Suspension Systems for Acoustical Lay-in Ceilings

Suspension Systems for Acoustical Lay-in Ceilings
Application recommendations for work at the wall or ceiling
Suspension Systems for
Acoustical Lay-in Ceilings
for official use only
This document provides the various
standards for the installation of suspension systems for acoustical lay-in
ceilings. Incorporation of this document
General Recommendations
Referenced sources per hierarchy: 2003 IBC (International Building Code),
American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM C 635, ASTM C 636),
American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE 7-02) and Ceilings and Interior
Systems Construction Association (CISCA).
Partitions that are tied to the ceiling and all partitions greater than 6 feet in
height shall be laterally braced to the structure. Bracing shall be independent of the ceiling splay bracing system. Source IBC section 1621.1.2
will provide a more uniform standard for
installation and inspection. This document
is designed to accomplish the intent of
the International Building Code (IBC) with
regard to the requirements for seismic
design category D for suspended ceilings
and related items. Unless supported by
For further information on bracing of non-load bearing partitions refer to
NWCB technical document #201.
All main beams are to be Heavy Duty (HD). Source ASCE 7-02 item
All cross tees shall be capable of carrying the design load without exceeding deflection equal to 1/360 of its span. Source CISCA zones 3-4
• These recommendations are intended
for suspended ceilings including grid,
panel or tile, light fixtures and air terminals
weighing no more the 4 lbs. per square
foot. Source ASCE 7-02 item
engineering or approved by local building department, the suspension system
shall be installed per the requirements for
Seismic Design Category (SDC) D, E
maximum 3"
and F per the IBC. Manufacturers’
recommendations should be followed
figure 1
• All wire ties are to be three tight turns
around itself within three inches. Twelve
gage Hanger wire spaced 4 foot on center
(figure 1). Source ASTM C 636 item 2.3.4
Changes in ceiling planes will require
positive bracing.
Source ASCE 7-02 Section item f.
Lateral Force Bracing (figures 2 and 3)
figure 2
Lateral force Bracing
45º or less
45º or less
45º or less
Source CISCA zones 3-4
45º or less
Cross tee
Ceilings constructed of lath and plaster or gypsum board, screw or nail attached to suspended members that support a ceiling on one level extending
from wall to wall shall be exempt from the lateral force bracing requirements.
12 gage
Main beam
figure 3
Maximum Recommended Lengths for
Vertical Struts
½" EMT conduit
up to 6' 0"
¾" EMT conduit
up to 8' 6"
1" EMT conduit
up to 10' 0"
Lateral force bracing is the use of vertical struts (compression posts) and
splay wires (see figure 2).
Lateral force bracing is required for ceilings over 1,000 square feet and not
required for ceilings less than 1,000 square feet provided they are surrounded
by four walls and braced to structure. Source ASCE 7-02 section item c
Lateral Force Bracing shall be 12 feet on center (maximum) and begin no
farther than 6 feet from walls. Source CISCA Seismic zones 3-4
Splay wires are to be four 12 gage wires attached to the main beam. Wires
are arrayed 90° from each other and at an angle not exceeding 45° from the
plane of the ceiling. Source CISCA Seismic zones 3-4
Splay wires are to be within 2 inches of the connection of the vertical strut to
suspended ceiling. Source CISCA Seismic zones 3-4
Rigid bracing may be used in lieu of splay wires. Source ASCE section
Ceilings with plenums less than 12 inches to structure are not required to
have lateral force bracing. Source Portland Building Department
Vertical struts must be positively attached to the suspension systems and the
structure above. Source CISCA 3-4
The vertical strut may be EMT conduit, metal studs or a proprietary compression post (see figure 3).
Wall Moldings (figure 4)
15⁄8" metal stud (25 gage)
up to 6' 2"
2 ½" metal stud (25 gage)
up to 10' 6"
Source Portland Building Department
Wall moldings (perimeter closure angles) are required to have a horizontal
flange 2 inches wide, unless alternate methods are approved prior to installation by the local building department and the designer of record. One end
of the ceiling grid shall be attached to the wall molding, the other end shall
have a ¾ inch clearance from the wall and free to slide. Source ASCE 7-02 section item b
Note: Plenum areas greater than 11' 0" will require
engineering calculations.
The grid shall be attached at two adjacent walls (pop rivets or approved
method). Source CISCA Seismic zones 3-4
There shall be a minimum ¾ inch clearance from the end of the grid system
at un-attached walls. Source ASCE 7-02 section item b
Spreader Bars
Spreader (spacer) bars or other means approved by local building department shall be used to prevent the ends of the main beams at perimeter walls
from spreading open during a seismic event. Perimeter wires shall not be in
lieu of spreader bars. Source CISCA Seismic zones 3-4
Wire tying is an acceptable alternative to spreader bars.
Spreader bars are not required if a 90 degree intersecting cross or main is
within 8 inches of the perimeter wall.
figure 4
Wall Molding Requirements
maximum 8" (202 mm)
2" (50 mm)
3/4" (19 mm)
at unattached walls
Spreader bar or
other suitable
system required to
keep perimiter
components from
spreading apart
(figure 4)
Hanger (Suspension) Wires
(figures 5a and 5b)
Hanger and perimeter wires must be plumb within 1 in 6 unless (figure 5a)
counter sloping wires are provided (figure 5b). Source ASTM C 636 section 2.1.4
Hanger wires shall be 12 gage and spaced 4 feet on center or 10 gage
spaced 5 feet on center. Source ASTM C 636
Any connection device at the supporting construction shall be capable of carrying not less than 100 pounds. Source CISCA zones 3-4
For essential facilities, hanger wire connections must be capable of carrying
200 pounds and bracing (splay) wires shall be capable of carrying 440 pounds,
shot-in anchors in concrete are not permitted for bracing wires. Source Depart-
figure 5a
plumb 1/6
ment of State Architects (DSA)IR M-3
Bracing wires shall be attached to the grid and to the structure in such a manner that they can support a design load of not less than 200 pounds or the
actual design load, with a safety factor of 2, whichever is greater (figure 6b).
maximum 8"
Source CISCA zones 3-4
Powder driven fasteners must be approved for the appropriate loading.
