Drop Ceiling vs. Open Ceiling

Ceilings can change the look, feel, and even energy costs for a space. In commercial buildings, drop and exposed ceilings are the most common ceiling types. Keep reading to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of each. 

Drop Ceilings

 

A drop ceiling, also called a suspended ceiling, is what typically comes to mind when you think of ceilings in an office space, retail store, or school classroom. The drop ceiling is not a part of the structural foundation of the building. Instead, it is made up of panels or tiles that hang below the roof. 

Drop ceilings have been used for many years due to these benefits:

  • The panels conceal all mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) installations. 
  • Panels can be easily removed when the maintenance of an MEP system is required.
  • Suspended ceilings provide an extra layer to block exterior sounds, which is especially beneficial in multi-floor buildings.
  • The drop ceiling creates a smaller space to be heated or cooled, reducing energy costs and making it easier to maintain a comfortable temperature. 

Of course, the design of drop ceilings doesn’t come without disadvantages. Here are some things to consider with drop ceilings:

  • Drop ceilings lower the ceiling, making the room feel smaller. 
  • Panels can sag over time and will show stains from water damage or discoloration.
  • While suspended ceilings conceal MEP systems, they also hide any issues that may arise.

Even with the disadvantages, drop ceilings remain a popular option because they cover MEP installations while providing easy access, and help keep energy costs low. 

Open Ceilings

The industrial look is gaining more popularity in both residential and commercial spaces. One way to easily attain this style is with exposed, or open, ceilings. With exposed ceilings, all mechanical, electrical, and plumbing installations are exposed. 

Here are some of the advantages that come with exposed ceilings:

  • The additional space of the exposed ceiling creates a vast and open feel in the office or retail area.
  • Exposed ceilings have a modern aesthetic appeal. MEP systems can be painted or customized to become design elements, and there is more room for creativity with lighting fixtures. 
  • There is also the option for more natural light with exposed ceilings, either with skylights or large windows. 
  • With exposed systems, MEP maintenance is easily attended to.

The industrial look is no doubt an appealing design, but open ceilings have disadvantages as well. These include:

  • Without the barrier of panels, sound travels and echoes with exposed ceilings. There are options to create a sound barrier in spaces with open ceilings, though this requires additional planning and labor. 
  • The additional space means there is a larger area to heat and cool, raising energy expenses. 
  • There is more work involved to make MEP systems attractive enough to be aesthetically pleasing. 

Although exposed ceilings can raise monthly costs, the modern design is eye-catching and creates a spacious feel. 

Which ceiling do you prefer: drop or open?

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