Acoustic Ceiling: All You Need to Know

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What is an Acoustic Ceiling?

Acoustic ceiling is the formal name for what is commonly known as a popcorn ceiling.

These are ceiling tiles that have a paint-on or spray-on treatment that makes them extremely elegant.

They can be used in the living room, bedrooms and hallways, because of their bright and whitish appearance which has the ability to hide imperfections.

Their finishing is also very smooth and has higher durability, plus they are easy to clean.

They are largely being used in construction today, due to their aesthetic purposes, and also the advances in technology has caused them to offer a wide variety of benefits such as improving the acoustics in the room and reducing the noise levels.

Popcorn ceilings were in use even before the 70s and they often contained white asbestos fibers.

However, asbestos was banned as a form of ceiling treatment by the clean air act in the US.

These ceilings were then out of use in most of the country.

Due to the ban, Popcorn ceilings now contain Styrofoam material instead of asbestos.

They have metal strips hanging from the room’s actual ceiling, and each individual panel has sound-absorbing materials dropped into them to make them soundproof.


Benefits of using Acoustic ceiling tiles

Sound absorption

This is perhaps the most important benefit of acoustic ceilings, and one of the main reasons why most people are using them today.

They have the ability to absorb the sound that is coming from outside. They also reduce echo and improve sound quality.

They usually hang from the ceiling, and this means that they are handy with wires, pipes and other unsightly necessities, which allows easy access when doing repairs, or when you need to remodel your home.

Acoustic ceilings are made of mineral fiber, which is why they are good with noise reduction.

This fiber absorbs the sound within a specified space and they help in preventing the loud environments.

If you have a room that has a hard surface flooring, where sound tends to bounce from one wall to another, or from the walls to the floor, then this is the type of ceiling you should have.

​​​​​​Enhancing the overall sound quality

Acoustic ceilings not only absorb the sound coming from outside, but they also enhance the overall quality of sound within a room.

For example, if you are having a Christmas concert or a play within your home, they will make it easier for you to hear what is being said clearly, as compared to having a normal ceiling.

If you also have a theater room or a TV room in your home, you will appreciate the experience of having excellent sound, as you watch your favorite shows.

They are affordable

You may think that these are expensive products to buy for your home, but you are wrong.

Acoustic ceilings are affordable, and they give you the best option as compared to other types of ceilings.

They also have low labor and installation costs.



These ceilings are extremely flexible and can be installed in any room.

In addition, you can change the tiles after you have installed them, which makes it easy for you to move from one design to another with ease.

The fluorescent lights drop easily into any square and since the fixtures are for a single unit, in case smoke, dust or soil mars the finishing, you can either remove or clean them quite easily.

They, however, are impact resistant and you do not require much effort to make the changes when you wish to do so.

Elegant and beautiful

With these ceiling types, you are literally spoilt for choice.

They look good, and can easily enhance the décor in any room without investing too much money or too much time in repairs.

They also have the ability to hide any cooling or heating ducts, and the unsightly pipes and wires you do not wish people to see when they come into your home.

If you have an unappealing room, they will simply do the trick for you, and give the room a sort of elegance you did not know you needed.

They are also versatile, durable and long-lasting.

You can remove them easily without causing any damage, and the ceiling items can still be maintained even after removal.

They have become extremely popular and have a wide variety of excellent aesthetic options that you will love and appreciate in your home.

They come in a variety of designs, and colors, plus they can either have a rough or smooth look, according to your wishes.

It all depends on your preference.

You could also choose to have a tiled ceiling that has an imprinted design and pattern on it or have one that is plain.

In addition, you can also choose from the many designs of edges that are available.

Soundproofing Ceiling

Light reflective

Acoustic ceilings are highly light reflective, which means that they reflect light back to the room.

This gives the room some extra beauty. It will also save you on the cost of décor, and utilities as well.

The panels are usually available in different reflectivity, humidity, and fire resistance levels, and all you have to do is choose the one you like.

Acoustic Ceiling Options

These ceilings basically come in two designs; a dropped ceiling or a suspended ceiling.

They usually come in 2x4 or 2x2 sizes, which are dropped using interlocking metal grids that are suspended from the structural ceilings.

Glued ceilings are also available, but these are glued directly onto the structural ceilings.

All of these options offer soundproofing benefits and can cover any existing damages, but the suspended ceilings are usually the best options for hiding the exposed pipes, wires and ducts.

The standard available color is either white or off-white, and you can choose from a variety of patterns and designs.

