I was bored of the drywall ceiling in my son’s room so I thought some ceiling tiles would be cute! The good news is that installing these faux tin ceiling tiles can be a pretty easy and budget friendly way to add a decorative touch to the ceiling. Ready for a guide on how to install Styrofoam ceiling tiles?!
how to Install Styrofoam Ceiling Tiles
Let’s start with the video tutorial so you get an overview on what I did. Then, I’ll dive in with more details below:
If the video doesn’t work here, you can watch it on YouTube here. It’d mean so much if you’d watch the video! I’m trying to get better at my video skills so I can grow my YouTube channel. If you have a few minutes to watch this and/or subscribe, I’d so appreciate it.
Here’s the steps on how to install Styrofoam Ceiling Tiles-
- Measure the Ceiling
- Paint Ceiling Tiles
- Figure out the Layout and Mark it
- Glue the Tiles to the Ceiling
- To Trim the Tiles, use Scissors or a Utility Knife
- Add Caulk in the Seams
- Cover the Caulked Seams with Paint
Let’s dive in deeper for how to do each step.
- Styrofoam ceiling tiles (1 box- 128 square feet)
- Loctite Adhesive (I used 3 bottles)
- Caulk (I used 3 bottles)
- Latex Paint- Frosted Sage by Behr (I used maybe 1/8 of a gallon)
step 1- measure
Start by measuring the dimensions of your ceiling to determine how many tiles you need to order. To do this, measure the length and width of the ceiling and figure out the square footage (I like to plug my measurements into this site for an easy calculation. Add 15% extra for overage and cuts.
Sketch out the floor plan and note the measurements. They’ll be helpful later in the figuring out the layout.
Order the ceiling tiles. I ordered a box of 48 that’ll cover 128 square feet. The shipping got delayed on my big box so I ordered 5 separate packs of 8 from Amazon that had faster shipping. Those came in quicker, but each pack was dented and damaged. The bigger box arrived in time and each tile was in perfect condition.
It seemed like the box was packaged and then stored in the warehouse in a box and the packs were in bags in a warehouse which led to damage. It might have been a fluke, but it saved me money buying the bigger box and they came in better condition so I’d suggest that option if it works for your ceiling square footage. Note, they also come in a box of 96.
step 2- paint
Unfortunately, the painting step of this project is slow. I timed myself and the first coat takes about 4-5 minutes per tile. Getting the paint in the detailed areas takes a lot of effort.
Apply paint in the decorative areas in a cross hatch motion to get full coverage.
Paint in one direction and then rotate the brush 90 degrees and cover the same area to get in all the grooves and crevices.
For the second coat, I found it helpful to hold the tile up to the window to see where it most needed more paint.
The good news is that the second coat takes 2-3 minutes. I am painting 40 ceiling tiles so it took over 5 hours of painting. It’s definitely a tedious step. Though, I figure, it’s much better to paint them on a table top rather than over my head on the ceiling.
Another item to note, when painting, the styrofoam ceiling tiles need to sit and dry before being stacked. So I had a few rooms covered in ceiling tiles drying between and after coats of paint. It took up a bunch of space and I didn’t anticipate it! So I thought I’d mention it.
step 3- layout
And now, figure out the layout for how the Styrofoam ceiling tiles will be placed on the ceiling. Start by seeing if you put the tiles in the center of the ceiling and work outward if the pieces at the edges are a good size (not small slivers). This will help create a symmetrical and balanced design.
I suggest taping the tiles to the ceiling to see how they work on your ceiling. Note- I taped up extra unpainted tiles so I didn’t accidentally mess up the paint job.
To plan my layout, because the ceiling is an odd L shape, we sketched out the shape of the ceiling with the measurements. Then we did the math and saw if we started the 19.5″ ceiling tiles 4″ from the wall, how much of a tile would be left when it hits the other wall. My goal is to only use pieces 4″ or bigger so they’re easy to cut and glue on the wall.
Once we figured one side, we saw how it hits the other direction. We ended up starting 16″ from the window wall to have a good size piece on the other side. These measurements also worked well on all sides of the L shape.
It took us about an hour to figure out the layout. I know that is a lot of time, but knowing the ceiling tiles will look nice on every wall was worth it. The layout is important and is key to the end result looking nice.
Now that the layout is determined, mark your starting line. To do that, mark the center of each wall and snap a chalk line on it. We measured out 4″ from our straight wall and then used a straight edge to connect the marks.
We drew on an L shape with pencil since finding the center in our room doesn’t really work or make sense with the built-in bed.
step 4- installation
Ensure that the ceiling surface is clean, dry, and free from any dust or debris. If needed, clean the ceiling thoroughly before starting the installation. We had a few screws that weren’t flush with the ceiling we also removed. Those have been bugging me for years so that was nice to finally remove!
For the installation, start on the pencil line you marked in the last step and work your way out. Make sure the tile edges are touching each other and that the corners are aligned.
