Basics on Ceiling Tiles

Fibreglass ceiling tiles:  It is best to review product information on the tiles being considered, however here are some general comments/questions to ask:

  • Fibreglass ceiling tiles tend to be a good choice, however some may have formaldehyde glues as a binder. These glues are recognized hazards and need to be avoided.
  • If the space between the tiles and the floor slab above is used as a return air plenum for the ventilation system, the re-circulated ventilation air could pick up fiberglass fibres and some of any settled dust, and distribute some to the breathing zone. That is, if some used air is being recirculated, and this is because the recirculation filters are usually not good enough to capture all the particles.
  • The tiles vibrate with HVAC and other vibrations and with changes in air pressure from above/below causing particles to be re-suspended in the return (recirculation) air stream.
  • Fire-rated tiles that are heavy tend not to need clips to keep them from moving.
  • Some fire-rated tiles might contain fire retardants which may be of concern depending on what they are.
  • Inexpensive fiberglass tiles are not typically strong and tend to sag, and can emit fibres when lifted for any maintenance.
  • The white face of the less expensive fiberglass tiles is typically Vinyl (PVC) which off-gasses particularly when new and emits toxic gasses during a fire.  Avoid vinyl surfaced tiles.
  • They may also be difficult to recycle due to the vinyl face.
  • The tiles commonly used in offices and schools  may be either mineral fiber tiles, which also emit fibres (Sources say that is typically less than for some fiberglass tiles), or cellulose tiles which would typically not emit fibres of concern.