Drop Ceiling Tiles Reviews and Cost 2020

Drop or suspended ceilings are used to hide building infrastructure like plumbing and wiring and to keep these systems easily accessible They can also be used to hide damaged ceilings. A drop ceiling consists of an open metal grid hung by wires from the ceiling or walls. The open grids hold ceiling tiles sized at either 2’ x 2’ or 2’ x 4’.

Drop Ceiling Tile Materials

Drop or lay-in ceiling tiles are made out of various materials with each offering different characteristics, prices and styles. Following is a list of the most commonly used materials and their pros and cons.

  • Fiberboard
  • Mineral Fiber
  • Fiberglass
  • Gypsum
  • PVC, Vinyl, or Plastic
  • Metal – Tin, Steel, Aluminum, Copper

Fiberboard

Fiberboard is what you’re used to seeing in traditional drop ceilings. The tiles are usually white, very lightly textured, or with small holes. The holes provide acoustic control abilities. Fiberboard is made from shredded wood fibers combined with a binder and formed into panels.

Fiberboard is the least expensive material used to make ceiling tiles. It can provide acoustic and thermal benefits but is not durable and is susceptible to water damage and staining. They often droop after time in humid conditions. Fiberboard tiles can be painted.

Mineral Fiber

Mineral Fiber is made from recycled materials including newspaper, perlite, fiberglass, and mineral wool combined with binding agents and formed into panels. These tiles are inexpensive but have more acoustical ability than other materials. Mineral tiles have a smooth appearance or small holes, which increase their acoustic properties.

Mineral Fiber tiles are not long lasting or durable. They are prone to water damage, staining, and can sag or become moldy in high humidity. Most Mineral Fiber tiles on the market today are pretreated to provide moisture and mold resistance, but the coating becomes less effective over time.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass ceiling tiles are made from glass fibers encased in resins and formed into panels. Fiberglass tiles have insulating qualities and are very effective at sound absorption, providing better acoustics than Fiberboard or Mineral Fiber. They are also durable and maintenance free. Fiberglass tiles will need professional, or very careful, installation and removal to keep fibers from breaking loose.

Gypsum

Gypsum ceiling tiles are made from gypsum, paper, clay and resin formed into panels. This is the same material as drywall. Gypsum is inexpensive and provides good heat and sound insulation but is very susceptible to damage from water and will stain easily. Gypsum ceiling tiles need to be primed and painted.

PVC, Vinyl, or Plastic

PVC, vinyl, and plastic are all basically the same thing and made the same way, by melting plastic material and forming or molding it into tiles. For simplicity, we’ll refer to these tiles as PVC. PVC is thin, lightweight, durable, and waterproof.

These tiles are extremely versatile and can be found in a wide range of styles and designs. They are available unfinished if you want to paint them yourself, or pre-finished to look like various metals, wood, leather, mirrors, stained glass, and even printed to create murals. Selection is excellent. PVC tiles can warp at temperatures over 120 degrees.

Metal – Tin, Steel, Aluminum, Copper

Metal ceiling tiles are made by stamping or molding designs onto a metal plate. Metal tiles are made from tin plated steel and other types of steel, aluminum, and copper. Many tin plated tile designs are made to replicate the look of antique tin ceilings and are quite decorative and attractive.  All of the tiles are available as unfinished or painted, except solid copper, which is usually just sealed. Some copper tiles are put through an “aging” process, so they show an appealing patina right from the start. Metal ceiling tiles are extremely durable and resistant to fire, water, and mold. Some can be used outdoors. Metal ceiling tiles can make the room noisy, since they echo. Painted metal is a little quieter. Some metals, like copper, are quite expensive.

