How to Cut 3-D Suspended Ceiling Tiles

By Michael Logan

Metal 3-D suspended ceiling tiles fit into the same metal ceiling grid used by most drop-ceiling systems. The tiles are made from stamped sheets of metal with a relief profile on the visible face. Instead of laying on top of the grid, the tiles hang below it, suspended by a lip around the top edge of the tile. The tiles are cut and the lip reformed for the areas around the perimeter of the ceiling that are smaller than the 2-foot-by-2-foot tiles.

List of Items Needed

  • Tape measure
  • Framing square
  • Handheld cutting tool
  • Metal cut-off wheel
  • Crimping tool
  1. Measure the width of the opening for the cut ceiling tile. Lay a ceiling tile on its face and measure the height of the tile from the lip to the face, and the width of the lip along the side of the tile. Add the side height and lip width together to determine the cutting allowance.

  2. Turn the tile over so it is face up. Measure the finished width of the tile and mark the edge. Make a second mark at the finished width plus the tile height, and a third mark at the finished width plus the cutting allowance.

  3. Place the square with the short leg along the side and the long leg aligned with the first mark. Draw a line across the tile using the square as a guide. Draw another line for the second and third marks.

  4. Install the cutting wheel on the handheld cutting tool. Hold the tile firmly with one hand and align the cutting mark on the tool with the cutting line -- the finished width plus the cutting allowance -- and turn the cutting tool on. Guide the cutting tool along the line until it exits the other side.

  5. Complete the cuts on the edge of the tile with the metal snips -- it is easier and safer than using the handheld cutting tool. Make a relief cut with the snips in the side of the tile from the lip to the face at the width line on both sides. Cut the metal tabs off with the snips.

  6. Place the crimping tool on the cut edge of the tile with the jaw ends flush with the width line. Squeeze the tool to flatten the relief and bend the edge of the tile down about 20 degrees. Move the tool down the width line, flattening the pattern and bending the tile along the line. Work the edge of the tile along the line until it is bent at a 90-degree angle and makes a new tile side.

  7. Place the crimping tool on the new tile side, with the front of the jaws aligned with the width-plus-the-tile-height line. Bend a new lip along the line the same way as forming the new tile side.

Tips and Warnings

  • To cut both the length and the width of a 3-D ceiling tile, draw the lines for both length and width, then make both cuts at the same time. Remove the corner where the width and length lines intersect, then use the crimping tool to make two new sides.
  • Wear safety glasses, a dust mask and gloves while cutting and crimping the tiles. Wear gloves while handling the cut tiles.

© Demand Media 2011