Can You Add Or Remove A Tray Ceiling?

A tray ceiling can add a powerful design element to a room. You may well wonder if you can add one to a finished room or remove one that's already built-in. We've done the research, and here's what you need to know.

You can add a tray ceiling to replace the old ceiling or during home construction. Likewise, you can also remove it whenever you want to. Because of the labor and complexity involved, you'll want to rely on trusted professionals for this process.

In the following sections, you will learn more about the tray ceiling, account for the factors in framing it, and figure out its average installation cost. We will also cover other questions in your mind. So, let's get started!

Warm living room interior with comfortable sofa, fireplace and coffee table. Room with coffered ceiling and soft brown carpet floor - Can You Add Or Remove A Tray Ceiling

What Is A Tray Ceiling?

large bedroom with intricate and detailed tray ceiling with large double moulding trim, can lights and a ceiling fan

A tray ceiling is also known as an inverted, panned, or recessed ceiling. It has a single inverted area that is higher than the adjacent ceiling. Thus, this multi-level ceiling creates a three-dimensional effect to your ceiling, which is more appealing than a flat ceiling.

You have the freedom to imitate or go against the contour of your room because of its versatility. Whether you have a square or rectangular ceiling, professionals can tailor its design based on your preference. For example, a diamond-shaped tray can be placed over your square room.

Moreover, this is a luxurious upgrade for your room ceiling. Homeowners often install this in their living room and dining room. This is also ideal when you have an additional vent system that can be hidden.

How Much Does It Cost To Add A Tray Ceiling?

Although a tray ceiling is generally much more costly than a traditional ceiling, its price varies widely depending on your location, style, and materials used. For example, in Bloomington, Indiana, contractors charge an average cost of $4.34 to $6.68 per square foot to install a tray ceiling.

Adding a tray ceiling while you are building is more affordable than incorporating it after the home has already been built. For this reason, if you are still constructing your home, decide early whether you will like this or not. This will help in saving your time and money.

How Much Does It Cost To Remove A Ceiling?

Just like installation, removal costs vary widely by location. For example, if you decide to change and remove your existing panned ceiling, you will spend between $3.92 to $6.80 in St. Cloud, Florida.

Remember, the prices differ based on the room characteristics and new ceiling type. In addition to the removal, the contractors will also repair the uncovered ceiling. 

How Long Does It Take To Replace A Ceiling?

For large holes, the replacement of the ceiling will take 1 to 3 days. This includes installing drywall, painting, and lighting.

How Much Clearance Do I Need For A Tray Ceiling?

Most experts recommend that your ceiling height should be at least 7.5 to 8 feet tall. Allotting said clearance enables you to achieve a more even look.

Despite having no fixed height for the recess, a tray ceiling's depth ranges from 1 to 12 inches depending on your ceiling height clearance.

Does A Tray Ceiling Add Height?

According to an interior designer, the multi-layer tray seemingly increases the height of the sunken ceiling because of the visual depth. Likewise, painting the recess with a darker hue makes your ceiling look taller.

Factors To Consider in Framing Tray Ceilings

Several factors play a role in framing tray ceilings. These affect the overall appearance, cost, and quality.


Tray ceiling comes in different forms: circular, rectangle, oval, or other geometric shapes. After the assessment of experts, you will distinguish the best shape for your space.


Molding strips are important in defining the tray edges. For instance, contrasting molding produces a focal point. Nonetheless, keep its design simple yet classy for the best effect.

Click here to see this peel-and-stick crown molding on Amazon.

To decide which molding to use, check this post: What Crown Molding to Choose? [Various Types Assessed].

Surface Finish

The base of the ceiling is commonly made from drywall. Meanwhile, the surface finish can be a wood panel, vinyl, tiles, or paint. For example, placing wood panels is a modern technique to add texture and sophistication.

Tier Number

To make it intricate, you can include at least two tiers in your tray. A double tray is one of the creative design ideas for recessed ceilings. However, keep in mind that increasing the number of tiers will cost more.


With the multi-level design, your centerpiece will typically need lights such as a pendant light, ceiling fan with light, or chandelier. Furthermore, good lighting accentuates the tray.

If wiring does not permit another lighting, mirror tiles come in handy. Adhere the square mirror pieces together on your tray ceiling to have a unified. It is an affordable yet glamorous way to illuminate your space.

Paint Color

Whether you want a monochromatic or two-tone style, the best choice is a lighter pigment for your ceiling same as white, gray, or pastel colors. In addition to the artificial lighting, this will make the room vibrant.

