What Are Melt Away Ceiling Tiles?

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray

Melt Away, or drop-out ceiling tiles, can be an attractive choice to finish your building without the worry of working around other fixtures, like indoor sprinklers. As one of the lower-cost alternative options, many building contractors favor these melt away ceiling tiles to other materials due to their versatility, ease of installation, and sleek appearance.

But what are melt away ceiling tiles? Melt away ceiling tiles are used in ceiling grid systems (suspended/drop ceilings) and have a distinctive attribute of shrinking and melting away once they reach an extreme temperature of 170°F (76°C), or higher, to enable the installed sprinkler system to engage as required.

The advantages of melt away ceiling tiles make this material an economical option for many buildings. Installation of these tiles is easy for virtually anyone to implement, and the maintenance is minimal. I’ll cover a few of the basics below.

Benefits of Melt Away Ceiling Tiles

Listed below are just a few of the many benefits to utilizing this material for your ceiling.

  • Many builders consider using melt away ceiling tiles after installing an indoor sprinkler system. The ability for this material to shrink away when faced with a fire enables the builder to work with freedom, rather than modifying the sprinkler system to fit a proper ceiling.
  • This option is a good choice for DIY owners who wish to save money on building costs and decide to finish a room on their own rather than having a professional contractor to complete the work. The tools necessary to install melt away ceiling tiles are minimal and do not require intensive labor.
  • These tiles are recognized as a safe option for building code requirements, while still giving the room an appearance of a sleek, uncluttered style. By hiding unsightly wiring, ductwork, plumbing, and sprinklers, the room becomes more appealing for both homes and offices.
  • Melt away ceiling tiles give the extra protection you may need for your installed sprinkler system. By having a dropped ceiling lower than the indoor sprinklers, you eliminate the chances of having them damaged.
  • Ceiling tiles can help control any excessive noise in a room by muffling sounds. Not only are they cost-effective and attractive, but they can also help keep noise levels from echoing throughout a large room.
  • Utilizing melt away ceiling tiles can allow easy access to the open space above the ceiling where cables, plumbing, ductwork, or wiring is hidden. It is a lot easier to remove a ceiling tile to have access to a plumbing leak and perform maintenance than it would be to remove a drywall ceiling.
  • The reduced space in the room with a dropped ceiling that houses melt away ceiling tiles could result in savings on your energy bills. With less space in the room to heat or keep cooler, your utility costs may be significantly lower than that of a traditional ceiling.

Melt Away Ceiling Tiles Are Inexpensive

The cost of melt away ceiling tiles is a positive alternative to other more expensive options available in the market today. It is simple to lay in or drop a manufactured ceiling tile into the installed grid system and easily trim if needed.

Individual ceiling tiles can be replaced straightforwardly and economically if needed, without having to pay for a professional to complete the work. Melt away ceiling tiles can be purchased in a variety of package sizes to suit any building needs, so you do not have to obtain a large number of tiles if they are not required.

By using the drop out ceiling method, lower-priced sprinkler systems that are not always aesthetically pleasing can be utilized since they are concealed by the melt away tiles. Additional finishing touches on sprinklers are not needed during installation, since they are not fixed into the ceiling, but rather, above it, saving additional building costs.

Melt Away Ceiling Tile Material

Don’t confuse melt away ceiling tiles with regular ceiling tiles. There is actually a significant difference between these types. Traditional ceiling tiles can consist of a variety of materials, including compressed fibers, metal, mineral pulp, recycled materials, and cellulose. Melt away ceiling tiles are produced with expanded polystyrene board (EPS), or vinyl, which will begin to melt and shrink when coming in contact with temperatures over 170°F (76°C).

Traditional ceiling tiles will have a fire rating to help deter a fire from spreading in a building. Melt away ceiling tiles should not have a fire rating at all, as the entire purpose of them is to melt in extreme heat and allow overhead sprinklers to activate.

Installation of Melt Away Ceiling Tiles

Installing melt away ceiling tiles is a relatively simple process that any DIYer can perform with a few basic tools. These tiles fit into a metal framework called a T-bar ceiling grid that is suspended by wires from the main beams in your ceiling.

This comprehensive video shows how uncomplicated it can be to install a drop out ceiling on your own.

Take care when installing melt away ceiling tiles so that you do not use them in any areas around chimneys, heater vents, steam pipes, or other intense hot surfaces. Doing so can compromise the integrity of the tiles.

Maintenance of Melt Away Ceiling Tiles

If you are looking for a hassle-free, light maintenance ceiling option, melt away ceiling tiles could be your answer. This material is easy to clean by regular dusting and using traditional soap and water. If any tiles become damaged for any reason, they can be replaced easily with a different one, without having to replace the entire ceiling.

Drop out ceiling tiles that are installed directly below sprinklers cannot be painted or altered in any way. Any modifications can compromise the integrity and may keep them from properly functioning when faced with extreme temperatures. Any alterations to melt away ceiling tiles will also void any warranty in place.


Melt away ceiling tiles are a fantastic option for installing a dropped ceiling below an already-installed indoor sprinkler system. By utilizing tiles that will melt away and drop when encountering extreme temperatures, hidden sprinklers can activate and help preserve any further building damage from a fire.

Not only are they useful, but melt away ceiling tiles are economical, attractive, low maintenance and help provide a productive sound barrier. With all of these advantages, it is no wonder that so many buildings have used them in successful construction projects around the world.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.