Room with ceiling tiles. (Armstrong / January 27, 2014)

One of the first do-it-yourself projects we attempted was installing patterned ceiling tiles over a less than lovely drywall ceiling pockmarked with small cracks. We were amazed at how that simple improvement added warmth and style to an otherwise ordinary room. It's no surprise that the ceiling is often considered the fifth wall of a room by designers because today there are so many patterns that can create eye-popping appeal.

The tongue-and-groove ceiling tiles, which fit together easily and provide proper alignment, can be installed directly over an existing ceiling with adhesive or wood furring strips so there's no visible grid system. You'll find patterned, smooth and textured tiles sold in cartons of 40 (which cover 40 square feet). To find out how many tiles you need for a room, go to, where you can use a ceiling materials calculator and download installation instructions.

To install ceiling tiles you need basic tools, and if you're looking for an excuse to buy a laser level, this is it. You can use a chalk line and string to ensure the furring strips are level, but a laser is more fun to use. When the tiles are in place, install a decorative molding to conceal the rough edge of the tiles where they meet the wall.

A carpenter will install 12-by-12-inch square ceiling tiles on wood furring strips in a 10-foot-by-12-foot room with ceiling molding for $728. That includes the labor and material. You can buy the materials and do it yourself for $295, a savings of 60 percent.

The project involves removing any existing molding, then fastening furring strips to the ceiling joists, which usually run across the short dimension of the room every 16-inches apart. Then use a stapler to fasten the flange of the tile in the furring strip and as the tiles fit together the tongue-and-groove design conceals the seams. If you plan to paint or stain the ceiling molding as part of the project, it's easier to do it before you install the tiles.

To find more DIY project costs and to post comments and questions, visit and on smartphones.

Pro Cost -- DIY Cost -- Pro time -- DIY Time -- DIY Savings -- Percent Saved

$728-- $295 -- 13.3 -- 17.5 -- $433 -- 60 Percent