/8" drywall nails to put up the wall angle (I use glue and nails for drywall rather than screws for wood framing.) You can use 1-1/4" drywall screws if it's easier for you.
You are correct as far as the mains. You frame the entire ceiling 2'x4', then add 2' cross tees for a 2'x2' ceiling. The most important thing is to keep the ceiling square or your lay-in lights (if you're using them) won't fit and you'll have to trim tiles to get them in. Run a string line the length of the room where your first main run will be (the same distance off the wall at both ends). Just tie it to a pop rivet and push the rivet up behind the wall mold. This will keep your main straight even though your walls likely are not quite perfect. As you cut your tees (at 2' intervals) and snap them into the main for your border, keep the main centered on the string line. You'll need some clips to hold the tees until you get ready to rivet them (every other one). HD and Lowes sell packs of clamps and the string line. Also clamp the end of your main to the wall angle. Move over 4' and start another main tee. Here's where you square the ceiling. Add your 4' tees at the 2' intervals to the end of the main. Measure corner to corner one of your 2'x4' openings. It should measure 52-1/4" or 52-5/16" depending on the type of end on your tape measure. As long as it's square, you're ready to rivet your mains. Then drop back and look down a 4' tee and line up the one at the wall to make sure it's straight. Rivet that tee and measure 48" for every other tee at the wall and rivet them. Once the two mains are fastened, you can just continue snapping everything together to the end of the room. As long as your first main is on the string line and you measure and rivet every other wall tee, your first two runs will be correct. Rivet both ends of your mains. Subsequent runs of mains will just require squaring an opening within the first 12' length and riveting the main. All else will fall into place and remain square.
That's my method.....
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Last edited by bjbatlanta; 02-25-2010 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 02-28-2010, 03:47 PM   #8
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To the original poster... a lot of the clearance issues depends on the flexibility of the ceiling tiles you intend to use. If you are using the solid paper type that basically do NOT bend, then 2" might not be enough to "wiggle" a tile into place. OTH, if you are using the fiberglass type that have a vinyl "skin" pattern, then you can probably get by with about 1-1/2" above the top of the T-Track. The fiberglass tiles are VERY forgiving with regard to bending.

Like you, I have a forced hot air system with a main trunk line running down the length of my basement. When I built the house, I had the builder extend the foundation roughly 12" and if I knew then what I know now... I would've had him extend it 18". Still, it worked out just fine. I have a flat ceiling hung with only 1/4" clearance under the trunk (low point), and my tiles are laid out perpendicular to the trunk so that I can slide in a tile from one side of the trunk so I don't need much clearance. My drop ceiling in the main room is about 6'-8" and 7'-0" in my "studio/office" room because there is no trunk in there... and also at my landing, which helps when you're bringing anything large down the stairs. But we've had people 6'4" in our finished basement and no big problems. I'm only a little over 5'10" so its built for who lives here LOL.

One of my neighbors has a similar home that was built by the same builder 6 months before mine and he made two mistakes; (A) he sheetrocked the ceiling and boxed in the ducting, and (B) he used the normal foundation height. In the areas where the trunk is, it's so low that you can't walk under it so they had to build "planters" to keep adults from konking their heads. He had a leaky faucet/dishwasher above the area and the ceiling was destroyed, and they had to patch a 4 X 4 area and he wasn't handy so they had a contractor do that.

Every time I see a fixed ceiling in a basement I shudder, and I've seen manny as my "retirement" job was as a state-licensed WDI Inspector, so I've probably inspected several hundred homes from the basement to the attic looking for WDI evidence. Since I was normally representing home buyers, I would tell first time home buyers the pros and cons of fixed vs drop ceilings in a basement, and yes... I was very biased towards drop ceilings.

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