There are two types of Stretch Ceilings used to replace popcorn ceiling removal: Stretch Fabric Ceiling and Stretch PVC Ceiling. In this article, I will describe how they are the same and what makes them different. I was one of the first residential contractors in New Jersey and New York who started installing stretch ceilings in our area when my company became an authorized Clipso installer in 2006.
Since then I’ve had a chance to work with different manufacturers and installers of stretch ceilings on a wide variety of commercial and residential projects. Ten years and three companies later, our company, Mainstay Materials is importing raw materials from the world’s most advanced manufacturers in Europe and the US for all types of wall and ceiling applications. We’re also producing high quality printed wall and ceiling coverings for custom design work all over the United States.
My specialty is in Wide-Span Textile Stretch Ceilings, but I am very familiar with the PVC ceiling installations as well.
Fabric and PVC Stretch Ceilings Similarities:
The basic concept of both, the PVC and the Fabric stretch ceilings is that they both consist of 2-Parts:
- They both use perimeter track (aka perimeter profile or mounting track) and
- The material, which spans across the entire area of the popcorn ceiling, is attached to the perimeter track and holds on tension.
Both kinds of Stretch Ceiling can be used to achieve the same or similar outcomes. Here are some application examples:
Acoustic fabric and micro-perforated acoustic PVC membrane can be used in an acoustic ceiling assembly. Usually, an acoustic absorber has to be used behind the fabric or PVC membrane to absorb the sound wave.Traditionally, fiberglass, non-woven polyester, or cotton acoustic backer is used as the absorber.
Translucent textiles and translucent PVC membranes allow a certain amount of light through the material, creating an illuminating effect. There are various translucency rates in different translucent fabrics and PVC membranes. Of course, the source of light must be located behind the fabric or the PVC membrane. LED strips and nodes are used for these kinds of installations because they have the longest lifespan of all commercially available lighting elements.
Both, PVC and the Textiles can be used to encapsulate a popcorn ceiling and avoid a messy popcorn ceiling removal or a very expensive asbestos popcorn ceiling remediation.
Both PVC and textiles are printable, but textiles are much more commonly used for these applications because of the higher print quality and lack of distortion of the graphic during installation.
Differences in stretch ceiling installation techniques
Tucking is a process of securing wide-span ceiling fabric into the track. Harpoon-type installation is used for mounting PVC membrane into the track.
Both methods use a special hand tool – rounded spatula to push the material into the track, but here is the main difference: the fabric stretch ceilings are installed at room temperature, while PVC membrane can only be installed with heat canons, which heat up the air and the membrane, making it stretchy and pliable.
Most often, propane tanks and cannons are used for PVC installations, because the electric ones are not effective enough. The downside to this method is that the oxygen is burned in the room and the PVC starts off-gassing toxins, while the installers are mounting the ceiling membrane into the track. PVC ceilings continue to off-gas throughout its life, long after installation.
The other difference is in appearance
A signature popular look and the prime reason why PVC ceiling is common despite of its off-gassing is because of the large array of colors and its high gloss finish. Some ceilings look like a mirror, reflecting the entire room. In the hands of a good interior designer and experienced installer, high gloss ceilings can look truly spectacular. Textiles, on another hand have mostly matte finish, comparable to painted drywall surfaces. Textile stock colors are very limited and usually include white, beige and black. Printing custom colors on demand easily compensates this shortcoming.
3D shapes are easier and better achieved with the PVC membrane rather than with the textiles.