We know, usually, the last thing you put a lot of thought into when you’re remodeling your existing home or adding an extension is the ceiling. To most people, the ceiling isn’t anything special. Instead, it’s just there. We know that they’re an important piece of your home, but you rarely think about them.
However, you shouldn’t underestimate how much a ceiling can do. There are traditional ceilings, but some types of ceilings can really enhance how the room looks as a whole. There are so many options available when it comes to types of ceilings that we put a short guide together that will help to outline your choices. This way, you can see what you have available and which one looks best with your decor.
Some ceilings are much more ornate and grand than others, but you don’t see this in residential buildings as much as you do in commercial ones. Church ceiling by bittlelit / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
1. Acoustic Ceiling
Adding acoustic ceiling tiles are a nice alternative to traditional ceiling tiles. If you want more sound absorption than you’ll get from an acoustic foam ceiling, this is the type of ceiling you want to consider. Just like the name suggests, this ceiling type has several little tiles in the makeup that you can install in patterns across your existing ceiling.
2. Barrel Vault Ceiling
This type of ceiling originated with the Romans, and you may hear this ceiling called tunnel or wagon-vaulted ceilings, even if they don’t have a steep pitch on them. If you look closely at it, you could swear that someone cut barrels in half and hung them up to give you this ceiling’s silhouette. As a bonus, this type of ceiling will coordinate with virtually every interior architectural style without an issue. It works with contemporary, rustic, and modern designs. You can even commission a barrel vault ceiling that has coffers to guarantee that you get a unique and eye-catching design.
3. Beam Ceiling
If you’re someone who loves more traditional architecture, any home that has this type of ceiling could draw your attention to the rafters and their rustic charm. This trend has come and gone before coming back into style, but this ceiling requires a decent amount of space to do the style justice. If the beams are too low, it can make the room appear smaller. They’re traditionally crafted out of wood, and newer designs incorporate metal or exotic materials. Versatility is a huge draw with this type of ceiling, and boxed-beam and hammer-beam styles are back in. This gives you several design choices if you go with this style.
4. Cathedral Ceiling
This is technically a vaulted type of ceiling, but a traditional cathedral ceiling is much more. It got the name from the grand European cathedral interior, and they get characterized by the sloping sides with a central point that is a lot higher than the two sides. They can bring a very dramatic, remarkable look to your room. In most instances, this ceiling type is symmetrical, and each side will meet and rise up at a midpoint.
The downside to this type of ceiling is that it really impacts your ability to have a second floor in your home. However, many people who choose this ceiling type will usually only have it in one area of the house, and this is usually the living room. This allows you to have a second floor in other areas of the home for your bedrooms.
5. Cloistered Ceiling
Cloister vaults are another vaulted type of ceiling, and they’re widely considered to be close to the groin vault design. The groin vault ceiling will arch toward the room’s center from the corners of each wall. This ceiling type will arch toward the center of the room from a consistent point along each wall. This very slight construction difference can be a huge influence on the room’s overall design. Also, if you’re trying to add height to a room using an exterior wall, this ceiling can arch up into the attic in your home, and it’ll curve under your roof rafters.
6. Coffered Ceiling
If you’re trying to get a more exotic ceiling design that you can’t find anywhere else in your neighborhood, we suggest you try this type of ceiling. Coffered ceilings are tray ceilings on steroids. Instead of only having a single recessed feature, they have the entire surface covered with smaller recessed features that grid work separates. It’s a great choice for any room with expansive ceiling areas. It’s a very ornate style that you can trace back to the ancient Chinese, Roman, and Middle Eastern palaces.
However, you should expect to spend a decent amount of money if you want this ceiling type because the design is extremely complex and time-consuming. If you get it right, any visitors to your home that see this ceiling can imagine what it would be like to walk into Rome’s Pantheon. This is one of the best examples of this type of ceiling in the world.
7. Cove Ceiling
You may hear this type of ceiling called a cove or coved ceiling. No matter what you call it, you can easily identify this ceiling by the curved, rounded framework that is where the wall and the ceiling meet. You get a very nice rounded, soft shape. If you’re looking for a reason to install this ceiling type, it works well for those who don’t like crown molding in your kitchen style or if you’re on a deadline and running out of time. They look fantastic without adding the time-consuming, expensive trim.
