Open Ceilings Vs. Drop Ceilings in the Workplace

Open ceilings have become increasingly popular in office design over the past decade or so. The taste for deconstructed, industrial spaces doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and open ceilings are an integral part of that aesthetic. However, before you decide on an open ceiling look for your office, you should consider its pros and cons versus those of drop ceilings. Take a look at these points as you weigh your options:

  • Cost

The general perception is that open ceilings must be cheaper, since they eliminate the need for any additional materials such as ceiling boards and joists, and the labor required to install them. This is only partially true. While it may be true that the initial cost of an open ceiling is somewhat cheaper – about 25 % – you may often find that, once you strip away the old ceiling boards or tiles, there is far more work and hidden problems underneath than you initially anticipated. One of the main features of open ceilings is the exposed ducts and wiring. If you are working with an existing building that has not been built with open ceilings in mind, you may very well find that the pipes and wiring are an absolute eyesore. You will then need to fix, replace and dress them up, doing a lot of work and construction to make your ceiling look casually deconstructed. That will cost more time and money.

  • Aesthetics

As mentioned above, the deconstructed look of an open ceiling is not always as simple as it appears. That ‘deconstructed’ look needs to be ‘constructed’. With a closed ceiling, at least you know what you’re getting: a neat grid of tiles which may look cold and clinical but, at least, they are presentable. 

If you are willing to take on the cost of open ceilings, then you need to consider whether it will really suit the culture and purpose of your business. You may find that a tidy drop ceiling suits you better. Don’t just follow the trends, go with what works for you.

Think carefully about the image you want to present to your external stakeholders too, especially in reception areas and meeting rooms. When planning a conference room with open ceilings, for example, consider your furniture options, and what would work best in that communal, often public-facing space.  

  • Sound

The tiles used in suspended ceilings are designed to absorb ambient sound and keep noise levels down in your office space. With an open ceiling, you lose that acoustic protection. Ambient noise comes through easily, which means that people then have to raise their voices to be heard. This could disrupt your work. It’s a problem that you can get around with adequate planning and a good structural designer. But, you need to take the higher costs into account.

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