Apply Loctite Adhesive evenly to the back of a ceiling tile. Press the Styrofoam ceiling tiles onto the ceiling, aligning it with your predetermined layout. I am really happy with the Loctite- it holds immediately. I put the Loctite in my Caulk gun to dispense it.
Apply even pressure to ensure proper adhesion. I like to press my hand onto the tile wherever I put the glue to make sure they’re flush to the ceiling.
I found it helpful to have a damp paper towel handy incase some of the adhesive gets on the front of the ceiling tile.
Repeat this process for each tile, working your way across the ceiling. Go slow and make sure the tiles are sitting flush to each other and staying lined up. Start by laying all of the full tiles.
For going around the edge of the room, cut the styrofoam tiles. To find the correct length, measure how far away the full ceiling tile is from the wall.
Using a tape measurer, mark the dimensions on the back of the Styrofoam tiles. I like to measure both sides of where the tile will hit the wall in case it’s not the same.
I draw both those measurements on either side of the back of the tile and then draw a line with a straight edge to connect them.
Start by cutting the biggest pieces needed and working down to the smallest pieces. You can use a utility knife or scissors to cut the tiles to the required size. I prefer using scissors. Be careful when cutting the tiles as they tear easily or can be dented.
Next, hold the cut piece in place on the ceiling and make sure it fits. This is called a dry fit.
If it fits, add the adhesive to the back of the tile before adhering it to the ceiling.
We have an outlet in our ceiling. It’s weird, but it’s one of two outlets so it gets used a lot. For that, I measured where it will hit on the ceiling tile and then cut it out with an exact knife.
I used this same method for going around my light fixture. Because the base of my light is round, I used my paint lid to trace the rounded shape on the ceiling tile before cutting. These were my hardest cuts!
step 5- finish work
Finally, use caulk to fill any gaps or seams between the tiles and along the wall on the sides of the tiles for a seamless look. This step will enhance the overall appearance of the ceiling. My ceiling color was showing in some places and the tiles weren’t perfectly flush in a few spots. Caulk covers these issues.
Clean up any excess adhesive or caulk before it dries with a wet rag. This will ensure a clean and professional-looking installation. Caulking took me about 2 hours and was honestly a little miserable. This step can be skipped, but it helps with the overall look and I’m a perfectionist so I did it even though I hated it- lol.
Note, be careful when caulking as it’s easy to dent the ceiling tiles with the head of the caulk. The tiles are delicate.
Let the caulk dry and then paint over it with the same color paint as the ceiling tiles. Make sure the adhesive is throughly dry before painting.
It was really exciting seeing the ceiling come together- I think it looks so beautiful!
It’s a high end look and feels glamorous. Much fancier than you’d think styrofoam can look!
We took my son to New York last year and ate at a fancy restaurant. My son says it reminds him of that- which I love.
I love touring old homes and one thing I always notice are the interesting ceilings. It’s another place to add personality and pattern that really helps with the overall vibe of the room.
I’m so happy with how the room came together. I worked so hard on it and now it’ll be nice to enjoy this new aspect of the room.
benefits of styrofoam ceiling tiles
Insulation– they help maintain the temperature of a room. With both cool and hot temperatures.
Cover a popcorn ceiling– if it’s in stable condition. The ceiling tiles can also go over stucco or plaster- it’s a great way to totally change up the look of a ceiling.
Easy to install– these can be put up with minimal tools and skills. They are lightweight which help with the ease of installation.
Noise barrier– the ceiling tiles can dampen noise. They don’t totally soundproof a room, but they definitely help with sound.
Beautiful– they have the look of a tin ceiling and add a high end looking pattern to the ceiling. They come in a wide variety of styles so you can find a good look for your home.
cons for styrofoam ceiling tiles
Flammable– because they are styrofoam, they are flammable. I didn’t know this until after I’d done the installation and honestly I am not happy this wasn’t disclosed on the product information page. I research my projects well before starting and none of the reviews or tutorials I watched and read covered this.
If I was starting again, I wouldn’t put these in a bedroom. In the case of a house fire they’ll burn, they can melt/drip, and the styrofoam releases toxic gases while burning. Knowing that, this will probably be a temporary solution for in here.
Denting– The stryrofoam ceiling tiles are a little delicate. The caulk gun and scissors can dent them when installing. You have to treat them with a light hand and be careful to keep them in good condition.
Will these work in a bathroom? Yes. That’d be very cute. If they get dirty and there is excess moisture, mold can grow on them. So make sure there’s a fan or adequate ventilation in the room.
Could these be used in a rental? They’re so lightweight I bet they could be installed with command strips! I definitely think it’d be worth trying!
For this project, here’s what I spent-
- Styrofoam ceiling tiles $181
- Loctite Adhesive $20
- Caulk $0 (had on hand)
- Latex Paint- Frosted Sage by Behr $38
The total for the faux tin ceiling tiles in my room is $240. A bigger room will be more and a smaller room will be less. I feel like the price is good for the look. Especially because I could install them on my own.
Alright, so that’s how to install styrofoam ceiling tiles. Please let me know if you have questions in the comments of this video.
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