Many interior decorators recommend painting this type of ceiling to match the trim color of the room. If you install inset ceiling fixtures, you’ll get very dramatic lighting effects that showcase this ceiling.
A gently rounded ceiling can inject a lot of personality into your room, and it removes any jarring angles that could distract from your room’s design aesthetics. 104 Jefferson Cove Elgin, TX 78621 by Brent Eckley / CC BY 2.0
8. Dome Ceiling
If you want to make your entryway with narrow halls look much more spacious, you can do so by adding this type of ceiling to the space. Dome ceilings work to create the illusion of expanded height and space. It also has the potential to enlarge an area so dramatically that people who visit your home say that it can trick your eye into thinking that the room is double the size. This is why it’s so popular in homes of all sizes.
It was once only popular in solariums and gazebos, but this type of ceiling is now popular throughout homes. You can build them with skylights to illuminate and expand smaller areas more. You can decorate your dome ceiling with murals, mosaic tiles, and dramatic lighting fixtures to make it more elegant. They can also become the home’s selling point when it goes on the market.
9. Drop Ceiling
Also called a suspended or false ceiling, the biggest reason why people install this type of ceiling is to help conceal ductwork and sprinkler systems. It can also improve the acoustics of the space by providing a cushion for the ceiling and deflecting noise from the pipes and water in the floor above it. Drop ceilings are very common ceiling types to install in office settings, but they’re also gaining popularity at home.
These types of ceilings are lower than the main section of ceiling, and you’ll secure them in place by using industrial cables that you hide behind tiles. The tiles are usually 2 by 2 or 2 by 4 feet, and they can be plain white or more decorative. They’re meant to focus more on function than style.
10. Exposed Ceiling
Since more and more people are embracing that modern industrial look in their homes, this type of ceiling exposes the inner workings of your home, as the name suggests. When you use this style, you intentionally leave the ceiling unfinished to show the wires, air ducts, piping, and more. However, in some instances, you would paint all of the elements the same color to give yourself a more cohesive look.
Exposed ceilings have a very inexpensive design, and they can work very well if you have any loft-type spaces in your home. However, the rooms that rise above it tend to be a lot louder and less insulated. So, the space is overall more expensive to cool or heat than any room with a more traditional ceiling.
11. Groin V Ceiling
Take a guess what the V stands for in this type of ceiling. If you guessed vault, you’d be correct. This is a hybrid ceiling configuration, and is part barrel vaulted and part traditional vaulted ceilings. Whoever is tasked with installing this exotic ceiling must have a good understanding of mathematics because you have to know how to work with right angles.
If you’re curious as to how this type of ceiling will come together, read on. First, your architect has to have four curving circles that join at a centralized point. Where all of these vaults meet, ribs will provide strength for the ceiling while also giving visual interest.
12. Normal Conventional Ceiling
Anyone who is on a budget who wants to install a utilitarian, standard type of ceiling, a conventional ceiling has a vertical expanse that is flat and eight feet from the floor. It comes with no architectural points of interest to draw your attention to this ceiling type. Older conventional ceilings often got covered with a texturing style known as popcorn. However, this cover has fallen to the wayside due to the fact that it tended to collect dust and dirt, and cleaning it was very challenging. Painting it was very tricky too, and it could make the whole room feel darker.
13. Shed Ceiling
Shed ceilings are another type of ceiling that is a version of the more popular vaulted ceiling, but the classic angles that you’d come to expect get applied to a single side of the interior roof configuration. You’ll find this ceiling type if homes where the attic spaces turned into living spaces, and this is a very practical ceiling. They’re great at working to disguise uneven ceilings, and many contractors claim that you can anticipate better insulation and ventilation.
However, this type of ceiling is very limiting. At the end of the room where your roof almost touches the floor, it could be virtually impossible to stand or sit down and there isn’t enough height left to furnish the end of the room. So, this style only works well if you want to sacrifice floor space.
