As open space design has come to dominate modern commercial interiors, designers and specifiers often come to a fork in the creative process that requires a tricky choice: design for performance and functionality or design with a focus on visual aesthetics?
From an interior design perspective, one of the most attractive characteristics of open spaces is the blank canvas they offer. But the drawback of all that open space? It presents significant challenges in controlling unwanted noise from proliferating throughout the interior. With the massive growth in creative reuse of historic structures in the commercial building sector, the problem is exacerbated even further amid beautiful but acoustically reflective materials like concrete, glass, and metal.
Because of this, occupants of commercial environments are constantly exposed to ambient noise they do not want, need, or benefit from, and these sounds can have deleterious effects on everything from work productivity to speech intelligibility to the overall wellbeing of the building’s inhabitants. Conversely, a quieter, more comfortable environment can increase focus, make speech clearer, enhance privacy, and reduce stress — all of which helps help employees to focus, students to learn, and patients to heal.
Where Acoustics and Aesthetics Meet
Fortunately, the CertainTeed Architectural portfolio of free-hanging ceiling and wall baffles is a solution that offers exceptional acoustic performance without sacrificing aesthetics.
In open spaces where partitions do not exist, ceiling and wall surfaces account for the vast majority of sound absorption. Each individual CertainTeed Architectural baffle unit offers a specific amount of sound absorption, so baffles can be strategically placed and spaced to achieve the desired level of acoustic control—all with aesthetic options that unleash a world of creative possibility.
Use them to add visual appeal that underscores the magnitude of open spaces, create design gestures that aid with wayfinding, or even establish the foundational design theme of a space. They can transform corporate offices, university atriums, hotel lobbies, retail spaces, restaurants, auditoriums, and other large indoor commercial areas into stunning, design-forward environments.
A Format for Creative Freedom
CertainTeed Architectural baffles come in three primary materials—metal, fiberglass, and wood—and an array of shapes, sizes finishes, and suspension options to create a visual playground of lines, angles, and curves. Depending on the material, CertainTeed Architectural baffles can be angled, canted, staggered, zig-zagged, curved – both vertically and horizontally – to create topographies with energy, movement, and playfulness. They can also be suspended at differing heights or with variegated color, used in ceiling-to-wall transitions, and more for even greater design versatility.
Frameless fiberglass baffles offer visual pop and premium acoustical control. They’re fully finished on all sides and edges, so they look great at any angle, while offering double-sided sound absorption. Plus, flexible installation options via cables or brackets can achieve a variety of suspension heights and plenum looks. The CertainTeed Architectural fiberglass baffle family is available in straight, wave, and zig-zag profiles, plus a wide palette of standard and custom colors.
CertainTeed Architectural metal baffles feature an extruded aluminum construction for exacting fit and finish. They can be positioned straight for a clean aesthetic with uninterrupted lines, canted to create a vaulted look, or combined in intriguing curves, arcs, and radii for a playful sense of movement. The standard and custom color offerings can level up the creativity even further, and metal baffles can even take on the look of non-metal materials with wood veneer or impressively realistic powder-coated wood- look finishes.
Wood baffles bring the beauty of nature indoors to create spaces with a biophilic aesthetic for a combination that’s visually alluring and soothingly calm. With solid wood and wood veneer options in a variety of species and stains, including custom options, wood baffles are ideal for any space where beauty and function are equally important. CertainTeed Architectural wood baffles are also a great sustainability option, with 60% recycled content, 100% recyclability, and GREENGUARD Gold certification.
While metal and wood are acoustically reflective materials that designers do not typically think of for acoustic performance, many CertainTeed Architectural metal and wood baffle products can be perforated and combined with sound absorbing materials for premium noise control.
Beyond Sound & Visuals
Aside from their visual and acoustic capabilities, baffles also include the performance benefits of easy plenum access for ongoing building maintenance and seamless integration with lighting, security systems, plumbing, and HVAC mechanicals. Additionally, LED lighting integration is available through our fully-engineered Decoustics Claro Baffles portfolio. A truly unique Plug and Play solution that brings vibrance and balanced illumination to any space.
Whether it’s metal, fiberglass, or wood baffles, the wide range of design options across the CertainTeed Architectural portfolio allows you to create spaces with aesthetics that match performance — and ensure the space you design sounds and feels as good as it looks.
by Robert Marshall, senior technical manager for CertainTeed Architectural and a 45-year participant in the commercial ceiling industry.