Does A Tray Ceiling Add Height?

Tray ceilings look great and add visual depth to an otherwise ordinary part of your space. But you may wonder if the tray ceiling actually increases the height of the ceiling. Wonder no more! We researched this to bring you the answer!

The tray ceiling does not add actual height but increases visual depth. The multi-layer tray creates an illusion of height that can make your room feel taller.

In this post, we'll discuss how to install and maintain tray ceilings. We will also answer other related topics, such as design ideas for a tray ceiling and more! So, keep on reading to find out more.

Master bedroom in luxury home with tray ceiling, Does A Tray Ceiling Add Height?

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Tray Ceilings?

Similar to other decorative ceilings, tray ceilings have pros and cons. Knowing these will help you determine if they will match your taste and lifestyle.

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Interior of a large modern bedroom with a fireplace and ceiling fan


In addition to the illusion effect, you will also notice these benefits:

  • The three-dimensional effect creates a unique and interesting ceiling.
  • They have a wide selection of styles.
  • They are highly customizable to fit them based on your preferred design.
  • The spaciousness allows a variety of lighting techniques.
  • The classic centerpiece adds style to the ceiling.
  • These are options for functional decor to hide eyesore elements such as uneven surfaces or wiring.


If you decide to opt for these ceilings, you have to manage your expectations because of the few downsides you will encounter along the way despite their advantages.

  • Unlike the traditional drywall ceiling, they have a time-consuming installation.
  • In small rooms, their drop-down borders can decrease the vertical space.
  • The limited headroom lessens the opportunity for hanging storage.
  • The added intricacy calls for a higher cost than the flat ceiling.
  • They require more involved cleaning and maintenance.

How To Build A Tray Ceiling?

We may include affiliate links and curated AI content to highlight top design styles.

Construction worker installation ceiling

For an overview, here is a simplified tray ceiling procedure while building a new home.

  • Measure the room's dimensions and recess height
  • Attach and secure the T-braces and drywall
  • Cover the seams
  • Apply finishing touches

In contrast to the new one, framing a tray on an old ceiling is more demanding because you have to remove the existing drywall first before proceeding to the next steps.

Although we recommend hiring a contractor for this project, watch this clip on the DIY recessed ceiling for a visual demonstration.

How To Decorate A Tray Ceiling?

Interior of the modern luxure vip guestroom in studio apartments in black and white stripes color style

You can personalize your tray ceiling like a designer by exploring various decor ideas.

Tray Ceiling Finishes

There are severalways to finish your tray ceiling. Below are the most common.


White is the most flexible color as it reflects natural light within the room. Nonetheless, neutrals, pastel, or bold colors are good alternatives as long as they match your walls and other furnishings.

Also, the right paint finish is also crucial in decorating regardless of your desired color. Experts suggest a flat or matte paint finish for ceilings. Because matte is non-reflective, there will be little to no glare when you switch on the artificial lights.

Wood Slats

The wood ceiling provides textured and rustic appeal. There are several wood finishes to match every design. For instance, whitewashed wood in the recess will complement a Scandinavian-style home while a modern bedroom goes well with natural wood.


Tin tiles are a classic look for the ceiling. You can even use ceramic and vinyl tiles as low-maintenance alternatives because they are both water-resistant and long-lasting.

Tray Ceiling Lighting

Good lighting offers functionality and aesthetics at the same time. Here, we've collected brilliant lighting ideas to make your decorative ceiling glamorous. Before purchasing light fixtures, set your goal first to identify the lumens and then create the layout.

Pendant Lights

If you place a tray ceiling in your kitchen or work area, you might like to use pendant lights. This will reduce eye strain as you work. Thus, they are a popular choice for task lighting that need 200 to 500 lumens per foot.

Furthermore, find the reference point where you will position the pendant lights. Usually, the set has three or odd bases. So, place one pendant light in the center then measure to evenly distance the remaining two pendants.

Click here to see this pendant light set on Amazon.

Ceiling Fan with Light

Put a ceiling fan with light to enjoy the two-in-one fixture perks. Aside from the extra lighting, you can refresh yourself, especially during summer. With the fan in the center of the ceiling's recess, there will be more space and no fan blade hazards for children and pets.

Real estate agents have noted an affinity among aspiring homeowners for this fixture. It has remained a fashionable and functional choice for decades. Moreover, they come in a variety of styles to suit your design.

Click here to see this fan with a light fixture on Amazon.

Pin Lights

For ambient lighting, mount evenly distributed pin lights to your ceiling. The lumens should range from 400 to 1000 per foot. These will brighten your space without being overwhelming. 

