Metal ceiling solutions can offer design flexibility and a robust option

When it comes to ceiling solutions in today’s buildings, material choice is more important than ever. Consideration has to be given to occupant comfort, ease of maintenance, durability, flexibility for future change and visual appeal, through the fit out, to achieve value. Andrew Jackson of SAS International looks at how to achieve long-term value in specifying ceiling solutions to accommodate change and ensure future tenants benefit from a robust interior

The British Council of Office’s Guide to Specification states that “good quality, modular perforated metal ceilings are preferred”. As a guide to best practice, it acknowledges metal ceiling solutions offer a high quality, long-lasting solution for modern workplaces.

We are all aware that in the modern workplace open plan spaces have increasingly become the norm, but this move brings challenges associated with it, particularly the impact this has on acoustics.

Acoustic considerations

Acoustic demands in interiors can be met through the specification of the correct combination of perforations and acoustic pads in metal ceiling systems.

A variety of acoustic backings can help achieve, where needed, high acoustic absorption in open plan office areas to improve privacy through high room to room attenuation.

In general 50dB is considered to be the sound level of a normal office. With a metal ceiling system currently in the market, 50dB – the highest rated acoustic attenuation level for a suspended ceiling solution – can be achieved. In this system, the metal ceiling tiles incorporate a 30mm acoustic pad and 12.5mm plasterboard.

When both acoustic performance and visual appearance is a requisite for a project, metal ceiling tiles can be specified to incorporate sound absorbing pads. A striking aesthetic and ­outstanding acoustic control is then achieved for an enhanced occupant experience.

Another advantage of metal ceilings is easy access to services. The choice of a demountable flush tile for a suspended ceiling system means that access to the ceiling void is straightforward. Simple and safe access in order to maintain M&E services, for example, is a critical consideration in buildings which carry an increasingly sophisticated range of building services.

Visual appeal

Function and pattern can combine, therefore, to achieve the answer for occupant comfort and beautiful interiors. Variants in the spacing and size of the perforations for acoustic control can in turn create a whole range of different aesthetic looks. With square pitch patterns for example, perforations can be grouped to create distinctive geometric effects for visual appeal.

Metal tiles are also manufactured in a range of lengths, sizes and shapes and so can be specified to accommodate new demands from innovative modern building forms.

A linear grid system, for example, offers design flexibility and is generally designed and manufactured to the building planning grid. These systems can also be designed with bespoke shaped tiles incorporated, such as trapezoidal to complement the curved shape of the building envelope.


Steel ceiling solutions offer a 25-year plus lifespan. This durability is improved further when combined with spray applied powder coat paint finishes. Polyester powder coated metal ceilings are not susceptible to chipping and accidental damage typically associated with alternative ceiling finishes. Using approved powder coatings on metal, the paint finish itself can be guaranteed for 30 to 40 years. Finishes and coatings available on metal ceiling solutions can also be specified with a number of different options.

Technology has seen new innovations in paint finishes. For the commercial workplace, a fine textured paint finish can offer a semi-matt/low-gloss appearance, which is visually very similar to emulsioned plasterboard. It negates the chance of lighting ‘hot spots’ and glare occurring, and of course is an option offered alongside the benefits of durability and functionality that a metal ceiling solution provides.

Other specialist finishes that are available to meet specific demands include anti-graffiti and anti-bacterial paint finishes. Anti-bacterial coatings, for example, bacteria growth, which is a characteristic sometimes demanded in laboratories, hospitals and schools.

There is demand in high footfall areas such as transport hubs for a durable solution, and an anti-graffiti finish is just one option proving popular. This provides a robust finish and reduces ongoing maintenance costs for cleaning.

With the number of services that are present in a ceiling void there is a need for regular access without causing tile damage. Metal ceiling solutions provide a durable surface that is easy to clean and allow ease of access, without fear of damage, for essential ongoing maintenance.

In today’s work, travel and leisure spaces, metal ceiling solutions are specified because of their high performance characteristics, aesthetic appeal and ability to offer long-term value. Working closely with a manufacturer at design stage ensures the architectural vision is realised.