How To Cut Ceiling Tiles, 5 Things You Should Know

Do you need to cut ceiling tiles? If so, cutting them to the precise size to fit your ceiling’s grid space is vital. 

You can cut ceiling tiles by measuring the grid size, laying the tile on a flat surface, and drawing a cut-off line. Cut the tile with a carpet knife, and place the tile in the ceiling grid. 

There are several steps to follow when cutting ceiling tiles, and this article will explain everything you need to know. Let’s get started!

How To Cut Ceiling Tiles

Cutting ceiling tiles is pretty easy if you have the right tools and also have your desired measurements. Here’s how to do it: 

  • Step 1. Wear thin cloth gloves: These will prevent you from leaving fingerprints on the ceiling tiles and protect your hands from the roughness of the tiles. Avoid wearing surgical gloves because they’re too weak to withstand this strenuous work.
  • Step 2. Measure the grid size: Climb on a step ladder or stool to reach the grid. Grab a tape measure and place it from the wall to the end of the bar at the cross T. Write down your measurements and climb down.
  • Step 3. Lay the tile on a flat surface: Create a workspace in your garage or the porch to avoid messing up your house. Place some sheets on a desk or table to protect it from damage, and place the tile on top.
  • Step 4. Draw the cut-off line: Extend the tape measure across the tile until you reach the required length. Use the hook of your tape measure to mark the width of the tile in a quick, accurate motion. Alternatively, you can place a mark on the area using a pencil and use it together with a drywall T-square or ruler to draw the line.     
  • Step 5. Cut the tile: Place a hand on the unmarked side of the ceiling tile to keep it in place as you cut it. Use a carpet knife to cut across the marked line from top to bottom and repeat with deeper cuts until the tile splits into two. If you find it hard to slice across lines in a straight manner, then you should place a drywall T-square along the line to guide you.
  • Step 6. Draw a line near the cut-off edge: Fit the tile in the grid and use the carpet knife to score a line along the edge of the grid to create the shadow line. Take the tile down and place it back on the table.
  • Step 7. Recreate the shadow line: Use the knife to cut halfway through the mark, and tilt the tile to cut through the side of the edge until the piece comes off and reveals the shadow line. Place the tile in the grid and repeat the steps with the other tiles.

What Tools Can You Use To Cut Ceiling Tiles?

The tools you can use to cut ceiling tiles include a carpet or utility knife, drywall, or a table saw. You can also use tin snips or a shadow line cutter. 

I’ll discuss these tools in more detail below: 

  • Carpet knife: This offers a deeper cut with its sharper blade, making it the best tool for cutting custom ceiling tiles. Since it has four cutting surfaces, you can switch between them when one wears out.
  • Utility knife: Although it isn’t as sharp as a carpet knife, you can still use a utility knife to cut a ceiling tile. However, it may take you a while to make deeper cuts to separate the tiles.
  • Drywall saw: It’s better to cut curves and holes in suspended ceiling tiles because you’ll need to place the saw blade point through the circle and move it around to complete the cut-out.
  • Table saw: This delivers a smooth cut by effectively feeding the ceiling tile to the blade. Use a saw with a diamond-tipped teeth blade as it’s suitable for cutting these tiles.
  • Tin snips: These are best for cutting tin ceiling tiles. You must gently tilt the tile upwards while using snips for a cleaner cut along the scored line.
  • Shadowline cutter: This tool creates a perfect shadow line at the cut-off edge by making it easy to make precise cuts with its adjustable blade. Also, its integrated handle enables you to use it easily.

What’s The Best Way To Cut Vinyl Ceiling Tiles?

The best way to cut vinyl ceiling tiles is to cut them to size before fitting them in your ceiling. It involves taking accurate measurements of your ceiling, cutting the tiles to size, and cutting out fire sprinkler holes. 

Here are the steps you should follow:

  • Step 1. Measure the ceiling perimeter space: Place a tape measure from the wall about an inch (2.54 cm) away from the edge of the first grid divider. By taking measurements, which are less than the actual size of the grid space, you’ll prevent the vinyl tiles from sitting too tight and making it difficult to install or remove them.
  • Step 2. Cut the tiles to size: Transfer your measurements onto the tile using a marker to note the area where you need to cut through the tile. Use a ruler to draw a line along the tile for easier and cleaner cutting. Cut thin tiles with household scissors and thick tiles with aviation snips.
  • Step 3. Cut out the fire sprinkler holes: Determine the hole size by checking your user guide for the correct dimensions and the National Fire Sprinkler’s Association for where to put it. Mark its circumference or length on the tile and use a pencil compass to draw a circle around the markings. Cut a hole in the vinyl tile with scissors or a carpet knife, and the tile will be ready for fitting.                                                                             

What Do You Need To Cut a Ceiling Board?

To cut a ceiling board, you need a straight edge, a Stanley knife, and a jigsaw. You also need a handsaw and a utility knife. These are inexpensive tools that are widely available.

Here’s why you need these tools to cut a ceiling board:

  • Straight edge: This tool scores a line on the board through your measurement markings to allow you to make smooth cuttings.
  • Stanley knife: This is the best tool for cutting a ceiling board. You can use it to cut through the scored line in a quick and deep manner by moving back and up.
  • A jigsaw: Use one with medium teeth as it will cut through the board without tearing its paper. Using this tool, you’ll cut the ceiling board quickly and easily without exerting much force.
  • A handsaw: Use one with teeth as it’s best for cutting a ceiling board. Ensure its teeth are sharp to cut more easily and attain a cleaner edge.
  • Utility knife: Using this tool along with a straight edge can enable you to make deep cuts that are straight and clean effortlessly.

What Size Should You Cut Ceiling Tiles?

You should cut ceiling tiles according to the grid space’s measurement so that they fit correctly. A standard ceiling grid is 15/16 inches (2.38 cm), while the drop ceiling grid is 9/16 inches (1.43 cm) wide. However, you should measure your grids to determine their correct size.

You need to cut them about an inch (2.54 cm) or less short to enable them to sit perfectly in the grid without a hassle. A tile cut to an exact size can make fixing it difficult because its fitting is too tight.

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