3rd May 2023 -

Whether you are thinking of ideas on how to revamp your workspace or hide any unsightly wires from public view, a suspended ceiling could be the perfect solution. As well as its smooth appearance, a suspended ceiling has many practical advantages. In this article, we cover the different types of suspended ceilings, where they can be installed and their wide-ranging benefits. 

What is a suspended ceiling?

Also commonly known as a false ceiling or drop ceiling, a suspended ceiling is a secondary structure created using a combination of a metal framework and ceiling tiles. It has a minimum drop of 100mm from the original ceiling and is widely used in commercial settings such as offices. Pipes, electrical wires and other cables are usually stored within this space. Other features such as smoke alarms, lights, heating systems and CCTV cameras can also be added. Because suspended ceiling tiles are slotted instead of permanently fixed onto a suspended ceiling grid, they can easily be removed for any repair works, or replaced when required. 

What are the different types of suspended ceilings?

There are 5 suspending ceiling detail options to choose from. Each false ceiling design has its own benefits - including acoustic performance, fire resistance and flexibility - depending on the environment you are working with. 

1. Aluminium suspended ceilings

Primarily for larger spaces which require more light such as hospitals and industrial areas, aluminium-suspended ceilings reflect light and are also adaptable to smaller spaces to make them appear bigger. Aluminium is easy to maintain, has a high level of durability, and is adaptable for all room sizes and shapes.

2. Lath and plaster-suspended ceilings

Considered the most traditional suspended ceiling type, lath and plaster provide exceptional durability and have a long life expectancy (up to 100 years). It can prove expensive, but lath and plaster-suspended ceilings are flexible for creating the configurations and shapes you need.

3. Panels or tiles

More common for commercial and industrial environments, tile or panel-suspended ceilings can also be found in some residential settings. They provide some thermal insulation but their main purpose is to improve acoustic levels and the appearance of a room. Tiles and panels are slotted within a concealed or exposed aluminium grid. Exposed grids are created by connecting long metal strips using cross tees. Concealed grids are a hidden version of their exposed counterpart.  

4. Free-span

Similar to panels or tiles, a free-span suspended ceiling system is built to sit on the perimeter trim edges. This type of ceiling is simple to install and maintain. You will likely see free-span suspended ceiling systems in hall areas and corridors - it provides easy access to the above area in case of any repair works. 

5. Plasterboard

This is regularly used for suspending ceiling systems in residential and commercial spaces. In addition to its smooth appearance, a suspended plasterboard ceiling (also known as an MF plasterboard ceiling) is fairly inexpensive to install and provides a good level of durability. 

How does a suspended ceiling benefit your space?

Construction worker wearing white gloves and red hat installing suspended ceilings.

As well as concealing electrical wires and pipes, introducing a new suspended ceiling can greatly benefit your workspace or home for aesthetic and practical reasons. 

1. Acoustic properties

A suspended or raft ceiling system can significantly impact acoustic levels by creating a sound barrier, particularly when using sound-absorbing tiles or plasterboard. This is especially true for busy environments with high foot traffic such as schools. 

2. Improved lighting

Workspaces with poor lighting can lead to many issues such as headaches, eye strain and fatigue, leaving you feeling uncomfortable and unable to complete tasks. But suspended ceiling tiles can reflect up to 90% of the light back into a workspace, unlike standard ceiling types. Also, LED panels provide a natural white light and are energy-efficient. 

3. Bacteria and mould-resistant

Suspended ceiling tiles are resistant to bacteria, mould and mildew. Some are treated with a special formula, allowing them to become moisture-resistant. This makes them particularly suitable for environments such as kitchens and bathrooms where humidity is common. The tiles have high durability and can withstand regular cleaning.

4. Repair access

Installing tiles or panels allow repair work to be a smooth process. For example, for repair works to electrical wires or pipes, panels or tiles can easily be removed without compromising the ceiling structure. 

5. Thermal insulation

Because a suspended ceiling can reduce a room’s height, the installation will effectively help to contain warmer air. This is beneficial for creating a pleasant workspace and can reduce your energy bills. If a suspended ceiling is not installed, heat energy could travel and be lost via the ceiling void. 

Where are suspended ceilings installed?

Although suspended ceilings are primarily used in commercial environments, some homes also benefit from their key advantages. You will likely find suspended ceilings in various environments, including hospitals and other medical settings, large office spaces such as call centres, shopping centres, education buildings including schools and universities, industrial units and supermarkets. Find out more about suspended ceiling grids

Can you put a suspended ceiling in a conservatory?

It is possible to add a suspended ceiling in your conservatory. You may find it is a better solution than installing roof blinds as a suspended ceiling allows you to enjoy the conservatory all year round. Roof blinds generally cost more and a suspending ceiling blocks out the harsh sun in summer. Also, it provides some thermal suspended ceiling insulation during the winter months. 

How much does a suspended ceiling cost?

When it comes to suspended ceiling installation, there are a few cost factors that you should take into consideration. For example, the higher the ceiling, the more you will spend on labour and the overall price. Below is a table outlining the average tile or panel suspended ceiling cost, based on the room space per m2, the typical size of suspension ceiling kits (600 mm2), labour and material costs, as well as duration. 

Labour costs (per m2)Material costs
(per m2)
DurationTotal cost
Panels/tiles£20 - £55£6 - £7--
Panels/tiles and fitting£20 - £55£6 - £71 day£26 - £62
Suspended ceiling kit (600 mm2)£20 - £55£300 - £4001 day£320 - £450
Ceiling insulation£20 - £55£5 - £81 day£25 - £28

Other factors can affect the overall price of your suspended ceiling project. 

  1. Location: If you happen to live in an area where the cost of living is higher, you can expect to pay more in labour costs. For example, if you live in Central London, you should expect to spend more than someone who lives in Wales.  
  2. Material: From aluminium to free-span and plasterboard, each material type comes with a different cost and you should make an informed decision about which one is best suited. 
  3. Number of rooms: If you choose to install a suspended ceiling system in more than one area - a bedroom and a hallway, for example - it will evidently increase the overall price. 
  4. Extra features: Whether you add fluorescent lights, air conditioning or fire sprinklers for commercial environments such as a restaurant kitchen, you will need to take these costs into account. 

Get everything you need for your suspended ceiling project from Building Materials Nationwide

We offer construction professionals and builders trade accounts with fantastic benefits, such as access to your own trade account manager, flexible credit limits and knowledgeable advice. Whether you need suspended ceiling tiles, suspended ceiling grids or suspended ceiling accessories, we supply high-quality products from the best manufacturers at competitive trade prices. Our quick delivery options across the UK help you to efficiently get the job done. Call us to learn more or sign up online.