On Suspended Ceilings
If you were to ask a someone at the carpet division of the DuPont corporation about home decorating and design that person would probably tell you that floor covering is one of the most important finishes in a home. And we agree, to some extent! However, we aren’t absolutely positive, but we believe strongly that Michael Angelo would probably disagree — at least to some extent!
Take ceilings for instance. There are so many different shapes, styles and finishes. There are domed ceilings and oblong ones; painted ceilings and sprayed ones; lighted ceilings and dark ones; there are ceilings that are raised, titled or boxed; there are textured ceilings, metal ceilings, acoustic ceilings and even ceilings that open to the sky above. When you think about it there probably are as many different ceiling applications as there are floor coverings.
Unfortunately, not every ceiling is as functional as it is interesting to look at. Think about it for a second. We wouldn’t want to clean the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel — would you? And although metal ceilings are interesting to look at they don’t do much for the acoustic balance in a room. On the other hand acoustic tiles are not only decorative, but can improve sound quality as well.
If you have a basement or a garage that you want to convert and you are having difficulty deciding on how to hide the pipes and ducts with a ceiling then boy do we have some good advise for you! Consider a suspended ceiling. Yep, that’s the advise. A suspended ceiling is what you normally see in most business establishments. You know, the kind with the panels framed by a metal grid. The primary reason stores use suspended ceilings is because the suspended ceiling is the easiest to alter. The aluminum support frame consists of L-shaped perimeter material and T-shaped grid pieces consisting of long main channels and shorter cross pieces. The resultant grid is light in weight, strong and is easily assembled with snap-in-place connectors. There are holes in the frame material which are located at regular intervals which are used for tying the wires that suspend the framework. In grid formations of 2×2 foot squares or 2×4 foot rectangles, the framework supports the acoustic panels that can be removed to work on the many devises that they conceal. “Hanging” the ceiling on wires also insures a flat finished surface regardless of how irregular the surface of the roof is.
Installing a suspended ceiling is time consuming, but it is not physically taxing as long as a solid platform is available to stand on during assembly. Working on a ladder can be disorienting and increase difficulty. A small rolling scaffolding is the answer. Check with your local tool rental store.
First, mark a level line at the entire perimeter of the room. Do not measure up from the floor or down from the ceiling. Typically, existing floors and ceilings are not straight. Use a level to make your mark. Next, nail the L-shaped perimeter frame in place. By the way, a hacksaw is the perfect tool for cutting frame materials.
The T-shaped grid pieces are installed next by suspending each one with lengths of wire that hang from the overhead structure via screw-eyes (or hooks). Once the perimeter is in place the pieces that make up the interior grid can be suspended. The main runners are first interlocked at each end to the perimeter track. Then, the lower end of the wires that are connected to the supports above are tied through the holes in the runners. The wire is bent through the hole in the runner and twisted around itself. The track is raised or lowered to a level position by shortening or lengthening the individual hanging wires. Next, the cross pieces are installed.
Finally, the acoustic panels are installed by lifting each one up through the frame diagonally until it can be lowered flat into the frame. It should be interesting to note that some acoustic panels are available with a plastic coating. Such panels are prime candidates for use in laundries, kitchens and baths where water vapors can be a problem. Also, modular fluorescent lighting fixtures are made that fit right into the same framework.
Other installations are easy too: To mount a ceiling speaker simply remove a panel, mount the speaker into it, connect the wire and replace the panel. Oh yes. And installing the wire in the first place is a breeze. Remove the panels, install the wire and replace the panels — no patch work.
We don’t suggest that the suspended ceiling is the answer to everyone’s design problems, but we do feel that it is yet another alternative that can be a problem solver in some situations.