2nd May 2023 -

Whether you work in a school, hospital or call centre, it is likely that MF (metal frame) ceiling systems have been installed in your workplace. They are widely used in offices and other commercial environments because of their flexibility, thermal insulation benefits and sound protection qualities. In this article, we outline what an MF ceiling system is and a step-by-step guide on the installation process. 

What is an MF ceiling system?

There are 3 components which make up an MF suspended ceiling system: a primary support channel (MF7), a ceiling channel (MF5) and perimeter support (MF6A). An MF ceiling system is a suspended ceiling made from a combination of plasterboard and metal materials. Its purpose is to add strength and durability to a structure - MF ceiling systems are also a discreet solution for hiding anything such as pipework and electrical cables. When you install an MF ceiling system, you are able to adjust the height and access points for any maintenance work.

How much does an MF ceiling system cost?

When you are planning your MF ceiling system, it is important to factor in how much the installation will cost. Calculating an estimate at the start will help you to know where you stand with your budget and avoid any unexpected surprises. Below are the average costs of installing MF ceiling systems.

Average ceiling size (m2)Project lengthCost per m2Total
15m21 day£20 - £30£300 - £450
25m22 days£20 - £30£500 - £750
100m25 - 7 days£15 - £25£1,500 - £2,500

How to fit an MF ceiling system

Once you have finished your MF plasterboard ceiling layout plans, it is time to get started with the construction. Here is our 8-step guide on how to fit an MF ceiling system. 

Step 1 - Gather tools and materials

Before you start, it is worth gathering all the materials and tools you will need for every step of the process. Check each product off the below list and feel prepared for the project ahead.

Sound and moisture plasterboardMF6A ceiling perimeter
Acoustic hangersTape measure
Drywall screwsMF7 primary support channel
MF5 ceiling sectionMF17 hanger angles
MF11 nuts and boltsCordless drill
Angle bracketsMF9 connecting clips

Step 2 - Measure and fit the perimeter

First off, you will need to measure the perimeter of your room length and width. After this, you can choose how far your MF ceiling system should sit under the original ceiling. Once you decide on the height, fit the MF6A ceiling perimeter around the room’s edge. 

Step 3 - Drill the perimeter

When you fix the perimeter, it will help to hold the ceiling’s MF primary support channels into place. At 600mm intervals, drill and fix the perimeter trim to make sure it is securely fitted. It is important to note that the fixings you use for an MF plasterboard ceiling will depend on the type of wall you are working with. For example, a concrete block wall will require hammer fixings to secure the trim. Whereas for dry-lined walls, you will need to use drywall screws.

Step 4 - Fit MF17 hanger angles

Now you are ready to install the MF17 hanger angles. To provide strength for the ceiling grid, the hanger angles also give the MF ceiling system maximum support, preventing it from dropping too low as it hits the room’s centre. Make sure you reach the correct length for each MF17 hanger angle. The best way to do this is to measure from the ceiling to the bottom edge of the MF6A perimeter. Once you have measured, the MF17 will need to be cut to the hanger angle to the same measurement from the ceiling to the MF6A bottom edge. 

Step 5 - Mark 1200mm gaps

At the top of 2 opposite walls, mark 1200mm intervals and set a line between every mark. You need to repeat this for the 2 other walls so you will end up creating a 1200mm x 1200mm grid. At the point where each line crosses, fit a hanger angle. You can do this with angle brackets which can be tightened with nuts and bolts, however, for your MF ceiling system to provide the best acoustic performance, it is best to use acoustic ceiling hangers instead of brackets. 

Step 6 - Fix the primary channel

Once the hanger angles are in place, you next need to cut the MF7 primary support channel. The channel length should be the same size as in step 4, but it is advised to cut it slightly shorter by 3-5mm for a simple fit. After the channel has been cut, it should easily drop in place and rest on the perimeter alongside the hanger angles. Be sure to use wafer head self-drilling drywall screws for the metal components to securely fix together, and repeat the process for all primary channels.

Step 7 - Secure the M5 ceiling sections

At a right angle, fix the M5 ceiling sections to the MF7 primary support channels. The size of your plasterboard will depend on where you place the ceiling sections. If the width or length of your room is over 3.6m, be sure to overlap the MF5 by 150mm and fix them together using wafer head screws. Then, fit each ceiling section into the perimeter channel - they should sit just below the primary channels. All ceiling sections should also be securely fixed using MF9 connecting clips

Step 8 - Attach the plasterboard

Once the grid system is complete, you can now attach the plasterboard. Be careful to do this so each board is fixed to the MF5 ceiling section underside. Stagger the boards to conceal the joists and securely fix them using drywall screws. You will find the screws should easily go through the plasterboard and into the behind ceiling section. When drilling the screws, each one should be positioned at least 10mm from a bound edge and 13mm from a cut edge.

What are the benefits of an MF ceiling system?

As well as practical benefits particularly for commercial environments, there are 3 main benefits of an MF plasterboard ceiling system to consider.

  1. Functionality: In addition to its simple style, an MF ceiling system is a functional solution for a range of reasons such as concealing wires and pipes. You can also benefit from soundproofing properties. A top tip to maximise this is to introduce acoustic insulation between the components. The height of the MF ceiling system can also influence the acoustic and thermal performance of your workspace. 
  2. Appearance: Because of their smooth finish, MF plasterboard ceiling systems are a popular choice for various spaces. They highly complement many existing ceiling features from ceiling baffles, canopies and rafts - you can also work gradients, bulkheads and height changes to suit your aesthetic needs. 
  3. Versatility: MF ceilings are very flexible with their design and how they hide any pipes or wires. Once the plasterboard is fitted, you are left with a blank canvas which you are free to paint. Also, when the correct components are used, an MF ceiling system can achieve a fire rating of up to 2 hours. 

MF ceiling components available with quick UK delivery

At Building Materials Nationwide, we supply all materials you need to build MF ceilings from the best manufacturers. Whether you need to buy British Gypsum casoline quick-lock hangers, a Gypframe GL1 lining channel or Knauf plasterboard, we have all the right products for your MF ceiling system project. If you are a builder or construction worker looking to make the process of buying and sourcing tools and materials much simpler, a Building Materials Nationwide trade account is the perfect solution. 

In addition to gaining access to more than 25,000 products, your own trade account manager is on hand to provide friendly, knowledgeable advice and arrange speedy delivery across the UK. You may be eligible to open a flexible credit trade account to spread out the cost of your orders. Either sign up online or give us a call to chat about your options.