For more insights about the color ceilings, read this guide: What Color Ceiling With White Dove Walls?

Are Tray Ceilings Out Of Style?

Even though tray ceilings are simple and vintage features of old houses or buildings, they are still fashionable. It will look outdated if you commit these mistakes:

  • Excessive crown moldings
  • Eccentric shapes
  • Uneven recession height to the overall home ceiling
  • Mismatched centerpieces and fixtures
  • Too much color or details

Moreover, try to incorporate modern design ideas to level up this style.

How Do You Modernize A Tray Ceiling?

Modern tray ceilings have elements of different styles while maintaining their elegance. These include vinyl or hardwood finish, shallow recess (2 to 3 inches), seamless edges, ceiling tiles, and LED lighting, 

For a fancy ceiling, install multi-colored LED strip lights on the recess, forming a cove lighting. To ensure its brightness will suit your purpose, select the appropriate lumen. They will either serve as your general (400 to 1000 lumen/feet),  accent (200 to 500 lumen/feet), or mood light (100 to 300 lumen/feet).

Click here to see this LED strip light on Amazon.

What Are The Alternatives To Tray Ceiling?

If you prefer to try decorative ceilings other than tray and conventional ceilings, explore these ceiling options:

Coffered Ceilings

Warm living room interior with comfortable sofa, fireplace and coffee table. Room with coffered ceiling and soft brown carpet floor

Although tray and coffered ceilings are similar, they have one key difference. Unlike tray ceilings, the coffered or lacunar ceilings have a series of square or polygonal sunken panels, forming a grid. Widely seen in museums, halls, and churches, these became widespread during the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

Aside from decorative purposes, they have varieties that enhance the acoustic ambiance of rooms despite the synchronous sounds. Likewise, they generally offer an intimate space because they seemingly divide the interior.

Drop Ceilings

Big, gray corner sofa standing on beige marble floor of a bright, luxurious living room interior with elegant, white coffee table

Otherwise known as suspended ceilings, these are temporary covering attached to the base ceiling. Thus, you can easily remove false ceilings once you want to renovate.

Drop ceilings are perfect for your basement. Similar to tray ceilings, they are your solution to reduce visual clutter from wirings and ducts.

Beamed Ceilings

Amazing dining room near modern and rustic luxury kitchen with vaulted ceiling and wooden beams, long island with white quarts countertop and dark wood cabinets.

In contrast to other ceilings mentioned, beamed ceilings allow you to showcase the load-bearing beams. Because of the hardwood materials, it brings a rustic and classic aesthetic to your home. This woodwork is prevalent in hallways and dining rooms.

Because of the vulnerability of wood to termite and moisture problems, a good improvise is a faux wood beam. Aside from preventing these problems, it also gives an authentic and lightweight choice.

Dome Ceilings

Interior of a luxury dome apartment villa, living room, domed ceiling, open plan

Without any column support, dome ceilings have concave framing giving a softer appearance compared to the traditional sharp-angled wall transitions. Beautify your foyers or staircases by adding this sphere. The open space enables your home to have enough light and a cozy atmosphere

Sloped Ceilings

Bright attic bedroom in the fashionable apartment

Sloped or slanted ceiling, a kind of vaulted ceiling, is trendy in houses with pitched roofs. Use this to maximize your attic space and create an extra bedroom. 

If you have a skylight window, install a blackout blind with honeycombed details. Blocking the sunlight, you will still enjoy your nap time. At the same time, roll it up to be captivated during stargazing, especially when the night sky is clear.

Glass Ceilings

Spacious mansion kitchen room with glass walls and ceiling above wooden dining table in daylight

Either stained or transparent glass requires more maintenance. Nonetheless, the natural sheen exudes an alfresco vibe and leads to a more spacious room.

Similarly, your dining or hangout space will be more relaxing as you see the feathery clouds or get soaked in the sunshine over your house.

During day time, it offers good lighting even without opening the overhead lights. However, it is helpful to have a floor lamp for additional nighttime light.

Final Thoughts

With or without tray ceilings you can create a distinct ceiling feature. To attain a stylish recessed ceiling, you need to consult a professional, determine the factors involved, and allot a budget for this project. With these, you'll be closer to the ceiling of your dreams.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, check out these articles:

How High Are Ceilings In Houses? [Old Vs. New]

Should Ceiling And Wall Paint Match?

Should You Paint The Ceiling Or Walls First?

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