How Much Does it Cost to Install an Acoustic Ceiling?

An acoustic ceiling can be one of the most effective ways to add acoustical treatment to a commercial space because it allows you to evenly distribute product over the room’s entire area.

With the proper sound absorption ceiling tiles or direct-mounted panels, you can effectively manage the noise levels inside the space based on the acoustical needs of the space. In large spaces like gymnasiums or manufacturing plant floors, where there is a large amount of echo, the results can be substantial.

But, regardless of the benefits, how much does it cost to install acoustic ceiling tiles? We break down the factors in our article below.

What is an Acoustic Ceiling?

What exactly is an acoustic ceiling? It’s a type of ceiling that incorporates either sound-absorbent tiles or direct-mounted panels to reduce the noise, echo, and reverberation within a room.

All drop ceilings separate the visible ceiling surface from the building’s structure. This inherently reduces some of the echoes within the room as standard ceiling tiles are generally porous, which allows the sound pressure to get into and through the matrix of fibers that makes up the acoustic tile and into the air space (plenum) behind the tile––losing energy as it does both. Additional types of tiles that are made from different fibers can offer higher absorption numbers and thus reduce a greater amount of sound.

When it comes to how to hang acoustic panels, surface mount ceiling panels are installed directly onto the structure––usually with adhesives or various types of hardware and are used to soften the surfaces in the room. The sound pressure navigates a maze of fibers and air space as the energy travels through the panels to the structure. The sound energy then bounces off of the structure and back through a different maze of fibers and continues to lose energy. The more fibers that the sound passes through and the longer the maze of air, the more energy is reduced. By the time the sound gets back to the face of the ceiling panel, the sound is hopefully reduced to the point where it is not perceived as a reflection of the original noise by the ear.

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What Types of Buildings Use Acoustic Ceilings?

For many, drop ceilings may be most associated with standard offices, and acoustic ceilings are particularly beneficial for helping to reduce overall noise levels at these locations. If employees are at their desks on the phone or participating in video calls, sounds can quickly accumulate and begin interfering with their work.

Similarly, school common areas especially benefit from acoustic ceilings because children are naturally loud and easily distracted. Speech intelligibility (the ability to understand spoken words) is a measured room characteristic that is obviously important when teachers are presenting. Poor speech intelligibility means learners have a difficult time understanding instruction.

But virtually any space that suffers from elevated noise can better manage sound waves with an acoustic ceiling. Any commercial space that already has a drop ceiling should consider taking advantage of the sound improvements an acoustic ceiling provides, as many offices are removing the drop ceiling and then realizing they now have a reverberation or noise problem.

Acoustic Ceiling Cost Factors

If your space already has a standard suspended ceiling installed, but needs more absorption than a standard tile offers, then converting to a specialty acoustic ceiling requires the replacement of the ceiling tile material with higher absorption characteristics.

When evaluating whether to install an acoustic ceiling treatment, there are four main cost factors to consider:

  • Size – The amount of square footage the ceiling must cover will determine how many tiles or panels you need to adequately treat the space. If you are installing or modifying a drop ceiling, the entire surface area of the ceiling must be covered, while if you are installing surface-mounted panels, a varying percentage of the ceiling is usually treated with acoustical panels. 
  • Materials – For a new suspended ceiling, you’ll need to account for the tiles themselves. Still, you will also need to consider the grid system and wires and, in some instances, vibration isolators that can decouple the drop ceiling from the structure above. If the ceiling treatment will be adhered to or otherwise fastened to the ceiling directly, the materials needed are the panels and adhesive or fasteners.
  • Labor – Per HomeGuide, you can expect a general contractor to charge between $50-80 per hour, subject to local changes.1 However, for larger-scale commercial projects or specialized drop-ceiling installers, this may or may not reflect the rates in your area, where the cost of the work may depend on the square foot measurement of the job, the complexity of the installation, the height of the ceiling, as well as many other factors.
  • Building plans – If you’re replacing existing ceiling tiles, this won’t be a cost factor. However, if you’re installing a new drop ceiling, you may need to consider additional work, like rerouting pipe fixtures and sprinkler heads, electrical wiring, lighting and HVAC ducts and diffusers.

