False ceilings are a type of ceiling that many people may have seen, but not known exactly what they do. These types of ceilings can be found in many hotels and other elegantly decorated venues, and if you didn’t know any better, you may think that they are just a normal ceiling.
When it comes to false ceilings, many ask:
Does a false ceiling reduce noise?
A false ceiling can help to reduce noise as it adds an extra layer of material to the ceiling and it is suspended ensuring that the sound does not have a direct path to the floor above it.
I am going to explain the different types of false ceilings and discuss the soundproofing capabilities of each to give you a better idea of which may work best for your application.
What Is A False Ceiling
A false ceiling is a ceiling that is built suspended from the structural framing of the ceiling.
Standard ceilings affix to the framing of the room to provide a ceiling for the room that follows the contours of the joists. With a false ceiling, you are able to suspend the room and allow for more intricate designs. This is due to the ceiling material not needing to affix directly to the framing of the house.
False ceilings are mostly seen in hotels, studios, conference rooms, and other areas that can benefit from a decorative ceiling. False ceilings can help not only to add some style to the room, but they can also be used to hide electrical wires, air conditioning ducts, and other items in the ceiling.
Types Of False Ceilings
When it comes to false ceilings, you can use a few different materials to produce them.
False ceilings are usually made from one of the following five materials: foam tiles, plaster of Paris, gypsum, pvc, and wood. Depending on the type of ceiling you want and the complexity of the design, choosing one over the other may be easier once I explain exactly what each will do and how much soundproofing you can expect from using them.
If you have ever visited an office building or school, you have most likely seen a drop ceiling.
Drop ceilings are ceilings that feature a metal frame which is suspended from the roof frame and holds foam tiles. These foam tiles do a great job of reducing sound from exiting the room as well as to help soundproof the room and reduce echos your room may have had beforehand.
Installation will need to be done by a professional to ensure that everything is even. This is a type of ceiling you will normally see commercially and not so much in residential homes.
Plaster Of Paris Ceilings
The first type of false ceiling material on our list is plaster of paris. Plaster of paris, POP, is a dry powder that is mixed together and molded into the shape of the desired ceiling design.
It is often used to create intricate designs or rounded edges that gypsum and drywall materials cannot achieve. It is a highly durable material and will last for years without any type of wear or tear.
It is cheaper than gypsum and more flexible, allowing it to be used for just about any shape or size.
However, you will need to have a professional install it as it is a very tedious process.
You will have to wait until the plaster is completely dry before handling it and putting it into place. Overall, it is a great way to add a false ceiling to your room and the thickness of the plaster can be adjusted in most cases to achieve better soundproofing.
Gypsum False Ceilings
Gypsum drywall is a commonly used material when it comes to false ceilings. Since it is the most common ceiling material across the world, many contractors use it to create false ceilings as it is durable, easily texturable and paintable, as well as relatively cheap.
Gypsum is easy to work with if you are doing squared off designs with hard edges. For designs that will require round edges or more intricate designs, plaster of paris is going to be the way to go. Gypsum is much easier to handle than POP and there is no drying time required as the boards simple screw into place.
You will have to tape and mud the edges like drywall, but you still get the same great soundproofing qualities as you would with any drywall ceiling, except you will have double the soundproofing as it is a double ceiling.
PVC False Ceilings
PVC false ceilings are just what they sound like, ceilings made from PVC materials. These can be found in many different configurations including tiles, rows, and panels.
While it is a very popular false ceiling material, PVC does not perform to the standards of other false ceiling materials when it comes to reducing sound. Due to the material composition of PVC, sound usually reflects off of the PVC, giving you little soundproofing.
These types of ceilings are mainly used for aesthetic reasons and the ease of install make them a perfect solution for DIYers.
One way you can help them reduce sound is by affixing them with Green Glue. As an acoustic dampening adhesive, Green Glue helps just about all materials reduce more sound. Of course, this will depend on how you are planning on installing your PVC false ceiling.
Last but not least, you can use a wooden false ceiling to add both a great new look to your room and help to reduce sound.
Wood has soundproofing characteristics and is always a great choice when looking for a cheap solution to reducing sound.
