Improving Acoustics with a Suspended Ceiling

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Having a hard time hearing in your office, business or home? You're not alone. Recent studies have found that the noise in most offices lower productivity, create stress and cause health problems. The average noise of a classroom, just a touch above normal conversation at 60 decibels, is loud enough to cause a physiological stress reaction triggering a heart attack. But what can you do about your noisy work environment? One great option is to improve your workplace or home sound environment with better acoustics through a suspended ceiling.

What is a suspended ceiling?

A suspended ceiling, also called a lay-in ceiling, is one installed below the actual ceiling. This provides room for mechanicals such as lighting, HVAC ductwork, computer and communication wiring and hardware and a variety of similar items. In many buildings, it's easy to pick out because of the obvious grid grid showing at the edge of the tiles.. The grid is suspended and holds the tiles in place. 

Though many people consider a suspended ceiling and ceiling tiles to be a modern invention, its history goes back to 14th century Japan where they were used for aesthetic reasons and 16th century England, where they were used for acoustic improvement in London's Blackfriers Theater. The modern patent dates to 1919 in the US, with the system developed over several decades to today's version found in a wide variety of structures.

How does it help create better acoustics?

The acoustic panels set into the grid help absorb and deflect sound, cutting down on the background noise of your average home, office or workshop. They often have holes or rough texture to help create a sound-absorbing surface, complete with air pockets and offsets to help reduce sound transmission further.

If your current suspended ceiling simply has ceiling tiles rather than sound-absorbing tiles, all is not lost. There are a wide range of after-market acoustical products, such as sound-reducing batts, acoustic flooring and similar modifications to help muffle sound from other rooms or floors. By studying the range of solutions available, you'll find something that will help with your noise problem.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of acoustic tiles?


Acoustic tiles have many advantages beyond noise reduction, including fire safety, ease of installation and repair, modular construction providing easy modification, low cost and creating an easy-access space for a variety of mechanical and communication systems. They can have possible issues with reduced headroom in spaces that are already short, can stain or sag depending on the material used but are easily and inexpensively repaired or replaced when needed. Some architects and interior designers dislike them because they feel it doesn't allow for use of the building's systems as aesthetic design details.

What are the best products to use to reduce noise?

Though you could use a regular suspended ceiling tile and take advantage of the dead space between the suspended ceiling and the actual ceiling, we recommend using acoustic tiles to get the best possible performance. If you prefer to leave a more open feeling, individual sound-dampening elements can be suspended from the ceiling while leaving the space above open.

Is my structure a good candidate for a suspended ceiling?

Certainteed Gyptone Big Curve Ceiling PanelSuspended ceilings can be installed in virtually any framing structure, though a few modifications may need to be made. Provided that there is enough structure above the ceiling to support the lightweight tiles and that there is enough structure to anchor the grid to, a suspended ceiling will work very well.

Now that you've had the opportunity to look at the benefits, requirements and possibilities of improved acoustics through a suspended ceiling, why not look at upgrading your space? Whether it's increased productivity in the office, health benefits in the workshop or lower stress at home, improving acoustics will reap real benefits. If you're not sure which system is the best for your space, please contact us. Our experienced technicians have decades of experience helping our customers find the perfect solution to their problem.

Feel free to download the CertainTeed Acoustical Ceiling Product Guide below for a complete breakdown of product details and job applications.

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Wallboard Supply Company is a third generation, family run business that has been serving New England's building needs since 1970. Bob Filion started the company with a commitment to provide quality drywall and finishing products with unmatched customer service. The company has grown over the years, expanding its' product range, but never wavering from its' core values.