living room with brown beam vaulted ceiling

9 Popular Ceiling Types: Choosing The Roof Over Your Head

Kevin Payne6-Minute Read
February 22, 2021

Your home is a reflection of you and your style. People spend considerable time decorating and furnishing their homes while glossing over one of the most important design features — the ceiling. It may not be the focal point of every room, but choosing the right ceiling type can complete your home design in a way few other elements can.

Ceilings aren’t one-size-fits-all. A variety of ceiling styles exist to match different types and sizes of houses. Keep reading to learn more about the different ceiling types and textures available and how to choose the right lighting to match.

Different Types Of Ceilings For Your Home

There are numerous types of ceiling to choose from for your home. Some ceiling types work in most spaces, while others may suit specific home design trends. Here are nine popular ceiling types that could work in your home.

1. Conventional Ceiling

Dining room with blue accent wall

Don’t confuse conventional with boring. Conventional ceilings are both functional and pleasing to the eye. One of the most common ceiling types, conventional ceilings fit standard wall heights (8 – 9 feet) but also work for taller rooms too.

Conventional ceilings provide a simple look, but you can also add features like crown molding where the ceiling and walls meet to add style. This type of ceiling is known for its smooth look but also works with a textured surface. Another way to add texture to your conventional ceiling is to install shiplap. Although it’s better known as a wall siding option, shiplap works well on ceilings too.

2. Sloped Ceiling

sloped white ceiling

Sloped ceilings are traditionally found under the roofline in homes with a pitched roof. This type of ceiling is known for creating cozy spaces but can present a design challenge. They’re typically found on top floors and in attic spaces and add dimension to other areas like living rooms.

One thing to keep in mind is how low a sloped ceiling extends before it’s no longer considered a livable space according to local building codes. Always check local codes before creating a sloped ceiling in your home.

3. Vaulted (Raised) Ceiling

white vaulted ceiling in kitchen

Vaulted ceilings are among the most popular ceiling types, especially in larger homes and living rooms. This type of ceiling adds an extra layer of style and sophistication to a home. There are several different types of vaulted ceiling styles to choose from:

  • Cathedral ceiling: Cathedral ceilings add a European-inspired style to a home. They feature two equal-length sides that meet at a center point in the shape of an inverted V. Many cathedral ceilings are upward of 15 feet or higher. Both sides must be wide enough apart to allow proper ventilation in the room.
  • Domed vault: Domed vaulted ceilings are similar to a cathedral ceiling in nature but feature a central spherical arch instead of coming to a point. They are typically found in large homes because of the extra space required to add one.
  • Barrel vault: Barrel vaulted ceilings aren’t structural but are built under the room’s rafters. They form a single curved arch for an added element of style. Barrel vaults are built under the room’s rafters and creating a uniform curved arch across the room.
  • Groin vault: This type of vault is a bit more complex but also adds a unique style to a room. Groin vaults are made up of two barrel vaults that intersect at 90-degree angles. The result is four outward-curving ribs that rise from the corners of the room.
  • Cloister vault: This vaulted ceiling is similar to a groin vault except that the arch rises from the middle of each wall instead of the corners. Also, the ribs curve inward with a cloister vaulted ceiling.
  • Shed ceiling: A shed vaulted ceiling is similar to a cathedral ceiling, except it angles upward on only one side. Shed ceilings tend to limit the amount of space in a room and are typically seen in homes with attic space.

4. Coffered Ceiling

coffered ceiling in kitchen

In the architectural world, coffers are ornate sunken panels, typically square or polygonally shaped. Coffered ceilings feature a pattern of recessed areas that cover the entire area. Installing a coffered ceiling will probably require the help of a professional because of its complexity.

Coffered ceilings are more common in commercial spaces but have become increasingly popular in residential design lately, especially in larger rooms.

5. Tray Ceiling

tray ceiling in dining room

Tray ceilings get their name because they feature rectangular cutouts that extend upward that resemble a tray. The center sections of tray ceilings have more depth than the rest of the ceiling, helping to open up a room more. The “trays” typically feature straight or angled cuts and can be upwards of one foot deep. You can also create a stepped tray look for a more textured effect.

Tray ceilings can be raised or dropped from a room. The type of tray ceiling you add depends on your home’s structure and the height of the ceiling.

6. Exposed Ceiling

exposed ceiling in kitchen with pizza oven

Exposed ceilings embrace what other ceiling types tend to hide. As the name suggests, this ceiling type leaves elements exposed like beams, roof supports, ductwork, and pipes. Exposed ceilings are known for their industrial aesthetics and are popular for converted barn homes. Often the exposed elements are all painted the same color for a cohesive look.

7. Cove Ceiling

cove ceiling and bright red wall in kitchen

Cove ceilings don’t have the angled look present with other common ceiling types. Instead, they have a rounded look that often starts where the wall and ceiling meet. Cove ceilings have a domed look, although less overstated than a domed vaulted ceiling since it only curves on the outer edges. Because of this, they can be paired with other styles like a tray ceiling.

8. Beamed Ceiling

beamed ceiling in home office

Beamed ceilings have grown increasingly popular in recent years. They can add a rustic cottagecore feel to a home. Beamed ceilings get their name from the exposed beams or joists incorporated in the design. Beams are typically made from timber but can feature other materials too.

9. Drop Ceiling

drop ceiling in bright white room

Drop ceilings are common in commercial buildings but work in homes, too. This ceiling style “drops” from your primary ceiling, hiding elements like ductwork, wires and pipes. They are also referred to as a suspended or false ceiling. Drop ceilings typically feature vinyl tiles and have a complex installation process better left to a professional. If you’re planning to install a drop ceiling, make sure your existing ceiling is high enough to accommodate it.

Ceiling Texture Types

Not only are there different types of ceilings, but also different textures to give your ceiling more another element of style. Here are some of the most common types of ceiling textures used today:

  • Flat or smooth: This ceiling texture is a minimalist approach. It’s clean and simple to apply. It may also require constant upkeep.
  • Orange peel: It’s known for its bumpy texture reminiscent of its namesake. This texture adds a subtle style that won’t take away from the rest of the room.
  • Skip trowel: This texture is created using a trowel, hence the name. Skip trowel is another subtle ceiling texture that can add a low-key element of dimension to a room.
  • Knockdown: Another texture added to drywall, this is similar to skip trowel except that it’s applied with a knockdown tool.
  • Swirled: A swirled ceiling texture looks like half-circle patterns. The look is created by swirling a sponge or other tool through the ceiling compound before it’s fully set.
  • Popcorn: For a puffy effect, try adding a popcorn texture to your home’s ceilings. This popular texture isn’t easy to achieve and may require the help of a professional and a sprayer.

The Right Types Of Ceiling Lights

You can’t talk about ceilings without mentioning home lighting. The two design elements often go hand in hand and can make a room come to life. Plenty of popular lighting trends exist, but knowing the right type for your home will bring everything together. Lighting types include:

  • Recessed
  • Track
  • Industrial
  • Smart
  • Outdoor
  • Fairy

Think about what the room is used for and choose your lighting accordingly. More light isn’t always better. Focus on the quality of lighting and whether it adds to or distracts from the room’s aesthetics.

The Bottom Line

The right ceiling type and texture can change your home’s look and feel and may even increase its value long term. As with any home improvements, consult with a professional on more complex projects that require specific skills and tools. Be sure to read our latest homeowner tips for other ways to improve your home.

Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne is a personal finance and travel writer who writes about family finances, banking, credit cards, and loans. Kevin lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and four kids.