Ceilings – vaulted or cathedral?

In describing anything other than a flat ceiling, two terms are frequently used – vaulted and cathedral. So, what is the difference between the two terms?

Not surprisingly, cathedral ceilings originated from their namesake – cathedrals. By architectural definition, a cathedral ceiling is defined by symmetry with equal steeply sloping sides, meeting at a ridge in the middle of a room and normally mirroring the pitch of the roof structure. The DrummondHousePlans photo gallery includes a good example of a cathedral ceiling.

DrummondHousePlans.com - Plan # 2942 - Cathedral Ceiling

DrummondHousePlans.com – Plan # 2942 – Cathedral Ceiling

Vaulted ceilings, on the other hand, are not typically constructed using the same pitch as the roof. They can have a single sloping side, a curved or arched slope or unequal sloping sides and are most often framed using engineered scissor trusses. One of the most popular Drummond House Plans models, 2957 shows a dramatic vaulted living area.

www.DrummondHousePlans.com - # 2957 - vaulted ceiling

www.DrummondHousePlans.com – # 2957 – vaulted ceiling

Vaulted and cathedral ceilings have come in and out of favour over the years but their potential for dramatic spaces cannot be denied. They can make a small room feel more spacious and a large space truly ethereal. Vaulted entries are dramatic and both cathedral and vaulted ceilings make it easier to install skylights without the deep tunnel effect of working between trusses.

On the practical side, the balance of aesthetics and efficiency is a personal choice that needs to be considered. A vaulted ceiling without some form of convective or mechanical air circulation can waste substantial amounts of energy in the winter as the warm air rises and remains well above the inhabitants. With that being said, a vaulted ceiling partnered with ventilating skylights can help to keep a home naturally cool in the summer by adding an automatic temperature sensor to open the skylight. Models which include rain sensors are also available.

The Drummond House Plans collections include a variety of standard flat, vaulted, cathedral, and combination ceilings. If you find a plan and would like to have it customized to achieve a more dramatic ceiling, we are always happy to discuss your wishes and provide a free quote to customize your plan or work with your ideas to develop a custom house plan for you.

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