Many homeowners are faced with a difficult choice when finishing basements or other rooms with important utilities located in the ceilings.
Typical ceiling options are:
1) Finish the ceiling with drywall to make the room feel more “normal”
2) Install a dropped ceiling to maintain easy access to important utilities
Advantages to Suspended Ceiling
Each option has its obvious advantages but each also comes with a serious drawback. Finishing a ceiling with drywall locks away utilities’ components (power, water, HVAC).
Servicing any of these utilities requires either the installation of access panels or homeowners/contractors must cut out sections of drywall when doing utility repairs. Even with access panels it’s difficult to foresee where a pipe will leak, or where an air duct will collapse. The strenuous labor involved with installing and finishing drywall may also be a deterrent to any DIY installers.
For those forward thinking individuals who decide losing access to utilities is not worth the enhanced look, installing a suspended ceiling is the logical choice.
Unfortunately most affordable suspended ceiling panel options end up giving a room a commercial feel because due to their low cost, mineral fiber panels are common in commercial spaces. Also, panels are only half of the equation; many homeowners are not thrilled to have a metal track still exposed on their ceiling. These tracks can discolor or even rust over time.
Ceiling Tile Options
There are several options to install more decorative tiles in a suspended ceiling. Vinyl tiles can mimic metals like tin and three dimensional vinyl and mineral fiber panels can create a more unique look. These options are a good deal more expensive than the cheapest mineral fiber panels and can require additional finishing steps such as painting.
One new ceiling option is the WoodTrac ceiling system by Sauder. By fitting over standard suspended ceiling track WoodTrac allows homeowners to maintain access to utilities. Moldings, which cover ceiling track, add depth and work with most other ceiling panels for those who want to keep existing panels or get creative with other decorative panels. Combining WoodTrac moldings and panels gives rooms a custom-crafted three dimensional wood ceiling look for an affordable price.