Top Brand Reviews, Costs, and Where to Purchase

  • U Decor
  • Decorative Ceiling Tiles
  • Ceilume
  • Armstrong

Brand

Material

Profiles

Sizes

Costs

U Décor

PVC

200

2' x 2' and 2' x 4'

$5-$15

Light Lens

20

2' x 2' and 2' x 4'

$20-$28

Fiberglass

2

N/A

$7

Mineral Fiber

4

2' x 2' and 2' x 4'

$7

Tin Plated Steel

12

2' x 2' and 2' x 4'

$10-$20

Wood

7

2' x 2' and 2' x 4'

$22-$40

Decorative Ceiling Tiles

PVC

250+

2' x 2' and 2' x 4'

$13-$17

PVC-Hand Painted

50+

2' x 2' and 2' x 4'

Up to $65

Tin Plated Steel

200+

2' x 2' and 2' x 4'

$11-$37

Aluminum

100+

2' x 2' and 2' x 4'

$11-$29

Copper

100+

2' x 2'

$54-$95

Ceilume

PVC

20

2' x 2'

$6-$14

PVC-Acoustic

2

2' x 2'

$19-$38

Armstrong

PVC

20+

2' x 2'

$4-$17

Mineral Fiber

20+

2' x 2'

$4-$18

Metal (Metallaire)

12

2' x 2'

$35-$45

U Décor

udecor-light-lens

U Décor offers one of the most interesting collections of ceiling tiles including a range of materials and styles. You can find over 200 choices in PVC tiles with styles ranging from ornate antique looks to traditional and contemporary designs. There are tiles with smooth surfaces, panels or coffers, faux metal and wood looks. The cost for 2’ x 2’ PVC tiles is about $5 to $15 per tile.

U Décor also carries a line of PVC tiles called Light Lens which are printed with outdoor scenes including a sky, a beach, trees, flowers, and an underwater scene, as well as tiles that look like stained glass. They form murals, like the Carina Nebula, and you can choose designs from one tile to about 12 depending on the scene. Light Lens prices range from $25 to $28 per 2’ x 2’ tile. 

U Décor also offers Fiberglass tiles at $7 each, Mineral Fiber tiles at $7 each, and tin plated steel tiles at $10 each for 2’ x 2’ tiles and $20 each for 2’ x 4’ tiles. You can also find real wood tiles in maple, cherry, birch, and red oak veneers priced at $22 each for 2’ x 2’ and $40 each for 2’ x 4’ tiles.

U Décor also offers faux leather, faux snakeskin, faux crocodile, mirrored, and fabric covered tiles all available in a variety of colors and priced between $25 and $40 per 2’ x 2’ tile.  Customers give U Décor positive reviews for appearance, quality, and ease of installation. Tiles are available through the website.

Decorative Ceiling Tiles

decorative- tin-plated

Decorative Ceiling Tiles is a brand featured in our reviews of tiles including PVC ceiling tiles and metal tiles.

The company offers over 700 choices of 2’ x 2’ drop ceiling tiles made from PVC, aluminum, solid copper, and tin plated steel. There is a vast selection of styles and solid or hand painted colors.

The aluminum tiles, available in over 140 styles, cost $12 each for unfinished, clear or white coated, which you can paint yourself, or up to $60 each for custom colors and finishes.

Tin plated steel tiles are available in over 175 choices and available in clear coated and a wide variety of powder coated colors including solids and metallics. Prices range from $10 to $38 per tile depending on the color and finish.

Solid copper tiles, the most expensive material, are available in natural or aged in over 100 styles. Prices range from $54 to $95 per tile.

Decorative Ceiling Tiles has PVC tiles in over 250 styles including antique, Art Deco, Greek, retro and contemporary. Some of the more unique styles include deep coffers, woven and lattice patterns. You can find them finished to look like just about anything including metal, wood, leather, distressed metal, and distressed barn wood.

Most of the 2’ x 2’ tiles cost between $13 and $17 per tile for solid and standard colors. There are also intricate, multi-color, hand painted tiles costing up to $65 per tile.

Reviews for Decorative Ceiling Tiles are all positive with customers commenting on the excellent appearance, great value, and ease of installation. Some of their profiles are available on Amazon and at Home Depot under the “From Plain to Beautiful in Hours” line or find them all on their website.

