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Do You Need a False Ceiling?

To false ceiling or not to false ceiling, that is the question.

Getting Shakespeare to rise from his grave - attempt 1


Adding a false ceiling to your home is quite a controversial topic. The design inherently is subjective and most people tend to agree to disagree. Except in cases of false ceiling for some odd reason. People stand strongly on one side or another and refuse to budge. The two articles I bookmarked a while back, one for and one against false ceilings are both biased, under-representing the opposition and exaggerating their stance. I guess we learned from politics after all.


And of course, they will be, but the articles doth protest too much, methinks!

Getting Shakespeare to rise from his grave - attempt 2


So, I’m going to summarize those articles and lay it out for you.


I was prompted into writing this, because of a query I came across on Houzz. When I started researching to answer the question correctly. His dilemma became clear. Instead of resolving the problem, different articles increase confusion by making strong arguments on both counts.

So, lets straight away get into it!


False ceilings have been becoming increasingly popular and will continue to do so. Some design styles by default don’t have them and most do. The most common association we have of a false ceiling are the suspended square ceiling tiles. And those are NOT appealing.


The most common reasons to install false ceilings would be

  1. To hide electrical conduits;

  2. To create an insulation barrier for better temperature control;

  3. To hide eyesore structural elements;

  4. To make the room cozier; and

  5. For flexibility of design change

  6. Space segregation

Now I am neither for nor against false ceilings. Both sides have their charms, their pros, and cons. The decision for me should be one that the client makes based on their preferences. But there are some practical reasons in favour of this debate.


Considering the quality and layout of construction in most of the Indian cities, beams protruding out of the ceilings, not just overhanging the walls but often running through the middle of the room is a problem. That is the problem to which false ceilings are a solution; and that is one of the major reasons designers prefer putting one in.


Exception: You are getting your home designed by a competent architect who has taken the time to understand your needs and design a clean space.

Another extremely important reason is lighting. Which is a large topic on its own that we will tackle later. For now, the amount and type of illumination needed by clients are what drives the decision. (ceiling mounted vs. wall-mounted, task vs. accent, and more). Some clients tend to prefer low, dim lighting which can be sufficed by wall sconces, while others, like myself, require bright overhead illumination.


Exception: There is no exception. This is a personal preference and not a logical, structural, or environmental problem.

Another important difference between Indian construction and building abroad say in the US is that Indian buildings have lighting provisions only on the wall. There are no electrical conduits laid out in the ceiling slab, making overhead lighting without exposed wires almost impossible. And this is because our buildings are constructed out of brick and mortar and not wooden framing covered in drywall.


Exception: They are okay with the quintessential Indian mode of lighting, Tube Lights.

Lastly, for rooms that have a terrace above them, the space between the sun-baked slab and the Gypsum ceiling helps in temperature controlling the room by making it slightly cooler.


Exception: you have at least another floor on top of yours.

This cannot be a fair debate unless both sides are represented.


Now the most common point against false ceilings is that they are expensive and designers use it to pad their pockets. I am sorry on behalf of the designing community if any of you have had such an unfortunate incident leaving you bitter towards designers.

Cost is just one reason to avoid this add on. Another is reducing the clear height in the room. To cover those eyesores mentioned, the ceilings are often times dropped by more than a foot, reducing the clear height in the room to about 2400mm (8’) and sometimes even lesser. It makes the room look small, congested, and claustrophobic!


When you add layers to the false ceiling, leaving spaces for LED strips or create trays, the become festering grounds for bugs and pests. Which frankly is just, eeek!

There are some simple solutions to overcome these worries and fears.

If your home under construction


Plan the floor plan and lighting beforehand and layout the conduits in the ceiling slab itself. That way you will have wires running and reaching where you want them.


Things to keep in mind:


these cannot be changed later on as the conduits and the wires will be pulled tight and plastered over. In case your wires short, it will be very difficult to repair it and/or very expensive.

You can only use surface-mounted fixtures and not flush ones.


If you plan this without an interior designer or change your designer midway through the project, the concept and lighting design will not flow over well. With the change in concept, you will have to change the electrical layout as well.

If your home has already been constructed,

and you don’t really want a false ceiling


Create a false ceiling with a 3” drop. It is large enough for all the electrical conduits to pass through. The beams running through the room will be visible and they will create multiple levels, but there are other ways to incorporate that into your design.


You can core the beam to have your electrical conduits pass clean through to light the different parts of the room.


I hope this article helps you guys make an informed decision. If you have doubts, issues, concerns, or queries. Feel free to get in touch!


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