How To Install A La Maison Styrofoam Ceiling Tiles by Ron Hazelton
The other day, my wife was looking at our dining room ceiling, wondering what can be done to give it a bit more interest. An online search led her to this decorative ceiling tile website. She came across this expanded polystyrene design, part of the company's A La Maison collection and ordered a couple of samples. When the tiles arrived, one of the first things I noticed was how lightweight they were. So before we committed to putting up an entire room of these tiles, I thought well, why not put a couple up just to sort of get the effect? So here's one of the tiles right here, and I cut some masking tape; I'm just gonna roll this up here so that the sticky side is out and apply this to the back of the tile. Now, what this is going to do is allow me to get an idea of what these will look like without putting any kind of permanent adhesive on the back. Use the flat of my hand here, push it up. There! I can begin to get some idea of how it's going to change the appearance of the room.
Laying out the tile pattern typically involves using intersecting lines to find the center of the room, then installing the tiles from there outward, using the lines as guides. To do that, we measure each wall. Then locate and mark the center point. We do this on all four walls. Next, I drive in a small finish nail on the mark. Loop one end of a chalk line over the nail, move to the opposite wall, locate the center mark there, pull the line taught and snap. I repeat the process for the remaining two walls. The point where the two chalk lines cross is the exact center of the ceiling. It's also the original location of the chandelier. However, in this room the chandelier has been moved a bit to allow it to hang directly above the dining table. I'd also like the chandelier to be in the exact center of the tile. So, I offset the starting point to accommodate this.
The tools and materials required for this installation are simple and readily available. Because the polystyrene tiles are so lightweight, they can be installed using a high-tech, instant grab adhesive like this one. I cut the tapered nozzle so that it will produce a medium width bead. Using the built-in piercing tool on the caulk gun, I puncture the seal at the base of the nozzle and then load the cartridge. The adhesive is best applied in dime-sized dabs, spaced about 6 inches apart. I begin installation starting at the chalk line intersection. I'm lining the edge of the tile with the lines of the ceiling. Once the tile is in position, I press it firmly using the flat or palm of my hand. Putting up the full tiles goes quite quickly. Here's where having a second person to apply the adhesive to save time and avoid a lot of trips up and down the ladder. It's important to make sure the tiles are pushed tightly together, the corners are aligned and that the edges follow the chalk guidelines.
To cut and fit the tiles around the perimeter of the room, I measure the distance from the last full tile to the wall, or in this case, the crown holding. I make two measurements, since the distances may not be the same. Then transfer those measurements to a tile, align the straight edge with the marks and cut through the tile using the utility knife. A couple of tips here: place a sheet of cardboard or other soft material on top of the work table This will reduce drag on the blade as it cuts through, and keep the blade sharper longer. I find the utility knife with a snap-off blade makes it quick and easy to restore a sharp cutting edge. Making two or three passes with light pressure, produces a clean, smooth cut.
Cutting out for electrical boxes can be easily done after the tiles are installed. Before taking the chandelier down, I make sure to turn off the power at the circuit breaker panel. Now, using a utility knife, I can simply insert the blade, carefully cut my way to the edge of the box, and the use the box as a template.
There are a couple of ways to cut openings for air conditioning or heating ducts. One method is to measure the distance from adjacent tiles to the edges of the opening, and transfer those measurements to a tile. To avoid drawing on the face of the tile, I use painter's masking tape. Another approach is to place the tile in position then use the edge of the opening as a cutting guide.
Although the tile seams are barely visible, they can be sealed with acrylic painter's caulk. Cut the cartridge nozzle to provide an opening that's about an eighth of an inch in diameter. This will reduce the likelihood of overfilling the joint. Smooth the caulk with your finger and clean up any excess with a damp cloth. These tiles can be painted after installation, or can be ordered pre-painted from the supplier.
That's it! The elegance of an embossed ceiling in a matter of hours! And at a very affordable cost! An ideal do it yourself home improvement!