A dull but practical office space necessity.
There’s a reason why most offices have drop ceilings, and it isn’t because employers want monotony in the workplace. The suspended trays in which the tiles sit create a cost-effect way to hide the building infrastructure. It’s either the drop ceiling, or a view of exposed ductwork, pipes, and wires. Now that design and aesthetics have finally caught up with practicality, it’s time to turn our attention to the ceilings above our workspaces. Here’s the good and the bad, about what’s suspended above your head.
Acoustic comfort (+)
Drop ceiling tiles are designed to block or reduce outside sounds. They also cut down on office noise reverberation. You hear less of the conversations from your coworkers and the result is comfort to your ears.
Most office buildings are constructed before anyone knows who the tenants will be. Interiors are left bare. From a property management standpoint, it’s economical to install a suspended ceiling because it can be changed for each tenant if needed.
Drop ceilings also increase energy efficiency. Offices get a break on heating and cooling bills. Lighting is often a concern. The reflective surfaces of drop ceiling panels amplify light reflection. If there are windows nearby, they help to bring some of the natural sunlight inside.
Easy to install, and remove. (+)
Offices are busy places. Traditional drywall or older plaster ceilings take time to demolish, renovate, or repair. A drop ceiling can be put up in a relatively short period of time. Employees are displaced only briefly, if at all. If there’s ductwork or electrical repair, only the tiles covering that area need to be removed.
Downtime is kept at a minimum. If the existing drop ceiling trays are the right size, an entire office floor can get a new look in just a matter of hours.
Safety in mind (+)
Many drop ceiling tiles designed for office use are fire-retardant. They meet industry standards for flame-spread ratings. The trade off used to be boring designs. Today, you can get both safety, and style.
Not as sturdy as solid architectural ceilings (-)
Lightweight tiles suspended above your head obviously aren’t as durable or solid as a standard ceiling. In most cases, that’s not a concern.
If a natural calamity such as an earthquake hits, a drop ceiling might become unstable and fall. It’s an unfortunate characteristic, but that’s probably going to be the least of your concerns in this type of emergency.
Prone to maintenance (-)
They may be easier and less expensive to replace or repair, but drop ceiling tiles have a shorter lifespan. Some ceiling tiles may start to sag over time. Older tiles are notorious for their discoloration with age.
In the past, these characteristics quickened replacement cycles and increased maintenance requirements. Newer and better materials have done away with these problems. This likely won’t be an issue for your next new office drop ceiling.
Reduces height (-)
Office buildings have been constructed for quite some time now to compensate for the installation of drop ceilings. They’ll eat up anywhere from several inches to a few feet of the overall height. Replacing a drop ceiling shouldn’t change this height. The concern comes into play only if you want to install a drop ceiling in a space that has an existing ceiling already at a standard height. There may be no choice but to lose several inches of headroom.