Seismic Ceiling safety

Seismic Ceiling safety

Seismic Ceiling safety

According to the International Building Code(IBC), there's a  set standard that a building must meet to ensure the safety and preservation of lives and properties. In compliance with the IBC, every building must incorporate the seismic ceiling design into its construction plan.


Seismic compliance is the use of materials, systems and designs that have undergone seismic tests for a building.


This is important so that the building can maintain its integrity, lives and properties can be safeguarded during and after an earthquake.


Non-structural components make up at least 75% of a building's inventory.


The absence of these components in a building when an earthquake occurs can cause harm to the occupants, reduce the building integrity and prove a rescue mission futile.


The main purpose of seismic ceiling design for nonstructural components is to reduce the rate of casualties and reduce the loss of properties to the barest minimum.


Seismic Ceiling Principles

Before now, seismic materials were only used in places that are prone to earthquakes.

However, the International Building Code has been modified and all buildings must meet categories including locations that are not prone to earthquakes and do not require seismic installations.


The current criterion for seismic ceiling clip testing and evaluation is the AC156. Originally, AC156 was not designed to be the criterion for testing the result of acoustical suspension systems during an earthquake.


Regardless, in the absence of any other testing method, AC156 Seismic Certification became the standard testing for the acoustical ceiling suspended ceilings industry.

Seismic construction standards are put in place to regulate the effect of an earthquake and ensure that the occupants of a building are safe whenever an earthquake occurs.


seismic ceilings


Earthquake Risk Reduction in Earthquake-prone Places

Residents in earthquake-prone places are always educated by experts on the actions to take in case there's an earthquake.

They are advised to "drop, cover and hold on" if an earthquake suddenly happens.


Not all countries experience earthquakes, that's why buildings in earthquake-prone countries strictly follow the International Building Code.


Adherence to the building code reduces the risk of serious casualties. One of the causes of major casualties during an earthquake is the nonstructural components in the building.

These components include falling suspended ceilings, decorative pieces, heavy ceilings overhead, e.t.c.

However, reducing the risk of these nonstructural components during seismic events is not an expensive project to execute.


Specifying Seismic Ceiling Safety

The 2012 IBC, all buildings or construction projects must incorporate the Seismic Design Category into their building plans.


This should be done based on factors like the soil condition of a geographical location, the ground motion and the number of occupants.

These Seismic Ceiling Design Categories determine the type of product and installation method that can withstand seismic activities.


When developing a building plan, an expert engineer or a professional architect must indicate the SDC (Seismic Design Category) on the project blueprints.

Usually, during construction, the focus is on raising a sturdy building with the right elements and systems that can last for a long time.


However, these measures are just a part of the construction. Similarly, the non-structural component of the building needs to be paid equal attention. That's where installing a suspended ceiling that can withstand seismic events comes in.


Industry-standard Construction

During earthquakes, ceilings are one of the nonstructural components that could cause more damage even in buildings that are well built.


For some time now, suspended acoustic panel ceilings are mostly used as the best ceiling choice, especially in commercial buildings. 


In most of these ceiling systems, you'll find interconnected metal grids cross each other. It usually (consists of cross-tees and main runners).

During an earthquake, the impact can affect the building and the occupants when the vibration is not evenly distributed throughout the structure and the nonstructural components.


In the sense that if the ceiling lacks seismic restraining, then it will lead to a total disaster, because ceilings with heavy lighting fixtures can damage the lives of the occupants.

More than that, it can cause damage to other properties and even block access to rescue the occupants trapped in the building.


The purpose of the Seismic Ceiling Design Categories modified in the 2012 International Building Code is to mitigate the risk and damage to the ceiling system during a seismic event.

It was also modified to improve the installation standard of ceilings in buildings. The SDCs installation is set up to ensure that:

  • Ceiling suspension systems are strong enough to withstand the impact of a seismic event without falling;
  • And the metal grids and border panels are prevented from falling from the ceiling plane and causing damage or casualties.


The problem with suspending ceilings:

Most times, ceilings fall because they're not properly braced, making it easy for them to fall off during earthquakes. Heavy light fixtures or duct vents can cause danger to the occupant if they fall off.


How to identify it:

You can easily identify unbraced ceiling tiles by lifting a ceiling tile and checking the space in between the tiles and the ceiling.


If the tiles are not held correctly in their frames, they may fall when the building begins to shake. In a well-designed room more than 12ft wide, you'd see diagonal wires and metal grids holding the ceiling tiles to the structure above.


What can be done?

Wire hangers and braces should be used to suspend the ceiling tiles to the building frame above.


The lighting fixtures should also be secured so they will not cause any danger in case of an earthquake.


The sprinklers and vents are inclusive; they can pose a great danger to occupants if they're not properly secured during an earthquake.


You can do this yourself or hire an expert to do it for you.


On a final note;

Earthquakes do not give warnings before they happen. Sometimes they can predict, but most times, it happens on a whim. In compliance with International Building Code, a Seismic Ceiling Design Category must be incorporated into building plans.


These nonstructural components, although may seem insignificant if compared to the overall structure and system, play a major role in ensuring occupants' safety.


In the past, many buildings have suffered damage, and some loss of both lives and properties have been recorded because the suspended ceilings lack seismic restraining.


Installing a good ceiling is one thing, but installing the best ceiling that is manufactured to provide flexible design, easy installation, and the best performance is your best bet.


That's why you should try out the USG Middle East Celebretto Lay in Metal ceiling.


With an easy-to-install process and a seismic resistance feature, the Celebretto Lay Metal ceiling is the best choice to reduce the effect of an earthquake.