Metal Ceilings: Evolution and Applications

Technology around metal ceilings has rapidly evolved over our 30 years in business. We see clients using metals for a variety of applications including offices, retail, health and education. Generally, the biggest innovation we see in metal remains the myriad of fabrication details in the marketplace.

Growing usage for offices, retail, health and education

By Murray Sandford

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Our research and development teams are focusing on details for metal ceilings that play with the light mounted behind them, allowing metal to flourish as a decorative feature, beyond its more structural roots.


The main applications we see in metal ceilings include perimeter ceilings, which are smooth and appealing with a clean trim for ceiling clouds, projected accents and light coves. Linear systems are typically focused on length and are flat but can be curved with suspension. Open plenum is a continuous ceiling where the occupied space below is not separated from the space above.

Curved systems are mainly used in open plenum ceiling applications, and are categorized as one- or two-directional curved and concealed systems. Lastly, planks are metal ceiling panels with a length that is two times their width and are typically used to cover large areas that are customizable.

Metal can be structural and lightweight at the same time, especially aluminum, which allows for many different applications. With perforated metal sheets, often the perforations can be up to 65% open area, which allows for sprinklers and other ceiling features to be hidden above the grid rather than being seen from below. We are finding designers are turning to more unique and creative elements in the ceilings these days. More designers are looking for bold patterns in laser-cut metals to take ceilings beyond the basic grid. As clients are slowly moving away from conventional ceilings, they want something unique and sculptural with a design that also covers equipment and piping that would typically be in the ceiling.

Metal Solution

Architectural metals provide the solution for this. New and unique metal ceiling designs include features made from laser-cut sheets, perforated metal sheets and corrugated metal sheets. Adding pops of colors or patterns in the ceiling truly enhances the environment bringing a definite feel to any space.

Floating ceilings are multifunctional while replacing a standard 24-grid with an eye-catching artistic design element. A classic go-to like a suspended floating ceiling creates atmosphere and aesthetic rather than a basic T-grid white ceiling. On many renovations we have seen basic T-grid ceilings transformed by integrating a gradient colorway or laser-cut pattern, to create an elegant and updated style. Another common trend we are seeing in ceilings is layered materials for instance, a laser-cut metal pattern over an acoustic material, which creates a new dimension and softness to a space.

Murray Sandford is president of Móz Designs, Oakland, Calif. For more information, visit

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