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What Are the Pros and Cons of Glue on Ceiling Tiles?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are both pros and cons to installing glue on ceiling tiles to any room, including ease of installation, installation time, and durability. The elimination of edge material makes it more difficult to hide alignment mistakes with these tiles. The extreme tackiness of the ceiling tile glue makes it nearly impossible to correct a misplaced tile once it has begun to set-up. The ability to attach tiles to a ceiling that has no exposed nailing runners is an advantage when choosing tile types. Removing and repairing a damaged glue on tile, however, can be difficult at best.

When choosing glue on ceiling tiles to finish a room, it is important to examine all aspects of the tiles and compare the findings against those of similarly-sized and designed traditional tiles. Unlike traditional tile designs, the glue on tiles do not need evenly-spaced runners to be stapled or nailed to. They need only a flat, clean surface on which the installer can spread the adhesive before placing the tiles on the ceiling of a room. After troweling a thin layer of tile cement on an area of ceiling, the tiles are placed against the ceiling and remain in place while the glue sets, making them nearly permanent.

A positive benefit of the tiles is that an installer is able to arrange the tiles in practically any design conceivable without needing to have support to nail them in place. Other advantages include the ability to cut the border tiles to fit tightly against a wall, and the tendency of the tiles to withstand rough floor traffic on overhead ceilings that also double as upstairs floors. The tiles also aid in sound deadening, helping to quiet the amount of noise transmitted through an upstairs room to the room below it.

Disadvantages of glue on ceiling tiles include the difficulty in removing them if a change in decor is warranted. The tiles often break when attempting to pull them off of the ceiling, and the person removing them may need to use a putty knife to scrape the remnants off. It can also be messy to install these tiles. Drop cloths must be placed under the work area to guard against glue dripping off of tools and the ceiling as it is being applied.

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Discussion Comments
By TreeMan — On Feb 14, 2012

@Izzy78 - I had a lot of the same questions when I was installing my tiles. I wasn't too worried about the weather, though. I was putting up some waterproof ceiling tiles in our bathroom, and wanted to make sure the water and steam and everything wouldn't affect the glue.

You are right that different types of glues are rated for different conditions. If you look on the buckets, they will usually have a little chart showing how the different types of glue from their brand can be used in different situations. I would just find the one that covers your range of temperatures and humidity.

If you still aren't sure about the best choice, I would just go to a place like Lowe's and have one of their people help you find the best product. I'm sure if you did some online searches, you could also find some better suggestions. You could also compare prices and brands before you got to the store.

By Izzy78 — On Feb 13, 2012

Has anyone ever tried using glue with some of the decorative ceiling tiles? We have been shopping around, and I think one of our rooms might look good with some of the metal ceiling tiles. I am not sure if you can glue these up, though. My husband and I are wanting to do all the work on our own, so if they need to be nailed, we'll probably just find something else.

Also, how does the glue respond to changes in temperature? We live in the Midwest, so we see a lot of variation throughout the year. I just want to make sure we get a type of glue that will be able to withstand the highs and lows as well as the high humidity we usually get in the summer. Will the different adhesives tell whether they are rated for certain conditions like that, or are they all basically made the same way?

By jcraig — On Feb 12, 2012

@jmc88 - I have installed those types of ceiling tiles before, but instead of using the dry glue that you have to mix, I just used the tubes of glue that you can put in a caulking gun. I have heard people call it liquid nails before. I don't know if that is technically the right way to do it, but they have been on the ceiling for a little over 3 years now, and none of them have fallen off. Using that type of glue might make things a little bit easier. Keep in mind that the tiles I put up were in the attic where no one really walks a lot.

Whenever we moved into the house, the landing when you got to the top of the stairs had some tiles had had been glued up, but where starting to fall down. I would guess they had been up there a while. Using the glue was pretty easy. I just put a little X across the corners and stuck them up. Good luck with whatever method you end up using.

By jmc88 — On Feb 12, 2012

We are going to be installing some glue up ceiling tiles in the near future, and I was just wondering if anyone here had had any experience with it. Right now, we have either suspended ceilings or else the tiles that are just nailed to the ceiling. We are also planning to do this ourselves to save some money. I don't think it should be too difficult, though. I am pretty good with these types of things.

I think the hardest part will be getting the glue to the right consistency, since I've never used it before. Does anyone have any hint that they have come up with about how to know when the glue has enough water in it? Once you have it mixed, about how long will it stay like that until it starts to dry out?

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