Ceiling Membranes

Page 1 of 2
Ceiling Membranes
SPATA is providing this factsheet on using ceiling membranes to raise awareness of
their benefits and also of some issues that can be easily rectified with more
A decorative membrane ceiling is a suspended ceiling system consisting of two basic components: a perimeter
track and lightweight fabric membrane which stretches and clips into the track. A membrane ceiling allows the
incorporation of all types of light fixtures, grilles, and fixing points by the use of a proprietary background
The background support will, by its very nature, be inaccessible once the membrane ceiling is completed and,
therefore, the supports need to take into account the recommendation published by the ISRM “Stainless Steel
in Swimming Pool Buildings” (ref 230:08/01). This publication should be available via CIMSPA.
The pre finished fabric material is approximately a 0.2 mm thick, PVC based, fully recyclable stretch
membrane. The material comes in a vast array of colours and finishes including Matte, Satin, Lacquer (mirror
like), and Metallic. The material can be printed or painted for additional effects, is entirely waterproof,
washable, and impermeable to vapour (with the exception of the noise absorption membrane). The material is
maintenance free, hygienic, non–toxic, and the better ceiling membranes are fire rated to new euro class
B S.1 d0 in accordance with the EN 13501.1, equivalent in the UK to Class ‘0’.
The lightweight sheets are purpose made from roll material to form any shape and size typically up to
50 square metres in one piece. Each panel incorporates an ultrasonically welded ‘Harpoon Edge’ which clips
into the track.
Typically, the Aluminium or PVC Semi-Concealed track is the preferred choice for most architects and
designers, enabling curves, domes, vaults, and many other shapes to be formed with ease. However, one
must take into account that the environment in swimming pool halls and wet change areas are classified as C4
high risk areas in accordance with BS EN ISO 19244-2 and all structural components must be protected.
Ceiling sheet is manufactured in roll form, with ultrasonic flush welded joints at approx 1.5m or 2.2m and then
cut to shape less approx 7% which is the stretch tension factor.
The support tracking enables the creation of curved profiles, either in aluminium, plastic track black, or white,
and are 23mm or 28mm high. The track is screwed and plugged to supplied surfaces, which should be rigid
and true. Plasterboard should be resistant to moisture and suitable for use in a category C4 environment and
be skimmed or painted with a suitable moisture resistant material, also suitable for use in a category C4
environment, and have a background member within, to take 12-15 kg per linear metre tension. The jointing
Page 2 of 2
double track should be suspended using suitable metal/steel studwork suitably corrosion protected for
environment category C 4 based on BS EN ISO 12944-2.
Installation of the sheet requires increasing the air temperature to approx. 100oF / 38oC using propane gas
heaters. All adjustment and apertures for lighting, ducts, and pipe work are made on site. Silicone sealed
tracks can achieve an impermeable barrier, as required for swimming pools and asbestos containment etc.
Decorated walls must have a first coat applied and tiled walls must be grouted before tracking. Wall coverings
should be applied after tracking and be suitable for wet areas.
Care should be taken by other trades once the panel is installed, to prevent damage. As the product is a fabric
material, a minor deflection may be apparent in some panels.
All air handling within the installed area must be balanced to prevent ceiling movement and possible damage.
Pool handling equipment should not be run with covers off during servicing. Void areas should be closed and
any duct work within the void should be totally sealed. The air handling equipment from new should not be
activated without due regard to the ceiling membrane stability. Any damping or control should be put in place
to get close to the commissioned balanced environment before the machinery is left to run. In most cases the
simple action of opening an exterior door or turning the ventilation system off will allow the over/under
pressurised area to balance and the ceiling will return to shape within minutes. However any protrusions or
studs within the void should be protected, just in case the membrane is lifted.
Although surface condensation will not affect the membrane ceiling, the correct equipment should negate this
happening, it is always a good idea to have taped edge insulation boards suitable for wet areas within the void
area to reduce the void depth and, therefore, achieve savings on running cost.
Light reflective would be approx. 79% for Lacquer White and 81% for Matt White for up lighting. Inset light
fitting would need to be IP 44 rated with a cool bezel.
Use non-abrasive cleaners and polish with an evaporating cleaner to remove any streaks, usually the installer
will supply a suitable product. Should any damage occur to the sheet material the immediate action should be
to hold the opening together with a tape that is not too sticky (such as electrician’s tape, which is usually
readily available) . Contact should then be made with the installer concerning the repair options.
The system is not only ideal for new builds requiring high achieving life cycle products (usual guarantee at
least 10 years) but also for quick and cost effective remodeling. An example would be the simple underline of
that old cracked or flaked plasterboard or those dark timber slats, but the existing materials must still be fit for
the purpose and be suitable for wet areas that cannot be regularly inspected and cleaned
Please note this information has been brought together with the help of some SPATA Members and SPATA
itself. SPATA reminds its Members that no responsibility can be taken by SPATA, its employees, Members or
agents in respect of any errors or omissions from this factsheet.
This version of M42 dated 1 September 2015