Commercial, dropped or suspended ceilings are very much a part of corporate offices worldwide and rightly so as they have earned their place due to variety of reasons.
There are plenty of advantages of having these artificial ceilings installed; they add to the aesthetics besides having a host of features and functionalities.
Modern commercial ceilings were initially created for hiding building infrastructure like piping, wiring and ductwork (these were aesthetically inclined, more than anything else). This is normally achieved by creating a plenum space above the dropped ceiling, which also allows access for repairs and inspection.
Over the years, there has been a lot of development in the design, uses, sizes, colors and kind of materials used for commercial ceilings; and there has also been a marked decrease in the overall cost of fitting these ceilings. What’s more, their use is not limited to aesthetics anymore; there are plenty of other advantages of using commercial ceilings.
We can best describe the need to use commercial ceilings through the design objectives it helps achieve and the functional advantages it offers.
It can be classified broadly in the following categories: – Aesthetics, Acoustics, Environmental factors, and integration with the building’s infrastructure and lastly costs, both the construction and long term operational costs.
Ceilings are an important aesthetic element of building architecture even though most people might not even look at them. There are some amazing buildings around the world which sport some extraordinarily designed ceilings, and which help achieve numerous designing objectives.
Apart from hiding ductwork, cables and piping, commercial ceilings have also become the de facto standard for installing standard fire safety equipment. Sprinkler systems are also concealed under this ceiling and still provide full suppression quality. The purpose of having water sprinkler systems is to provide the first level of cover during fire breakouts, aiding in dousing the flames. Commercial ceilings provide aesthetic quality by covering these sprinkler systems without hampering their overall purpose.
An early objective of dropped ceilings was acoustic balance and control. A noisy room can over stimulate occupants, while an exceptionally quiet interior may seem dull and uninviting.
The acoustic performance of suspended ceilings has improved dramatically over the years, with enhanced sound absorption and attenuation which is normally achieved by adding insulation known as Sound Attenuation Batts (SAB’s), more commonly referred to as “sound batts”, above the panels to help deaden sounds and keep adjacent rooms quieter.
• Environmental factors
Factors like indoor environmental quality which could include VOC emissions, lighting and the thermal control system, use of daylight for natural illumination, optimization of outdoor view and ventilation can all be positively affected through commercial ceilings.
Another reason why such ceilings must be used is their sustainability features like use of recyclable/renewable materials, reduced resources needed for the construction of tiles used in these ceilings and energy efficiency related to indoor lighting.
• Integration with Infrastructure
Integration with mechanical, plumbing and electrical part of the infrastructure is all important with suspended ceilings since most of these systems are by definition above the ceiling and are concealed in the suspended ceiling. These decisions will also affect aesthetics as well as access and maintenance.
Suspended ceilings have better Return on Investment as compared to Open Ceilings.
Advantages of Commercial Ceilings
• Fire safety
Fire safety regulations have been very stringent over the last few years and this has affected choices made by engineers and contractors in commercial buildings. The material used in commercial ceilings like ceiling tiles are made from mineral fibers, plastic, tin, composite or fire rated wood panels to meet fire standards. These materials vary in terms of safety ratings and have to be altered to meet fire safety standards.
• Easy Modifications
The biggest advantage of these ceilings is their ease of modification. They allow instant access to the plenum, which can be used for repairs and maintenance.
Wiring and piping installed behind traditional wallboard or plaster ceilings could be cumbersome to get access to; but with suspended ceilings, it’s easy to dismantle and assemble the whole or part of it and as such repairs or maintenance are easy.
Also, if you are relocating your office, you can dismantle your commercial ceiling and assemble it again in your new office space, thus elongating its lifecycle.
• Ease of Installation
It’s very easy to install a Drop Ceiling as a Do-it-yourself project with some household tools.
• Moisture and Sag Resistant
Suspended ceilings are resistant to mold, mildew, sagging and bacteria and can be used in damp environments like bathrooms too, without any issues.
• Eco Friendly
Most commercial ceilings are made up of materials like aluminum, which are up to 98% recycled; thus they are a great choice for both the consumer and the industry. This promotes sustainability and improves carbon footprint.
• Professional Looking Appearance
The wide range of suspended ceilings that are available can fit in and match any interior environment and give it a professional touch; this is imperative as your clients/customers want to see an office that has a clean and uncluttered design, which gives an indication of an efficient corporate culture. They don’t want air conditions, pipes and other unconcealed materials staring at them.
• Insulation with Energy Efficiency
Lowering the height of the ceiling by installing a suspended ceiling in the office provides exceptional insulation, which in turn lowers energy bills as there is less space to heat. If the office is in a location that faces harsh winters, commercial ceilings make a great deal of sense. A case in point is the use of commercial ceiling systems in Anchorage, which are a part and parcel of most offices in this city.
Also, such ceilings improve lighting and give a sense of more room.
This article covers the design objectives and advantages of commercial ceilings and has tried to make persuasive points as to why commercial ceilings must be an integral part of your office/store structure. If you think there are more reasons why such ceilings must be used, please share them with us in the comments section.
(Image credits: http://www.cpsinteriors.com/news/the-benefits-of-suspended-ceilings/)