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I am not sure what it was about the 80s, I mean don’t get me wrong, it was a great decade (I’m an 80’s baby!) but the home decor and design ideas from that decade were interesting, to say the least. The house I grew up in had green shag carpet, orange countertops and carpet in the kitchen! Oh my!

Now our farmhouse hasn’t been updated since the 80s. The living room had green and white laminate tile, (you can read all about that here) and laminate and traditional wood throughout the entire rest of the house. And in the kitchen a drop ceiling with fluorescent lights. There were actually fluorescent lights throughout most of the house. They were an affordable lighting solution back in the day. But times have changed! Which brings me to today’s post. How we demo’d our drop ceiling in the kitchen and removed the fluorescent lights.

A side view of a kitchen with a u-shape and a long island with a 1 foot drop ceiling above with fluorescent lights

This was a project we knew we wanted to tackle from the beginning but we knew it would be time-consuming and lots of electrical would need to be done.  I was recently talking to my bestie, Ashley about this and she mentioned that her hubby had experience installing recessed lights and she offered their help to tackle this project. So we set the date and got to work.

The nice thing about this drop ceiling was that originally the entire kitchen was covered in drywall and this drop ceiling was added onto that. This meant that we just needed to remove the drop frame that was built and the fluorescent lights. Another interesting fact about this house is that the kitchen ceiling is actually about 18″ below the attic space. So at one point the kitchen ceiling was taller and was “dropped” not once but twice! We have no plans at the moment though to take it back up to the original height.

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Materials Used to Remove Drop Ceiling

 Removing Fluorescent Lights

Our first step was to remove the lighting. The lights were covered by plastic sheets inserted on a metal frame. so down those came. The lights came next. It was definitely helpful to have two of us to help take down these metal light covers as they were very heavy.

A man working on remove a metal frame that contained fluorescent kitchen lights

Most importantly make sure  your breaker is shut off. We used work lights that plugged in to keep a light in our work space.

And it was very helpful to close off all the other spaces so that that dust and debris stayed in one place.

View from the kitchen to a dining room and stairwell that are covered with plastic sheeting

Looking at a man from the floor toward the ceiling as he removes a metal fluroescent light cover

We did stumble upon some “interesting” electrical work during our removal of the light that was over the sink. It was plugged into an outlet that was near the ceiling, we never used this light so it wasn’t a big deal to us but the electrical was definitely a little skeptical.

A close up look at a hole in a yellow wall with a plug-in leading out of it near the ceiling

Removing the Drop Ceiling Frame

After the lights were removed the next step was to remove the frame that created the drop ceiling. The nice thing about this is that this “drop” was added after the rest of the ceiling so there would be minimal drywall repair at the end. Justin cut the drywall loose with his Milwaukee multi-tool which made removing the drywall and frame a little easier with less mess.

A man using a multi-tool to cut around the top of a drop ceiling

Viewing up toward the drop ceiling with some drywall removed

A man demoing drywall with a hammer in a drop ceiling frame

After all the drywall was removed we were left with the wood frame that had been bolted to the ceiling and nailed into each wall. Justin and Brad removed this in sections, first remove the bolts from the ceiling and then using his Sawzall to cut through the nails attaching it to each wall.

Drywall removed from the drop ceiling wood frame and the frame is exposed

Two men removing a wood frame drop ceiling, one man holding the frame while the other cuts nails

This is where Ashley and I came in and started to help clean up the space as best as possible so they could start working on electrical. Be prepared for a lot of dust! I am still finding dust in spots even though I wiped down and mopped!

A countertop covered in drywall debris and dust

A view of the drop ceiling removed and shows untextured drywall where the drop part was

Installing Can Lights

Now I am not going to get too technical on the electrical instruction because well for one it’s complicated and you should definitely hire an electrician for the wiring part and two I just don’t understand it all myself. We were lucky enough to have our friend who is an electrician guide Justin and Brad through the process.

A man using a hole saw to drill a hole for can lights

Luckily Justin and Brad had both had experienced before drilling the holes for can lights so Brad brought the hole saw drill bits that we would need. The 6″ hole saw drill bit was used for the can light and the 4″ was used for the lights over the island and the sink.

A man using a smaller hole saw to drill holes over the kitchen island for pendant lights

Two men pulling wire through drilled holes in the ceiling

While we were adding the can lights to the kitchen we decided to add lights in the hall that leads to the garage as it is always very dark.

We were only able to completely finish two of the lights with bulbs this day because we ended up grabbing the wrong lights for the other cans. We went back to Home Depot the next day to get the correct ones. I feel like I live in that place sometimes, anyone else!!??

A side view of a kitchen with clean countertops and new can ligths installed

So above is the finished look of the kitchen that night after I had cleaned and mopped. Of course, you can tell this was before we took our trip to Home Depot. I will be sharing in another post all the finishing details of the new lights installed over the island and sink and show the updated space with drywall patched, textured and painted!

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2 Comments on How To Remove a Drop Ceiling

  1. Looking good! It’s always interesting what you find as far as electrical in an old house! My house is a 1960’s ranch and I found some interesting things in my kitchen when I was replacing the light fixtures! lol!

    Tania

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