What are dropped, suspended and grid ceilings?


Learn more about dropped, suspended or grid ceilings, its advantages and disadvantages and the precautions that you need to take if you plan to install it in your home or office

As the name implies, a dropped or drop ceiling, is one that is hung below the main ceiling. A feature that is now commonly seen in most modern residential and commercial buildings, these were initially used in Japan and elsewhere, for aesthetic purposes only. In this article, you will learn more about dropped ceilings.

 

Other names for grid ceilings

Dropped ceilings may also be known as suspended ceilings, T-bar ceiling, false ceilings, grid ceiling, drop-in ceiling, drop-out ceiling or even ceiling tiles.

 

Dropped ceilings

(Source: Pinterest)

See also: Everything you need to know about false ceilings

 

Why did drop or suspended ceilings become popular?

Dropped ceilings were mainly used, because of its aesthetic appeal and date back to the Muromachi Period in Japan between 1337 and 1573. Again, England had a similar feature in the Blackfriars Theater that was built in 1596. In 1923, the patent for modern-day drop or suspended ceilings was granted to EE Hall. An obvious reason why these are also called grid ceilings, is because they were built using interlocking tiles.

 

Grid ceilings

(Source: Pinterest)

 

Advantages of using drop, grid or suspended ceilings

A very important reason why people tend to opt for false ceilings is the aesthetics. However, a lot of other factors, such as the overall cost, sustainability, design, etc., also matter. With advances in technology and Indian home owners becoming more conscious about décor, much is being done to integrate the mechanical, electrical and plumbing works into dropped or suspended ceilings. Consequently, grid ceilings are now available in the market that keep design and integration in mind, while also improving the look of your home.

 

Benefit What it can do
UtilityCan be used to hide piping, wiring, damage, sprinklers or even unsightly ductwork.
Beauty and designNow available in different colours, designs and materials such as wood, metal or faux leather, etc.
PracticalityA plenum space right above the suspended ceiling allows easy access for repairs. Overall cost of inspection and repair can be easily brought down, unlike in the past.
Noise absorptionWith added insulation called Sound Attenuation Batts (SABs), rooms with dropped ceilings can help provide noise insulation.
SustainabilityModern-day drop ceilings are energy-efficient, provide thermal insulation, reduce the need for materials required for construction and can sometimes also make use of recyclable materials.
Quality of indoor environmentBy using insulation against light, noise and emissions, the overall quality of your indoor environment improves.
CostCompared to your regular, open ceilings, a suspended ceiling may give you a better return on investment.

See also: Elegant office false ceiling design ideas

 

Why suspended ceilings are called grid ceilings?

All suspended or dropped ceilings may not be grid ceilings. Grid ceiling is the name given to those suspended ceilings that have a grid design. Otherwise, a suspended ceiling may or may not have a grid pattern, like the one you see in the image below.

 

Suspended ceilings

(Suspended ceiling without grid pattern. Source: Pinterest)

 

What are dropped, suspended and grid ceilings

(A drop grid ceiling. Source: Pinterest)

 

Dropped ceilings and safety

In many of the older constructions where rooms had a suspended or dropped ceiling, the plenum space, which refers to the space between the main ceiling and the grid ceiling, was the space for ventilation. It would require only closed ducts that brought in fresh air for circulation within the room. New constructions have improved the practice. Now, low-smoke and low-toxicity wire insulations can minimise fire accidents. It is also helpful given that poisoning due to toxicity, owing to a fire accident is reduced and the chemicals, to an extent get sucked.

The better versions in the market today comprise of plenum cable, also called the ‘low smoke zero halogen’. In areas prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, you can also get in touch with your interior designer and architect, to know the exact effect and precautions you need to take, if you are opting for a suspended or grid false ceiling.

 

Lighting and false ceiling

If you are installing a dropped, suspended or grid ceiling, make sure that all the lighting fixtures are tightly and strongly secured to the framework. Note that in case of unfortunate incidents, these should not add to the trouble by coming down on people. Ask your service providers to bind the dropped ceiling to the framework firmly so that, if need be, it can be removed properly during uninstallation.

See also: Understanding recessed ceiling lights and its uses

 

Disadvantages of dropped false ceilings

Before you decide to install a suspended ceiling, know the cons too.

  • The reduced headroom may be a cause of concern for you and your family. Get in touch with design experts to calculate how much of the room’s height would be lost, if you install one.
  • The work of any false ceiling is to add beauty, by covering up the odd-looking fittings, fixtures or structural obstructions on your main ceiling. However, it is much easier to clean and maintain your original ceiling. Dropped false ceilings are a fad and in case you wish to go with it, learn about the complex techniques to clean and maintain them.
  • Given that it blocks the view, it may be difficult to spot problems, such as seepage, leakage, infestation, at an early stage, unless you manually inspect it from time to time.

 

How to install a drop false ceiling?

Here is a guide to familiarise yourself with the usual steps. Nevertheless, we recommend that you seek the help of a professional service provider, to install the false ceiling.

  • First, a scale of the room is prepared on a graph paper and the pattern of the drop ceiling is finalised. This will determine how much material will be required for the chosen pattern.
  • Next, the exact location of the lighting fixtures is determined. This is also the time when the exact height at which the drop ceiling will be installed, is determined.
  • After this, the wall angle level is determined. This involves using a level to draw a line around the room. Thereafter, the wall angles are secured at every point using nails, anchors and fasteners.
  • If recessed lights are your choice, this is the time to place the wiring, before the suspension wires are placed.
  • Attach the suspension wires and cut it to the proper length. Fasten it securely.
  • Next, your service provider will determine the distance from the wall to the cross tee. This and various other sub-steps are taken, to place the suspension wires correctly.
  • Finally, the ceiling panels are fixed into position, by slightly tilting them and lifting them above the frame such that they fall into place.

 

FAQ

Are drop ceilings expensive?

The cost of installing a drop ceiling in your home can be reasonable. However, it depends from place to place. In the long run, a drop or suspended false ceiling can get you better returns and better indoor environment than your regular ceiling.

Can suspended ceilings be used in multi-storey homes?

Any home can have a suspended ceiling.

Can I install the suspended ceiling myself?

Installing the suspended ceiling is not difficult if you have read and understood the documentation and manual well. However, it also depends on your expertise. Given that it is a one-time investment and can decide the look and feel of the house, it may be better to seek professional help. Generally, service providers provide you with installation services, when you purchase the false ceiling.

Is construction required to install a grid ceiling?

To hold the grid ceiling tiles in place, there are runners and brackets that you would be provided with, when you purchase it. A professional will help you install the grid ceiling. Besides this, there is no requirement for any additional construction.

 

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