Choosing the Right Suspended Ceiling

Suspended ceilings can improve the acoustics and insulation of a room. They can conceal mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) installations while keeping them accessible for future changes. In this guide, we will take a look at the most common types and configurations of suspended ceilings to help you decide which solution is most adapted to your project.

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  • How to choose the right suspended ceiling?

    DERAKO Bamboo Suspended Ceiling

    DERAKO Bamboo Suspended Ceiling

    When you’re choosing a suspended ceiling for a project, you will need to consider a number of factors that could influence your choice such as the location of its installation. Depending on the type of project, you might also need to meet certain requirements. Here are the points we will discuss in this guide:

    • Location of use
    • Type
    • Material options
    • Technical characteristics
    • Options and trends
  • Where will the suspended ceiling be used?

    The designated location for the suspended ceiling will guide you in your selection. For example, you might prefer fixed panels for residential and hotel projects as a way to improve acoustics and thermal insulation without impacting the aesthetics of a room. In contrast, you should consider a tiled suspended ceiling for commercial buildings that change layout regularly because it offers easier access and repositioning possibilities to recessed lighting and MEP fittings.

  • What types of suspended ceilings are there?

    The most common types of suspended ceilings are tiles, panels, strips, acoustic rafts and stretch ceilings. Here’s some information on the different types of suspended ceilings:

    BARRISOL Stretch Ceiling

    BARRISOL Stretch Ceiling

    Tile suspended ceilings are often used in commercial buildings due to their ease of installation and modular construction. They consist of a grid suspended from the ceiling by a series of cables. The tiles are then placed on or clipped into the grid along with other components such as lighting and ventilation outlets.

    Panel suspended ceilings can be made up of large custom-sized panels fixed to a grid or permanently integrated into the decor, such as plasterboard suspended ceilings found in many residential projects.

    Strip suspended ceilings use strips of materials, such as wood or metal, rather than panels, in both closed horizontal and louvered configurations.

    Acoustic rafts and acoustic baffles come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be suspended from the ceiling in a series or suspended from parts of the ceiling. They are used to help sound absorption and limit resonance in busy areas. They can also be used to decoratively conceal a part of the ceiling.

    Stretch ceilings are lightweight and can be available in both assembled panels or as a continuous surface. They come in both curved and linear forms and some are even backlit. Stretch ceilings can be made of humidity-resistant materials, making them an appropriate choice for wet areas such as buildings with indoor pools.

  • What are the material options for suspended ceilings?

    Your choice of material could depend on the budget available and the aesthetics of the building. Here are the commonly chosen materials:

    HAVER & BOECKER Metal Suspended Ceiling

    HAVER & BOECKER Metal Suspended Ceiling

    Mineral wool and mineral fiber suspended ceilings are a popular choice due to their low cost and good fire and acoustic performance. While traditionally not the best looking, manufacturers have improved the aesthetics of these tiles over the years. Now, there are a number of styles and finishes available.

    Metal suspended ceilings are impact-resistant and are not prone to cracking like mineral fibers or plasterboard, which is an advantage if the ceiling panels or tiles are regularly removed for maintenance. They are often coated in finishes making them stain-resistant and easy to clean.

    Wooden suspended ceilings can come in panels but are often used in the form of louvers or horizontal slats. Their visual appeal can make them a great choice for a more natural-looking design scheme.

    Plaster suspended ceilings come in both tiles for standard ceiling grids or plasterboard panels, which can then be joined and coated for a seamless finish. This is particularly popular for residential properties.

    Plastic suspended ceilings are available in tiles, slats, panels and stretch ceilings. Some types are even waterproof and antibacterial, making them a good choice for humid environments such as pools, bathrooms, kitchens or environments that require high hygiene standards such as medical facilities.

  • What about the technical characteristics of suspended ceilings?

    Make sure your suspended ceiling is compliant with local building regulations.  Certain building types will require that the characteristics of your suspended ceiling meet specific standards. The most common ones include the following:

    • Fire resistance: The fire rating of the product needs to comply with building regulations in your country. For example, the Euroclass scale used in Europe goes from A to F (A being the highest grade).
    • Weight: The surface the suspended ceiling is fixed to must be able to safely support its weight.
    • Acoustic performance: Check the Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC), Sound Transmission Class (STC) or Sound Reduction Index (SRI) and Ceiling Attenuation Class (CAC).
    • Light reflectance: It’s measured in percentage and can affect the quality of light in the space.

    Other technical characteristics to consider include humidity resistance, mold and bacteria protection as well as the ecological characteristics of the material. For example, if you are looking to buy a wooden suspended ceiling, think about whether the wood was sustainably sourced and has any certifications such as FSC or PEFC.

  • What do I need to know about suspended ceiling acoustic performance?

    The acoustic performance of a suspended ceiling can have a big impact on the quality of sound in the room and noise in connected spaces. Here are the key technical classifications to understand:

    • The Noise Reduction Coefficient measures the sound absorbance of a material where 1 is the maximum (all sound absorbed), and 0 is the minimum (no sound absorbed).
    • The Sound Transmission Class (STC) and Sound Reduction Index (SRI) measure the effectiveness of soundproofing of different materials from one space to another. The STC scale ranges from 20 (audible speech) to 60+ (super soundproofing).
    • The Ceiling Attenuation Class (CAC) measures the effectiveness of soundproofing reduction in decibels of a ceiling plenum from one space to another.
  • What suspended ceiling options and trends are available?

    HUNTER DOUGLAS 3D suspended Ceiling

    HUNTER DOUGLAS 3D suspended Ceiling

    Suspended ceilings are not only a practical way to hide MEP fittings and improve acoustics but they can also become a design feature for modern and traditional interiors. For example, if you have a period-style interior, you might want to opt for a coffered tile suspended ceiling, which mimics traditional stone and wood to give your space a more decorative and luxurious feel. For more modern interiors, 3D designs in unusual colors or materials such as felt can enhance the design. Backlit stretched ceilings can create soft ambient lighting for health and wellbeing centers such as spas.

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