Suspended Ceiling Design Specifications

Written by john landers
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Suspended Ceiling Design Specifications
Suspended ceiling are commonly used to cover pipes or bad ceilings. (fire detector on ceiling image by StarJumper from

Typically, suspended ceiling systems have a metal grid that supports lightweight infill panels. People used them in residential homes and commercial facilities. Gone are the days of the traditional horizontal suspension systems, which constituted most design options. Many newer systems specifications incorporate curves to add more depth and visual characteristics to any room, creating a layered look, floating clouds, free-formed islands and other configurations.

Quality Assurance

Like many building products, suspended ceiling manufacturers make recommendations regarding the skill level necessary to ensure a quality installation. The horizontal design of many residential projects makes for an easier installation for do-it-yourself projects. Some ceiling manufacturers recommend five years of professional experience in suspended ceiling construction for their product installers. In addition, installations must meet the International Code Council's (ICC) seismic criteria: the grid components and panels must follow the minimum requirements for the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) requirements for flame spread or smoke density. Parts also must conform to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) fire rating standards.


Specifications typically require product data, which helps buyers and installers understand the system's components and the quantity of each item. Suspended ceiling systems include drawings depicting various grid layout plans. Some manufacturers include sample kits that contain suspended ceiling parts and roofing panels.

Materials and Structure

Specification design usually list the name of the suspended ceiling system's manufacturer and the parts, such as 21-foot main runners and 2-foot cross tees made from pultruded fibreglass with at least a 1 3/8-inch wide facing. Systems also include wall angles and anchors that must meet or exceed specifications for the product. Installer must also install the system to accept specific dead load, or constant load, requirements.

Installation Guidelines

The terms require the installation in accordance with certain industry standards, such as the Ceilings Interior Systems Construction Association and the manufacturer's instructions. It may require equipment, air diffusers or other items to have independent supports. Generally, grid systems have exact dimensions for the placement of the main runners 48 inches on centre or install wall clips at point of tee-to-wall-angle intersections using corrosive-resistant anchors. Most traditional suspended ceiling design either a 2-by-4-foot or 4-by-4-foot grid patterns.

Storage and Handling

Many manufacturers' specification calls for the delivery of all materials in the original unopened packages and stored at the job site for a short duration between delivery and actual installation. Keep the material in a controlled environment away from the elements, such as water or excess humidity, which cause warping, sagging or poor fitting during installation.

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