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What is a stretch ceiling?

By: Editorial Team Category: Expert AdviceInsightsStretch Ceilings

What is a stretch ceiling?

A stretch ceiling is an alternative to the traditional suspended ceiling, which is effective in many commercial and residential buildings. 

It consists of a film stretched across the room and fitted to a track installed around the walls a few inches below the existing ceiling. 

No one would claim that the usual drywall or suspended tile ceiling is a work of art. In contrast, your stretch ceiling can become the focal point of the entire room. As a piece of interior design, they have almost unlimited possibilities. 

What does a stretch ceiling do? 

A stretch ceiling is a great way to: 

  • Hide pipework and ductwork 
  • Hide decaying plasterwork or stucco ceilings 
  • Make a decorative feature of the ceiling 
  • Create a maintenance-free environment 
  • Improve acoustics 

How are stretch ceilings created?

The basic components of a stretch ceiling are a semi-concealed track around the edges of the room and the lightweight membrane which is fixed to that frame. 

Most of the stretch materials are currently PVC-based, but other membranes are in development. 

Fixtures are welded onto the membrane during manufacture and these clip into the frame to provide a tightly-stretched, secure covering. The membrane is heated during installation which allows it to ‘stretch’. As it cools the ceiling is pulled taut, giving a perfect finish.  

Not all stretch ceiling structures cover the entire room. Using our expertise and advanced ceiling membranes, Waverley can incorporate curves, vaults, domes and other shapes into the design. The installer constructs a metal frame to the required shape and hangs it off the concrete ceiling slab before stretching the fabric over it. This means, as seen in this London office building, the ceiling can be built to any shape, even including cut outs to reveal the pipework above combined with dramatic light fittings. 

Why install a stretch ceiling?

Each space has an optimal ceiling height for the occupants. A stretch ceiling allows interior designers to position the ceiling precisely. Too low, and it can make the space feel oppressive. Too high, and the room can seem cavernous and cold. 

Once installed, such a ceiling masks any imperfections in the structure above the membrane. A stretch ceiling is quicker and often cheaper to install than typical suspended ceiling construction by the time installation, plastering and decorating costs have been factored in. 

It is safe to install fixtures such as LED lights, chandeliers, fibre optics, backlit boxes into and behind the membrane. Our partner Barrisol provides a comprehensive range of accessories available where penetrations are required, including downlighters, air conditioning vents, smoke alarms and sprinkler heads. 

Their other virtue is one of sheer simplicity. The material does not fade, flake or peel; it won’t show mould, mildew, nor will it need repainting every few years. Once the track is in place, if you want to change the design, simply change the membrane. 

Those are the practical reasons. Many designers simply install a stretch ceiling because of the almost unlimited range of visual and textual possibilities they provide. 

Stretch ceiling styles are limited only by the imagination

Estée Lauder - Barrisol Mirror Stretch Ceiling

A traditional stretch ceiling from Waverley offers 230 different colours and 15 finishes. We also supply several special styles. 

Illuminated ceiling 

An illuminated stretch ceiling provides a spectacular backdrop to workplace and hotel interiors. Your preferred style of lighting can be secured in place before an appropriate membrane is stretched across. Designers create uniform or variable light effects by varying the light diffusion properties of the membrane. 

Read more about illuminated ceilings here.Read more about illuminated ceilings here. [link to ‘how illuminated stretch ceilings …’ blog] 

Mirror ceiling 

Mirror ceilings can look amazing in contemporary homes, as well as in business premises and hotels. They create the illusion of greater space and increase natural light levels within the building. 

A mirror stretch ceiling relies on a stretchable membrane with excellent reflective properties, something Waverley can provide to customers. 

Acoustic ceiling 

One of the most attractive ways to manage the acoustic properties of a room is to invest in a stretch ceiling specially engineered to reduce reverberation and improve sound quality. 

Our acoustic stretch ceilings offer four different perforation styles to create the most effective sound control for the room. You can boost overall acoustic performance still further by installing insulation materials behind the membrane. 

Custom Printed ceiling 

For many designers, the primary reason to use a stretch ceiling is its artistic capabilities as they print a picture on the fabric. If you want to mimic the Sistine Chapel without the laborious months of painting, choose a custom printed ceiling. 

Most designers don’t want to go that far, but many firms like to add their company logo to the interior design, or request a made-to-order ceiling that features artwork, photography or a hand-drawn illustration. 

Again, the result is maintenance-free and durable. And will keep your visitors talking for years to come. 

Any questions about stretch ceilings?

Waverley’s experienced customer service team will help you explore your design options, discuss your technical questions and provide a comprehensive quote for stretch ceilings 

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