Click here to see this recessed LED light pack on Amazon.


A chandelier illuminates the area elegantly. Because of its glimmering details, it exudes sophistication. Depending on its brightness, it can offer either functional or ambient lighting.

The vertical clearance of a chandelier from the ground should be at least 7 feet. Likewise, to determine the right size, combine the length and width of your room in feet. The sum is the chandelier's proper diameter in inches.

For example, a 12' x 12' room would take a chandelier with a 24" diameter.

Strip Lights

Strips light is the best accent lighting for this ceiling. Although it is hidden, it does not fail to feature the recessed centerpiece as it outlines its corners without shadows. To set the mood, choose the strip with at least 100 lumens per foot.

It is dimmable and flexible to meet your lighting needs. Likewise, it is safe to use because it emits low heat and requires a low voltage.

Click here to see this adhesive strip light on Amazon.

If you don't have a stud, we have the solution for that. Learn more on this post: How To Hang A Ceiling Light Without A Stud?

Tray Ceiling Maintenance

Master bedroom with tray ceiling and deck view

Ceiling maintenance is key to your long-term home safety and comfort, regardless of the ceiling's shape or appearance.

Aside from the ceiling itself, maintenance also includes the fixtures attached to it, namely incandescent light, vents, ceiling fans, and smoke detectors, among others. For this reason, you have to check whether they are still effective, or not.

First, always practice safety measures when performing a general cleaning. The essential tips are wearing protective gloves and masks and ensuring your room is well-ventilated and clutter-free. 

Next, keep an eye for cracks, water stains, or paint bubbles while cleaning because these can be signs of significant problems in your roofing, plumbing, or insulation. Thus, contact your contractor immediately upon notice.  

The tray ceiling can be more challenging since it has narrow corners and grooves along the recesses and crown moldings. 

Ways To Clean A Tray Ceiling

Hand Cleaning Mould From Ceiling

In this section, let us dive into the best cleaning tools for high-ceiling. But, before doing so, remember to clean your ceiling at least twice a year to keep its beauty and quality.

1. Microfiber Duster

Wipe off all the dust in your ceiling fixtures even if they are out of sight. You can achieve this with the extendable microfiber duster that is durable yet gentle, making any surface spotless. Its bendable head helps clean the hard-to-reach corners of the trays.

Click here to see this microfiber duster on Amazon.

2. Long-Reach Mop

Whether you dry or wet wash your ceiling, you will not miss the grime and debris using a mop with a telescoping pole. This long-reach mop saves you from bending over and climbing a ladder.

Similarly, replacing its washable pads comes in handy when you want to dry the surface after wet mopping. Unlike the duster, this is perfect for soaking up spills during ceiling leaks.

Click here to see this extendable dust mop on Amazon.

3. Step Ladder

Another effective tool to clean the ceiling with ease is using a step ladder. It comes in different tiers and maximum weight support. For this reason, it is important to check these details and choose the type that works best with your circumstances.

With a sturdy ladder, ceiling fixtures are within your reach. For instance, you are on a ladder with a handgrip and a non-slip surface while changing light bulbs.

It makes the task easier and safer than standing on a stool or carrying someone. Hence, it prevents accidents and scratches on the floor.

Click here to see this four-step ladder on Amazon.

4.  Cleaning Solution

Stubborn stains and grime break down faster when you apply a degreaser whether a homemade soapy solution or store-bought cleaners.

In addition to the dirt removal, a multipurpose cleaner formulated with a fresh scent eliminates unpleasant odors caused by cooking fumes. As a result, this is ideal for ceilings, walls, and baseboards.

For safety, select a VOC-free solution to maintain good indoor air quality.

Click here to see this multipurpose cleaner spray on Amazon.

Here is another way to sanitize other ceilings: How To Clean A Popcorn Ceiling - Everything You Need To Know

Are Tray Ceilings Worth It?

Tray ceilings are worth it if they suit your budget and taste. Likewise, proper installation of tray ceilings and furnishings within and around them allows you to take advantage of the mentioned benefits.

Interior of a living room with fireplace

Final Thoughts

Master bedroom in luxury home with tray ceiling

These days, tray ceilings are one of the decorative ceilings. Hence, you must weigh the pros and cons when choosing a tray ceiling to keep you from regrets and difficulties later on.

Moreover, work with ceiling experts during and after installation to maximize the benefits and possibilities of this ceiling. Ultimately, ensure safety as you install, decorate, and maintain your tray ceilings.

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

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