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9-Foot Ceilings

A standard home typically has 8-foot high ceilings. If you use 9-foot ceilings your rooms will feel much larger and more open. You can also use a combination of ceiling heights such as 9-foot ceilings on the main floor and 8-foot ceilings on the second floor. It doesn't cost much more to add a foot of ceiling space and the home will feel much larger. You can even have different ceiling heights on the same floor (but the areas with higher ceilings may reduce floor space on the floor above a room with a higher ceiling). Having higher ceilings may have an affect on the cost the furnace and air conditioner because increasing the volume of air space in the home may increase the size of the furnace or air conditioner.

Changing the Ceiling Height

Usually, you can easily change the ceiling height of most plans. If you change the ceiling height, pay attention how the ceiling height changes affect your staircase. If you increase the ceiling height you will need more floor space to increase the length of the staircase. If you lower the ceiling height then make sure you have enough head clearance when using the stairs.

Cathedral Ceilings

If you have a cathedral ceiling on the lower floor, the floor space above the cathedral ceiling might not be useable. However, areas above cathedral ceilings can provide great storage space. My builder was originally going to close off a large wasted area above a cathedral ceiling. I changed the plan so that a doorway would give access to that space. The space only allowed a ceiling height of 6 feet, but provided over 200 square feet of inexpensive storage space. You can sometimes remove or add cathedral ceilings from a plan. If you remove a cathedral, then the space above the ceiling might be suitable for another room.

Smoke Detectors

Sometimes builders simply put a smoke detector near the center of a ceiling. This can be very unattractive if a detector is put at the center of a cathedral ceiling. Some building codes require smoke detectors to be put at the highest point on a floor. However you may have some control over the placement (for example, putting it at the end of a cathedral ceiling may make it less noticeable. Ask the electrician or builder where they plan to put the smoke detectors and if you don't like the placement you may be able to change it.

Crowned Ceilings

An indentation in the ceilings that is trimmed with crown molding can be very attractive. For example a square or octagonal crowned ceiling indentation can frame a chandelier. To have an indented ceiling you may lose a few inches of ceiling space. Therefore, it's helpful to have a higher ceiling such as 9-foot ceiling when using indentations.

Tray Ceilings

Tray ceilings (also called coffered ceilings) are ceilings that slope on all four sides. At the center of the slope is a flat ceiling and the ceiling in the center is higher than the ceiling near the edges of the room. A tray ceiling can be an elegant way to vary the ceiling height of a room.

Victorian Wallpapered Ceilings

On taller ceilings, several wallpapers patterns can be combined to create a decorative design on the ceiling. For example, create triangles, squares and diamonds using different wallpaper patterns to create a geometric design on the ceiling. Put a wallpaper border around the wall near the ceiling. Have decorative wall molding below the wallpaper border to finish the look.

Laminate Ceiling Panels

Laminate ceiling panels can make you're ceilings look like they have planks of wood. Laminate ceiling panes are similar to laminate flooring materials and fiberboard has plastic laminate and with simulated wood grains on it. Laminate ceilings are more resistant to humidity then wood is and may make these materials more suitable for use in bathrooms and kitchens.


Domes are spherical indentations into the ceiling and can be an attractive way to have a high ceiling in a room. Domes are commonly used in the entry foyer or dining room.

Curved Ceilings

Curved ceilings can be made using drywall, wood, or metal.

Wood Beams

Wood beams can add a decorative element to ceilings. Molding and trim can be added to accent the beams. Square patterns can also be created by crossing or intersecting beams.

Trusses Can Create Higher Ceilings

Some truss systems will allow you to create a higher ceiling without having to build higher walls. You might be able to use these types of trusses to create tray ceilings.

Use Ceiling Fans on Tall Ceilings

Warm air rises and collects near the top of ceilings. If you have a room with a high ceiling, it may be a good idea to install a ceiling fan. The fan will help you push the warm air down to the living area during the winter. Get a fan that lets you change the direction of the fan. Fans that change direction are more suitable for different seasons. For example in the winter you want to push warm air near the ceiling down to the floor. In the summer you would want to change the fan's direction to avoid pushing warm air down to floor

Acoustic Tile Ceilings in Finished Basements

If you finish your basement, it might be a good idea to use suspended acoustic tiles. The basement ceiling typically has pipes, vents, and wires in it. Acoustic tiles make it easier to access, install, or repair these items. Some types of stamped metal ceiling also have removable panels and may be suitable for a basement ceiling. You can get suspended ceilings that have tracks which fasten to the bottom of the floor studs. This type of ceiling may be easier to hang and may provide a higher ceiling then a typical suspended ceiling.

Decorative Acoustic Ceiling Panels

You can get acoustical ceiling panels that are embossed with unique patterns to add a decorative touch to a ceiling.

Stamped Metal Ceilings

Stamped metal ceilings have been around since the 1870s. Metal panels were created decorative textures in ceilings and this stamped metal is painted. Most metal ceilings are made of tin. Stamped metal ceilings can be an elegant way to decorate a room and they tend to be used in dining rooms, libraries, and dens. Stamped metal can also be used to decorate ceiling areas that have different levels or between beams in ceilings. When installing metal ceilings you may want to prime the back of the panels with oil based primer. This will reduce the chance of moisture rusting through the panels if a water leak should develop near the ceiling.

Doubled Drywall Ceiling Accents

You can use extra drywall to make layers in the ceiling. For example you can add drywall around the perimeter of a room to have a slight indentation in the ceiling.

Drywall Ceiling Finishes

There are many different ways drywall ceilings can be finished. Typically smoother ceilings are used in formal rooms and ceilings with more texture are used in informal rooms. Here are the most common ceiling finished: :

Smooth - a flat surface

Stippled - a textured surface

Knock Down - a stippled surface that had a trowel run over it to knock down the stippling and make the texture less pronounced.

Spray On - Ceiling texture is sprayed on and there are a variety of textures available.

Retractable Roofs (Retractable Ceilings, Retractable Skylights)

Retractable roofs allow the ceiling of a room to be opened. This lets more sunlight (or starlight) into a room. Heat rises and collects near the ceiling of a room. A retractable roof can help ventilate a room to quickly cool down the room. Retractable roofs may be useful in green houses or swimming pool shelters. However, you can also use them in other rooms such as the master bedroom. A motor is usually used to open and close a retractable roof.

Collar Ties Versus Beam Trusses

If you have a open beamed cathedral ceiling you may want to use collar ties instead of beam trusses. Collar ties let you to put the crossbeams higher up in the ceiling and then the ceiling has more open space.

House Building Ideas and Advice

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