Opera halls and theatres have been using acoustic ceilings for decades. Their special designs and materials reduce echo and give clarity to the sounds you want to hear. The simple idea is to absorb as much sound as possible – and aim the rest of the sound energy away from the source or any reflective surfaces.
When you are planning an office space, you want it to look good and to be comfortable. To do this, you want to dampen and redirect noise with modern design and cost-effective materials.
As sound hits a surface, the material it hits will absorb some of the sound energy and bounce the rest back. If you talk at the end of a long tunnel, the sound will bounce off the solid walls, floor, and ceiling to give you an echo.
As much fun as it is to make an echo, it is not something you want in a work environment or even at home. Your home may have furniture and curtains to absorb some of the noise, but modern offices are often open plan.
Carpets and classical fibreboard ceiling panels in an office will offer a level of dampening. Open-plan offices, airport terminals, and train stations will limit carpet use due to cleaning and maintenance.
Sound studios and theatres go to great lengths to reduce echo. They hire expensive interior designers that install deadening materials, rafts, and baffles. Instead, these areas could use acoustic ceilings that are inexpensive, low on maintenance, and easy to install.
“Carpets Offer Some Dampening”
Redirection is another common trick for reducing echoes and deadening sounds. Motorways have been using deflectors for years. They point the sound from lorries and other vehicles, up and towards the sky and away from residential and protected areas.
Architects of large spaces, such as airport lounges, try to mitigate echo’s in the planning stage by avoiding certain angles and shapes. Often engineers will attempt to fix echoes with art, advertisement banners, and wooden beams on the ceiling.
An office space may not have the same budget or headroom to use these methods of redirecting sound. Though the texture of an office ceiling panel may help to redirect some of the sounds.
“Avoid Certain Angles and Shapes”
There is a fine line between function and something appropriate for an office environment. Standard office ceiling tiles make small offices look drab and unwelcoming. Standard ceiling tiles are also difficult to preserve, and it does not take long for them to end up looking dirty.
Ceiling panels provide a space for electric, telephone, and utility pipes that you want to keep hidden. Panels are useful when integrating lighting in an office – they make a room look uniform and organized.
Metal is a modern material that is easy to clean – but it can be expensive, and metal is one of the worst reflectors of unwanted sound. Again, the challenge is to find a material that is as pleasing to the eye as it is functional.
New Acoustic Ceilings
Companies like SAS International design next generation of acoustic ceiling panels are affordable and come in a range of designs to suit near any type of formal environment. Baffles and rafts are still popular for both their style and effectiveness. But there is a new wave of acoustic panels that allow you to hide the clutter in the ceiling.
This hybrid metal facia has a porous backing, giving the tile a cleanable surface and exceptional sound absorption. These panels can take many shapes to give ceilings more character.
Rafts use similar material and installation techniques to full ceiling panels. Though rafts have a few extra benefits, including the savings made from using less sound absorption material. You can place ceiling rafts so that they miss vital and hard to move pipes like those for integrated fire sprinkler systems.
You can place rafts to avoid air ducts. In this way, you still have access to air from built-in air-conditioning without having to perform a full unit relocation. If anything, this can improve airflow and add an extra dimension to the workplace.
Baffles are commonplace in large indoor spaces. Baffles reduce sound propagation over huge areas and use less material than full ceiling panels. Using baffles means that you can keep all the lighting, venting, sprinklers, and other systems in place.
Baffles allow for good airflow and can add a subtle lighting effect to an office without reducing the useful amount of work light. Baffles come in a variety of designs and can help achieve a new look to a work area with a small amount of disruption to workers.
“Install Baffles Around Existing Installations”
Mesh panels have similar benefits and issues, though sometimes less effective. Open cells are a hybrid of baffles and panels, where you can have the best ventilation and ambient lighting.
Open cells may take more work to install around fire retardation systems and lighting, but they are modern and great at reducing noise.
“Great for Ambient Lighting”
Suspended metal ceiling tiles can clip into existing office ceiling tile concealed grids. The tiles also come as hook-on tiles and grid-less. Each perforated metal tile has a layer of backing-material that absorbs different frequencies of sound. The metal facing improves the life span of the tiles, and they can last up to 25 years – far longer than most companies would go without redecorating.
Tiles come in varying grades, with the thicker the backing material, the better the sound absorption properties. As with normal ceiling tiles, acoustic ceiling tiles are easy to replace, with the bonus that the metal facing is easy to clean.
“Easy to Clean”
Acoustic panels can reduce the spread of noise and the spread of microscopic saliva droplets. The panels reduce air turbulence and can even act as a cooling element when combined with cooling pipes.
The metal on the panels can also incorporate an anti-microbial finish. This finish will kill bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic life that try to make a home on the tiles.
A Silent Lifesaver
Covid-19 has put more pressure on companies to improve ventilation and to reduce surfaces that can support viruses, bacteria, and mildew. Acoustic ceilings are the solution for an open office space that needs a quieter and healthier work environment.