Benefits of Installing a Suspended Ceiling

Rows of circular lamps hanging from a gray suspended ceiling.

There are a number of benefits to installing a suspended ceiling, and it's a job the average DIYer can handle. This article will discuss reasons why suspended ceilings are chosen over more permanent types, even for residential applications.

What Is a Suspended Ceiling?

Like the name implies, a suspended ceiling consists of square panels supported by a lightweight, metal, grid system suspended from a higher ceiling element made of wood, metal, or masonry. Tie wires anchored to the permanent ceiling maintain the lowered, "false" ceiling at the desired height.

The panels themselves are available in a variety of metal, wood, synthetic, and composite materials. Some are flat and unadorned, while others are embossed with finely-detailed patterns. Panels also come in a variety of sizes, 2 foot by 2 foot and 2 foot by 4 foot being the most common.

The grid into which the panels are placed consists of perforated, T-shaped main "runners," with "cross T's" installed at the proper increments. The perforations are made to accept the 16-gauge wires that are hung from the ceiling. Once the grid system is installed, the panels are simply dropped into the grid from above and held in place by the "lip" along the perimeter of each square.

Why Install a Suspended Ceiling?

The most obvious reason for a suspended ceiling is to hide exposed structural or mechanical components such as pipes, plumbing, ducts, conduits, cables, structural framing members, or just a bare, masonry surface. A lower ceiling is the price you pay to improve the appearance of the room.

If you need access to the hidden pipes or wiring, you can simply lift the appropriate panels up and over to one side and drop them back into place when you're done. If the tiles get damaged, you can replace them using the same method.

The final advantage of suspended ceilings is their acoustical benefits. Some ceiling tiles are specifically manufactured for soundproofing, and any suspended ceiling will naturally suppress some sound from the room above it.