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I'd like to repair this hole, but I am running into trouble as I've tried rotating the fallen tiles every which way, but nothing seems to work. Don't know if I have to start from or work back to the edge of the ceiling, and/or if I need new tiles (I only show one, but given the fact that they were loose and fell on their own, I don't want to rule that out) to replace the fallen ones.

hole in ceiling back of fallen tile front of fallen tile

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

I think you may need a whole bunch of new ones, or a completely different ceiling system (as you prefer). Those should be attached to the ceiling structure, and the backside of the fallen one looks like parts that should support it are ripped away.

It's been a long time since I have used any of these - I vaguely recall that they would latch into others on two sides, covering the fasteners (staples, usually) of the ones they locked into, get stapled on the exposed sides, and have the next tile cover up their staples. So your expectation of having to work to a wall sounds about right.

A grid-type suspended ceiling system is similar, but gives better access above it if needed as the panels just sit in the frame; though it takes up a bit more headroom (which you might not want in a basement.) You could drywall and have similar height (it may be "louder", though), or you can find this type of acoustic tiles (but you're probably going to have to replace them all, for color & pattern match if nothing else. 30-40 years of aging shows when you put a new one right next to it.)

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+1 My office ceiling uses similar tiles, they are supported on a metal lattice (itself hung by wires from concrete slab). The tiles hide the lattice from view below. Removing and installing tiles is a complex matter of sliding, lifting and rotating. Sometimes you have to remove adjacent tiles first, because there are luminaires at three-tile intervals which block movement. –  RedGrittyBrick Jan 3 at 11:21
    
+1, I think the height with these tiles installed is about 6', How low from the floor joists does the grid type suspended ceiling have to hang? –  BigHomie Jan 3 at 11:21
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@MDMoore313 - I have managed to hang the metal grid structure for a suspended ceiling with about 2.5 inches between the top of the grid and the bottom of the joists. This gets to be pretty tight for getting the tiles up into the space above the grid so that they can then be moved over and dropped into place. A larger spacing is definately recommended but when head clearance is limited a smaller spacing can be worked with. –  Michael Karas Jan 3 at 13:14
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