Types of Ceiling Styles
The conventional ceiling is the most common ceiling finish used, but house designs and styles can make other options attractive alternatives.
A conventional ceiling finish is painted drywall. Flat, smooth, and seamless. Or as a textured ceiling with spray-on popcorn texture or knock-down spray-on drywall mud used to cover imperfections and create a different look and feel. The usual conventional ceiling heights are eight or nine feet. Building higher walls/ceilings give rooms a more airy open feel.
Conventional ceilings are often the starting point for coffered ceilings, beamed ceilings, coved ceilings, and even tray ceilings. Starting with a smooth level surface makes for a better finished product.
Vaulted Ceilings are also called cathedral ceilings (after Europe’s grand cathedrals). These designs originally followed the rafter roof line. More recent construction makes use of scissor trusses to allow for more insulation, making the ceiling slope different from the roof slope, and providing structural strength to the exterior walls.
Unlike a sloped ceiling, vaulted ceiling roof structures are built on top of standard wall heights–8’, 9’, or even higher. Many house vaults soar at least 12’ to the peak. Some vaulted ceilings feature truss-shaped structures inside the room. These are finished with wood, drywall, or plaster.
Many interior trusses are structural and built of glulam beams, which provide a heavy rich-looking room feature when stained.
Vaulted ceilings do not all look the same. Following are two of the more common vaulted ceiling variations. Other less common designs are pitched brick vaults, groin vaults, and cloister vaults.
- Barrel Vault Ceilings
Barrel vault ceilings are a pre-Roman design. Instead of soaring to the roof peak, the ceiling is designed as a curve providing a much softer look and feel. The peak is much lower than true vaulted ceilings.
The curve often begins at the wall top on one side of the room and continues to the other wall top. Originally constructed of brick, they are now finished with wood, drywall, plaster, and more. Custom-made barrel vault kits are available from manufacturers in the USA. Making it a relatively simple process to convert room ceilings–if there is enough height.
Courtesy: Pinterest – Barrel vault ceiling
- Domed Vault Ceilings
A dome vault ceiling is actually a dome-shaped section recessed into a standard flat ceiling. They are popular in entrances, studies, and other small house spaces because they provide the illusion of a more spacious area. Or even a completely domed ceiling.
Originally domed ceilings were the natural result of a domed roof structure. Today’s domes that protrude through the roof often include skylights or stained glass–as did many ancient domes–to admit as much natural light as possible. Custom-made dome vault kits are also available from US manufacturers. Make sure the structural integrity of the roof is maintained.
Sloped ceilings are also known as shed ceilings. These follow the normal slope of the roof–often on the second floor. Walls are built from the floor to the underside of the roof before the roof and floor meet at the outside walls. Usually around 4’ high or more.
To make these rooms useful, the roof slope has to be at least a 6/12 pitch–usually steeper. The two-story house design became popular after WW II. The rooms could be very cold or very hot because of a lack of insulation between the roof deck and interior finishing.
Drop ceilings are also called suspended or T-Bar ceilings. They are often used in commercial spaces or basements to cover the pipes and ducts an exposed ceiling accentuates. Originally plain white tiles, they have turned into multiple designs and colors that can enrich a room.
Drop ceilings can be used to accentuate a certain part of a room. Such as a dining area or workspace by changing the height of the tiles.
T-Bar ceiling systems are designed to allow easy access to heating and electrical systems in need of repair. A big drawback is the loss of room height. To end up with 8’ basement walls, the original height has to be around 9’.
Exposed ceilings became a thing with the conversion of factories and warehouses into apartments. They are used in many commercial buildings and some designers are incorporating the idea into houses. Rooms with these types of ceilings often feel roomier because of the extra height they provide.
Exposed ceilings are exactly what they sound like. All of the framing members, pipes, ducts, and electrical services are left exposed. Quite often the entire surface–including services–is painted one color. Flat black is popular in restaurants and bars.
A cove ceiling replaces the 90-degree wall/ceiling corners with a smooth concave transition. The continuation of the wall to the ceiling adds a softness to the room. Coved ceiling treatments are often combined with a tray ceiling which adds a more open feel to the room.
Tray ceilings are made up of a conventional-type ceiling with a recessed section in the center that gives the impression of an inverted serving tray. Ideally, the ceiling starts out nine feet high with the center section raised another foot. Creating the illusion that the entire ceiling is higher. Custom-made cove ceiling kits are available from US manufacturers. Making for a smooth and easy transition to a different look.
True beamed ceilings are becoming rare in modern construction practices. Most use faux beams of real wood, fiberglass, or polyurethane. These are attached to roof trusses or second-story floor joists through conventional ceiling drywall. Then stained or painted as desired.
A coffered ceiling is a checkerboard pattern of raised beams and recessed sections. In modern construction, the beams are added to a conventional ceiling. Then finished with drywall, wood, MDF, and various molding to give the ceiling a dramatic look.
Types of Ceiling Finishes
After the design and framing of the ceiling, it is time for the finishing. Drywall is the most popular finishing material and the easiest to use. Using different types of products will definitely change the feel of the room.
- Drywall. Invented in 1916, drywall use surpassed plaster use in the 1960s. Most ceilings are finished with it as a base. Then painted or sprayed with a cellulose popcorn finish or drywall mud.
- Plaster. Plaster finishing is only used rarely for feature sections.
- Wood. Ceilings can be finished completely in wood. Or wood trims are used as highlights–such as trims around tray ceilings.
- Metal. Stamped metal panel ceilings were popular after the US Civil War. The product is making a bit of a comeback. It is easy to install, durable and adds character.