New Home Tips, Trends, and Ideas - Raleigh Custom Home Builders

Raleigh New Home Types of Ceilings: Guide to Common Ceiling Styles

Posted by Penny Hull on Tue, Nov 15, 2011 @ 10:11 AM
Types of Ceilings
Guide to Common Ceiling Styles and Terms

This handy guide to ceiling terms, by NC custom home builder Stanton Homes, will help you understand some of different ceiling options available. 

Tell us which types of ceilings you like, and we'll show you what it takes to build them into your Raleigh new home.



Types of Ceilings | NC Custom Home Builders

The treatment of the top of a room is designed to evoke expression, and specialty ceilings can do this in a variety of ways.  Understanding the different ceiling ideas and options makes it easier to discern what custom home builders are offering.

Raleigh New Homes

What is a Conventional Ceiling?

Usually 8 feet high, conventional ceilings may be either flat (look just like the walls) or textured, most often called "popcorn" (sprayed with particles that look like painted popcorn kernels.)  A "smooth ceiling" is flat.  If your contract doesn't mention smooth ceilings, ask what kind of ceiling is included.  

In a custom home, the first floor ceilings are often extended to 9 feet in height

  • Homes at the upper end may even have 10, 11 or 12 ft high ceilings.   
  • Requesting ceilings that are more than 9 feet tall could add significantly to the cost of your new custom home, as most standard building materials come in shorter lengths, and more support may be needed for a taller ceiling. 

If your new home builder doesn't offer 9 feet as a standard first floor ceiling height, expect to pay $3000-$9000 to increase the height, depending on the size of the home.

What is Crown Moulding?

Raleigh Custom Home Builder - Types of moulding


Conventional mouldings are one piece--made of one or two inch pieces of wood -- that cover the edges where the sheetrock touches ceilings and floors.


In custom homes, mouldings can be wider, with two, three or four pieces stacked on top of each other for a more elaborate effect.


The trey ceiling to the left has multiple layers of crown molding, which help define the layered trey and add to the details. 


The doorways have a contemporary craftsman trim design, for a simple hand-crafted effect.


The baseboard trim is extra wide, a traditional craftsman technique.



This master bedroom uses three different crown moulding treatments to accentuate the three steps in the trey ceiling.

Types of Ceilings | NC Custom Home Builders

Home Buyer Tip: Ask your custom home builder which rooms include crown moulding, and how many layers, or pieces, are included in each room. 

What is a Cathedral Ceiling and Vaulted Ceiling?

A cathedral ceiling provides a high sloping line up to the top of the house.

Raleigh Custom Home Builder | Vaulted Ceiling


A vaulted ceiling extends a room upward. Both provide a spacious feeling and make rooms feel larger.

Vaulted ceilings are often found in first floor great rooms, living rooms, family rooms, and keeping rooms. 

Ceiling vaults are also being added to dining rooms, master bedrooms and master baths.

This master bath demonstrates one of many styles of vaulted ceilings.  It adds spaciousness to a room that is both functional and luxurious. 

Types of Ceilings | NC Custom Home Builders

Vaulted ceilings in the master bath are becoming quite common, particularly in custom homes.

Main floor master suite homes also are more likely to have vaulted ceilings, as the second floor is generally smaller, which means that more first floor rooms are likely to have a roof directly over them instead of another room.


Multigenerational New Homes


What is a Tray Ceiling?

A tray ceiling (also called trey ceiling) is an artistic element added to select ceilings to give them personality and a unique attribute.

Types of Ceilings | NC Custom Home Builders

Trey ceilings start horizontally at the wall intersection at a standard height and then are built upwards in a cut out resembling a tray.  The cut can be vertical or angled, and the tray itself can be 6 inches to a foot or more deep.  Sometimes there are a series of steps for an even more dramatic effect.

A trey ceiling can either be "dropped" or "raised" depending on what is above the room, and what the ceiling height is.

Decorative mouldings or lights may also be incorporated.  The trey ceiling to the right is constructed in two layers, allowing the homeowner to place lights inside the deeper trey, if desired, for a soft, etheral lighting effect in the master bedroom. 

Raleigh New Homes | Trey Ceilings

Trey ceilings can be even more impressive when paint is used to accentuate the ceiling and vertical steps

Trey ceilings are most common in dining rooms and/or master bedrooms.  Tray ceilings are found standard in most custom homes and usually offered as upgrades in production homes.   As an upgrade, the cost is generally around $1,000 for a very simple cut out trey ceiling with no crown molding, and no variation in paint color. 