You can paint on them as well if you wish to do so.

Suspended and glued acoustic tiles

The glued ceiling tiles usually come in 12x12 feet sizes, while the suspended ceilings as mentioned earlier are usually 2x2 feet, or you can find one that is 2x4 feet in size. 

It is worth noting that the larger panels are usually less expensive and they use up less material compared to the smaller panels.

All the styles can usually conceal damage on the ceiling and they also reduce the noise levels.

The manufacturers usually make the panels with additional insulation, which can consist of a vinyl surface that is backed with about a half-inch of fiberglass.

This is not too much and can be installed just underneath the attic.

Suspended ceilings can be made of the acoustic tiles and an additional stick-build grid system.

These are sometimes known as lay-in ceilings, which are extremely durable, versatile and cost-effective.

Components of a suspended ceiling

The above diagram clearly illustrates the major components that make up the suspended lay-in ceiling.

It has a continuous T beam that is suspended from the structure and hangs above the hanger wires, plus the shorter cross T segments that are connected to the main T beam.

These shapes make a rigid frame.

The molding shapes for the edges are attached to the walls surrounding the perimeter walls of the room.

The ceiling tiles are then finally dropped in a grid shape from the ceiling to finish up the design.

Edge designs

The beauty of these ceiling tiles is that they come in a variety of designs and textures, and one of them is the edge designs.

You can choose from either of the above, according to your preference.

Type of Grid T shapes

The most common T shapes are the 15/16” or the 9/16”.

The latter are becoming extremely common with ceiling manufacturers because they are easy to manipulate.

The T shapes are commonly used with regular tiles to provide your ceiling with more depth.

Check out the different T shape design images below.

Molding designs

There are usually two common edge moldings that are used with acoustic ceilings.

The most standard molding and most commonly used is the angle molding.

You can also use the shadow molding that helps to create a shadow line along the edges of your room.

Here are the two samples:

Seismic considerations

If you are going to use the suspended ceiling on seismic zones, you must make some special considerations.

These include: using wider edged moldings, limiting the weight and size of the ceilings, and other additional considerations such as adding inspection requirements and bracing requirements as well.

Drawbacks of Acoustic ceilings

One of the main drawbacks of having a popcorn ceiling is that they require plenty of work in order to keep them clean and attractive.

They may get some cracks or holes with time, and you may see cobwebs, dust, spiders and dirt bits on the bumps.

Smoke may also eventually destroy the ceiling, which can be extremely difficult to remove.

Using a duster, or a vacuum cleaner head can help get rid of debris, but if you happen to press too hard, you may end up breaking parts of the ceiling, which can cause it to look horrible, and this is also harmful to your health.


Bumps and holes on the ceiling are time-consuming to repair because you must first scrape off all the bumps in the surrounding and damaged area, then sand it down completely until it is smooth enough, before applying the drywall plaster, and then sanding it down once more, then finally painting over it.

You cannot paint on the ceiling with a regular brush either.

The stubble will end up falling off once the ceiling is dry, therefore, you shall need to use a segmented foam roller for this job.

Alternatively, you could use spray products such as Homax, which provide the ceiling with the popcorn texture.

Also, in the end, after all the repair work has been completed, whatever you have used may end up being inconsistent with the original design, which is not always aesthetically pleasing.

Consult an expert if you need to do any repairs or renovations to the ceiling.

Water damage is also not good with the textured ceilings, and it will cause it to become loose and peel off with time.

If you have any leaks in your roof, you must repair them immediately, as the stipple will start getting heavy and fall off eventually.

Bathrooms, kitchens and any other spaces that contain plenty of moisture are common places to have water damage on the ceiling.


It is important to mention that if your home was built before the 1990s, then, the popcorn ceiling you have is probably made of asbestos.

Ensure to consult with a professional before you attempt any repair work.

The inspections alone will be quite costly, and it is dangerous to do anything on the ceiling as asbestos was banned by the government.

However, if the ceiling remains untouched, you are really not at risk.

Conclusion: On Acoustic Ceilings

Acoustic ceilings are some of the most beautiful ceiling designs that are in use today, and we hope that the information we have provided above sheds a light on everything you would wish to know about them.

As with everything, ensure to do adequate research on the best type you wish to use, and always look for a design that will complement the décor in your home.

Choosing the right colors and edges can easily transform your boring room into elegant, chic and trendy.

You might also like: How to Soundproof a Ceiling without Construction

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