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FAQs

Mounting Brutal tiles into your standard drop ceiling grid is easier than any acoustic ceiling tile.

Where ours differ is in material, design, and versatility.

  • MATERIAL: While standard tiles get soggy and decay with mold, crumble and ding if not handled carefully, rain unhealthy dust and debris, Brutal tiles are made from super thin, very flexible, rugged, sanitary exterior-grade PVC that will never rot or decay.  Their flexibility makes them easy to install, but once placed in the grid, they become rigid and look like a Mid-Century-Modern Michaelangelo carved them out of Carrara marble!

  • DESIGN: Where standard tiles are ugly and mundane, Brutal tiles offer an array of elegant three-dimensional designs in bright white with a hyper-modern touch.

  • VERSATILITY: Standard tiles really only have one way to install, whereas Brutal tiles can be rotated, flipped, and swapped to create anything from a uniform grid to a dynamic and eye-catching ceiling landscape.

 
The following contains everything you need to know about Brutal tiles. These frequently asked questions cover installation tips and tricks, the benefits of PVC tiles, our fire certifications and more.

ARE BRUTAL TILES COMPATIBLE WITH STANDARD DROP CEILING GRIDS?

Our designs are only intended to work with the standard 15/16" wide ceiling grid, the norm in most drop ceilings today. Some of our tiles can also be glued to a flat surface.

CAN I USE BRUTAL CEILING TILES UNDER MY OLD UGLY ACOUSTIC TILES?

Yes!  Save your old acoustic tiles! In many cases, Brutal tiles will be installed where there are already existing acoustic tiles. In some cases, the acoustic tiles can be placed diagonally above the Brutal tiles or sitting directly on our tiles. This also avoids discarding a large volume of mineral tiles. Any tile that has less than 1.4” protruding above the grid plane will allow this. This includes Bilbao, Brasilia, Blox. All of the other designs would have to be only pointing downwards to work, or the ones pointing upwards would not have the mineral tiles above. This should still give some acoustic properties. Installation is tricky as the access is necessary though the next opening to hold the acoustic panel up while the Brutal tile is placed. The other tile options that point upwards require a minimum of 2 1/4” clearance above the grid plane, so extra clearance must be created, or they sit on the diagonally placed mineral tiles if 5/8” thick or greater.  For more detailed installation instructions, click here 

WHAT DO I NEED TO INSTALL BRUTAL CEILING TILES?

Suggested tools / supplies:

  • Step ladder

  • Patient helper (to hand you the next tile and verify correct placement)

  • Clean gloves for you and helper (to avoid accidentally getting fingerprints on tiles)

  • Surface cleaner, Goo Gone or isopropyl alcohol to remove fingerprints

  • Paper towels

  • Hand broom (PVC may pick up dirt through static attraction)

  • Utility knife or scissors if cutting holes for sprinklers or light fixtures

WHY IS PVC BEST FOR CEILING TILES?

PVC (vinyl) is a very versatile material, where depending on additives, can be hard and structurally stable like our tiles or soft and rubbery like a pool toy or shower curtain.  It is the third most commonly made polymer after polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).  For a deep dive, click here

 

ARE BRUTAL TILES UV STABLE?

Our formulation includes UV stabilizers that make it ideal for interior use. The same formulation is used for exterior siding and rain gutters. Why is this important even for an interior use product? If a non-UV stabilized material is used with florescent lighting or even sunlight shining through a window, there is sufficient UV light to discolor the surface over time and make it look tired and dingy. We at Brutal Ceilings experimented with samples from several manufacturers before selecting this formulation.  If you wish to put it on the outside of a building, it is advisable to paint it with an exterior paint.

CAN BRUTAL TILES BE PAINTED?

