Exposed Ceiling and Associated Costs
Like a lot of construction contractors in Kansas City, there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t have the discussion with a client or commercial broker about the local costs associated with a naked ceiling (open or exposed) design. Construction DesignWorks is a proponent of this design and loves the final look, which is commonly known as industrial contemporary.
Most people assume a naked ceiling is less expensive compared to an acoustical one. However, this assumption is incorrect. An open ceiling can cost as much as $5 – $8 per square foot more than the common ACT (Acoustical Ceiling Tile). To better explain, I have broken down the costs into 4 categories:
HVAC [$2.50 per square foot] – The materials and labor required for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) are greater because of the final aesthetic look needed for a naked ceiling. Typically, a spiral round replaces a rectangular duct. Flex duct is not used. And the overall layout needs to look crisp and clean.
Lighting & Electrical [$3.00 per square foot] – No longer can an electrician simply install a flex conduit wherever they want; it needs to be installed in rigid conduit tight with ceiling joists. Light fixtures change from inexpensive 2×4 troffer lights to suspended indirect/direct lights. The installation may require additional uni-strut and all-thread to straddle and avoid the ductwork above.
Fire Sprinklers [$2.00 per square foot] – Code requires that fire sprinkler heads be turned up in exposed ceilings. The main header and ancillary lines are typically relocated to a higher location and aesthetics are crucial to the overall look of the naked ceiling.
Painting [$1.50 per square foot] – Now that you have an exposed ceiling deck above, prep and painting are needed to cover up the imperfections and materials used in the construction. In some cases, the ductwork, electrical conduit, and fire sprinkler lines need to be painted for additional time and costs.
If budget is an issue, my advice is to incorporate the naked ceiling in your reception and common areas seen by your customers. The use of ACT clouds is also a good idea to hide unsightly equipment and add an appealing look with acoustical benefits. Naked ceilings are a great way to enhance the look of your business and convey to your employees and customers a sense of cutting edge design and creativity.