When to Use Insulated Drop Ceiling Tiles

Written by Milan Jara on 2nd Oct 2022

Drop Ceiling Tiles

Why should you use insulated drop ceiling tiles? They have several benefits, and when placed strategically, they are a great addition to a space.

Before people used ceiling tiles, homes contained beadboard, plaster, or drywall ceilings. The drawback was that the surfaces were relatively rigid and high maintenance. Plaster and drywall tended to crack easily with the stress of a home’s structure. Today, people use drop ceiling tiles in multiple applications, including insulated drop ceiling tiles.

Most homes that utilize drop ceilings tend to be simply painted drywall. However, more homeowners are turning to insulated drop ceiling tiles as they begin to see the advantages of doing so. These tiles are available in several different colors, designs, and shapes. This change has caused people to elevate them from “basement” status to being used throughout the home.

What Is a Drop Ceiling?

Installing Drop Ceiling Tiles

Drop ceilings are tiles stapled into two-inch wood or steel strapping rows that form a grid, for those unfamiliar with the term. Lines are generally ten inches apart from each other. Some are fastened or adhered directly to the ceiling, while others go in a suspended grid.

In terms of insulated drop ceiling tiles, these tend to go in a T-grid, a suspended frame that hangs directly from your ceiling. The benefit of this suspended design is that it is excellent for areas where you want to hide things like plumbing and electrical or a ceiling that shows signs of damage.

For some, the lure becomes being able to install a ceiling tile that covers defects rather than having to take the time to fix it. Installation is relatively easy for even a suspended grid and very easy for glue-up tiles. Homeowners can completely change the look of a room in a fraction of the time

The disadvantage of this suspended ceiling system is that if you have low ceilings, it makes the ceiling height significantly lower and the room smaller.

Types of Insulated Ceiling Tiles

Closed-Edge Panels

These tend to contain inner foam cores surrounded by a combination of fiberglass and resin molded to a rigid form. Closed-edge panels are moisture-resistant because they are sealed off and resist contaminants like dirt or grease.

They are very strong as they can resist a load of up to 40 lbs. This type of tile is best with a suspended grid ceiling system.

Regular Ceiling Panels

These are panels made of wood fiber, perlite, glass wool, recycled paper, or plastic. They contain various patterns of holes which aid with absorbing sound. Some have pressed patterns to make them look like metal ceilings or plaster.

Thin vinyl coats the tiles, making them easier to clean.

When to Use Insulated Drop Ceiling Tiles

Install Insulated Drop Ceiling Tiles

There are many benefits to using an insulated drop ceiling tile in a house. Outside of a quick install, there are reasons to use it that range from the obvious to the interesting.

Sound Dampening

Insulated drop ceiling tiles readily absorb sound, making them the perfect acoustic barrier when used between floors. Additionally, the space above the grid is ideal for hiding plumbing, duct work, and electrical wires, providing easier access when doing maintenance or repairs.

For most projects, the area between the frame and the dropped ceiling is a cold air return. Since the tiles fit very snugly into the frame, it allows for consistent air pressure.

Protects Against Changes in Temperature

Installing these tiles in an attic means they have R-3.5 protection during cold winter months and help with heat during the summer. If they are correctly sealed and in a T-grid frame, extra protection is provided by adding a sealed air space between the grid and ceiling. Plus, the tiles themselves provide superb insulation.

Adding a drop ceiling does not do away with attic insulation, though. Without proper insulation, you would need to stack several tiles together to achieve the recommended R-40 for an R-2000 home. Yet, they are helpful when preventing cool or hot air from reaching the ceiling.

The added benefit is that it reduces cooling and heating costs for the house.

Resistant to Fire

Most of these tiles are fire-resistant. The fiberglass found in closed-edged panels will not catch fire; however, it may melt during high temperatures. To be sure, you will need to check their Class A or 1 rating.

The only types of tiles that tend to catch fire quickly are those made from Styrofoam which can be very dangerous in a fire. However, there has recently been a movement to make these tiles fire-resistant.

Most homeowners like Styrofoam tiles because they dampen noise and provide insulation. Since none of the categories of insulated ceiling tiles contain these properties, they should be completely safe. However, again, make sure they are before buying them.

If you want to know where best to apply insulated drop ceiling tiles, the obvious choice is in the basement. It will hide all the electrical and plumbing on the ceiling while providing an aesthetic appeal. It can also act as a dampener for any noise going on overhead and eliminate the natural creaking and movement of floorboards.

Since insulated ceiling tiles have both sound dampening and thermal benefits, homeowners are also finding some use for them in the attic. They are installed in attics to reduce utility expenses and regulate temperature. There is no longer a loss of heat or cold, depending on the time of the year.

There may be benefits in installing these tiles anywhere else in the house, as the benefits are obvious. However, these are two areas that will have the most significant impact.

The only area that may benefit more would be the bedrooms as these tiles would dampen noise for a better night’s sleep and help regulate temperature. However, when it comes to insulated drop ceiling tiles, attics and basements tend to be the areas where they are the most beneficial. If you are looking for aesthetic appeal plus benefits, they can go anywhere in the house and are very easy to replace if damaged.

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