How to Remove Ceiling Tile

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I have basement ceiling tiles that are about 12 inches square, without any visible border between them. Due to a potential leak above one, I need to remove a tile. How can I do this safely?
I can't tell what holds the tiles in place. The tile is made out of a white fiber-like substance, with lots of holes, most likely to absorb sound. Can I just pry around the edges?
Thanks!
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Marissa Taylor wrote:

You ain't gonna like the answer. You start at a wall, remove the trim to expose one edge of tile, and start working backward. Hopefully you guess right the first time and expose the lip with the staples or tacks or whatever. Lotsa luck finding matching tiles if you break any- that stuff is getting rare. Most people end up tearing it all down in frustration, and putting up something else.
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aemeijers wrote:

I swear I saw some of that stuff at Lowe's the other day (well, it was 12" square ceiling tile anyway. I didn't look real close because I was actually there looking for new diffusers for drop ceiling troffers.)
nate
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aemeijers wrote:

That shouldn't be too bad in my case, as the tile in question has only one other between it and the wall. However, an electrician once removed one in the middle of the room to run a thermostat wire. I'm wondering if there is a trick to do that.
My tile wiggles when I press it, but how is attached...
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Marissa Taylor wrote:

they interlock, like tongue and groove flooring. Two edges have tongues, two edges have grooves. One or two edges of each tile will have staples or brads holding it up. usually they're stapled to furring strips, which are nailed to the joists of the floor above.
and if anyone needs some furring strips, I ripped a whole mess of this stuff out of my laundry room a while back. Who needs a ceiling in the laundry room, anyway? Not like you're going to hang out in there while your guests admire the furnace.
nate
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Marissa Taylor wrote:

Hi, Maybe he cut it out and glue it back on?
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Lowes sell several Armstrong tongue and groove 12"X12" tiles. I got them when I had to replace some in my basement. The pattern on it is a little different than my existing ones, but you can't tell the difference. Mine were stapled to furring strips with a T-21 staple gun.
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aem pretty well covered it. The only possibility I see would be to carefully cut along the joints with a razor knife and try to get the tile out without breaking it. There will likely still be a few staples holding it but you might be able to carefully ease it out while ripping the staples out of the back. Probability of removing it and invisibly replacing it is very slim, I think.
If you were lucky, the installer would have stashed some spares somewhere and you would only have to worry about the color match! It is possible that you might be able to find a matching replacement as that type has been very common for a long time.
Don Young
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Marissa Taylor wrote:

Hmm, Hope your access target is near the wall. Most likely they are T&G tiles stapled to the strapping above.
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On Wed, 06 May 2009 19:43:25 -0400, Marissa Taylor wrote:

Here's a picture of one that may be similar to yours.
http://images.lowes.com/product/042369/042369006514.jpg
The flanges interlock, and are stapled to wood strips. If you only need to remove one tile, you may be able to trim around all four sides with a sharp knife. Then reattach the tile with white finishing nails. Be careful, as they break, crack and chip very easily.
If you end up needing new ones, I found plain white tiles (unlike yours, no holes) to match mine at Lowes. I don't recall if they had them with holes.
http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId912-61-231F&lpage=none
They are about $30 for a box of 40 tiles.
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I didn't see anybody caution poster about asbestos. "White,fiber-like substance" rang my bell. Please consider wearing mask and ventilating very well.
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Probably too late but...
Cut a hole in the middle. Break away bit by bit until it is removed. Pull the staples or nails out. With the new tile, cut one of the 'flanges' off (the one that is at a 90 degree to the joist with the staples). Put a drop or two of adhesive on the side where the staples were. Slide the flange into the existing tile and push up on the glued side.
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I'm concerned that my 12" x 12" white ceiling tiles may contain asbestos. They have holes and small etchings in them. However, many fiber based, non-asbestos tiles may look similar and hopefully that is what I have. Short of sending one to a lab, are there any visual differences between harmless fiber ceiling tiles and older ones made of asbestos?
I need to remove one as a pipe appears to be leaking above it, but if asbestos is involved, it will be a whole other project!
Here is what they look like:
Picture of the Tiles:
http://images46.fotki.com/v1506/photos/9/1516349/7568844/IMG_2509-vi.jpg
Picture of a cut tile, where a fixture was hung. Note the almost cardboard brown/orange color of the interior of the tile:
http://images50.fotki.com/v1513/photos/9/1516349/7568844/IMG_2511-vi.jpg
Thanks much!
Marissa Taylor wrote:

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Marissa Taylor wrote:

Marissa,
I haven't a clue whether those tiles have asbestos or not but can tell you that if they were installed after 1980 they should be OK unless someone used old stock.
that said, I'm not nuts about the light in your second picture... what's the deal there? Am concerned about that installation, why is there tile around there and not a proper box?
nate
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Nate Nagel wrote:

I have no idea, as we discovered that after we had purchased the house. Originally the lamp fixture covered the area now visible. It's been that way a long time. I believe there is a box mounted to the joists and the support post now protrudes through the ceiling tiles. After I get this other issue resolved, we'll work on the light.
Unfortunately I have no idea when that ceiling was installed, but the house was constructed in the 1960s.
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Doubt they have asbestos, but a simple dust mask would take care of things. No need to get all hysterical about removing one tile.
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

right... unless the ceiling HAS to come down, so long as the ceiling isn't falling apart (the actual condition is called "friable") you're really not at any significantly elevated risk just leaving it there. The paint is holding all the fibers in place.
Now if you had plans to remodel, the presence/absence of asbestos would be something that you'd want to know.
nate
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It takes a microscope and training to identify asbestos fibers. You'd have to send a sample to a lab and have it tested.

Small quantities aren't a significant risk. However, any asbestos fibers that get into your lungs stay there forever, so exposure should be limited when possible.

No, conventional dust masks are not adquate to stop asbestos fibers. They'll catch clumps of material, but not individual fibers. Takes a real respirator to block it.

No need to take unnecessary chances, though.

Correct; disturbing the fibers is where the problem will arise. I had to go through an asbestos O&M course at the last job; doing abatement properly is a significant undertaking.

Maybe. That's a quirk in the regulations; if you _know_ it contains asbestos, you're required to do full abatement using a certified contractor. If you _don't_ know, you don't have to do full abatement. You can DIY or have work done without the certified contractor, at a much lower cost. Never did quite understand the logic of that.
Gary
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Sounds like a quirk written by the lobbyist for asbestos abatement companies
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Gary Heston wrote:

Right; I was going at it from a common-sense standpoint, not a legal regulation standpoint.
Cannot a homeowner still do their own abatement though, even if asbestos is known to be present? (not that it's relevant to me; I had a ceiling similar to the OP, demo'd it in a day. Done. That's about the only stuff I have around here that looks to be potentially asbestos-containing, save for the floor tile in the basement that I also already removed...)
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