Planning Ceiling Tile Layouts with Precision Tile


Below are a few tips to help users plan a ceiling tile layout with Laurel Creek Software's Precision Tile program. Precision Tile is a software tool originally created to help plan ceramic tile layouts but it is just as effective when planning ceiling tile layouts as we'll see below.

Planning the Ceiling Layout

As with a tiled floor, we start by drawing the room layout (see the Precision Tile help for additional details). But instead of drawing intrusions like cabinets, toilets, etc. we need to plan for ceiling intrusions like lighting, forced air vents, bulkheads, soffits, etc. Unlike floor tile, it is important that the ceiling grid not intersect with intrusions like can lights or vents. So once you have set your layout, Precision Tile will allow you to easily move your grid around to avoid these intrusions and find the optimum layout.

Step 1 - Create the Tile Area

In this example we will assume you have a simple rectangular room with a 12"x16" bulkhead on the east wall. You can choose to draw your ceiling plan in a top-down view or a bottom-up view. In this case we will use a top-down view. Select the Rectangle tool    and draw out the rectangle to represent the room by clicking and dragging with the mouse. You may find it easier to set the exact dimensions by right-clicking on the rectangle and selecting the Set Dimensions option from the menu.

NOTE: Rooms with more complex shapes can be drawn using the Polygon  tool.
With the rectangle selected, click on the Fill Style    button and select tile. This will bring up the Edit Tile Pattern dialog, where you can select the desired tile size, colour, pattern etc. For ceiling tile you will typically select the Grid pattern. Some other possibilities include BasketWeave and Brickwork. If you have two colours of tile you could also use the Checkerboard or Checkerboard II patterns.

Next, go to the Grout tab and set the grout width to 0.95" (15/16"). This represents the visible width of the grid tees. You may want to set the tile grout colour to something other than white to help it stand out. In this example we are using black.

Now return to the Tile 0 tab and use the chart below to set the tile size:

Nominal Tile SizeSuspended (24" centers) CeilingLink (24 1/8" centers)
2' x 2' 23.05" x 23.05" 23.175" x 23.175"
2' x 4' 23.05" x 47.05" 23.175" x 47.175"

You can set the tile colour to off-white or use a bitmap image of your tile for the Tile Colour. The following websites have tile images that you can download:

Empire West - specialty and decorative ceiling panels
Surfacing Solution - vinyl faced ceiling panels
ISC Supply

Just right-click on the image of the ceiling tile and select Save Image As. Then use Microsoft Paint or a similar program to convert the image file into a format suitable for use in Precision Tile. That is, a Windows Bitmap format (.bmp) approximately 100x100 pixels.

You can use the pattern Angle to set your tiles in the vertical or horizontal position (0 or 90 degrees respectively). You can also set the angle to 45 degrees - a good choice if your walls are out of square.

For this example we have chosen to start with 2x4' tiles set in the vertical direction.

Step 2 - Draw the Obstructions

Obstructions in a ceiling plan include the room's walls, bulkheads, soffits, lighting, vents and other fixed objects. For this example we have four fixed can lights, a forced air vent and a bulkhead on the eastern wall. We will draw the can lights using the Ellipse tool    and then use the duplicate button (right-click on the can light object) to make three copies. You can use any colour or bitmap file to act as the fill for your obstructions. Use the Rectangle tool    to draw the air vent and bulkhead. Once your obstructions are completed you can now see where the grid will land relative to the obstructions.

Step 3 - Make Adjustments

You can adjust the position of the tiles using the Tile Scrolling tool   . As you can see below, if we went ahead and simply balanced the pattern so that we had equal sized tiles along opposite walls, the grid would end up colliding with two of the can lights and the forced air vent.

Using the scrolling tool we can experiment with different layout options to avoid running into the obstacles while still maximizing the ceilings aesthetic appeal. We can also try rotating the tile horizontally or even using 2x2 tiles to see how that would look. Below is our completed drawing.

Once you have finalized your layout you can use the Tape Measure tool    to check dimensions in your drawing. Just click and drag from the start to end point. The measurement will appear above the line as you draw it out. The line will automatically disappear when you release the mouse button.

To Learn More

If you would like to learn more about Precision Tile please visit our website or send an email to