Dropped ceilings aren't just for schools and office buildings. They also have a place in residential homes. So how do you know when to choose a dropped ceiling or drywall ceiling? We've researched when to select a dropped ceiling or drywall ceiling by room type and have the pros and cons of both for you.
When it comes down to choosing between dropped ceiling and drywall, it often comes down to aesthetics and ease of access. Dropped ceilings are an excellent option for areas where you need to easily reach wiring, plumbing, or HVAC systems, like finished basements or garages. However, with more variety of dropped ceilings available, they are suitable for almost any room. Drywall, though often considered more aesthetically pleasing, makes reaching wires difficult.
Dropped ceilings can be adapted to fit any room, but let's elaborate on why and when you might choose a dropped ceiling over a drywall ceiling. We'll also talk about which is cheaper, whether they are fire-rated, and what types of ceiling tiles are available. So, please, keep reading.
Advantages & Disadvantages Of A Dropped Ceiling and Drywall Ceiling
Ease of Installation
When it comes to installing drywall or dropped ceiling, you may be surprised to find out that it's much easier to install a dropped ceiling than a drywall ceiling. It's so easy that most people can install a dropped ceiling by themselves without a professional's help. Installing a dropped ceiling is less messy than installing a drywall ceiling and also a relatively quick project.
Drywall, on the other hand, requires at least two people. Drywall sheets are heavy, and once you've installed them, you will still need to do additional work to finish them. They will need to be sanded and painted.
Is It Cheaper To Install Drywall Or Drop Ceiling?
Another important factor to consider is cost. Drop ceilings are more expensive to install than drywall making drywall the cheaper option. However, if you can install a drop ceiling by yourself, you can save on labor costs. You should also factor in paint costs for a drywall ceiling and whether you are hiring a professional to install and paint for you.
This will be the deciding factor for a lot of people. Ceilings aren't a small area that you can hide if you decide you don't like them. They can have an enormous impact on a room.
Dropped ceilings have a bad reputation for their ugly appearance. Most people think of those ugly white tiles we stared at in school. However, those tiles are not your only option. They now come in a variety of styles that we'll discuss in more detail shortly. One negative to dropped ceilings is that you do lose some headspace after they are installed.
Drywall, on the other hand, is often just painted. If a simple coat of paint is all you are looking for because you'll have visual focal points elsewhere in the room, then drywall is a good option.
So, even though dropped ceilings were usually thought poorly of in the past, they can now be a great way to vamp up a space. For those that would like a more traditional finish, drywall is a great option and is easily repainted.
There's not much maintenance when it comes to drywall. It's easily repaired and repainted. Drywall, if painted with washable paint, is also easy to clean.
Similarly, dropped ceiling tiles are easy to replace if they become damaged. Some drop ceiling tiles are susceptible to mold and water damage. This will depend on the type of material you choose for your tiles.
See how easy it is to remove a dropped ceiling tile by checking out our other blog post on the topic here: How To Replace Drop Ceiling Tiles In 6 Simple Steps.
Drywall Or Drop Ceiling By Room
Let's discuss by room type which ceilings might be a better option.
When it comes to your living room, you might not have even considered a dropped ceiling. However, both a drywall and drop ceiling can work well in a living room.
If you choose to add a dropped ceiling to your living room, you will probably want to invest in a more expensive ceiling tile style. You can even use a dropped ceiling to create a faux coffered ceiling.
Bedrooms are a place to relax and unwind, and they are less about making a statement than other rooms in the house. Drywall ceilings are a good option for bedrooms. They are easy to keep neutral and simple for a relaxing environment. That doesn't mean you can't install a drop ceiling in your bedroom. It's just not as common.
Garages often have an unfinished ceiling. Other times they are drywall. Drywall is a good cheap option and will provide a good base if you choose to add other ceiling materials. Both drywall and drop ceilings will work in a garage.
Can You Put A Drop Ceiling In A Garage?
Drop ceilings are, in fact, a good option for garages. Your garage probably doesn't need a fancy-looking ceiling, so it will be easy and affordable to install a drop ceiling if you choose a simple tile. It will also give you easy access to any wires or plumbing that is above your garage.
Do note that drop ceilings cannot withstand a lot of weight, so they will not be a good option if you are hoping to create extra storage space.
Like in garages, you can have either a drywall or drop ceiling. There are both arguments for and against installing drywall or a drop ceiling for your basement, so it does come down to personal preference.
Why do basements have drop ceilings?
Basements typically have drop ceilings for the reasons we mentioned earlier. It makes reaching important wiring and plumbing easier. It also works well for noise suppression, which can come in handy if you've turned your basement into a movie room!
Building codes require certain materials to be fire-rated. If the material is fire-rated, it can withstand a fire for a certain time.
Is Drywall Fire Rated?
Some drywall is fire-rated. Fire-rated drywall is often called Type X Drywall. Some building codes require that fire-rated drywall is used. Fire-rated drywall is not fireproof; it just means that it will take longer for the fire to degrade it.
Are Drop Ceilings Fire Rated?
Drop ceilings can be fire-rated. Drop ceiling tiles, and the grid will list whether they are fire rated and for which class. Some tiles will have a higher fire rating than others.
Can You Drywall Over A Drop Ceiling?
It is possible to hang drywall over a drop ceiling by attaching the drywall to the drop ceiling grid, but there are some disadvantages and things to look out for.
If you remove the drop ceiling and then apply the drywall, you'll give yourself more headspace. Dropped ceilings already lower the ceiling height by several inches, so if you're going to install drywall, you might as well take advantage and open up that extra space.
It's also imperative to ensure installing drywall over a drop ceiling doesn't make the building not up to code. Dropped ceilings often provide access to critical electrical areas, so you'll need to make sure you can still access those areas if the building code requires it.
Installing drywall over a drop ceiling can be risky. Your grid might not be able to withstand the weight of the drywall, and then your ceiling could collapse. It's best to choose one or the other and remove the drop ceiling before installing drywall.
What Types Of Ceiling Tiles Can I Get?
Ceiling tiles now come in a variety of materials. Acoustic tiles work well in movie rooms and dens because they can absorb some of the noise. You can also purchase metal and PVC ceiling tiles. Metal tiles are heavy, but corrugated tin tiles can add an industrial look to any room. PVC tiles are lightweight, easy to clean and come in an assortment of designs and colors.
Dropped ceilings are usually chosen for basements and garages because they allow easy access to important wiring and plumbing. Aside from this, how they look is often the deciding factor. Both ceilings can provide a good look, so it is primarily personal preference!
Check out our other blog post on dropped ceilings here: How Low Should A Drop/Suspended Ceiling Be?