Originally published by ISAarchitectural on their website – May 13th, 2020.
The ceiling plays a variety of roles in commercial interior construction. One of its primary purposes is to house or hide MEP equipment (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing services) that may circulate throughout a space. This can include HVAC duct-work, electrical conduit, sprinkler systems and water lines. Functionally, certain types of ceilings are needed to facilitate noise reduction and enhance the acoustical performance of a space. Aesthetically, many projects require ceilings that act as way-finding elements that help people move throughout a space, ceilings that serve as a complimentary backdrop for featured lighting, or elaborate feature ceilings that are designed to influence the overall feel and mood of a space.
Among the many challenges the commercial design professional may face during the design process is the question of how their completed project will impact the performance if its eventual occupant. With ceilings being the largest surface area within a building, the types of materials used in them, how they look when installed, and how they perform if given a specific function may all have a substantial impact in the occupant’s health, mood, and overall experience within a space.
There are a multitude of design elements to consider. And one of the most important essentials in a commercial space is acoustical performance. It has been well documented that undesirable noise can negatively impact productivity, focus, speech privacy and even comfort, potentially contributing to a whole host of occupant performance issues. An acoustically rated ceiling system will help mitigate these noise disturbances resulting in a considerably better working, learning, or performing environment.
In terms of aesthetics, there is an extremely vast range of commercial interior ceiling systems that are both functional and beautiful. Those include but are not limited to; simple drywall ceilings, basic open plenum ceilings, ACT ceilings (acoustical tile), custom floating “cloud” ceilings, and accessible suspended grid systems such as beam baffles, grilles, fins, linear planks, panels, coffers, and waves.
In addition to the virtually limitless system choices, there is an immense combination of materials and finishes available to enhance the overall design of a space; including solid wood and veneers, coated metal such as faux wood (paint or films), colors or graphics, perforated metal, corrugated metal, metal mesh, expanded metal, fiberglass, acoustical plaster, felt, and more. Commercial ceiling manufacturers can achieve practically any design intent, seamlessly integrating high-quality materials and finishes with easy-to-install prefabricated systems that will create breathtaking ceilings.
When considering a specification, the commercial design professional demands confidence that products that will look great, perform well, are sustainable and economical. And for ceilings, there is an enormous amount of choices from several reputable manufacturers in the marketplace. Ultimately, it comes down product quality, cost, aesthetics, performance, lead times, service from the manufacturer, and competent local sales support that are all major considerations made by the design professional to secure the right ceiling product specification.