How Much Does a Drop Ceiling Cost?

Normal range: $1,055 - $3,054

Installing a drop ceiling costs $2,045 on average, but can range between $1,055 and $3,054 depending on tile material, add-ons, and insulation.

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Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated October 13, 2022
A beautifully designed villa with wooden ceiling panel
Photo: Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images

When you imagine a drop ceiling, you probably picture an office. Although drop ceilings may have gotten 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 $430 to $5,500, the average price to install one of these aesthetically pleasing, highly functional features is $2,045. 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.

See the price range of drop ceilings in

your area
How we get this data
Normal range for U.S.
$1,055 - $3,054
  • Average
  • $2,045
  • Low end
  • $430
  • high end
  • $5,500

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

Your drop ceiling cost per square foot is the easiest way to make a guestimate about your final bill. On average, expect to pay between $9 and $13 per square foot for standard installation and materials. 

However, drop ceiling installation costs can range anywhere from $5 to $28 per square foot, and are highly dependent on the cost of the drop ceiling tiles you choose. Add-ons such as lighting, specialized grid rails, or insulation boards behind your tiles push the cost to the higher end.

Drop Ceiling Installation Cost Breakdown

When you hire a professional ceiling installer, the cost of drop ceiling installation is split up between labor, materials, and the cost to remove your old ceiling and clean up the work site. Let's break it down.

Size of Drop Ceiling

In most cases, the larger the square footage of the ceiling, the higher the cost. However, keep other size factors in mind. Particularly high ceilings that are difficult to reach can raise the price. Oddly shaped rooms that require specialized panels and custom designs can also alter the price tag. And lastly, some contractors will discount per-square-foot rates for large rooms.


The cost of drop ceiling materials breaks up primarily between the grid rails and the drop ceiling tile costs. Decorative rail covers and insulation will add to the base price of these two categories. Here are some common price ranges to keep in mind:

  • Cost of drop ceiling tiles: Anywhere from $1–$70 per square foot (more on this below)

  • Suspended grid rails: $1.50–$2.25 per square foot

  • Insulation tile backing: An additional $2 per square foot

  • Decorative rail covers: An additional $1 per square foot

  • Miscellaneous installation accessories (wires, clips, etc.): $0.75 – $1.15 each

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). Removing a drywall ceiling costs between $0.50 and $1 per square foot, while removing an old drop ceiling will cost from $2 to $7.


Materials aside, ceiling specialists will charge between $2 and $5 per square foot, or an average of $3.50 per square foot. You may also receive an hourly rate between $30 and $85 per hour, with rates falling on the higher end of the spectrum for acoustic ceilings and rooms with special features such as lights, fans, switches, and decorative options. 

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 $5 to $9 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 Tile

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 $12 to $20 per square foot. Determining your budget early can help you choose the kind of metal that fits well within your project.

Wood Tile

One of the priciest options among ceiling panels, wood brings texture and sophistication to a space. It also comes in around $10 to $70 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.

Additional Costs to Consider 


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. The price of a building permit ranges quite a bit for construction projects on average, from $150 to $2,000. When it comes to demolition—a common necessity for installing a new drop ceiling—you’ll need to add on the cost of a demolition permit for about $200

If you hire a pro for this job, they’ll typically include the cost of a permit in their original quote and take care of the paperwork for you. 


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

Moving Vents

Your current HVAC system may feature heating and cooling vents that tuck behind your drop ceiling tiles.So, keep in mind that you may need to factor in the $50 to $150hourly rate for HVAC tech services.


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.

Drop-Out Tiles

Buildings that house the sprinkler system on the ceiling may require drop-out tiles. These tiles melt away when they detect high heat, revealing the sprinkler and allowing the system to activate. Each 2-by-4-foot tile will cost around $100.

Edge Details

Opt for tiles with a bit of style by choosing designs with decorative edges exposed to the room. They will cost between $2 and $4 moreper tile than your standard square. Edge-detailed tiles may even hide the grid itself, creating a more cohesive look.

Cost to Install a Drop Ceiling Yourself

The interior of a modern villa with drop ceiling
Photo: ExperienceInteriors / E+ / 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.

DIY Drop Ceiling Installation Costs vs. Hiring a Pro

Check with local building codes before attempting to install a drop ceiling yourself. Some towns will require an inspection or a licensed contractor to complete the demolition and installation. If you get the green light, you can find drop ceiling kits that simplify the process for experienced home DIYers.

Calling your local contractor or suspended ceiling installer ensures that the ceiling is measured correctly, installed securely, and up to code with your local laws.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

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