Ceilume

Ceilume-Noise-Reduction

Ceilume offers about 20 profiles of PVC drop in ceiling tiles in two thicknesses. The Featherweight Series is 0.013” thick and the Signature Series is .030” thick, which is thicker than most PVC tiles, making them heavy-duty and more durable. The Featherweight tiles cost $6 per 2’ x 2’ tile and the Signature tiles $14 per 2’ x 2’ tile.

The styles include coffered and panel styles, Victorian, and contemporary looks. The tiles are available in white, off white, sand, red, black and gray, three faux wood, and three faux metal colors.

There are also two acoustic PVC tiles options in the 2’ x 2’ size available in all of the colors listed above. The tiles with a .50 NRC, or Noise Reduction Coefficient, rating cost $19 each and the tiles with a .85 NRC rating cost $38 each. The higher the rating, the more sound the material absorbs.

Ceilume also carries a dust free fiberglass insulation called Soniguard which is placed behind the drop ceiling tiles. Soniguard increases both thermal and acoustic insulation in the room, providing a 6.0 R-Value and up to a .85 NRC rating. The cost is $7.15 per 2’ x 2’ piece.

Ceilume receives exceptional customer reviews for value, authentic appearance, ease of installation, and low maintenance. Some of these tiles can be purchased at Amazon and Home Depot. You can browse and buy all Ceilume ceiling tiles on the brand’s site.  

Armstrong

armstrong-mineral-fiber

Armstrong features drop ceiling tiles in a variety of materials. There are shallow and deeply coffered PVC tiles in white and black with prices between $10 and $17 per tile. Some of the simpler flat PVC tiles cost $4 to $10 each.

The Mineral Fiber tiles are available in a variety of surface and edge treatments including square, tegular, fluted, or scalloped all providing acoustic properties. Mineral Fiber tiles can all be treated for sag, humidity, and mold resistance. They are only available in white but can be painted. Costs range between $4 and $18 per tile.

Armstrong also offers a collection of metal tiles under the Metallaire name in 12 profiles and created to replicate the look of tin ceilings. Colors include chrome, brass, copper, lacquered steel, and white. Metallaire tiles cost between $36 and $45 each.

Armstrong receives very positive customer reviews for appearance, durability, and ease of installation. Armstrong tiles are available at Lowes and local home improvement retailers. See our Armstrong Ceiling Tiles Review for more details.

While not a brand, of course, it’s worth mentioning because Amazon carries a wide variety of drop ceiling tiles in most materials: PVC, tin plated steel, Mineral Fiber, and Fiberglass. You can purchase single tiles or multi-tile packs at discounted prices.

Here are a few of Amazon’s top rated drop ceiling products:

Armstrong Cortega Acoustic Mineral Fiber tiles

Ceilume Stratford PVC tiles

From Plain to Beautiful in Hours faux tin PVC tiles

Installation

If you have an existing drop ceiling grid, you can simply lift out the old tiles and lay in the new tiles. Occasionally, a new tile may need to be trimmed to fit the grid.

If you plan to paint the new tiles, it is recommended that you paint and dry them before placing them into the grid. You can also paint the actual grids at the same time. Check which type of paint is best for the tiles you’ve chosen.

Here is a quick video showing how easy it is to remove old ceiling tiles and replace them with new tiles when the metal grid is in place.

FAQ’s

How do I clean and maintain ceiling tiles?

Ceiling tiles usually only need dusting with a soft brush or cloth or vacuuming with a brush attachment. For heavier dirt wipe with a damp cloth.

Can I paint the tiles?

Yes, even tiles that come pre-finished can be painted. Check with the supplier to find their recommended paint type.

What kind of ceiling tiles are best for areas with high humidity like basements and bathrooms?

Tiles made of PVC and metal are the best choices for these areas, although some of the Mineral Fiber tiles are available with humidity and mold resistant treatments.

Are ceiling tiles recyclable?

All of the listed ceiling tiles can be recycled. Check with you local recycling center for guidelines.

Leave a Comment