Acoustic Ceiling Tiles and direct-mount panels

For direct mount applications, the acoustical panels you choose will significantly affect the project’s final cost. The cost of an acoustical ceiling panel is determined by the materials used to manufacture it, the product’s thickness, finish, or other options, as well as the panel size. For a range of products you should evaluate for your acoustic ceiling, consider the following products available on our site:

  • Echo Eliminator ceiling panels – The Echo Eliminator panels are one of the most frequently installed direct mount ceiling panels. Made from recycled cotton fibers, these panels are light, have a very high rate of absorption, are easy to install, and are extremely cost effective. Echo Eliminator panels are generally in stock in six different colors in both 1” and 2” and come in 2’ x 4’ panels.
  • Fabric Wrapped fiberglass ceiling panels – Fabric-wrapped fiberglass ceiling panels are one of the most aesthetically pleasing panels to attach to a ceiling. The acoustical core is a compressed fiberglass panel that is custom cut to size and shape and wrapped with one of a very large number of fabrics. Choose from four different edge profiles to further specify the aesthetic of the panels to best suit your preferences. These panels are custom-made in sizes up to 4’ x 10’, and because the fabric can be chosen on a per-job basis, these panels can blend well or be used as an aesthetic accent to nearly any type of space or environment.
  • Sound Silencer™ dBA – These tiles deliver sound absorption, diffusion, and a bit of blocking and can be dropped into the grid or adhered or screwed into the ceiling. Sound Silencer™ dBA ceiling tiles are available in 1” or 2” thicknesses, both white and charcoal-gray colors and are made in both 2×2 and 2×4 sizes.  
  • Sound Silencer™ – Designed and intended for specific environments as well as for the aesthetic they offer, Sound Silencer tiles can be used in unique and beautiful applications. Because the tiles are made from an expanded polypropylene bead and do not particulate, they can be used in food prep areas as well as very humid environments like pools or for exterior applications. Sound Silencer™ tiles are available in 1” or 2” thicknesses, both white and charcoal-gray colors, are made in both 2×2 and 2×4 sizes, and can be dropped into the grid or adhered or screwed into the ceiling.
  • Poly Max™ – These panels are made from compressed polyester fibers and are an excellent option for a high-performance replacement ceiling tile or for an aesthetically pleasing direct mount option. Poly Max™ tiles and panels are available in 1” and 2” thicknesses and generally in stock in 2’x4’ and 4’x8’ panels as well as nominal 2’x2’ and 2’x4’ acoustical ceiling tiles. Panels and tiles can also be supplied in custom sizes to fit unique or custom applications.
  • Noise S.T.O.P.™ Sound Barrier ceiling tiles – Our Barrier ACT acoustical ceiling tiles utilize a highly absorptive layer of compressed fiberglass and are backed with a very dense/heavy mass-loaded vinyl noise barrier. The standard facing is a white perforated, textured surface, but a large number of fabrics can be used for applications that require a custom aesthetic. A perforated or micro-vented vinyl can be used as a facing for areas where the acoustic tile may need to be washed down frequently. They’re available in 1 1/8” and 2 ⅛” thicknesses and standard 2’ x 2’ and 2’ x 4’ surface dimensions. However, like their appearance, the dimensions can be customized.
  • Painted Nubby Fiberglass – The painted nubby fiberglass ceiling tiles also utilize a compressed fiberglass material as the absorptive core. They are used in areas where a large amount of absorption is needed. There are various other facing options if the standard white “painted nubby” is not the right aesthetic for the space. Available in 1” and 2” thicknesses, these fiberglass tiles come in 2’ x 2’, 2’ x 4’, as well as custom sides if needed. 

Now that you know the types of ceiling tiles to choose from, learn more about how to soundproof a ceiling for your business space.

Optimize Your Ceiling Acoustics with Tiles from Acoustical Surfaces

If you are considering a ceiling acoustic treatment for your venue or if you are already starting the process of installing an acoustical ceiling, reach out to the professionals at Acoustical Surfaces for a consultation. 

We’ll help you determine which of our products best suit your needs. We are happy to discuss product attributes and finishes with you and answer your pricing and installation-related questions. Whatever you need, we’re here to help.

Our team is an industry leader in everything from soundproofing office and event spaces to acoustics, noise control, and vibration control. From acoustic ceiling tiles to sound absorbing curtains, contact us today to find out why projects around the globe have received on-site visits from Acoustical Surfaces consultants. 



  1. HomeGuide. How much does a handyman charge?

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