14. Sloped Ceiling
You’ll typically find this type of ceiling in a home with a pitched roof. These ceilings follow your roofline and rise at an angle before meeting at a peak. The structure allows you to have cozy nooks in your attic spaces that exist right under your roofline. In living rooms, sloped ceilings can work to increase how airy a room feels. Just like more traditional ceilings, these ceilings get finished with drywall and cost the same amount since they have a similar installation process.
- HappyDIYHome Quick Tip: Anyone who wants to install this type of ceiling in their renovation or addition has to look at local building codes first. These codes will regulate how low your ceiling can be to still fall into the living space category.
A sloped ceiling can have varying heights, but one of the most popular choices is one that goes almost to the floor. This does remove your available floor space though. 924 Sierra Slope Drive Hewitt , TX 76643 by Brent Eckley / CC BY 2.0
15. Suspended Ceiling
Suspended ceilings are ceilings that literally drop down to obscure anything that you’d prefer not to have on display when someone looks up. This could include damage, cracks, piping, hardware, and elements that are unsightly but you can’t safely remove. They typically feature a metal grid that you attach to the ceiling surface using metal wires. They can hold decorative tiles to create visual interest that are typically plastic.
You can dramatically shift the mood of the room by swapping out tiles that are made out of cork, tin, or fiberglass. The original height of the ceiling will determine whether or not this type of ceiling makes sense. You have to have at least 6.8 feet of clearance from the floor or you’ll end up feeling claustrophobic and closed in.
16. Tall or High Ceiling
A standard ceiling has an eight-foot installation, but you may be surprised to know that most people are more comfortable with taller ceilings. Today, many people want 9 or 10 foot types of ceilings because they can induce positive feelings. They also promote creativity, and they’re a great way to open up a smaller room and make it look and feel like it’s much more spacious than it actually is.
17. Tin Ceiling
For anyone who wants a touch of nostalgia, tin ceilings are one type of ceiling to consider. They originated in the 1880s, and they’re metal expanses that were originally made out of steel that had hammered decorative patterns in it. However, it was the safety features that really made tin ceilings popular. Back in the past, open-flame cooking and candles could do a lot of damage to a traditional ceiling.
They could leave black soot marks up and down your walls, and tin ceilings stopped this. Tin plating is also great because it works to keep rust at bay. Today’s tin type of ceiling doesn’t necessarily have to be silver either. Having access to colorful metals means that you can choose the one that fits your decor style the best.
18. Tray Ceiling
To understand how this recessed type of ceiling got its name, we want you to imagine a serving tray being suspended upside down from your ceiling. Builders will create a traditional ceiling and then create a recessed insert that is six inches deep. The concept of this ceiling type came about when architects were trying to find ways to add visual interest to the ceilings that gave a lofty illusion. The recessed portions, usually put into the middle of the room, are still rare these days.
You can get creatively-shaped trays with decorative molding in this type of ceiling to get a one-of-a-kind look and feel that elevates your space. It creates a fun focal point and a natural gathering spot in the room.
19. Vaulted Ceiling
You can add a lot of character to a room by incorporating vaulted ceilings. This is a broad term for any type of elevated ceiling style. Due to the height of these ceilings, they tend to give any room you install them in a very spacious feel. You typically build them using wood scaffolding before finishing them with a broad range of materials, including wood planks, drywall, and tile.
This type of ceiling is a great choice for bigger homes, especially in grand foyers or in more expansive living rooms. The installation cost will be determined by the dimensions of the room in question and any unique engineering concerns you have to compensate for. For example, a 20 by 20 foot room that gets a 12-foot vaulted ceiling installed can easily cost between $18,000 and $25,000 to install.
It’s also important to note that cooling and heating costs are usually higher due to the increased room height. Depending on the scaffolding’s orientation, your vaulted ceiling will fall into one of the five common categories, including barrel vault, cathedral ceiling, cloister vault, groin vault, or domed vault.
