To address fire safety, ceiling tiles made from mineral fibres, plastic, tin, composite, or fire-rated wood panels can be used within the construction to meet acceptable standards/ratings. Some tiles, in specific situations, can provide the needed additional resistance to meet the "time rating" required for various fire code, city ordinance, commercial, or other similar building construction regulations. Fire ratings for ceiling panels vary based on the materials used, the preparation of each panel, and the safety testing and third party evaluation done to determine where and how they can be safely installed. In the UK it can be required for the tiles from certain manufacturers to be clipped into the grid with special ceiling clips in order to provide a fire rating; there are special tiles designed for the underside of mezzanine floors however that can give a fire rating without being clipped.
Drop out ceiling tiles can add to the aesthetic appeal of a ceiling since the fire sprinklers are hidden by the tiles. Commonly made from vinyl or expanded polystyrene, drop out ceiling tiles are available in multiple sizes and finishes from a variety of manufacturers.
In contrast, the tiles and other parts of a dropped or stretch ceiling are easily removed to allow access to the area above the grid to do any necessary wiring or plumbing modifications. In the event of remodelling, nearly all components of the grid can be dismantled and reassembled somewhere else.
U. S. Patent No. 1,470,728 for modern dropped ceilings was applied for by E. E. Hall on May 28, 1919 and granted on October 16, 1923. Initially modern dropped ceilings were built using interlocking tiles and the only way to provide access for repair or inspection of the area above the tiles was by starting at the edge of the ceiling, or at a designated "key tile", and then removing contiguous tiles one at a time until the desired place of access was reached. Once the repair or inspection was completed, the tiles had to be reinstalled. This process could be very time-consuming and expensive. On September 8, 1958 Donald A. Brown of Westlake, Ohio filed for a patent for Accessible Suspended Ceiling Construction. This invention provided suspended ceiling construction in which access may readily be obtained at any desired location. Patent Number US 2,984,946 A was granted on May 23, 1961.
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