Using Acoustic Ceilings to Mitigate Sound

Most office spaces are crowded with people. Any layout, from cubicles, to open floor plans, will be bringing a group of people together within a finite space. As workers make calls, write reports, type emails, walk on floors above, meet clients and print letters, space becomes animated and at times, noisy.  That’s where acoustic ceilings come in.

How Do Acoustic Ceilings Work?

In commercial construction, acoustic ceilings are used to dampen sound. Sounds can come from workspaces, but can also come from HVAC and pipes run between the floor above and the acoustical ceiling. Properly installed acoustic ceilings can absorb and attenuate sounds coming from adjacent spaces. That means that a conversation in a conference room is less likely to carry over to an office located next to it.

The ceilings do this by limiting the ability of the sound waves to travel through the ceiling to other spaces. The sound will bounce off surfaces until it either dissipates or finds a route to a new location. Acoustic ceilings limit this process by absorbing sound waves, causing them to dissipate faster and giving them less opportunity to reflect off of flat surfaces like walls and glass.

Think of a racquetball court. 3 solid walls and 1 glass wall cause the sound waves of the ball to reverberate until they dissipate, and the glass provides no insulation to the noise. This allows the echoes to not only bounce around the original court but also the surrounding courts and hallways. If one of those walls was made of an acoustic material then the sound wouldn’t reverberate to the same degree and would dissipate quicker, preventing the auditory pollution from affecting the rest of the area.

In order to accomplish their dampening duties, the tiles in acoustic ceilings are usually made of mineral fiber.  However, other materials, like fiberglass, are often available as well. Each material will have a specified level of dampening capability. These levels are designated by the Ceiling Attenuation Class or CAC of the ceiling panel. The higher the CAC the better the material is at dampening sound. Mineral fiber has one of the highest CACs and is cost-effective, which is why it is such a common material for acoustic ceilings.

How to Know What Type of Acoustic Ceiling is Right for Your Job

Understanding where to put an acoustic ceiling, what type of tiles to use, or how best to hang the tiles is not an easy task. Our project managers are able to work with you to help you understand all your options and to ensure that you know exactly what will work best for you and your needs.

Contact United Builders Services for a quote on your building retrofit or new construction at 303.466.7200