So, you love the 3D shapes of Brutal tiles, but your space calls for a color other than white? If it is a big job of more than 5000 tiles, we can get a custom run of plastic made, but requires the purchase of the material up front.  For a few hundred parts, painting is the better choice.  Here is what to do:To prep tiles for painting, first clean the surface with soap and water, or water with TSP and rinse. No need to scuff or sand.You can paint the tiles with several methods:Paint PVC tiles with a spray can:
  • Krylon Fusion for Plastic Spray
  • Rust-Oleum Paint for Plastic Spray (even shows a PVC molded chair on the label)
Paint PVC tiles with a spray gun / roller / brush: See Blog
  • Sherwin Williams VinylSafe 100% acrylic latex – wide range of color options

ARE PVC TILES EASY TO CLEAN?

HOW DO YOU CLEAN BRUTAL CEILING TILES?

We recommend wearing clean gloves or wash hands often when handling Brutal tiles. The perimeter is cut with a trim press, which leaves a somewhat sharp edge and can result in a cut. Handle them gently, holding near the edges to avoid causing creases in the plastic. Excessive handling may make the edges not sit completely flush. Unlike mineral fiber ceiling tiles, Brutal Ceiling tiles are anti-bacterial and non-porous. The surface can pick up skin oils and particulates if not careful, especially the matte side. For a factory-fresh finish, Brutal tiles may be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol or cleaners using naphtha (Goo Gone). Regular surface cleaners may not completely dissolve skin oils so you may need to experiment. The use of a hand broom will be necessary as the PVC material attracts dust and dirt through static attraction.

 

HOW DO YOU CUT HOLES IN CEILING TILES FOR LIGHT FIXTURES AND SPRINKLERS?

Cut outs may be made for light fixtures and their bezels but will need to be properly supported from above. Use a utility knife or sharp tipped scissors.  The material cuts like light cardboard.  We recommend not placing any weight on top of the tile. Their light weight and 3D shape allows them to sit in the grid but cannot support any added weight. Cut outs made for sprinklers should be a minimum of 1/4” larger than the outer diameter of the trim ring/escutcheon to enable tiles to fall from the ceiling grid without becoming entangled with the sprinkler or interfering with its operation during a fire. With all of our designs, lighting will require some experimentation to maximize the impact of the installation.

 

WHAT IS THE TEMPERATURE LIMIT FOR BRUTAL CEILING TILES?

Our tiles should not be used in locations where temperatures will exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  They may sag and not sit flat in the grid.  They should also not be transported or stored at high temperatures. This is a standard issue with all PVC tiles, regardless of manufacturer.

 

 CAN I USE BRUTAL TILES AS PART OF AN AIR RETURN PLENUM?

We recommend not using the space above these tiles as part of an air return plenum.  Their light weight can result in some of them being lifted up into the plenum volume. To firmly secure Brutal tiles you can use grid clips.

HOW DO I SECURE CEILING TILES

If using the tiles in a breezy location near exterior doorways or in entry vestibules, we recommend using Armstrong CHDC tile hold -down clips. These are available at Zoro.com.  Apply clips over Bulb of grid as necessary to achieve flush interface of panel and grid flange.  They work best in the corners. They are sold in lots of 50 pieces.

 

HOW CAN I ORGANIZE MY BRUTAL CEILING TILE INSTALLATION?

Our selection allows for a myriad of installation pattern designs, so placing the correct tile in the correct location and correct orientation can be challenging. We recommend making a simple sketch of a grouping that repeats throughout the layout.  A simple layout using one tile design with the tiles facing the same direction is the easiest. If the installation involves half of the tiles facing up, and the other half facing down, consider installing all of the tiles facing down first, leaving every other square empty, and then add the ones facing up. If the installation involves half of the tiles facing up, and the other half facing down, and the order is broken up in the case of SoBe into satin finish concave (C) and satin finish convex (V) groups, set one group aside and fully install the other, leaving every other square empty. Then, install the other group. This will reduce confusion for the installer. The same goes for combining similar designs, such as Bilbao and Brasilia or Europa and Globen. It helps to always start in a corner. Once again, a helper is advantageous.

 

CAN I GLUE-UP BRUTAL CEILING TILES?

This will only work with tiles having the 3-D shape on one side of the grid plane. This includes SoBe, Globen and Europa. These tiles can also be applied to walls but should be placed where they cannot be touched as they deform and dent easily. Most dents will pop back out (use a piece of masking tape to pull at the dent) with no evidence left behind.  For more information click here. 

