Guide to Ceilings: Materials and Uses in Architectural Projects
Depending on the aesthetics of a space, the economy of the materials or even their long-term maintenance, there are various types of ceilings that are capable of meeting the technical and functional needs of architectural projects. Regardless of their manufacturing method, whether industrialized or handcrafted, ceilings represent a constructive element that constitutes the finish or interior cladding of roofs.
In addition to providing an interior finish, ceilings also fulfil other functions ranging from acoustic conditioning or thermal insulation to reducing the scale of rooms and concealing structural elements, unevenness or installations to concealing irregularities in ceilings. Below, we propose to classify them according to the way they are installed, their materiality and, at the same time, their use, understanding that none of these classifications is mutually exclusive and that the same ceiling can fulfill all the purposes regardless of its construction characteristics.
Depending on the intended use of the space, it is possible to define ceilings according to three concepts:
- Decorative ceilings: The aim is to achieve aesthetics through their materiality, shape, texture, colour, etc.
- Constructive ceilings: They are in charge of hiding some imperfections or irregularities that certain unevenness, pipes, etc may cause.
- Acoustic ceilings: They are capable of absorbing or reflecting sound waves produced inside or outside the premises.
Depending on their construction method, they can be:
- Reinforced ceilings: those that are independent of the type of roof planned. Their structure is taken from the walls of the spaces without being suspended from the ceiling. In most dwellings, this type of ceiling is predominantly made of plaster.
- Applied ceilings: These are applied to the reinforced concrete slabs in the same way as, for example, plaster is applied to the ceiling.
- Suspended ceilings: Their main structure is suspended from the ceiling, ie hung by means of profiles or wire. In this way, a space is created between the structure and the roof of the building itself, which can be used to pass installations or conduits, whether electrical, air conditioning or other. This type of ceiling includes plasterboard, PVC, fiberglass and other removable ceilings.
How are ceilings constructed?
On the other hand, a classification of ceilings can be established according to the material used. We will mention some of them:
Reinforced plaster ceilings have the particularity of combining a wooden structure that is independent of the ceiling, through a fabric or metal mesh (unfolded metal) from which the plaster is grabbed, which is applied in successive layers. The main laths (mother beams) are taken from the perimeter of the walls and to them, smaller ones are nailed perpendicularly and at a certain distance, thus forming the structure.
Applied plaster ceilings are used to plaster the slabs through a mixture of reinforced lime or gypsum while those made of gypsum rock slabs are industrialized systems that are used suspended and are known by various names such as plasterboard, drop ceiling, etc. or by their better-known brand names such as Durlock, Knauf or Pladur. In the latter case, the whole system is mounted on a galvanized profile structure on which the plaster rock slabs are fixed and whose joints, as the joint is taken, are putty-finished and sanded, leaving a smooth, seamless ceiling as a result. On the other hand, ceramic plasterboard ceilings are also mounted on a hanging structure, but they consist of a metal structure together with square plasterboards with synthetic fibres and their finish leaves the joints visible due to their removable configuration like fibreglass ceilings.
These types of ceilings can be implemented both suspended and unsuspended. In the case of tongue and groove ceilings, individual wooden slats, planks or boards are used, which are assembled or fitted together through their moldings and maintain the same properties of wood, which are strength, flexibility, elasticity and durability. Nowadays, there are other materials such as MDF boards, plywood, laminated wood or synthetic wood, among others, which are placed on removable plates and are held in place by a metal framework.
Including different textures, finishes, colors and shapes, this type of plastic (polyvinyl chloride) ceiling is quite light and is usually used suspended, mounted on a metal structure of galvanised profiles from which the plastic finishes are taken.
Using aluminum or sheet metal panels, these ceilings are usually demountable and are used suspended.
- Stretched fabric ceilings
They are made up of a perimeter structure on which a PVC fabric is stretched and tied to provide a taut and smooth surface. Generally, they are not used in homes, but they can be used in bathrooms and kitchens.
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