Acoustic ceiling seismic requirements

All our Rockfon® Chicago Metallic™ ceiling suspension systems are tested per ASTM E3090, C635 and compliant with ASTM E580 requirements and capable of meeting all Seismic Design Categories (SDCs).

In the event of an earthquake, our seismic-rated ceiling systems help support life safety and the preservation of property. Combining our grid with our seismic tested perimeter and separation joint solutions creates a complete solution that not only performs but also reduces installation time, speeds up inspection, saves on material and labor costs and improves the aesthetics of the finished ceiling. 

Understanding seismic code requirements and seismic design categories (SDCs)

A Seismic Design Category (SDC) must be established for each construction project, regardless of geography, according to the International Building Code (IBC). The IBC outlines six SDCs, A through F, ranging from the least to the most stringent.

SDC A, B, C, D, E, and F are based on:

  1. Anticipated ground motion
  2. Type of soil in a specific geographic area
  3. Occupancy category

A professional engineer or registered architect must specify the SDC on the project’s drawings. This person determines the best application to meet the project’s specifications, often using detailed information from ceiling manufacturers.

Meeting ceiling seismic requirements

Proper installation for seismic applications means that the suspended ceiling systems:

  • Must be strong enough to resist the lateral force imposed upon it without failing.
  • Must prevent border panels from falling from the ceiling plane

The Ceilings & Interior Systems Construction Association’sCISCA Seismic Construction Handbook” summarizes industry-standard construction for acoustical ceiling suspension systems. The handbook requires intermediate or heavy-duty suspension systems in SDC C. Only heavy-duty suspension systems are recommended for the more stringent SDCs D, E, and F.

For U.S. residents in the 48 contiguous states, about 143 million people live and work in areas with some potential for damaging shaking, a level that could at least lead to damage in structures. Approximately 57 million people are in areas with a moderate chance of such shaking, and 28 million people in areas that have a high potential to experience damaging shaking.

U.S. Geological Survey

Proving seismic performance

Chicago Metallic suspension systems are tested to ASTM E580/E580MStandard Practice for Installation of Ceiling Systems for Acoustical Tile and Lay-in Panels in Areas Subject to Earthquake Ground Motions.

Our intermediate-duty and heavy-duty systems perform as required per ASTM C635/C635M, “Standard Specification for Manufacture, Performance, and Testing of Metal Suspension Systems for Acoustical Tile and Lay-in Panel Ceilings.”

These seismic-rated suspended ceiling systems also have been rigorously tested at the Structural Engineering Earthquake Simulation Laboratory at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

In addition, Rockfon products are independently analyzed by the third party accredited agencies. Rockfon has reported with the International Code Council-Evaluation Services (ICC-ES) and Intertek. The evaluation report held with ICC-ES is ESR 2631, the Code Compliant Research reports (CCRR) held with Intertek are CCRR-0260, CCRR-0267

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To help offset environmentally impactful practice linked to the building industry, waste material projects and technologies, like upcycling, are being implemented to return used materials into products with commercial value.