If the base plan for your new home doesn't include a trey ceiling, and you pay to upgrade, make sure to ask what kind of trey ceiling you'll be getting.  Will there be one step or two?  Basic box, or angles?  Custom crown moulding in the trey?  Custom color treatment?  Not all NC custom home builders will work with you to custom design a trey ceiling - make sure to ask what is included.  

What is a Cove Ceiling?

A cove ceiling has a rounded concave surface. This may be incorporated into arched doorways, hallways (like the one pictured here), or other areas where a fluid effect is desired. 

Types of Ceilings | NC Custom Home Builders

These types of ceilings are an extremely delightful and rare art form - it's difficult to create a perfectly curved ceiling, because most building materials are designed to provide flat surfaces, and it takes extra materials, time, skill and creativity to craft the symmetrical effect.

Cove ceilings generally curve up from every wall.  It'll be hard to find one even in homes at the upper end of the spectrum.

What is a Beam Ceiling?

Made of wood or other substances which are typically laid across conventional ceilings to add dimension, color, clarity or interest.

Raleigh New Homes | Wooden Beam Ceiling

They can either be load bearing (incorporated into the actual structure of the home) or lighter weight faux beams that are applied purely for visual effect.  This type of ceiling effect is not as popular as the more modern approaches and is more typically applied to rustic décor.  

A beam ceiling treatment, particularly a stained beam ceiling, can add a significant amount to your new custom home budget.


What is a Barrel Vault Ceiling?

A barrel vault ceiling, also known as a tunnel vault or wagon vault, is not commonly seen in homes, but can be a very unique architectural feature.

Raleigh Custom Home Builder | Barrel Vault Ceiling


Think of the curved section you'd have if you cut a barrel vertically into sections - this resembles the curve of a barrel vault.  

These curved ceilings or openings were common in Roman architecture.  But the most famous example can be found in St. Peter's Basilica, which has a huge barrel vault spans nearly 90 feet across the nave.

Stanton Homes built this home with a two story foyer and designed a barrel vault ceiling with multiple dimensions.  The arched windows carry out the theme.  The iron balasters and oak handrail give a nice contrast to the rounded lines.

There is a built-in plant shelf above the foyer, which add to the opportunities for home accents.

Ceiling Ideas and Styles | NC custom home builders

What is a Coffered Ceiling?

A coffered ceiling is best described as, "creating a raised and indented checkerboard across the ceiling".  

Raleigh custom home builder | Coffered ceiling

coffered ceiling is usually created by framing a series of interconnected vertical and horizontal lines across the ceiling. 

The lines are then covered in sheetrock and finished similar to a normal ceiling. 

The individual boxes are then often trimmed with moulding - layering of which can be wider and thicker as the price goes up, especially in very high-end estate homes.  Stained coffered ceilings are firmly in the luxury price point.

Ceiling Ideas and Styles | NC custom home builders

This type of ceiling is not nearly as common as a tray ceiling, but is more common than cove ceilings or barrel vault ceilings. 

What's Included in my new Custom Home?Ceiling Ideas and Styles | NC custom home builders

Before you buy, find out what will be included in the home you purchase, not just what's visible in the loaded model.  Ask very specific questions, and be sure your custom home estimate includes a very specific set of specifications.  

If you're a do-it-yourself kind of person, you may be able to add more trim work to your home later, but keep in mind that it will be nearly impossible to add a trey ceiling, a barrel vault ceiling, or increase a room's height after framing has been completed.

Each of the ceilings pictured has been created by Stanton Homes.  We take pride in crafting a unique combination of ceiling treatments in each home we build - including dozens of styles of trey ceilings.



Raleigh New Home Trends and Ideas:

What's the best ceiling height for a great room? [Photos and Dimensions]

Multigenerational New Homes Raleigh [with floor plans]

Main Floor Master Plans for Raleigh Craftsman Homes

Best mudroom designs, sizes, and layouts [Mudroom Drop Zone Photos]

No tub for the bath? [Master bath floor plans with no tub]

7 Corner Pantry Ideas [with Floor Plans] for Chapel Hill New Homes

9 House Plans with Flex Space [With Floor Plan Layouts]

11 Window Styles for New Homes [Window Style Guide Photos]


Stanton Homes builds new custom homes throughout the Triangle area of North Carolina – tell us your favorite floor plan, and we’ll walk you through you next steps to build your custom home.

Tags: trey ceiling ideas, types of ceilings, nc custom home builders, ceiling treatments