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School ceiling tiles and suspended ceiling grid are the key components of a complete ceiling system

Our ceiling products can help you create healthy, safe, beautiful and sustainable designs for universities, colleges, schools and other educational facilities.

By partnering with Rockfon, you can find the right balance between quality, performance and value for a learning environment that benefits both students and teachers.

Designing a school is a complicated and demanding architectural challenge. For educational facilities’ design, functionality usually tops aesthetics. But both are possible and both have an important impact on students’ progress through the academic year.

Whether your educational project is new construction, a renovation or an expansion that combines both, the building materials you choose need to be easy to maintain, flexible, adaptable and robust. Cost-effective, durable ceiling products often must tackle specific performance challenges, such as noise, indoor air quality, fire safety, and lighting.

Creating a good acoustic experience improves the educational experience.

Schools are dynamic and complex environments full of acoustical challenges. In classrooms, poor acoustics put a strain on teachers’ voices and on students’ learning. The trend to use harder surfaces – such as glass, metal, and concrete, which reflect sound – adds to the problem. Schools that were built before the 1970s also have many hard surfaces and have very high ceilings.  They are some of the worst performing education facilities from an acoustics perspective.

This design approach creates very reverberant rooms. It affects how well a teacher is understood and how well students can comprehend. Young children, in particular, experience difficulties in understanding speech in highly reverberant rooms. Providing an environment designed for clear sound through the right reverberation helps student comprehension.

Efficient communication only can be accomplished with low reverberance, lack of echoes and high speech intelligibility – in other words, sound control with high-performing, sound-absorptive ceilings. Our stone wool ceiling solutions reach the highest level of sound absorption for optimum speech intelligibility.

Every student should have the same opportunity to hear and understand what is being said. Poor acoustics affect everyone, but can be a particular problem for the following groups:

  • Children under the age of 13 – this group has an underdeveloped sense of hearing and comprehension. A limited vocabulary means that if they miss a word, they can’t easily fill in the gap1.
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) students – approximately 21 percent of American students speak a language other than English at home. [Source: Wang, L. “Room Acoustic Effects on Speech Comprehension of English-as-Second-Language Talkers and Listeners versus Native-English-Speaking Talkers and Listeners.” Architectural Engineering – Faculty Publications2 (2015).
  • Students with learning disabilities or hearing impairments.
  • Students with ear infections – as much as 25 percent of young children experience middle ear infections resulting in hearing loss.
  • Stressed teachers – trying to be heard over noise causes teachers to raise their voices, leading to increased stress and fatigue. U.S. classrooms typically have speech intelligibility ratings of 75 percent or less, meaning every fourth word is not understood3.

Even with the right reverberation time, speech intelligibility still can be negatively affected by background noise. From HVAC systems and ambient sound coming in through the windows to shuffling chairs, background noise can lead to poor student performance.

The ANSI S12 60 2010 standard includes acoustical performance criteria and design requirements for classrooms.

A highly sound absorptive ceiling helps to reduce reverberation and noise, making understanding and learning more enjoyable and helping students make the grade. A ceiling material’s ability to reduce noise is measured by Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC), and only certain materials can inherently achieve high NRC ratings. Due to its fiber structure, stone wool is one of those high-performing, sound-absorptive materials. Using stone wool at the core of our ceiling panels, baffles and islands give them excellent noise reduction capabilities.

High-performance acoustic ceiling panels, baffles, and clouds offer sound absorption for classrooms. For renovations and updates, simply removing the worn-out old-school ceiling tiles inside the existing suspended ceiling grid can make a dramatic improvement. It brings classrooms into compliance with today’s acoustics standards without much effort or cost.

Academic buildings often equal noisy occupants. In campus-based offices, acoustic specifications typically are set to ensure privacy and a quiet work environment. We took the ceiling tile out of the grid in our office and put the Rockfon sample next to the product we initially specified. Appearance-wise, it was a nice match. Budget-wise it was competitively priced. The decision was made to go with Rockfon.

Jamie Borg

Associate AIA, AMR Architects

Performance and safety beyond the classroom

Classrooms are not the only rooms in schools that need optimal acoustics. Whether it’s a drama production, band concert or basketball game – cafeterias, gymnasiums and auditorium ceiling designs also play an important role in student development.

As the rooms get bigger, so does the need for high-performance acoustic control. From a coach’s whistle to a cheering crowd, gymnasiums of the past were loud, chaotic echo chambers. Our ceiling panels combine good acoustics with impact resistance. These building materials withstand wear and tear under rough treatment. Saving maintenance teams time and money, our ceiling tiles are easy to clean and provide longevity.

Beyond day-to-day performance, fire safety is unquestionably one of the most important considerations in school environments. As a result, there are high standards for how construction materials react to fire and resist flames. Withstanding temperatures up to 2150°F (1177°C), stone wool does not melt, burn or create significant smoke, making it an ideal solution for schools. This means you are providing the fire resistance that helps improve overall fire safety, limits building damage and, most importantly, adds valuable time for people to exit the building. All our stone wool ceiling panels are UL tested for fire performance.

Bradley Central High School Fine Arts Center, KBJM Architects, TRI-CON, CurvGrid, Two-Directional Aluminum Grid Suspension System, Solid Aluminum Panels, 1200 Standard Suspension System, Infinity Perimeter Trim, Education, Pepple Photography

Rockfon® school ceiling tiles

By releasing the power of stone and its unique strengths, we make ceiling products that help improve acoustical performance in classrooms, so kids can clearly hear every word spoken by their teachers with improved speech intelligibility.

