Painting the T-Bar Ceiling in the Office

T-bar ceilings consist of a metal grid (t-bars) and of course the ceiling tiles. They are usually installed to hide overhead ducts and pipes and it’s a smart way to lower the ceiling height. T-bar ceilings are installed by professional contractors and sometimes companies that specialize in ceiling system installations.

T-bar ceilings are sometimes called acoustical ceilings, as they help improve the overall acoustics of the work space. Better acoustics in the office make it easier for people to carry on conversations and concentrate on their work. Acoustical ceilings are often used in conference rooms, meeting rooms, and other space where people need to hear each other clearly. They are great in reducing noise from HVAC systems and other noisy equipment throughout the office. There are a few disadvantages to having t-bar ceilings. One is that they can be more expensive than other types of ceilings, such as drywall. Another disadvantage is that they can be difficult to repair if damaged. Finally, t-bar ceilings are more difficult to clean than other types of ceilings. Over time, the ceiling tiles can become discoloured or yellowed. Painting them can give them a new lease on life and make a big difference in the appearance of your office. In our experience, the cost of painting the office is always good value for most companies.

Should You Paint a T-Bar Ceiling?

“Will repainting the acoustical ceiling tiles void the warranty? As far as the manufacturer is concerned, it will definitely void the warranty: Armstrong cannot guarantee that the published surface burning characteristics, fire resistance ratings, acoustical performance, dimensional stability/sag, or light reflectance will remain the same after repainting. Field painting will void the warranty.”

If acoustics is not a concern for your company and brightening your space is, then go ahead and paint them. It will make a world of a difference.

Paint ceiling tiles for brightness

Painting the Ceiling Tiles

Painting t-bar ceilings is not difficult but there are a few things your office painters need to do in order to get the best results.

First, it is important to clean the ceiling tiles before painting them. This will help the paint adhere better and prevent any dirt or debris from getting trapped under the paint. Second, make sure to use a paint designed to work for painting porous ceiling tiles. Acrylic flat or ceiling paint work really well for that purpose. Painting acoustical ceiling tiles is best done in two thin coats rather than one thick one. Allowing the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat will give you the best results. Occasionally, there is water damage and stained spots will bleed through the coats of paint. Prime these spots, or better yet, prime the entire tile with a good quality stain primer.

Alternatives to Painting T-Bar Ceilings

If keeping the acoustical properties of the ceiling is important to the function of your office, there are some alternatives to consider. If your budget allows it, why not replace your entire ceiling with a brand new t-bar ceiling system? Your office will feel brand new again and now you have a clean, fire resistant and acoustically compliant ceiling. Keep in mind that this is not a small renovation and its better done after hours, so not to interrupt your operations. A good time to do this is when you have staff on vacation, during weekends or when you are closed for the holidays. This is not a service that Ecopainting provides but we can refer you to a reputable company that specializes in this type of work. We can definitely help you with the following two options:

Replace the Ceiling Tiles and Wash the Metal Grid

Ceiling tiles before replacement
Before replacing ceiling tiles
Ceiling tiles after
After replacing ceiling tiles

This is a good alternative that still allows you to maintain the benefit of t-bar ceilings but at a fraction of the cost. We have done this service often and it’s relatively straightforward. Things to keep in mind:

  • Order extra panels as there is some breakage waste with installation.
  • Store the old panels in the new empty boxes, it helps with the disposal.
  • Be careful with what is behind the ceiling tiles and look out for hazards.
  • Wear a good mask and protective clothing.
  • Cover desks and floors, this is a messy job.
  • Wash your hands often and use gloves if possible.
  • Use the custom cut panels as patterns for the new ones.
  • Wash the metal grid with soap and degreasers.
  • wash the diffuser panels and other panels that are not getting changed.

This is a project that will inconvenience your staff. When this is all done you will almost have a new ceiling at only a fraction of the cost.

Painting Only the Metal Grid

Painting the metal grid of a t-bar ceiling can be a challenge, first due to the yellowing and dust that builds up on the surface. However, with a little preparation, you can get great results. Removing the tiles is a slow process as they break easily. If you break one or two, you need to replace them with new ones and they sometimes do not match the older ones. Why not install the new ones at a back room or a closet, and bring the old ones at the front. The visible differences and aging will not be as critical at a back room.

Start by removing the tiles and setting them aside, making sure to mark the ones that are cut to custom sizes. Be careful how you handle them by keeping your hands clean and always wear a mask. Be aware of dust, rodents, droppings and other debris collecting behind the ceiling. Sometimes the ceiling panels are so tightly fitted that when removing them you risk damaging them. It is possible to paint the grid by raising the panels slightly and dropping them back in place when the paint dries.

Plastic prodects office furniture from rodent
Beware of hazards like rodents and droppings commonly behind the ceiling

Wash the metal grid with soap. If there is any grease on them, wash them with a degreaser or solvent before painting. Once you’ve finished prepping the surface, choose a high-quality paint, designed to adhere to metal surfaces and apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Most good paints will adhere well without using a bonding primer but use a good primer if in doubt. With a little patience and attention to detail, you’ll be able to achieve a beautiful finish that will last for years.

In Conclusion

Painting t-bar ceilings can be a simple and affordable way to brighten up your office space. Speak to our estimator about the reason you want them painted. If the acoustics are not important to you, painting them is a great way to go. If you just want them replaced, we can replace them, and just wash or paint the metal t-bars. We will present you with all the options and propose a solution to reflect the needs of your business.

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