McIntyre Group

The Right Way to Suspend Acoustic Panels with Cabling

Welcome to The Acoustic Influencer, a blog by McIntyre, Canada’s leader in wall (and ceiling) installations. Expect how-tos, tips and tricks and thought leadership on the industry in general. To kick things off, we’re writing about how we go about suspending panels from the ceiling.

Long gone are the days of drywall and drop ceilings. In the current open-concept world of office space, the trend when creating workstations, meeting rooms and communal areas is acoustic panel ceilings, not wall applications. Acoustic panel ceilings are a functional and pretty cool looking way to build spaces, absorb sound and create signature features.

But being on trend is one thing, actually having the work done efficiently with an eye to aesthetics is another. This is a window into how we accomplish both with the McIntyre Way.

Make sure everyone’s on the same page

There are usually three groups involved in a project. The client, the supplier and the installer. It’s important everyone knows exactly what’s happening and why. The process is no longer just about picking panels. Now, it’s architects and designers making decisions in consultation with clients, suppliers and reps, and sound and installation professionals; it’s complicated, and the bigger the job, the more important communication is.

From our end, a pre-installation site visit is almost always a must do. It’s an opportunity to meet clients, but there’s also time and money on the line for everyone. Knowing what you’re walking into, identifying potential problems and communicating recommendations and best practices early is important.

In short, communicate often and openly, know the client’s goals and don’t go in blind.

Get the height right

For both function and form, panel height is the determining factor. Sound is going to travel, and the further it travels the harder it is to deaden. Meaning 18-foot ceilings look great, but there’s not as much function gained from suspending acoustic panels 17 feet in the air.

We normally recommend suspensions be in the 10-foot range. That way people don’t feel like they’re in a box and the sound can be better controlled. Working with an acoustic engineer or sound professional early in the design process is key and having some leeway on the cabling allows for quick adjustments to get things just right for the client.

Build it from the ground up

For most installations, we use 1/16 of an inch aircraft cable. It’s strong, hard to cut it and, because it’s stainless steel, it doesn’t weather or rust. The amount of hardware used is weight dependant. Most panels are 15 to 20 pounds, but feature panels can weigh up to 70.

But before we start installing anything, we mark every panel on the floor first (including any spacing between panels) and laser the markings up to the ceiling. Then we laser the ceiling. That gives us horizontal and vertical beams to go by when measuring for cables and hardware placement. Even if we are working at 18 feet, we follow the same process. This is how we know everything will be 100% square and level before we start suspending panels.

When done correctly, all the suspension points will line up, almost as if they’re invisible.

The Acoustic Influencer can be read at any height, and our goal is to create industry discussion around best practices in acoustic panel installation. If you liked this edition, please comment, share and follow. The next one is coming soon.

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