Professional tradespeople used within an office fit out project include partitioners, ceiling fixers, decorators, carpenters, and other specialist trades
Partition walls can be offered in a range of finishes from solid demountable to full height glazed partitioning. Skilled installers use good quality materials to achieve acoustic insulation. Most partitioning is demountable meaning it doesn’t impact the structure of the building. Partitioning is considered a ‘dry’ trade for minimal mess from mortar and little or no time for drying, and no shrinkage and cracking which are two of the traditional ‘wet’ trade disadvantages often seen in housebuilding.
Partition walls typically use vertical studs, or upright supports, fixed to head and base tracks. For glass partitions the head and base track can be sufficient when used with toughened glass. Aluminium is the default material for visible tracks, which can be finished in a variety of colours. Fashions for office partitions have moved over time. Dark brown was popular in the 70s and then grey was the colour for the 80s. Silver was the standard partitioning finish post millennium and white the most common in the last 10 years, but black metalwork is likely to be as common over the next few years.
Ceilings are mostly types of suspended ceilings used in offices. These conceal the ductwork, fan coil units, and electrical installations often located in a ceiling void. A suspended ceiling has a metal grid to support ceiling tiles that can be mineral, metal or plasterboard composition. Often a ceiling will have acoustic properties to absorb noise energy rather than bouncing it back into the office. Suspended ceilings often create plenum chambers allowing air to be extracted for cooling and new fresh air delivered. The choice of ceiling material relates to the intended quality of the building. Metal panel ceilings are higher in cost, with a more ‘linear’ appearance. In use a metal ceiling tile will better withstand the wear and tear of office life. Mineral tiles can be better for acoustic properties absorbing more sound energy, and access to the ceiling void is often easier with a mineral tile ceiling. Standard mineral tile ceilings typically save money compared to metal tiles.
The third common ceiling type is called ‘MF’ (referring to the type of supporting grid, metal furled) or sometimes known as a plasterboard ceiling. Plasterboard ceilings often appear ‘solid’ as they don’t have visible joints or seems. Great for appearance, MF ceilings are the least accessible should mechanical and electrical services require maintenance or relocation.
Office decorating is one of the few ‘wet’ trades used in office fit-out. Painted surfaces are often very large surface areas and speed of application is essential. Good trade decorators use very large application devices to cover the areas quickly and effectively. Wallcoverings are often used in offices. Commercial wallpaper is often twice as wide as domestic rolls, and is applied using ready-mixed paste for speed. Without the development of commercial decorating processes it would be extremely time consuming to carry out weekend or evening office redecorations without interrupting the daytime use of the office.
Carpentry works within office interiors usually include kitchen fitting and hanging office doors. Office kitchens, usually referred to as ‘teapoints’ generally make use of commercial cabinetry but in most respects are similar to domestic kitchens, albeit designed for 10 times as much use. Hanging office doors can be particularly challenging when doors can be full height and solid construction, meaning large doors weigh more than the carpenter installing them. Hinges with bearings are often used to support the weight and provide good service for the life of the office.
In many office interior fit out schemes the ceiling installers will be the first trade to start, followed by partition walls being installed. Decorators are usually one of the last.
Written by Fusion Office Design.