Designing attractive and sustainable schools

Sustainable design for schools, classrooms, and campuses involves asking more questions about how building products are made and what affect they have on the health of students, teachers, and staff.

What are school ceiling tiles made of? Many old-school ceiling tiles are made from mineral wool and have an outdated fissured appearance. While 15/16-inch drop ceilings with acoustic ceiling tiles had become an institutionalized look, today’s suspended ceilings for schools now welcome colorful panels, linear and curved shapes, and a choice of panel materials that include a smooth or lightly textured stone wool, and solid or perforated metal.

Our stone wool products are made with natural, abundant basalt rock and recycled content. Our metal ceiling systems also contain recycled content and can be recycled again at the end of their useful life.

Helping with school buildings’ longevity, our products are easy and fast to install. Unsightly HVAC services can be hidden above our ceilings while providing easy access to integrated lighting and mechanical ventilation systems.

When HVAC units are turned off during the summer months, schools also are more susceptible to mold and bacteria growth. Our stone wool and metal ceiling products resist water, do not hold moisture and are not organic – therefore, they provide no sustenance to harmful mildew and microorganisms, helping create and maintain a hygienic environment.

Our ceiling products offer a great line of defense against these indoor health hazards and enable you to meet the newest educational building codes and regulations. Our portfolio of stone wool ceiling panels is GREENGUARD® GOLD Certified for low volatile organic compounds (low VOCs). This stringent certification process ensures that a product is suitable for use in schools and other education buildings. It takes into consideration safety factors that may impact people who are more vulnerable, such as children and seniors, and is referenced by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® Rating System.

Whether going for LEED Gold new construction or just updating one classroom, the need to improve indoor air quality is critical. Children are often more susceptible to pollutants emitted from materials in school buildings than adults. This is because children breathe in more air and as a result are absorbing more chemicals that can be harmful to their growing bodies. But it’s not only the students that are at risk; poorly ventilated classrooms, high levels of CO2, pollutants and contaminants can lead to loss of concentration, bad odors, and irritation for adults and children alike, contributing to increased absenteeism.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that up to half of the schools have problems linked to poor indoor air quality4.

This increases the risk of chronic allergies and asthma among children. Asthma is considered the number-one chronic childhood illness and the leading cause of absenteeism, with almost 14.7 million school days missed each year5.

There’s a lot of color on the ceilings – all of our school colors. I’m really impressed with the ceilings. The installation seemed to go well and they look great.

Chris Hubbard

Director of plant management, Cushing School District

Choosing a color with a purpose

Light and color both play in attracting and retaining both teachers and students. Schools, universities, and colleges need to create strong brands and identities that will appeal to top talent in numerous fields while maintaining cost efficiencies. 

When new findings suggest that design can impact a student’s progress over the academic year, positively or negatively, by as much as 25 percent, education spaces need to be inviting, accessible and inspiring to create enhanced learning experiences. New, modern designs focus on better circulation and thoughtful layouts and take into consideration group work versus individual learning.

Our white ceilings reflect up to 86 percent of available light, dispersing natural light more effectively. They diffuse light to limit hot spots and glare that can disrupt vision and concentration. Because of this high light reflectance, energy efficiency is also enhanced. The better distribution of light means schools can lower their light loads and reduce cooling costs by up to 7 percent. Maximizing the use of natural light also reduces the number of light fixtures required, which translates into savings.

White acoustic ceiling tiles certainly serve many functions, but ceilings don’t have to be solely utilitarian. You can achieve an inspired look combining surfacesedgessizespatterns, and of course, color. Color conveys a mood, function, and atmosphere. In schools, the use of color can help define a room’s purpose, whether it’s for quiet study, collaboration or active play.

Color also affects how we process information. For example, blues work well in science and math classrooms because they lower the heart rate and allow for better concentration. Greens are great for libraries, history, and social studies classrooms because they blend the creativity of yellow with the calm of blue.

We have a complete selection of color choices and themes included in our Rockfon® Color-all™ stone wool ceiling panels to create the right atmosphere. Our ceiling suspension systems can be finished to match or boldly contrast with colored ceiling tiles. Metallics, colors and wood-look finishes are offered for our metal ceiling panels. Creating the right atmosphere is much easier when there is maximum design freedom.


1. Source: Nelson, P. “Sound in the classroom: Why children need quiet.” ASHRAE Journal 45, 22-28 (2003).

2. Source: Nelson, P. “The changing demand for improved acoustics in our schools.” The Volta Review, 101(5), 23-31. (1999).

3. Source: Tiesler, T., & Oberdörster, O. “Noise - A stressor? Acoustic ergonomics of schools.” Building Acoustics, 15(3), 249-262. (2008).

4. Source: Seep, B., Glosemeyer, R., Hulce, E., Linn, M., and Aytar, P. “Classroom acoustics: A resource for creating learning environments with desirable listening conditions.” NY: Acoustical Society of America (2000).

5. United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools: Actions to Improve Indoor Air Quality.” Publication #402-F-99-008. (1999).

6. Lott, S., and Vallette, J. “Full Disclosure Required: A Strategy to Prevent Asthma Through Building Product Selection. A Healthy Building Network Report.” (2013).



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