Acoustic ceiling suspension assemblies came into use because architects, engineers, and designers needed an affordable way to lower the ceiling height of modern rooms. Lower ceilings help to control noise, increase the efficiency of heating and cooling systems, and provide a place to mount light fixtures. There are several variations of acoustic ceiling suspension assemblies; most common are concealed systems and accessible systems.
Accessible systems are also referred to as exposed systems, because the supporting members are exposed, and they are designed much like concealed systems. They use a central support member and additional smaller members to create a grid which is hung from the overhead structure. These systems rely on members shaped like inverted T’s. Ceiling tiles, which are available in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and acoustical materials, are easily installed into the “grid” supported by the horizontal flanges of the inverted T’s. This system allows for easy access to construction systems above and the tiles can be removed and reinstalled with minimal expertise. The ceiling tile materials used in conjunction with this system can suffer similar environmental problems as the concealed type; they are just easier to change. Another feature of this system is the general ease and speed of installation.
Manufacturers of suspended ceiling systems have constantly researched the needs of the construction community, and have become adept at dealing with such concerns as fire codes and the seismic regulations which are in place in various parts of the country. More recent designs of suspended grid systems can also accommodate a greater variety of suspended surfaces and shapes. Drywall, plaster, plywood, and many other hard surface materials can easily be lowered with the use of suspension grid. Manufacturers have also developed methods of bending the supporting grid members in order to create barrel or vaulted ceiling shapes, allowing for affordable design options.
The basic concept of lowering a ceiling with a substructure has been modified and made more attractive to the construction industry over the years, for commercial and residential applications alike. Manufacturers will continue to create new ideas for the acoustical suspended grid system.