What is an Acoustical Ceiling?

hallway with white acoustical ceilingAcoustical ceilings are a popular way to dramatically change the look of a room, dampen noise, and make the most of natural light sources. What are they, and how will one benefit your home or business?

The Basics of Acoustical Ceilings

Acoustical ceilings, also known as drop or lay-in ceilings, are created by placing special tiles made of mineral fiber, foam, or fiberglass into a suspended grid. These ceilings can also be placed directly onto the ceiling, an option known as glued ceilings. 

These ceilings are usually chosen because of their ability to dampen noise, whether it’s blocking outside noise from filtering in or internal noise from filtering out.

When you think of acoustic ceilings, you may think of dark basements and stained tiles, but modern ones are bright, easy to clean, impact-resistant, and available in several different textures. Most acoustic tiles are white or off-white, but some may be painted to match any decor. They generally come in one of two sizes: 2×2 foot or 2×4 foot.

The tiles are generally classified according to three rating systems:

NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient)

This general rating is represented as a decimal or a percentage of how much noise the tiles will absorb. The higher the percentage or decimal, the more sound is absorbed.

STC (Sound Transmission Class)

STC rates building materials for their sound-blocking abilities. The ratings will range from 1 to 100, with a higher number indicating better capabilities for blocking sound.

CAC (Ceiling Attenuation Class)

This rating system is specifically used for areas where walls are constructed to the height of the drop ceiling. It refers to the amount of sound that is filtered through the acoustic ceiling and passes back into an area on the other side of the wall.

Acoustical ceiling tiles fall into three different categories: those that absorb sound, those that block sound, and those that scatter sound. For most purposes, sound-absorbing tiles are the best option.

Benefits of Drop Ceilings

Acoustic ceilings are known for their noise reduction capabilities, but they are useful in other ways as well.

Hiding Unattractive Ceilings

If the surface of a ceiling is full of pipes, wires, and ductwork, drop ceilings are an affordable option to hide it. The construction of the ceiling allows for individual tiles to be easily removed for convenient maintenance or repair of the structures above them.


Acoustic ceilings are reflective, meaning they’ll brighten your spaces naturally. This makes them a good choice for green buildings and property owners with an eye for the environment.

Damaged Tiles are Easily Replaced

While these tiles are naturally resistant to most damage, you may need to replace them if they’re exposed to high levels of moisture. They slide in and out easily, making replacement a snap.

No Damage to Existing Ceiling

Acoustic ceilings are a quick way to dramatically lower the height of a ceiling without damaging the existing structure. They’re easy to install, and just as easy to remove.

Reduce Noise in Several Ways

Whether it’s absorbing sound and echoes from within the area of installation, blocking sound from filtering to the floors above it, or reducing the noise entering the space from the floors above, acoustical ceilings are the most popular way to control sound.

Robey Inc. Is Frederick’s Preferred Acoustical Ceiling Contractor

Whether you’re looking to dramatically reimagine your ceiling, reduce sound, or hide pipes and wires, Robey Inc. has the drop-ceiling options you need. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation for your commercial or residential acoustical ceiling project.