When it comes to ceilings, whether it’s for your new home, renovation, or commercial space, there are many factors to consider, everything from your budget, the look, to the purpose of the ceiling – indeed, there’s more to the ceiling than being a cover over your head. Ceilings help insulate (both noise and temperature) the room below, they hide the structural elements of the house, they often conceal utility pipes and cables and they provide a decorative finish.
In this article we examine the pros and cons of using drop-down ceilings in your home building project, also known as suspended ceilings, which are common in many commercial buildings and found in residences. In houses they are more typically used in basements because of their construction, cost and simplicity.
These ceilings typically consist of a framework, normally metal tracks, which is suspended from the house structure using wires. Tiles or panels are then set or laid inside the tracks, forming the suspended ceiling.
Types of tiles or panels
The most common ceiling tile used in drop-down or suspended ceilings is the acoustic tile. These come in various colours and finishes and varying qualities. For an eye-catching look various colour tiles can even be combined. Some tiles can be more easily wiped clean – which is useful after the maintenance team has been working in the ceiling.
In addition, there are other tile options such as:
Advantages of drop-down ceilings
1. Easy Installation – To install a drop-down ceiling, one needs to install metal tracks suspended by wires below the roof structure, then panels are laid or placed between the tracks – this is how the name “drop-down” or suspended ceiling came to be. Though it may seem simple to suspend the panels, installing the track work may require the assistance of a knowledgeable contractor. Many home owners intending to install the ceiling themselves can obtain the required knowledge from readouts and the internet, and they can purchase the materials from their local building supply stores. However, they need to maintain the safety of their home and ensure the ceiling won’t fall, while also ensuring that it’s aesthetically pleasing without sags when it’s finished.
2. Soundproofing – Drop-down ceilings can enhance the soundproofing of the room, either blocking noise from outside the house or from rooms above. Drop-down ceilings can be insulated with fibreglass, or similar products.
3. Concealing of wires, duct-work and imperfections – For the most part, drop-down ceilings are installed to hide wires, ducts and pipes, while providing easy access to the duct-work, wires and any other necessary building parts that require maintenance or check-ups. Similar to an access panel that provides easy and simple access to the ceiling space, drop-down ceilings do the same.
Disadvantages of drop-down ceilings
1. Loss of height and space – The biggest disadvantage of ceilings is that they reduce the height of a room by several inches (usually at least 8 to 12 but often more) to allow for the frame and wires. This could make the room appear smaller and the lower ceiling may interfere with the tops of windows, cupboards and furniture.
2. Quality – While drop downs are a cost-effective solution for a building, there are sometimes quality issues. They can over time deteriorate and change colours. This can be prevented with routine maintenance of the ceilings and panels and by ensuring there are no leaks leading to condensation or mould build-up. With time, poorly installed ceilings may sag. Frequent lifting of the panels to access the pipes and utilities in the ceiling space will lead to panels becoming damaged.
3. Not strong or sturdy – Generally the panels, framework and wires are lightweight. They can’t support heavy loads, such as a person’s weight, nor can they be used to support heavy light fittings or even ceiling fans, unless there’s additional support structures added.
Conclusion – Weigh the Options
Ceiling tiles can be eye-catching, and a properly installed drop-down ceiling could be a feature of the room. It’s often a practical low-cost solution for your ceiling requirements, hiding the services and utility pipes and cables in the ceiling void, while providing easy access to them for maintenance. Using different types of tiles can convey varying styles to your room. However, poor installation and using cheap products could result in your ceiling deteriorating with time. Care must also be taken that your drop-down ceiling doesn’t look like a commercial office ceiling. These ceilings aren’t as strong as traditional ceilings and can easily be damaged.
Drop downs are a great choice for basic buildings and for practicality – just remember to ensure it meets all your building needs.
So, if you are thinking of replacing your current ceiling, or planning on a remodeling project consider the various ceiling types and what will be best suited to your needs, budget and what will best suit your room and style choices.
The is a guest article supplied by Access Doors and Panels - Your Access Door Super Store
For more valuable tips and advice read: Build and Renovate Your Home With Your Eyes Wide Open.
I’m a construction professional, author of several successful construction management books, and a home owner. I’ve made mistakes in construction management, I’ve seen others make mistakes, but importantly I’ve had multiple successful construction projects and I’ve learned from the mistakes. I want to share these lessons and my knowledge with you.