INDIANAPOLIS – We recently had a demonstration on pocket screws, which can be used to join together pieces of wood. You can make things like cabinets, shelves and frames.

Now I’m using pocket screws to make my own drop ceiling, instead of buying a kit at the store.  You can do it as well for about half the price of what you can buy.

My entire basement was almost finished except for a ceiling area that contained the HVAC, pipes and plumbing.  In other areas, I left the ceiling open for an industrial look. 

Another area was drywalled.  In this case I wanted a drop ceiling in case any of the plumbing, pipes or ducts needed to be fixed or changed.  I also wanted an unusual drop ceiling that was easy to remove and comparatively cheap.

I used 1×4 wood to make my own frames to cover the ceiling.  Those frames would be made using pocket screws, some stain and fabric would be stretched across each one.  They are also made to be removable similar to a typical drop ceiling.

The frames I made are very large–5 feet by 6 feet each. They are as big as I could make them, but not quite so big that they couldn’t be removed by one person.

I came up with the panel sizes after measuring the area of the ceiling that needed to be covered and doing a little math. The ceiling is about 35 feet by 13. I figured, I would need 7 frames on one side and 7 frames on the other.

That would leave about a one-and-a-half-foot gap for lights in the center.

Most drop ceilings use wire and a metal grid, but I wanted no grid and an easy way to take them on and off and adjust for level.  If you’re doing this project, determine how many panels you would need and choose the fabric you like. 

If you already have a drop ceiling you want to change and are thinking about changing it out, you can skip the next step and save some money. That’s because you already have the L-shaped wall support that runs around the perimeter.

If you don’t have a drop ceiling already, buy the necessary amount of wall support pieces and screw them in all the way around, perimetic, making sure they’re level.  The supports generally come in 8- to 12-foot lengths. 

On the opposite end of the wall side where it’s going to be held up by the L bracket is where you put on the hooks that hold up the frames to the ceiling.  To make them easier to screw in by hand, you can pre-drill a little holes in the wood.

There are 3 hooks to hold up the frame. One is on the opposite end of the wall supports; the other 2 are on each side of the frame. That one was put in not really for support, but so I could remove or install the frames by myself.  They are big so it’s easier with two people.

Now to the hardware to connect the fabric panels to the ceiling. 

From the ceiling down, I used lag screws that go into the ceiling, a basic connecting clip called a “snap hook.”  Then there was an adjustable steel hook/eye turnbuckle. It then connects to the cup hook that screws into the fabric panels.

This replaces the typical wire method that’s used to suspend the drop ceiling frame. If you want, you can still use wire and probably save some money.  I liked using the turnbuckles as they are adjustable and don’t wear out and can hold a lot of weight if needed.

The panels were actually very light, under 10 pounds, despite covering 30 square feet of ceiling. 

The next step, attach cheap boards on the joists, from one end of the ceiling to the other, above the hooks.  That way I can install the lag screws anywhere I need.

I also put another board above that center hook. I “test installed” all the frames before stapling on the fabric. Once properly spaced and aligned, then I stapled on the fabric. That way there was less chance of damage.   

To install, I stood on a bench, and walked the frame into the L bracket channel, walked back and clipped on that center hook. That’s why I installed that hook, so I could do it by myself.  If clipping on the sides first, it would tip. Next, put in a screw or two through the bracket channel to hold the frames on that end. Then, attach both sides, and adjust height for level if needed.

By the way, there was still a planned 4-inch gap between the frames.  For that, I cut about 8-inch strips off a black vinyl roll and stapled them on one side of the frame.  The vinyl is fairly stiff, so it just rests on the adjacent frame.  That way, you don’t see the ceiling between the frames and you can always get your hand up in there to disconnect or adjust.

With that, 600 square feet of ceiling was covered for about $2,000 in materials.  To buy a nice drop ceiling, it would have been at least double that. If you have Home Zone ideas that you’ve made and taken pictures or videos of, contact me at We would love to feature your project.