In many environments where a suspended ceiling is often utilised, acoustics are a key factor. Good acoustics are an essential element of productivity and creativity in the workplace and there are ceiling tiles available with a multitude of acoustic properties to suit any eventuality. Obviously, the acoustic requirement of the various areas suspended ceilings are commonly installed will vary greatly from situation to situation; a call centre, for example, will have different priorities acoustically than an office adjoining a working factory.
In essence there are two types of acoustics in relation to ceiling tiles:
Essentially this property deals with the reverberation of sound within a space.
Sound will dissipate as it travels but reflects in a similar way to light, so once a sound, for example someone’s voice, reaches a wall, floor or ceiling, some of that sound will be reflected back into the space. Softer materials will absorb some of this energy, which will help prevent an echoey environment.
Sometimes referred to as ‘Sound Attenuation’, this property relates to the transmission of sound from one space to another.
A common example in which this would be of importance is if you have a confidential meeting room adjacent to an open plan office or meeting room, you will likely require a high sound attenuation from your suspended ceiling and/or partitioning to prevent conversations in the confidential meeting room from being clearly audible from outside.
Please note that very few tiles excel in both sound absorption and sound attenuation, although there are a few tiles that do, they are very specialised and relatively expensive.
Both of the above are explained in more detail in the following articles, including products recommended for each application: