The Basics of Drop Ceilings
A drop ceiling is a secondary ceiling and is often used to conceal wires, air ducts, pipes etc. A drop ceiling is also referred to as a dropped ceiling or a suspended ceiling.
A dropped ceiling is made up of a grid of metal channels in the shape of a "T" that gets suspended by wires. These channels fit together in a regularly spaced pattern. The grid is typically a 2' x 2' or 2' x 4'. Ceiling tiles or panels simply drop into the grid. These tiles can be made of wood, metal, mineral fibers or other things.
Tiles and other parts of a dropped ceiling are easily removed to allow access to the area above the grid to do any necessary maintenance or modification. If you are remodeling nearly all parts can be taken down and reassembled somewhere else.
The suspended ceiling was originally developed to hide the bottom of the floor above and make sound in the room have a more pleasing quality. The acoustic performance of suspended ceilings has improved greatly over the years. The space above the dropped ceiling is often used as an air return for ventilation systems.
A drop ceiling may be used to hide various types of equipment or the "real" ceiling. Drop ceilings have also been used to hide water or structural damage. Always inspect the area above a dropped ceiling when you are considering renting or buying the property. It is possible that the tiles are concealing bugs, rats, loose wiring or other problems.
The panels are quite often made of mineral fibers. The dust from these panels can be toxic when inhaled. Dropped ceilings have the disadvantage of reducing headroom. A few inches of clearance is required between the grid and any pipes or ductwork.
If the drop ceiling is used as a plenum, wiring not installed inside conduit must use a special wire insulation which will tend to stop burning on its own. In the event of a fire, this helps to keep the fire from spreading inside the hidden plenum space as well as protecting the people in the building from additional toxic chemicals. Often the ceiling tiles themselves are fire-retardant for the purpose of building safety codes.
Drop ceilings may even be cleaned if they start to look a little dingy. Call your local ceiling cleaning company for more information. If you are in the greater Philadelphia area you may contact us.
Here's more information related to drop ceilings.
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