We have all heard the term ‘false ceiling’, often with ‘plaster of paris’ thrown in for good measure. The name itself suggests what it means - a false ceiling is a secondary ceiling hung below the main (structural) ceiling. In simpler words, it is a second ceiling concealing the original. It is also referred to as dropped ceiling, suspended ceiling, T-bar ceiling or grid ceiling.
So, you know what it means. But, do you know why false ceilings are so popular? Or that Plaster of Paris isn’t the only material used to make one?
We’ll enlighten you... not just with all the required info, but also with a nice visual presentation summarising it all at the end....
Why are false ceilings installed?
Although false ceilings are generally installed for aesthetic value, they also have a lot of other benefits:
Adding depth to the roof - False ceilings add to the depth of the room by emphasising the gap between the original and false ceilings.
Enhancing decor - ‘Plaster of Paris’ ceilings can be carved with interesting designs to enhance the decor of the room.
Cool lighting - Spotlights or recessed lighting can be installed into the surface of the false ceiling. Recessed lights work well as ambient and direct sources of light. Fluorescent and other lights can be installed in the gap between the original and false ceilings, to add a dramatic touch to the room.
Wires are also concealed - False ceilings also hide duct work, pipes and electrical wiring.
False ceilings also help in thermal insulation - Hot air gets trapped in the gap between the two ceilings, therefore making the room cooler. They also play a key role in acoustics and sound absorption.
You always associated false ceilings with Plaster of Paris, right? Well, we have news for you! Turns out, there are quite a few other materials that are used to build false ceilings. And, they look just as grand!
Why don’t we look at the popular ones, first?
Popular types of false ceilings:
Plaster of Paris: Beginning with the most popular of them all, Plaster of Paris (PoP) is actually Gypsum plaster, made by heating Gypsum crystals to about 150°C, and is a popular material used for false ceilings. Since it mixes up well with water, it is easy to spread and level. It provides a smooth, firm surface, thereby allowing the paint to settle. PoP allows for a lot of experimentation with shape and design, since it can be moulded easily. It hides A/C ducts and electrical wiring, and can be used to experiment with different types of lighting. Here are a few tried and tested designs:
Suspended Ceiling: A commonly used design is a suspended ceiling with spotlights attached to the surface, in the corners. A disadvantage of the space between the structural and suspended ceilings, is the accumulation of dust. It is also prone to pests like cockroaches and lizards.
Cove lighting: Another popular design used in contemporary interiors is cove lighting or mood lighting. It needs a layered structure which will provide the ledge or recess for installation. A part of the ceiling is lowered, either the central part is lowered or the part along the edges are lowered, and lighting source is installed along the edge of the parts. This makes the ceiling appear to glow and emit light. Cove lighting with LED rope lights is an aesthetic way to light up such ceilings. LED ropes are flexible and can easily fit in any ceiling shape.
Curvilinear/Layered/Circular/Dome-shaped: Plaster of Paris can be moulded to take any shape - so you can have fancier looking shapes and designs with it.
Cost of Installation:
PoP False Ceiling rates start from Rs. 60 per sq. ft. and may even go upto Rs. 95 per sq. ft.
Designed PoP False ceilings are more expensive, at around Rs. 130 per sq. ft.
- Gypsum (Brand Gyproc): Gypsum ceilings come in the shape of square boards that are hung with the help of an iron framework.They are lightweight and sound-proof. They are economical, easy to install, and the surface can be painted. However, it is neither durable, nor water resistant.
Demarcation without walls: Gypsum boards are used to demarcate spaces without using walls or other obstructions. The boards can be designed and painted in accordance with the look intended for the spaces.
Curves, steps and other designer plasterboard options are available in gypsum false ceiling designs.
Cost of Installation:
Gypsum boards are available at Rs. 95 per sq. ft.
The appearance of a false ceiling also depends on the way it is installed.
Ways to install false ceilings:
There are 2 ways to install a false ceiling:
Installed on top of the ceiling, attached to it: If you want the false ceiling panels installed directly on the beams, you must first build a wooden frame of regularly spaced parallel beams. Since the roof beams may be of varying heights, change the height of the frame beams accordingly. The end result should be a frame that has a uniform base level. Once this is done, screw on the ceiling panels to the wooden framework. Take care to ensure that there are no gaps between the panels.
Suspended Ceiling: If you want the area between the actual and false ceilings to be accessible, the false ceiling has to be suspended.
While PoP allows for incomparable customisation, there are other materials that have their own charm and functionality. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Other types of and material used for false ceilings:
Fiber: Mineral Fiber Ceiling Tiles are made from natural or synthetic minerals, including fibreglass, ceramic fibre and stone wool. They are inexpensive, easy to install, and are available in various shapes and sizes.
Wooden: Wooden false ceilings, with different finishes like veneer, laminate, glass or acrylic, can look rich and attractive. These are 5-6 times more expensive than Gypsum boards, although the cost varies based on the finish used. They are strong and last long.
Lattice-work wooden ceiling panels, wooden beams, textured panels made of wooden planks, are contemporary designs of wooden false ceilings.
Modular (Brand Armstrong): Modular ceilings are used for commercial purposes. They are durable, easy to install and don’t need to be painted on the surface. They need to be suspended from the ceiling using stainless steel wires.
Cost of Installation:
Modular ceilings cost around Rs. 110 per sq. ft. on an average.
Metal: Metal false ceilings are made of galvanised iron and aluminium. The cost of this ceiling are low as they are easy to install and access. The hidden members of the structure can be easily accessed as the panels are easily removable and reattached. These tiles offer great functionality and durability. They are fire and moisture resistant.
ACP (Aluminium Composite Panel): ACP is a flat panel that comprises of two thin aluminum sheets bonded to a non-aluminum core. It is light in weight, durable and a maintenance free product. Since aluminium can be painted in any colour, one can choose from a wide range of metallic and non-metallic colours, as well as multiple patterns.
Cost of Installation:
Acrylic and ACP False Ceilings can be constructed at Rs. 150 - Rs. 170 per sq. ft.
Glass: Fiber Glass is used for false ceilings. Although glass is brittle and transparent, its properties can be altered by adding metal content and adhesives to its composition. Glass acts as an insulator, and also looks aesthetically pleasing.
Cost of Installation:
Glass Ceilings are the most expensive at around Rs. 400 per sq. ft.
Before you get all excited and start thinking about the kind false ceiling you are going to get for your home, you need consider a few things.
Things to consider before installing false ceilings:
1) Ease of Installation:
Consider the time and effort taken to install the false ceiling. Using Plaster of Paris can be an especially messy affair, if you are staying in during the installation.
2) Size of the false ceiling:
It is not necessary for the false ceiling to cover the entire roof. It can be installed in the centre, or along the sides, based on your design preferences.
3) Headroom or Clearance:
Some suspended ceilings need more headroom than others. Make sure you keep this in mind, before installing suspended ceilings. You can use a plank of wood on the adjoining wall to mark the point where you want the false ceiling to end.
4) Repairs and Future Maintenance:
Usually, false ceilings do not require much maintenance. However, they need to be dusted and mopped occasionally, since most false ceilings are white or cream in colour. Also, in case of suspended ceilings, one need to keep checking for pests like cockroaches and lizards in the space between the ceilings. In case of tiles, it is ideal to check the feasibility of future repairs.
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And as promised, here's the visual presentation of everything to know about False Ceilings in India!