Introduction to False Ceilings
Concrete ceilings are well known by every individual. However, false ceiling, or secondary ceiling is a recent development that has redefined how a living space can be designed. As it can come in multiple forms, be it the whole ceiling, partially or even curved, it has been widely used in residential and commercial projects.
Purpose of False Ceilings
Most people believe that false ceilings only serve aesthetic purposes as a design element. However, false ceilings do serve practical purposes as well such as hiding ducting and reducing the volume of a room. It can hide unsightly structural elements such as beams. Also, it can provide insulation from heat from the sun. Moreover, it can absorb sound and reduces noise and reverberation due to its non-resonant property.
Most importantly, false ceiling accommodates lighting systems and provides hidden lighting, also known as cove lighting.
Elements of a False Ceiling
A suspended ceiling system consists of 3 parts
1) Primary Members
2) Secondary Members
3) Main Ceiling Material
Primary and Secondary members form the structural framework on which the boards, lighting fixtures and A.C. ducts are fixed.
Materials Used for False Ceilings
1) Gypsum Boards
2) Plaster of Paris
Other Materials less commonly used:
1) Metal (Aluminium, Asbestos)
2) Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC)
Gypsum Board is the most commonly used material in Singapore. This is due to its lightweight, economical, fire and moisture resistant properties. Usually gypsum panels of 600mm by 600mm are used which have tapered edges so that the gap between each edge can be filled to give a smooth finish.
Gypsum boards allow for various designs such a curved, pelmet or drop design. As it is strong enough to withstand a load of 15kg, it is able to support lightings and fans. Gypsum boards are usually constructed by fixing them on a metal grid (steel).
A minimum of 24 hours is required before the ceiling can be decorated with wallpaper or paint.
Plaster of Paris (POP) is used with Gypsum Boards for false ceiling construction. POP is created when gypsum is heated and crushed to form a powder. POP then hardens immediately when water is added to it. It is used to create wave-like or circular shapes.
Disadvantages of False Ceilings
Due to the crevices created by false ceilings, pests may breed. Thus, timely cleaning of false ceiling spaces are necessary.
Also, false ceilings can reduce the height of ceiling significantly, especially when multiple drops are used. Thus, it is important to consider the spacious look of the room versus the design aspect of the false ceiling.
As wiring and piping installed behind false ceilings are difficult to modify once the ceiling is installed, it is recommended to discuss lighting and piping details with your interior designer before the false ceiling is installed. After which, wires and piping must be fished through the hollow spaces or in extreme cases, the ceiling must be demolished in order to make changes.
False Ceiling Designs
Centre drop down false ceiling can create a cosier feel to a bedroom as it lowers the ceiling height at the sleeping area.
An L shaped false ceiling can be used for rectangular areas so that the height of the ceiling is maintained.
A boxed up false ceiling is used for squarish areas, or used to subtly separate two spaces ie. living and dining areas.
One bar of false ceiling can be used to preserve the height of the ceiling and accentuates only one side of the room.
Wooden false ceilings are less prevalent in Singapore for residential projects due to their cost. However, they have their appeal in traditional style interior design such as Modern Zen or Colonial style interior design. Box beam ceilings are ideal for formal or grand settings. Plank wood ceilings, whether polished or painted give a unique feel to a place when installed in geometric patterns or when the beams jut out and the boards in between are sunken.
In countries with a cooler climate, wood is more commonly used as a false ceiling as it provides greater insulation than gypsum board.
A false ceiling with curved design can give off a under the sea feeling to a home.