Beyond Classroom Construction: Converting Classrooms to Laboratory Spaces

Classroom-to-lab or lab-to-classroom conversions are a common practice in today’s academic institutions. And they’re an area of expertise we consider best-in-class.

From universities to high schools, free-standing labs to bank branches, our teams have ample experience in converting classrooms and underutilized lab spaces.

See how we facilitated the conversions of labs and classrooms at St. Paul Secondary School in Trenton, Ontario. Watch the video with Paul, our site supervisor, for a step-by-step process.

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Lab-to-classroom conversion

Making Space

Following a detailed facilities assessment, we removed the floor, ceiling, electrical, and plumbing. Because the lab had special plumbing underneath the floor in the trenches, and we are converting it from a lab back to a classroom, we will remove the pipes and fill the trenches with concrete. We will also install a sink because sinks are now being installed into classrooms due to COVID-19.


Next, the HVAC team will work on the T-bar ceiling with acoustical tile, also known as a drop ceiling. These are typically used in commercial settings because they provide fantastic access. For example, you can pop out a panel with ease, unlike drywall, where you would have to cut it out and repair it before repainting it. These ceilings also provide great access for our electricians to install the lights.

Openings and doorways

Our final step will be to convert an unfinished doorway into a wall opening and create a new entrance on the other side. We will contract a cutting, coring, and scanning company, to cut through the wall using a dustless cutting system that utilizes water and suction and ensures that all the doors are 38 inches in width for wheelchair accessibility.

Classroom-to-lab conversion

Lab space considerations

We know from experience that when converting a classroom to a laboratory space, attention must be paid to lab equipment design and installation. So, we evaluated the classroom ceilings, lighting, and flooring for their suitability as an efficient and safe prototype of a zone that we can install from the ground up.

Scan the floor

Next, we will scan the laboratory floor with a scanning machine to tell if any power is live. Once we’ve determined the floor is safe, we can pour in the concrete, but the most important thing will be to key the concrete so it goes into the key and does not shift. Then we’ll make the floor accessible for plumbing and maintenance.

Doors, windows, and millwork

Last but not least, we will create two 38-inch doors to enable wheelchair accessibility, convert an original window into a doorway to provide access to the courtyard, and install oversized vanities and special countertops for the workstations so that the chemicals can drain into the trench.

How SJOC Construction can help

For all your institutional construction needs, talk to SJOC. From the demolition of existing walls and partitions to mechanical and electrical work to accommodate your new layout, we do it all.