Ultimate guide to vaulted ceilings

Ultimate guide to vaulted ceilings

Vaulted ceilings are a contentious subject. On one hand, their old-world charm and grand appeal make any room more striking. On the other, they can come across outdated, and feel like a waste of energy and space. The vaulted ceiling divides opinions among homeowners, architects, and designers. This can make it easy to get caught up in the preferences of others while losing track of your own. Whether you’re buying or building a home with vaulted ceilings, they’re a serious commitment and all factors should be considered. Here is our ultimate guide to vaulted ceilings outlining the pros and cons of this architectural design.

The ultimate guide to vaulted ceilings

What is a vaulted ceiling?

In architectural terms, a vaulted ceiling is a self-supporting arch above walls and beneath a roof. Therefore, a vaulted ceiling is any ceiling that angles up toward the roof to extend higher than the height of average flat ceilings. Among the most common types of vaulted ceilings are arched, barrel, cathedral, domed, groin, and rib ceilings.

Types of vaulted ceilings

Here are the most common types of vaulted ceilings:

Barre vaulted

Barrel vaulted ceilings are comprised of one uniform arch that extends across an entire room, similar to one half of a circular barrel.

Groin vaulted

The groin vaulted ceiling is constructed by intersecting two barrel vaults at a right angle, creating an intricate edge or a groin.

Dome vaulted

Dome vaulted ceilings are arched ceilings that narrow as they reach the centre point, forming a sloped dome shape.

Cathedral vaulted

Cathedral ceilings have narrow, sloping sides that are unarched. The straight lines in this vaulted ceiling usually run parallel to the roof’s pitch, creating a mirror-like effect.

Rib vaulted

A rib vault looks very similar to a groin vault, but it is constructed using a series of arched, diagonal stripes, or ribs, to ensure durability and flexibility.

The pros and cons of vaulted ceilings


Vaulted ceilings can have many benefits:

Create more visual space

Firstly, vaulted ceilings draw the eye upward in a room, emphasizing a large amount of open space that can make a room feel airier and more spacious. This can help create the illusion of a large room even when the floor space is relatively small.

Can serve as a design centrepiece

Vaulted ceilings can be very eye-catching and serve as a visual focal point in a room that is otherwise uninteresting. As such, designers can use vaulted ceilings as an attention-grabbing design element.

Allow for brighter natural light

With all that extra height comes extra space for tall windows, which contribute to a room’s brightness.  In addition, many vaulted ceilings follow the roof pitch, meaning homeowners can add skylights directly into the ceiling.


While a vaulted ceiling may appear to be the ideal visual option, it may be inconvenient for other reasons.

Waste a lot of energy

Homeowners should consider the fact that higher ceilings do lead to higher energy bills, as there’s more space to heat or cool.

Harder to maintain

Vaulted ceilings are generally more difficult to maintain than standard ceilings. For example, changing a lightbulb in your vaulted ceiling’s recessed lighting or dusting an exposed beam will require extra effort.

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