Metal Construction News

Metal Construction News

Opportunity Overhead:

Easy-to-install metal ceilings grow in popularity

Nick Taraborelli, Posted 12/13/2010

Regardless of whether it is a new construction project or the renovation of an aging building, metal ceilings continue to grow in popularity.

One of the main reasons is their durability. Metal ceiling panels will generally be chosen over other options because of their service life, especially in areas where access to the plenum is frequent or where the ceiling is exposed to occupant interaction, frequent cleaning or other potentially damaging situations.

Another reason is their aesthetics. Long popular in European commercial design, today’s metal ceiling systems are now offered in a wider variety of standard sizes, forms and shapes than ever before.

Most Made From Steel

Most metal ceiling systems are manufactured from electrogalvanized steel, although aluminum is also available. In installations where the ceiling is wall-to-wall, steel is usually chosen because of its increased strength and durability.

The most common shape is a 2- by 2-foot panel, although metal ceilings are also available in linear and plank versions, and both radial and curved custom systems

in an assortment of sizes.

Other choices include undulating three-dimensional metal ceilings that are available in «hills» and «valleys» to create a distinctive serpentine effect, and a variety of «free floating» ceiling clouds and canopies, many of which are curved to create a

«wave» profile.

Whether they extend wall-to-wall or are used as canopy or cloud treatments, there are a myriad of standard options to choose from. Some are even available «kitted» to minimize or totally eliminate on-site cutting and tedious measuring.

Wide Variety of Finishes

Many metal ceilings feature a factory-applied powder coated finish for added durability. To help prevent rusting, however, it’s important that the coating is applied after all production is complete, not during.

Metal ceilings are also offered in a myriad of finishes that coordinate with other interior metal finishes to impart a very high-tech look to a space. It is this sophisticated look that helps make metal ceilings ideal for use in high visibility areas. The most popular finishes are white, silver gray or gun metal gray in color, with custom colors available as well.

Today, there are even metal ceiling panels that offer the look of wood but at a much more affordable cost than real wood. The realistic image of maple, cherry or walnut is a result of technology that actually embeds the wood look into the metal panel.

And, for a more contemporary look, there is a broad range of metal mesh panels available. The mesh family of ceilings is typically offered in three types of panel patterns-welded wire, woven wire and expanded metal.

Acoustical Properties

Metal Construction News

Many specifiers don’t associate metal with good acoustics. Yet, metal ceiling panels can achieve a Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) of up to 0.70, meaning the panels absorb 70 percent of the sound that strikes them.

In order to obtain acoustical benefits, however, the panels must be perforated. Perforated panels are supplied with a sound absorbent liner behind the perforations, usually in the form of an acoustical fleece or an optional fiberglass infill.

For years, only limited perforation options were available. Today, however, perforations that vary is size and pattern are offered as standard and, depending on aesthetic appeal, it’s even possible to have extra micro-perforated panels in which the holes are so small they are essentially invisible.

Easy Installation

Some contractors may think metal ceilings are difficult to work with. However, metal ceilings install easily in standard grid systems and integrate well with standard light fixtures, including high hats.

Many Vector metal ceilings are designed for installation in 15/16-inch exposed tee suspension systems, which makes them ideal for renovation applications, as well as new construction. Because there is no need to replace an existing grid system, renovation projects can be completed quickly. Other metal ceilings can be installed in 9/16-inch grid systems. Custom applications often require custom grid systems.

In the case of «free-floating» clouds and canopies, installation is made even easier through the availability of kits containing all the components required for the job. All the components are pre-engineered for fit and finish to help ensure consistent visual quality. They also allow faster and easier installation since the system requires no field modification, only assembly.

Discover the Opportunity

By combining stylish design with functional performance, metal ceilings offer more aesthetic and performance advantages than ever, and many are now available with standard panels and standard installation systems, making them even more economical and accessible. So look up and discover the opportunity that’s overhead.

Nick Taraborelli is marketing manager, Architectural Specialties, at Armstrong Ceilings, Lancaster, Pa. The Architectural Specialties Group provides assistance on a wide variety of standard and custom applications of metal ceilings. Nick can be reached at

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