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Today's tip is to be aware of new choices in ceilings. White, square, perforated ceiling panels that have characterized commercial ceiling products for decades served their purpose to covere up the mechanics, says Jeremy Verstraate, product marketing manager for acoustical ceilings with USG Corporation.
Now, manufacturers are offering panels in a range of shapes and sizes, such as four-by-four or two-by-eight panels, along with less common shapes, like triangles. Some companies also offer panels with patterns and other design details. For example, the newer panels can lie flush with the suspension system. Some forego the perforated surface for a smooth one. These changes give variety, freshen up the space and take away the visible suspension system, Verstraate says.
The expanded variety is a result of improved technology in the machines that manufacture ceiling tiles, says Ron Rice, national sales manager with Hunter Douglas. Larger or unusually shaped panels tend to be somewhat higher in price than conventional panels because they cost more to manufacture, Rice notes, but the cost of the material itself remains about the same.
Building owners can also find ceiling panels in which color and patterns are designed and manufactured into the product. The coloring agent used in the manufacturing process is much less than the amount needed for on-site paint methods. In addition, no VOCs are introduced into the environment and the range of colors and patterns is greatly expanded. As a result, the percentage of commercial ceilings that feature colors and patterns is likely to keep growing.
The enhanced looks don't stop at the installation. Some manufacturers are offering ceiling systems that can withstand stronger and more frequent cleanings, so that they stay looking good for a longer time, says Robert Marshall, manager of marketing technical services with CertainTeed Ceilings. That makes them particularly well suited for use in cafeterias and health care facilities, as well as in laboratories and clean room applications. For instance, one system can be cleaned daily with either disinfecting chemicals or high-pressure wet washing.
As more new ceilings are installed, they're likely to begin capturing the same level of attention that floors and walls currently do.