I’ve been renovating my old basement in my house (built in 1951).

The basement has some discolored/outdated/sagging drop ceiling tiles which I’d like to replace with new ones.

My issue comes in the fact that there is a Sheetrock(?) ceiling right above the drop ceiling with only about 3” of clearance between the two. This makes it seemingly impossible to take the old tiles out. Breaking the tiles is something I’d prefer to avoid if they’re made with asbestos but also that wouldn’t help me have a solution for installing the new tiles in.

Does anyone have any advice for this? Am I going to have to take down the rails for the drop ceiling?

Picture included. enter image description here

1 Answer 1


That is limited, but should be adequate, space.

Hint - don't start removal at the wall (as appears to be the case in your picture.) There's more maneuvering room out in the field. Take the edge tiles out when you have cleared space beyond them. They may need to go out one of the holes beyond them. Pivot, twist, angle until they slide out the hole in the grid. If rectangular, turn them 90 degrees and they come out easy. That requires dancing around support wires.

More would be nice, and less annoying, to be sure, but they were put in, they can be taken out, and they surely were not laid in the grid and raised up as a whole.

Asbestos is low odds, but test for it if you have concerns before starting work.

  • Awesome. Thank you for the answer. I tried for about 10 minutes and figured I must be doing something wrong. I’ll try again.
    – Mat
    Mar 16, 2022 at 0:06

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