Obviously, the foregoing questions should be answered before purchasing a product. If acoustics, fire retardancy, lighting and longevity are not important, than any ceiling white latex paint will do the trick. If not, however, one must do some further research and identify a product that is designed specifically for this type of application. These materials are specialty products that are generally referred to as “acoustical coatings.” They are designed to coat the whole ceiling system at the same time. That includes the supporting t-bar system, air diffusers, etc.
Assuming acoustics is an important feature and the desire is to maintain the metal ceiling tiles quality of the ceiling, then each of the holes and perforations in the tile’s surface must remain open to absorb sound. Filling the holes with paint takes away from that capability. In contrast, the acoustical coatings are chemically formulated as non-bridging and as a result will not close a gap. This also means that the crack between the tile and the t-bar will also remain open, leaving the tile free to be moved or replaced as needed. Conventional paint would form a film across that crack, leaving the tile stuck to the t-bar.
In the industry, ceilings are restored through the acoustical ceiling tiles of an acoustical coating as a cost-effective alternative to replacing with new materials and saving the old from landfills. It is most commonly done in the renovation of commercial buildings where replacement of large ceilings represents a large sum of money.
Whether the application is commercial or residential, a capable painter can restore the ceiling and the manufacturers of the acoustical coating can provide specific directions. The legitimate manufacturers can also provide independent laboratory test data that supports any claims they make regarding affects on acoustics or fire retardancy. Anything can be printed on a brochure while test results must carry the name and logo of the testing laboratory. Do not settle for less. There is also a wide range of materials available that makes the masking and preparation of walls, floors, furnishings, and light fixtures simple and less time consuming. This efficient preparation allows ceilings to be sprayed rather than rolled. The result of spraying is a more natural appearance, less product used, and a more efficient use of time.