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Great Curved Soffi ts are Easy!

A new product can shortcut the curved soffi t-building process and give you a better fi nished job

So you’ve got a soffi t to build, a curved soffi t at that! Not a big deal, you tell yourself! It’s only a small feature, especially when you consider the size of the job as a whole. But in the back of your mind, you know that this one, small architec- tural enhancement could cost you a large part of the profi ts you hoped to make on the job. For their size, curved soffi ts can consume more

time and attention than they deserve. Sure, they do get a lot more attention than the rest of the walls and earthbound structures. Merely by their elevated location and their curvy shapes, they grab our atten- tion. I guess that’s why they’ve become so popular in lobbies and at reception desks. They tell the customer, “Hey, we’re special! Just look at the effort and artistic design we’ve put into our entry!” Or at least the architect can say, “Made ya look!” So how can you make these curved soffi ts without wasting an inordinate amount of time on the thing? The solution is to use one of the new curv-

able products now available that can shortcut the process and give you a better fi nished job as well! Using a product like Oklahoma City-based Flexabil- ity Concept’s Flex-C Arch is kind of like having the soffi t sitting on a shelf, in a straight confi guration, just waiting for you to curve and install it. The old way of building a curved soffi t was like building a

little wall, a little curved wall, up in the air. It con- sisted of a top plate, a bottom plate and some little vertical studs. Just as many cuts as a full-size wall, but since you were building it up in the air, it could often remind you of building a ship in a bottle. The new products were originally manufac-

tured to frame arched openings of different widths. But, just turn the arches on their side, and you’ve got yourself a curved soffi t! Since these arches come in any width from 2 1/2 to 11 1/2 inches, you can pick whatever height soffi t you need, curve it, lock it with the new Hammer-Lock feature and slap it into place. It installs just about as quickly as you can say it! The Hammer-Lock feature works just like it sounds: you hand-shape the Flex-C Arch to the desire curve, then with your hammer, strike the Hammer-Lock tabs and they do their job, they lock it in shape! Since this actually locks it into the curve, you don’t have to be concerned about the shape changing when the gyp board is wrapped around it. No more callbacks for ugly curves. The framing you attach your curved soffi t

can vary widely depending on the effect desired. Sometimes you’ll be attaching the soffi t to the wall and other designs will have it hanging from the structure above. If you’re building a soffi t to form a light cove above it, you can just run kickers out

to catch your light fi xtures and then just slide the curvy shaped soffi t over the end of the kickers. The kickers can be narrower than the width of the curved soffi t, so depending on the widths of your different elements, you can get all kinds of differ- ent effects from these same simple parts. You can have long kickers reaching out from the vertical wall with the curved soffi t on the end or have a very tall face on the curved soffi t for a deep trough behind it. Again, without having to cut, plumb and install all the little vertical studs and mating and matching your top and bottom plates. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any

better, you can order the Flex-C Arch in any width you like. Need a 19 3/8-inch-tall soffi t or some other unusual height? No problem! Just give us the desired height and it will ship within four working days. Since architects are often in pursuit of the perfect appearance, there’s no telling what dimen- sions they may throw at you. So it’s nice to know that now you can throw those soffi ts up almost as easily as they draw them.

Frank Wheeler is co-owner of Flex-Ability Concepts, Oklahoma City, and inventor of the Flex-C Trac. For more information, visit www.fl

By Frank Wheeler

New techniques are now available to assist in curved soffi t installation. Merely by their elevated location and their curvy shapes, curved soffi ts grab our attention. May 2013 METAL CONSTRUCTION NEWS 45

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