 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF PVC VS MINERAL FIBER ACOUSTIC TILES?

PVC Pros

  • Incredible variety of designs. You don't have to have a boring ceiling!

  • Ceiling tiles are frequently installed in basements where moisture, dampness and condensation from pipes can affect the tiles. Traditional mineral fiber tiles tend to absorb moisture, become mildewed, stain or sag.

  • PVC is much better for overall longevity, stability and cleanliness of the product.

  • PVC tiles make no dust or mineral fiber particulates when trimmed or adjusted in the grid.

  • If access is needed to the infrastructure above the tiles, they are easily moved aside without breaking or crumbling and creating dust.

  • PVC can be cleaned with any cleaner that is not solvent based or abrasive. Mineral fiber does not allow any real cleaning.

  • If doing a retrofit, you don't have to throw away the old mineral tiles as they can live as the acoustic barrier above.

PVC Cons

  • PVC tiles have a higher up-front cost, but the Brutal ones are definitely worth it!  If a sound barrier is needed (new construction), this does add to the cost per square foot.

  • PVC tiles may hide a water intrusion issue a bit longer, as some water may collect (in a bowl-shaped configuration) for a while before it causes the tile to distort at the edges and fall out of the ceiling grid. The distortion is pretty obvious.  The water collection may result in mildew.  If the water does not collect (due to part shape), it will drip from the edges of the tile.

  • Mineral tiles show where the leaks are.

  • Mineral fiber tiles are better for noise absorption, but some options do exist for placing mineral fiber tiles above PVC tiles.  Depending on the structure above your drop ceiling, whether or not there is carpet on the floor, furniture and wall hangings, the extra sound absorption may be unnecessary anyway.

  • For more detail on this subject, click here.

WHAT CAN BE USED FOR THE BORDER OF A BRUTAL DROP CEILING?

In many cases, Brutal tiles will be installed where there are already existing acoustic tiles. Depending on the color and condition of the existing tiles, it may be fine to use them as the border tiles around the room. This can save a huge amount of time, as cutting the border tiles to custom widths can take time. Just dropping in the square tiles is quick.  Consider doing perimeter lighting at the border tile locations.  Our tiles look great with perimeter lighting.

If the Zona 1 option is used:These tiles are made from expanded PVC and are sufficiently rigid to sit flat in the grid but are not capable of supporting the weight of any light fixtures or A/C vents. Add extra support for those as necessary. They come saw cut from the supplier.  The color is a bit darker, but if that is too different for you taste, they can be painted to color match the molded tiles.  Customers have done this.  They attract dust readily due to static attraction, so a hand broom is useful to remove any dust before cutting the sheet and keeping the cutting table dust free. This will avoid marring the surface when applying pressure during the cutting step. This material is not as dent resistant as the molded tiles. Keeping hands clean is also necessary to avoid soiling the surface, or gloves can be worn. Brutal tiles may be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol or cleaners using naphtha (Goo Gone). Regular surface cleaners may not completely dissolve skin oils so some experimentation may be necessary.Using a straight edge and a utility knife, score the sheet. Bend at the score at least 90 degrees and then use the utility knife to cut the hinge line from the back side. The existing mineral tile can be used as a cutting template.


If Zona 2 option is used:
These tiles are made from the same material as our 3-D tiles with enough ribbing to add the rigidity necessary to sit flat in the grid. They are not capable of supporting the weight of any light fixtures or A/C vents. Add extra support for those as necessary. They attract dust readily due to static attraction, so a hand broom is useful to remove any dust Keeping hands clean is also necessary to avoid soiling the surface, or gloves can be worn.Zona cuts easily with a utility knife and a straight edge or scissors. The stiffening ribs are great for holding a stack together in registration so a group can be cut at once. The existing mineral tile can be used as a cutting template. Click here.

 

WHAT MAKES PVC DIFFERENT AND SUPERIOR TO OTHER THERMOPLASTICS? 

 PVC is the only thermoformable plastic that has a Class A Fire and Smoke rating. Why is this a huge advantage? Click here.