Vaulted ceilings inject a very grand look and feel into a space, and they’re very common to install in living rooms. Vaulted ceiling, Masseria Ferri Farm, Ostuni, Italy by Person-With-No-Name / CC BY 2.0
Types of Materials for Ceilings
When it comes to ceiling materials, there are several different options available. They all give you a different final look, and the price points can vary. A few popular choices include but are not limited to:
1. Gypsum Ceilings
This is an extremely cost-effective type of ceiling material that gets made out of layers of different materials that you press together to create larger sheets. The sheets then get used to cover the ceiling entirely using a metal frame.
It’s a very versatile material in the sense that the finished product can be covered with wallpaper, painted, or laminated to suit your home’s design. It’s also available in a huge range of designs and finishes. Additionally, the material gets reinforced with fiberglass, and this makes it fire-resistant and more insulated. It doesn’t work well in damp or humid climates.
Plaster is the single most common material you use for any type of ceiling. It’s a very customizable option that is cheap with a very long lifespan. Plaster or plaster of Paris is a material that is heavy-duty enough to hide things under it while giving you a very smooth finish. POP is also insulated, and this is great for areas that get cold or warm weather.
The material is very durable and lightweight. Since you get a very smooth finish, you can paint it to match the design of the space. You can even mold it to your preferences. It is prone to insect infestations and cracking though.
3. PVC Ceilings
PVC can seem like a strange type of ceiling material, but it has several benefits. PVC is non-porous, so it won’t absorb any moisture and works well in a range of weather conditions. It’s durable, easy to install, and it requires very little or no maintenance to keep it looking nice. It’s very easy to clean, and it’s not prone to developing insect or termite infestations.
You can buy PVC in a range of colors to suit the aesthetics of the room, or you can paint and polish it to get a specific look. However, PVC won’t give you as finished a look as other materials on the list.
4. Wooden or Plywood Ceilings
Wooden ceilings will give your room a much more rustic feel and look. When you choose this material, many people prefer to use wooden beams instead of covering the entire surface. However, when you use them all over, wood gives you the advantage of being able to get arranged in various patterns and designs. Plywood is also very popular because it’s much cheaper than solid wood, and you can finish it however you like.
These are strong types of ceilings that add aesthetic value to your space. However, it does have downsides. For example, wood is prone to termite damage, and it won’t work well in humid environments. Also, it’s more expensive to source and install.
Wooden ceilings are very popular for the warmth that they inject into a room, and they also give off a very rustic look and feel. Klout by Thomas Hawk / CC BY-NC 2.0
Types of Ceilings Finishes and Textures
You can pick out many different looks or finishes for your type of ceiling. The finish or texture will depend on the material you use and the final result you want. A few common choices include:
1. Flat or Smooth Ceiling Texture
Flat ceilings are a very popular and classic look. It’s a widely understated finish that ensures your ceiling isn’t the focal point of the room, but it works as a surface to tie the whole room together. It has a smooth finish, so this means that any mistakes or imperfections will show.
2. Knockdown Ceiling Texture
This is a textured type of ceiling finish that has a very purposeful corrosion look to it. It looks like it happened naturally instead of being applied by hand, and this gives you a very interesting final look. You create this look using watered-down compound that you spray on the ceiling and allow to dry. The texture gets knocked into the dried ceiling, and this is where the name comes from.
3. Popcorn Ceiling Texture
This was an immensely popular ceiling texture right up to the 1990s. The texture has now lost its charm, and a lot of people are trying to get it out of their homes. It was a very cost-effective choice that covered any faults in the ceiling. Today, it’s unlikely that you’d pick this texture because it’s seen as unappealing and outdated.
4. Skip Trowel Ceiling Texture
The final ceiling texture is one that you apply by hand. It gives the room a very Mediterranean look and feel, and it has random dips and skips in it. You make this texture using a coarse sand and joint compound. Usually, you’ll see this design in more luxurious homes that want texture without going over the top.
We’ve outlined 27 popular types of ceilings, finishes, textures, and styles for you to consider if you’re looking at adding or upgrading your current ceiling. Depending on what you choose, you can open up the space, give it a focal point, or help enhance how your whole room looks when you finish.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.