A Dropped Ceiling is a secondary ceiling, hung below the structural ceiling. Sometimes also called a suspended ceiling or false ceiling, it provides access to wiring, pipes and ventilation systems without the need to open walls. It is also an economical and quick way to renovate a room. It conceals imperfections in the ceiling and can reduce noise transmission between floors. In addition, it provides a convenient location for insulation. Drop ceilings are available in a variety of sizes and finishes, including acoustical tiles and wood-look planks, and are easy to install. They also provide easy access to the plenum for electrical and plumbing repairs.
The first documented dropped ceiling installation was in the 1880s, when Charles Brown of Westlake, Ohio patented an adjustable suspended grid system that allowed ceiling panels to be removed and reattached quickly for maintenance or repairs. This was a major improvement over the earlier mineral-fiber panels that required fiddling with pliers to remove them and were prone to sagging and staining.
During the 1960s and 1970s, dropped ceilings became more commonplace in new buildings and renovations. Some homeowners chose them to add a visual appeal to their living or working spaces, while others found that a drop ceiling was easier and less expensive to maintain than drywall.
Today’s drop ceilings offer a wide range of finishes, materials, colors, and shapes (including arches and circles) to match or enhance any style. Some manufacturers even produce customized runs of specialty ceiling panels, such as those designed to promote indoor environmental quality by enhancing acoustic balance and control, lighting and air distribution optimization, VOC emissions control, thermal comfort, use of daylight for illumination, and access to outdoor views.
Although a drop ceiling is a cost-effective solution for remodeling, it is not without its disadvantages. It can make a room feel smaller by detracting from the visual height of the space, and it can be difficult to see objects that are below it. Depending on the room, a dropped ceiling may also create a sense of claustrophobic entrapment by hiding ceiling services such as vents and wires.
When considering a drop ceiling, the first step is to ensure that the wall height will allow enough space to accommodate the grid and the services that will be concealed above it. Some older homes may not have enough room for this, and if the dropped ceiling is too low, the room will feel cramped and suffocating. It is also important to consider the amount of panels that will be installed. Too many panels will be more difficult to maintain, and they can also look dated. Finally, it is important to know the acoustic ratings of the panels that will be used to ensure that they can withstand high levels of ambient sound.