False ceilings, real benefits

layers of use
Last Updated 18 September 2014, 14:07 IST

They can conceal wiring, while being energy efficient. They can be decorative, while being air regulators. They can be functional, and pretty at the same time. False ceilings are essentially used for concealing wires, sound proofing, fire safety, energy efficiency and to help in moisture and sag resistance.

Earlier, false ceilings were usually made of gypsum boards, but these days, it is easy to have false ceilings that are not only functional, but also decorative. From wood to glass and fibre to plastic, just about any material can be used for the purpose. They can host sprinklers for fire emergencies or to insert lights, providing a smooth, organised surface, rather than hanging tube-lights and bulbs.

Radeesh Shetty, founder, The Purple Turtles, suggests, “Ceilings are one of the most important elements of your home as they offer the maximum unobstructed view of any interior space. Therefore, a big advantage of installing false ceilings is that instead of putting one or more tube lights inside your room, you get to use high quality LED lights that consume less energy and last many years. You can fit LED lights inside your false ceiling in different corners of your home and use as much light as you need.”

False ceilings are also used for thermal insulation. The air-filled gap between the two layers of ceilings cools the room down. False ceilings are suspended a few inches below the basic ceiling on a metal framework which can be made of any lightweight construction material like wood, plaster of Paris, plywood, or gypsum, depending upon the budget or the requirement. Since there is a gap between these two layers, the air within gets trapped. Air, being a bad conductor of heat, does not allow the heat to flow into the room. This, in turn, helps reduce electricity bills.
Many of us are not aware that false ceilings also help with better optimisation of air conditioning. They reduce space in ceilings, thereby increasing air conditioning performance. Explains Vishwajeet Jhavar, founder and CEO of Marvel Realtors, “For instance, let’s assume your office is 10 x 10 sq feet big room. If your false ceiling is one feet below actual ceiling, it will cut down at least 10 x 10 x 10 cubic space, saving on your energy bill.”

While false ceilings are useful, there are quite a few challenges to overcome while installing them:

*The shape of building, especially if there is an irregular beam bottom, may not be conducive for false ceilings.

* If there is a leakage in the building, it may also affect the false ceilings.

* False ceilings take a lot of time to dry and can cause delays in the project.

* Installation of false ceiling requires expertise and precision.

If not executed properly, the surface can be uneven and after painting, the finishing may not be up to the mark, and may eventually add to the project costs to set it right.

* The room has to have enough height (at least 11 feet or more) to accommodate a false ceiling.

* Selection of the composition for the ceiling is important as it depends on the location. A living room and a toilet cannot have the same material as there will be dampness in the toilet and not in the living room. Similarly, kitchen ceiling is also not the same as there is heat, smoke and dampness involved.

* Maintenance work must be done periodically. While cleaning, maintaining or repairing the ceilings, one needs to ensure that ceiling alignment is maintained.

There are several kinds of false ceilings these days. Here are some of the trendiest ones:

* The most popular kind is the pop false ceiling where framing is done on the existing ceiling channel, on which an iron mesh is installed, over which plaster of Paris treatment is done. To make it look more glamorous, you could either have wallpaper pasted on the false ceiling, or treat the plaster of Paris with textured paint.

* Wooden planks can be installed on the existing ceiling or wooden veneer can be pasted on plyboards installed in the true ceiling. To enhance the lighting, coves or a drop in the ceiling, with wooden planks, can be made.

* Amardeep Gulri, principal designer and founder, Deco-Arte, suggests going for back-lit glass ceilings and fabric ceilings that can make your living space extraordinary and chic.
Once you overcome the initial challenges of installing a false ceiling, it can be a creative way to improve the attractiveness of the ceiling. A combination of false ceiling design, lighting and colour can transform an entire room.

* Cove lighting enhances the ceiling. Concealed down-lighters brighten the space, and coves that adorn the walls enhance the elegance of the room.

* You may try dimmer lightings along with the regular ones, to have ambient lighting for different moods and occasions.

* A dramatic look can be achieved by incorporating multiple-levels ceilings, with coves, and by also using multiple materials, such as wood, pop, mirrors, glass metallic tiles and fabric, in ceiling designs. 

* Colours of the ceilings should not be dark as lot of colours can disturb the concentration for the home. Interior designer Punam Kalra suggests that one should choose light colours, such as white, beige, light blue, for ceilings, depending on the colour scheme of the rest of the house.

(Published 18 September 2014, 14:07 IST)

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