Source ASCE 7-02 section
Terminal ends of each main beam and cross tee must be supported within 8
inches of each wall with a perimeter wire (see figure 4 & 5 b). Source CISCA zones 3-4
figure 5b • Countersloping
Electrical fixtures
3" (76 mm)
Light fixtures weighing less than 10 pounds shall have one 12 gage hanger
wire connected from the fixture to the structure above. This wire may be slack.
45º angle
45º angle
Source CISCA Seismic zones 3-4
Light fixtures weighing more than 10 pounds and less than 56 lbs. shall have
two 12 gage wires attached at opposing corners of the light fixture to the
structure above. These wires may be slack. Source CISCA Seismic zones 3-4.
Light Fixtures weighing more than 56 lbs. shall be supported by directly from
the structure above. These wires must be taut. Source CISCA Seismic zones 3-4
Pendant mounted fixtures shall be directly supported from the structure above
using a 9 gage wire or an approved alternate support without using the ceiling
suspension system for direct support. Source CISCA Seismic zones 3-4
Structural concrete
Ceiling clip
Terminals or services weighing 20 lbs. but not more than 56 lbs. must have two
12 gage wires connecting them to the ceiling system hangers or the structure
above. These wires may be slack. Source CISCA Seismic zones 3-4
Terminals or services weighing more than 56 lbs. must be independently
supported directly from the structure above. These wires must be taut.
Source CISCA Seismic zones 3-4
Seismic Separation Joints
Vertical hanger wire attachment
Shot-in anchor
Tandem fixtures may utilize common wires.
Mechanical Services
figure 6a
3 turns
Vertical hanger wire
figure 6b
Splayed seismic bracing wire attachment
5/16" drill-in expansion anchor
(figure 7)
For ceiling areas exceeding 2500 square feet, a seismic separation joint or full
height wall partition that breaks the ceiling shall be provided unless analyses are
performed of the ceilings bracing system, closure angles and penetrations to provide sufficient clearance. Source ASCE 7-02 item d
Structural concrete
The layout and location of the seismic separation joint shall be per the designer
of record and noted on the plans. If a seismic separation joint is required by the
designer, the designer may use the generic joint detailed in this document or a proprietary joint. The amount of free movement (gap design) shall be per the designer
of record.
Splayed seismic bracing wire
Steel strap 1" wide x 2" long x
12 gage minimum
3 turns
figure 7
Special Inspections
Special inspections may be required by the jurisdiction or municipality. Contact the
local building department.
For ceilings without rigid bracing, sprinkler head penetrations shall have a 2 inch
oversize ring, sleeve or adapter through the ceiling tile to allow free movement of at
least 1 inch in all horizontal directions. Flexible head design that can accommodate
1 inch free movement shall be permitted as an alternate. Source ASCE 7-02 e
G L O S S A RY F O R T H I S D O C U M E N T (regional terminology may vary)
Wall molding that surrounds the perimeter of the suspension system and ceiling
10 or 12 gage soft annealed wire used as
primary support for the grid system. Also
called suspension wires.
The cross member that interlock with the
main beams, also known as cross runners or cross T-bars.
The bracing method used to prevent ceiling uplift or restrict lateral movement during a seismic event. Lateral force bracing
consists of vertical struts and splay wires.
A circular or rectangular metal grill used
for the passage of air from a ducted
Any buildings designed to be used by
public agencies as a fire station,
police station, emergency operations
center, State Patrol office, sheriff’s
office, or emergency communication
dispatch center.
The main beams and cross tees of the
suspension system.
The primary suspension member supported by hanger wires, also known as
the main runner, carrying tee, carrying
runner or mains.
A light gauge metal angel or channel
fastened to the wall or partition to
support the perimeter of an acoustical
tile or ceiling.
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone (206) 524-4243
Fax (206) 524-4136
Toll Free (800) 524-4215
[email protected]
A 12 gage wire that is not tight or taut.
A bar with notches to prevent the suspension system from separating, also
called a stabilizer bar.
Wires installed at an angle rather than
perpendicular to the grid.
The rigid vertical member used in lateral
force bracing of the suspension system.
Also known as compression posts,
seismic pods, seismic struts. Common
materials are electrical conduit (EMT),
metal studs or proprietary products.
Hanger wires placed within eight inches
of the surrounding walls.
NWCB - Oregon
Phone: (503) 295-0333
Fax: (503) 295-2733
1032-A NE 65th St.
The space above a suspended ceiling.
B.C. Wall and Ceiling Association
Phone: (604) 597-7180
Fax: (604) 597-7208
Alberta Wall and Ceiling Bureau
Phone: (403) 250-7045
Fax: (403) 291-9515
The NWCB has been serving the construction
industry for over forty years. It is recognized
as a technical authority, educational body and
spokesperson for the wall and ceiling industry.
It provides services to architects and the construction community on all matters relating to the
diversified wall and ceiling industry.
As the industry’s development and coordination
organization, the NWCB saw the need to establish a document to provide clarification and the
intent of NEHRP (National Earthquake Hazards
Reduction Program) an agency of FEMA (Federal
Emergency Management Agency). It is meant to
serve as a set of recommendations and is not
intended for any specific construction project.
The NWCB makes no express or implied warranty
or guarantee.
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