When it comes to false ceilings, wood can take on elegant shapes and colors to really make the room pop. You can choose from a wide variety of different woods when it comes to your ceiling and each will have it’s own level of soundproofing abilities.
Wood is usually not the most popular choice, but it can be used with good results.
How False Ceilings Can Reduce Noise
False ceilings can help to reduce noise and act as a soundproofing ceiling solution for various reasons.
Since they are suspended lower than the actual ceiling rafters or beams, sound does not have a direct path to travel from ceiling to floor in two story buildings.
The same principles go into effect of sound coming from upstairs or on the roof through the false ceiling.
Second, the types of materials used to construct the ceiling are usually thicker than the standard drywall ceiling so you get an extra layer of soundproofing simply by using an extra ceiling.
Lastly, you are able to fill in the area between the two ceilings with soundproofing material such as insulation to help muffle the noise even more. This will also help to keep the room more insulated as an extra bonus.
How Much Do False Ceilings Cost
False ceiling prices can vary greatly depending on the type of material you use, the amount of coverage you need, and how intricate your design may be.
If you are not trying to DIY your false ceiling, you will need to factor in the cost of hiring a professional to come in and install it for you.
I would suggest figuring out which false ceiling you would like to go with, getting your measurements, and giving a few companies a call to get a better idea of what you can expect to spend on your ceiling.
Pro & Cons Of A False Ceiling
Just like any type of ceiling construction, there are going to be pros and cons of choosing a false ceiling.
Of course, the following list does not always apply to everyone, but it is a general guide for those looking to add a false ceiling to their rooms.
Soundproofing – Without a doubt, the biggest benefit you are going to get when using a false ceiling for soundproofing, is soundproofing. Soundproofing is all about reducing vibrations from one area to another and since the false ceiling does not have a solid path to the floor above it, sound will not be able to travel as easily, thus reducing the sound.
Also, the materials used in false ceiling are usually pretty good about reducing sound as they are.
Elegant Design – One of the main reasons people choose to go with a false ceiling isn’t just the soundproofing, but the capabilities it has to be molded into elegant designs.
Normal ceilings attached to joists which run in one direction giving you a not-so-attractive design.
While this is standard in most homes and it does the job, for those who are wanting to really customize the look of their ceiling to add more styling to the room, a false ceiling is the way to go.
This mostly applies to custom ceilings as drop ceilings are more for providing a soundproof, low maintenance ceiling.
Various Material Options – When it comes to choosing a material for your false ceiling, there are many choices to choose from depending on the type of design you choose to go with.
This allows you to adjust for your budget, design, and soundproofing needs if you need to. When it comes to standard ceilings, drywall is going to be your main option.
With the various materials to choose from, you should have no problem getting exactly what you need from your false ceiling.
Can Be Expensive
Installing a false ceiling, no matter what type of material you use, is usually going to be more labor intensive than your standard drywall ceiling install.
While the materials are the same amount, if not cheaper, you are going to spend more on the labor side of things.
If you are using it for soundproofing, you will really want to justify how much you are spending versus other ways to soundproof your ceiling. The more elegant the design is, the more you can expect to pay for the overall project.
Reduces Room Space
Due to the way that a false ceiling is mounted below your regular ceiling, you can expect to lose some room space in most cases.
While this may not seem like a big deal for those with tall ceilings or in a larger area with massive ceilings, adding a false ceiling in a room with 8ft ceilings can certainly make a room feel much smaller.
With drop ceilings that do not have a base ceiling, you can probably get away with not losing any space at all.
Can Be Hard To Service Existing Ceiling – Depending on the complexity of the design, adding a false ceiling could make it hard for you to service the existing ceiling in the event of a leak or damage.
With a false ceiling, you are essentially covering up your existing ceiling which will require you to remove the false ceiling before making any repairs. While this could be something you may never have to do, it is something to take into consideration before building out a new false ceiling.
So now that I have explained the difference between a few different false ceilings and how they can benefit your soundproofing efforts, you should feel confident in choosing the right setup for your specific room.
It is important to remember that all false ceilings will reduce sound, but some materials and configurations will do a much better job in keeping noise from entering or leaving your room.
Have you had any experience with false ceilings or drop ceilings? Did you add one in to help to reduce sound? What materials did you use for your ceiling?