How Much Does a Drop Ceiling Cost?

Scott Dylan Westerlund
Updated January 24, 2022
A beautifully designed villa with wooden ceiling panel
Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision via Getty Images

The average cost to install a drop ceiling in your home is $1,813

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When you imagine a drop ceiling, you probably picture an office with flimsy tiles hiding dusty ductwork. Although drop ceilings may have got their start in the modern office highrise, now they come in a range of materials and styles that fit perfectly to your home’s style. 

While the cost to install drop ceilings ranges from $1,028 to $2,765, the average price to install one of these aesthetically pleasing, highly functional features is $1,813. When designing a high-end look that changes the vibe of a space, note that costs for lighting, tiles, and rail covers can raise your project budget. Square footage is one of the biggest price influences for this project.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Drop Ceiling by Square Foot?

The square foot cost to install a drop ceiling (also known as a suspended ceiling) ranges between $5 and $35 for your labor and materials. On average, just labor costs between $2 and $5 per square foot.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Drop Ceiling Near You?

Here's a look at what people throughout the country are paying for suspended ceiling installation near them:

  • Texas: $650–$2,730

  • Connecticut: $685–$1,625 

  • Missouri: $815–$3,125

  • Florida: $1,000–$1,750

  • New York: $1,020–$3,145

  • Illinois: $1,025–$2,450

  • California: $1,350–$1,525

  • Colorado: $1,195–$4,020

How Much Does It Cost To Install a Drop Ceiling by Material Type?

Depending on how much you want to save or spend, you have a list of different tile choices.

Fiberboard Tile

This material is one of the lowest-cost options, coming in at $2 to $7 per square foot. In fact, ​​standard mineral fiberboard is even more affordable at $1 to $4 per square foot. While fiberboard is a good value, you should keep in mind that it's not a good fit for a high-moisture area.

Plastic Tile

This material is a top pick for cutting costs on a drop ceiling installation. Plastic also costs roughly $1 to $4 per square foot. While many may not find it quite as elegant as the high-end options, plastic is highly functional without breaking the bank.

Black Acoustic Ceiling Tile

Good for a middle-range budget, this material works if you're building a studio or entertainment center. Black acoustic ceiling tiles cost about $2 to $7 per square foot. Of course, you'll want to make sure you're getting the most durable option for your money because black ceiling tiles can be made of fiberglass, vinyl, foam, and much more.

Metal

This sturdy material is considered the most attractive option for a drop ceiling. It's also extremely durable. As such, metal comes with a higher price tag ranging widely from $3 to $20 per square foot. Determining your budget early can help you choose the kind of metal that fits well within your project.

Wood

One of the priciest options among ceiling panels, wood brings texture and sophistication to a space. It also comes in around $3 to $20 per square foot. However, that large range means that you may be able to find a type of wood that meets both your aesthetic needs and your budget.

How Much Does It Cost To Install a Drop Ceiling Yourself?

The interior of a modern villa with drop ceiling
ExperienceInteriors/E+ via Getty Images

If you're thinking of doing a DIY ceiling project, first measure the square footage to figure out how much material you need before sourcing your tile panels, materials, and tools. 

While this project isn't necessarily as risky as some other DIY projects, many homeowners find it too challenging to attempt. First off, you'll spend lots of time on a ladder, which can be dangerous and challenging for some (and should always be done with a buddy to help).

If you don't already own a good ladder, add $150 to $200 to your total project cost. If extra support is needed, you may need to use scaffolding to get the work done. Consider renting a set of scaffolding at around $80 per day rather than buying one. 

You'd be surprised by just how difficult leveling your ceiling grid can be. Even a skilled ceiling installer would need roughly two days to install a drop ceiling in a typical 10-foot by 12-foot room.

A little expertise can go a long way when adding a drop ceiling because contractors that deal with ceilings all day long can provide insights about:

  • The best tile size

  • How to stop sagging

  • Firing ratings

  • Quality

Labor to install drop ceilings costs between $2 and $5 per hour, so you’ll save this amount if you decide to DIY. However, keep in mind that DIY will probably take longer. If you hire a contractor, you can still save money on labor costs by prepping the room, cleaning up after, and painting.

Drop Ceiling Installation Cost Breakdown

In addition to labor and tiles, your new ceiling may also include these extras.

Permits

You may need a permit if your town or city has rules about minimum ceiling clearance. If a permit is required, you might pay up to $400.

Wiring

If your new ceiling placement necessitates moving or dropping down ceiling lights, you may need to factor in the $50 to $100 hourly rate charged by electricians.

Moving Vents

If your new ceiling interferes with your current venting, you may need to factor in the $50 to $150 hourly rate for HVAC tech services.

Prep Work/Removing a Ceiling

If you need your current ceiling removed or prepped, factor in costs for popcorn ceiling removal ($900 to $2,840) or the costs to repair a ceiling ($335 to $1,125).

Grids

If you're doing a drop ceiling in a larger room, increase your costs for materials and labor to account for all of the extra grid application involved. Installing a drop ceiling in a 400-square-foot basement, for example, can add an average of $5,200 to the materials cost.

FAQs About Installing a Drop Ceiling

How do I install a new drop ceiling?

Here are the big steps that go into a drop ceiling installation. Of course, there are other smaller steps involved in a successful project. A pro will be able to handle all the extras like permits and make sure everything is up to code.

  • Measure the walls in your room

  • Sketch your plan

  • Decide how you'll handle any lighting or vents

  • Add wall angles

  • Add your grid system

  • Install ceiling tiles

Why should I pick wood or metal tiles over more affordable options for my new drop ceiling?

If you're looking to add long-term value, wood and metal are considered more aesthetically pleasing. Plastic is the most durable and affordable option if you have to choose between plastic and fiberglass. However, fiberglass is good for soundproofing on a budget.

What other projects should I do at the same time?

Here's a look at some projects to consider if you're already changing your ceiling:

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