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How to Choose the Right Ceiling Tiles

Grainger Editorial Staff

Ceiling tiles play a crucial role in reducing noise, preventing fire from spreading across rooms and floors, and completing the look of your facility. Ceiling tiles are often built from a mix of mineral fibers that possess fireproof and antimicrobial properties. Selecting the right ceiling tile depends on the specific characteristics you need from your ceilings, the design of your facility, and the shape and size of your rooms.

Why Install Ceiling Tiles?

Ceiling tiles are used to cover unfinished ceilings, which are typically made from exposed wood beams, concrete or metal. According to Nearby Engineers, unfinished ceilings are a popular choice for their height and aesthetics, and can help hide electrical or plumbing components, reduce maintenance and cleaning costs and cut labor costs during ceiling construction.

According to Interiors+Sources, tiles also play a role in reducing noise pollution. Hard surfaces such as concrete can bounce sound around an office or open facility, increasing ambient noise. Noisy environments can lead to higher stress, lower productivity and health problems over time, as reported by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Ceiling tiles are designed to absorb sound so that it cannot reflect back into a room and increase the overall noise level.

Different Types of Ceiling Tiles

Acoustical ceiling tiles are standard in office buildings, restaurants and other crowded areas. According to the New York State Office of General Services (OGS), acoustical ceiling tiles are the most widely used tile in commercial settings, and are typically made from paper and mineral fiber.

Other materials can be used to increase sound absorption, provide fireproofing and antimicrobial benefits, or increase recycled content. Popular alternatives include perlite—a volcanic mineral—as well as fiberglass, wood and metal. The right choice depends on the use case. Choosing the wrong ceiling tile for the job can lead to early replacement or repair, according to, making it important to choose the tile that best meets your needs rather than the most inexpensive solution.

  • Fire-resistant tiles are designed to meet or exceed fire prevention standards. According to Armstrong, these tiles are made to limit the spread of fire by either resisting fire or burning slowly. Many existing types of ceiling tiles have a degree of fire resistance, while perlite tiles, according to the New York State OGS, are naturally fireproof.
  • Decorative tiles combine form and function, with designs that specifically feature acoustic and fire-resistant properties. According to Interiors+Sources, decorative tiles are often used in rooms where aesthetics matter and ambient noise needs to be reduced, requiring a ceiling that can both match existing walls and fixtures and provide sound absorption. Decorative tiles can cost more than standard options due to their unique designs and/or colors.
  • Moisture-resistant tiles are used In rooms with high humidity, such as bathrooms and food production areas, where moisture is a concern for the life and safety of a ceiling. Ceiling tiles made from metal or PVC, according to Interiors+Sources, offer natural moisture resistance, while still reducing ambient noise. Unlike standard mineral ceiling tiles, these materials do not stain or sag when exposed to water from a leak.
  • Antimicrobial tiles are used in healthcare environments where they can be easily cleaned and sanitized frequently. According to the New York State OGS, tiles can be coated in a PVC layer or paint that can be scrubbed to remove any contaminants. Antimicrobial tiles contain materials or coatings that prevent mold and mildew growth, and can kill a majority of bacteria on the surface of a tile within 72 hours.

Ceiling Tile Accessories

Installing ceiling tiles requires special equipment, rails and hangers designed for stability, durability and aesthetics.

Ceiling tile suspension rails go between your tiles and attach to the ceiling, supporting the tiles in an even grid. Suspension rails can speed installation times and increase the load that the ceiling can withstand, improving tile lifespan. Suspension rails can also be custom-designed to fit unique patterns or layouts.

Ceiling tile hangers can enhance the maximum weight load and durability of your ceiling. Hangers can be installed on multiple ceiling surfaces, including cement, wood and metal, depending on the type of hanger. Ceiling tile hangers help ensure an even, properly spaced ceiling and make transitions into other rooms easier.

The right ceiling tile for the job can reduce noise, offer benefits such as fire resistance and durability, and change the aesthetic feel of your facility. Grainger offers a variety of ceiling tiles, hangers and rails for your needs.

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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