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From vaulted to tray to coffered, it seems like the sky’s the limit for ceilings these days. Specialty ceilings can add a distinctive design element to a room and make it feel larger than it really is.

When it’s time to sell your home, custom ceilings might be just the thing to make your house stand out from the crowd. Here’s what you need to know about specialty ceilings in your home.

Cathedral Wood Ceiling

The cathedral ceiling in this home features tongue and groove boards framed with rough sawn beams. A layer of drywall was put up first to maximize energy efficiency and reduce noise. This was then followed by 1”x 6” pine boards and cedar trim. Track lights will be mounted in the slots on the ceiling, allowing the lighting to be adjusted to illuminate specific areas.

Painted Coffered Ceiling

Wood trim can be used to dress up a bland ceiling and give the room a more formal feel. This coffered ceiling consists of crisscrossed wooden beams applied over drywall with each square accented by a border of crown molding. A contrasting paint color was used on the recessed part of the ceiling to highlight the intricate trim work.

Wooden Barrel Ceiling

Ceilings can also be used to mirror the shape of other architectural features found in the room. This wooden barrel shaped ceiling follows the curve of the arched doorways found at each end of the room.

Circular Dropped Ceiling

Another interesting ceiling design is this circular dropped ceiling. It includes stenciling around the rim with a center medallion and hanging chandelier acting as the focal point.

Recessed Ceiling

Recessed ceilings—also known as pocket, tray (or trey), and bumped up ceilings—have become a common feature of new houses today. Typically these types of ceilings start with a lower border around the outer edge of the room and are then raised a foot or more in the middle. They may also include sloped or tiered designs accented by crown and other moldings.

Ceiling for Attic Conversion

Often when an attic is converted into living space, the ceiling follows the slope of the roof to allow for additional floor space while providing enough ceiling height. It’s a good idea to flatten the ceiling out a few feet below the peak, however, to leave space for lighting, electrical wires, and ductwork.

Remodeling a Ceiling

While most specialty ceilings are incorporated into the plans when the house is built, ceilings in existing homes can be modified as well.

Remodeling a ceiling requires careful consideration of the structural load carried by the ceiling joists before they can be removed. Once the existing ceiling has been taken out and the joists cut, work on the new ceiling can begin.

Any wiring, plumbing, or ductwork located above the room has to be taken into account and rerouted above the new ceiling. This can present a daunting task for the electrician and HVAC contractor.

Turtleback Wood Ceiling

This renovation project included turning a typical flat ceiling into a multifaceted turtleback ceiling over the expanded kitchen and den area. After the framing was complete, the beams were covered with painted 1”x 6” V-groove pine boards.

When installing solid wood, be sure to stagger the joints. A grooved block, made from a piece of scrap material, is used to protect the tongue when hammering the boards in place.

Tongue and groove boards can be blind nailed through the tongue so nail heads are not visible, or face nailed. Wooden ceilings may be painted or stained and provide an attractive alternative to drywall, though both the labor and materials cost much more.

Laminate Ceiling

Simulated wood ceilings made from laminate materials, such as Armstrong’s WoodHaven, are a do-it-yourself friendly substitute for natural wood. While the material costs are about the same as well real wood, the installation of laminate ceilings is much less expensive, since they come prefinished.

Stamped Metal Ceiling

Decorative stamped metal can make a striking ceiling with a unique character all their own. Products like Armstrong’s Metallaire™ ceiling panels are available in dozens of patterns and finishes from steel and copper to chrome and brass.

Other Tips From This Episode

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini: Dust Collector for Ceiling Holes

Drilling holes in a drywall or plaster ceiling can create quite a lot of dust. To reduce cleanup time, drill a hole in the bottom of a paper or foam cup and hold it against the ceiling while drilling the hole. The dust collects in the cup where it can easily be disposed.

Best New Products with Emilie Barta: Hampton Bay Aero-Breeze® Ceiling Fans

These ceiling fans from Hampton Bay employ Aero-Breeze® technology to increase air movement up to 40% over standard fans. This allows you to achieve the same level of comfort at a lower speed while saving energy. They are wobble-free and ultra quiet, with a number of styles to choose from. Hampton Bay fans are available at The Home Depot.

Ask Danny: Proper Attic Ventilation

What’s so important about having ventilation in my attic when it’s not a living space? -Woody from Encinitas

Venting your attic prevents the buildup of moisture during the winter as well as heat in the summer. Without proper ventilation, condensation can occur when the warm air in your home comes in contact with cold air in the attic. This excessive moisture can lead to the formation of mold and mildew. Without adequate ventilation during the summer, an attic becomes an oven. Not only does this increase your cooling bills, it can cause asphalt shingles to become brittle and cut the life of your roof in half.

Power tools used on Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford® are provided by Ryobi.

Editorial Contributors
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Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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