How to cut ceiling tile borders
Here are some of the terms you'll need to know and a few resources to help you prepare.
• Border: The edge of the product that touches the perimeter of the space.
• Border Cut: A cut made on both the ceiling panel and grid at the perimeter of the installation.
• Square Edge: An edge design for acoustical panels that forms a rectangle when viewed from the side.
• Reveal Edge: The edge that will be unfinished once cut - this should face the wall so you can't see the unpainted surface.
• Grid: The structural system of main beams, cross tees, and associated hardware that hangs from the deck above and supports lay-in, concealed, or surface-attached ceiling panels.
For additional terms, visit our ceiling glossary.
Cutting borders for standard panels
Lay-in tiles with a visible grid are most likely going to require a slight trim to fit the edges of your room. Here’s a thorough video on how to measure, cut, and install standard border panels.
Cutting borders for scored panels
Pictured scored panel: FINE FISSURED Second Look
Scored tiles look like 12" x 12" square tiles once installed, but are typically 2’ x 4’. To get your borders as even as possible, calculate them as if you were using a 12" x 12" tile. Example: If the room measures 16' 6" x 24' 4", normal borders for 2' x 2' panels would be 15" on two sides and 14" on the other two sides.
Normal way of cutting ceiling tiles to achieve even borders, note this does not work with a scored tile.
But with scored or patterned panels, your borders will end up looking like a three-inch 12" x 12" border on two sides and a two-inch 12" x 12" border on the other two sides. Here’s how to achieve an even border look using the same room size and scored panels.
A. Take the 16' 16" dimension
Calculate the border for 12" x 12" tile. It would be 9". The size of the 2' x 2' border panel would then be the 9" plus 12", or 21". The grid should be laid out using the 21" dimension in one direction.
B. Take the 24' 4" dimension
Calculate the border for 12" x 12" tile. It would be 8". The size of the 2' x 2' border panel would then be the 8" plus 12" or 20". The grid should be laid out using the 20" dimension in the other direction.
Correct way to cut borders for scored panels to achieve the most even edge look in your space.
Note that when you lay out the grid this way, the grid may not be centered in the room. The look of 12" x 12" tile, however, will be centered with maximized borders. If the scored or patterned panels are removed later and plain or textured panels are used for replacement, the grid may not be centered, and the borders of the new panels may not be seen.
Cutting borders for tegular ceiling panels
Another common border question asks, “how do I cut the panels to fit in my grid?” It’s not as hard as it sounds. Here are step-by-step instructions to achieve the perfect border panel recess.
- 1. Trim the reveal edge border panels to the same dimensions as for flat panels. The reveal edge detail must now be cut into the panel.
- 2. Set the panel into the grid. Draw a light pencil line on the panel using the wall molding as a guide.
- 3. Remove the panel. Use a sharp utility knife and straightedge to cut halfway through the panel from the face side along the pencil line.
- 4. Lay the utility knife on its side next to the panel and, with the panel face up, cut in at blade height for a reveal cut.
- 5. Remove the cut strip.
- 6. Fit the panel into the grid.