Healthcare design: Ceilings

Ceilings for aesthetics, ceilings for acoustics, ceilings with insulation and ceilings for, well, just being a ceiling. What about ceilings in healthcare facilities? 

Different areas within a hospital or clinic have different needs beyond hygiene, and this is also true for the choice of ceiling panel that is specified for these areas.  

Hygiene properties 

Ceiling panel properties that are relevant for healthcare facilities include: 

  • Acoustics to create a clear and peaceful environment for patients. 
  • Anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties to eliminate unwanted viruses and bacteria. 
  • Cleanable by vacuuming, dusting, wiping and/or spraying with disinfectant. 
  • Smooth surfaces to prohibit bacterial growth. 
  • High resistance to humidity. 
  • Non-hazardous raw materials. 
  • Hydrophobic surfaces that can repel water. 
  • Low or no particle emissions for superior air quality. 
  • Airtight, especially in clean rooms. 
  • Fire rated to ensure that a fire situation is not exaggerated. 

The importance of these properties depends on the application area within the facility. 


Entrance areas need to maintain a certain level of hygiene as the first port of call when entering a healthcare facility. However, patients arriving, confirming appointments, and discussing payment for medical services generate a certain amount of noise. 

An acoustic ceiling choice is therefore important, to reduce reverberation and create a clear and precise environment as well as to limit the transfer of noise through to the rest of the facility. 

Treatment rooms 

Healthcare design: Ceilings

Hygiene and acoustics combine to ensure a space that promotes wellbeing and healing.

With the movement of many patients in and out of treatment rooms, the risk for spreading infection is high. Hospital-acquired infections can be reduced with the use of a ceiling system that can be easily cleaned with spray or wipe disinfection as well as through the installation of ceiling tiles that have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties built into ceiling tiles. 

Operating theatres 

A sterile environment is key for both operating theatres and intensive care units. Surfaces, including the ceiling panels, therefore need to be easily cleaned and disinfected. 

During surgical procedures, clear communication is critical between members of the surgical team – so the importance of room acoustics cannot be understated. A precise and clear sound picture facilitates improved performance and effective communication as well as reduces stress levels. 

Passages and recovery rooms 

Hospital wards and corridors are often noisy with the sound of medical equipment, the movements of beds and wheelchairs, and talking noise. This noise can interrupt sleep, which affects the recovery time of patients. 

An acoustic ceiling solution limits echoes, aids in creating a peaceful place to recover and creates a sense of privacy between patients during bedside consultations. Optimal acoustics have been shown to reduce the required amount of pain medication in patients, increasing recovery time and reducing the rate of patients having to return to hospital. 


Laboratories and clean rooms have very specific requirements as per EN ISO 14644-1 in terms of air quality, tolerating very low airborne particles or emissions. An air-tight ceiling solution aids in maintaining the necessary pressure levels, and high resistance to humidity is important. 

Bathrooms and therapy areas 

Resistance to humidity is key in these moisture-rich areas, to avoid ceiling panels losing their shape and functionality. 

In therapy areas such as heated pools, a hydrophobic surface is ideal to manage exposure to water and chlorine splashes and provide mould resistance. 

Hygiene-sensitive areas have requirements beyond being easy to clean. Acoustic solutions are equally important to deliver a space that creates a sense of wellbeing for patients, staff and visitors.  

Issue: Ceiling solutions for healthcare facilities. 

Solution: Design tips that meet construction requirements, beyond hygiene. 


Full acknowledgement and thanks go to OWA for the information in this article. 

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