14 Types Of Vaulted Ceilings You Should Know

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For an unmatched look in your home, vaulted ceilings will not only draw attention but will give your space that “wow factor.” Vaulted ceilings are often called high ceilings, raised ceilings, and, most popularly, cathedral ceilings. Because of their historical origins in Medieval European architecture, when only cathedrals and basilicas had vaulted ceilings, they are sometimes used interchangeably. With a standard height of 8 feet or higher, vaulted ceilings, by definition, mean a ceiling with arches, although not all vaulted ceilings are arched.

Vaulted ceilings can generate an airy open feel in your room. They create the illusion that your room or space is bigger than it actually is. As a result, vaulted ceilings can be expensive due to the difficulty of construction and the energy consumed by cooling or heating the extra height. Whether you think that vaulted ceilings are beautiful, awe-inspiring structures or a waste of time, space, and energy, we can all agree that vaulted ceilings make a statement in any room. We have compiled the following selection of different types of vaulted ceilings to help inspire ideas to create the perfect vaulted ceiling look in your home. 

Monasterio de la Cartuja de Santa Maria Jerez Defensión in Spain, 14 Types Of Vaulted Ceilings You Should Know

1. Dome vaulted ceiling

Domed ceilings, one of the most popular vaulted ceilings, are created when a dome is recessed into a flat ceiling. Traditionally occupying only a portion of the ceiling, domes become more challenging to fabricate as you try to make them bigger. To create a more dramatic effect without increasing the dome’s size, consider accenting your dome vaulted ceiling with crown molding. The dome ceiling in the example below is, of course, not a typical home dome vaulted ceiling but is the perfect example of the dramatic effect that can be created with this look. 

The dome of the rock

2. Elongated dome vaulted ceiling

To occupy the maximum space, especially in a rectangular room, an elongated dome ceiling may be just what you are looking for. As its name suggests, an elongated dome ceiling is a longer or oval version of the dome vaulted ceiling. The cloudy night sky-inspired painting inside of the elongated dome vaulted ceiling in the example below adds an artistic touch to this room.

3. Oval dome vaulted ceiling

Oval domes, at first glance, seem similar to the elongated dome ceiling. The main difference lies in the dome tie used to fasten the rafters that shape the dome. Oval ceiling dome ties are oval-shaped instead of the elongated dome ties used for the elongated dome vault ceiling. The oval dome vaulted ceiling in the room pictured below draws the eye to the ceiling and makes the room seem bigger. 

Living room in luxury home with oval dome vaulted ceiling

4. Pitched brick vaulted ceiling

Consider using a tilted brick method for an urban look to your space, often referred to as a pitched brick vault ceiling. The pitched brick vault ceiling design dates back to Mesopotamian architecture in times B.C. It is still popular for its sturdy non-centered design. The pitched brick vaulted ceiling in the example below gives the neutral space a warm contrast and adds a metropolitan touch to this country cottage kitchen. 

5. Cove vaulted ceiling

To soften the overall look of your space, a cove ceiling may be the answer. Cove ceilings can give your room a sleek, upscale look by rounding out the corners and edges of your ceiling. The white cove vaulted ceiling pictured below gives the living room a modern, streamlined look.

6. Cloister vaulted ceiling

The cloister vaulted ceiling is comprised of several spring lines or spring points. Spring points are points where an arch begins to curve, in this case, along a wall, all arching toward the same center point. Think of several slices of hot pizza being held up by the crust, and the tips of the pizza slices start to droop a little. All of the tips of the slices of pizza now meet at a center point. This would create a cloister vault, as seen in the example below.

Norwich cathedral cloisters captured during the late afternoon

7. Barrel-vaulted ceiling

Also referred to as a tunnel vault, cradle vault, or wagon vault, the barrel-vaulted ceiling gives your space a tunnel-like feel. A series of domes connected with a smooth surface, the barrel-vaulted ceiling is more of a half tunnel or barrel. The exaggerated barrel-vaulted ceiling pictured in the example below gives this entry a grand, elegant appearance. 

Entrance portico of the Basilica of the Incoronata

8. Groin Vaulted ceiling

Comprised of two barrel vaults intersected so that they create 90-degree angles, groin vaults sometimes referred to as cross vaults, will grab anyone’s attention. They draw the eye upward to admire this elegant and sophisticated ceiling design. This artistic geometrical look gives any space a dramatic and eloquent effect. The brick groin vault pictured in the example below adds color, texture, and drama to the neutral-colored space.

9. Rib Vaulted ceiling

Rib Vaults offered more flexibility in engineering roofs and walls in Gothic times. They were stronger, more flexible, and easier to construct than the traditional barrel-vaulted ceilings that were popular at the time. Rib vaults are more durable than other ceiling options and allow for taller and thinner walls. This makes them ideal for Gothic architecture. As pictured in the example below, the traditional rib vaulted ceiling gives an ultra-dramatic effect to this cathedral ceiling.

Interior de la Catedral de San Andrés de Burdeos, Burdeos, Aquitania, Francia

10. Fan Vaulted ceiling

Fan vaulted ceilings have an unmatched unique look that consists of shell or fan-shaped structures that extend from the wall to a certain point on the ceiling, often meeting in the middle of the vault. As a result of this design, an ornate and detailed structure creates a captivating piece of art above your head. The fan-vaulted ceiling in the cathedral pictured below is further accentuated using dark blue, contrasting the neutral cream color for a moody effect. 

Monasterio de la Cartuja de Santa Maria Jerez Defensión in Spain.

11. Grome vaulted ceiling

The word grome is a combination of two other types of vaulted ceilings, groin, and dome. With grome vaulted ceilings, you get not only the best of both worlds but also a bold and uncommon look. The example below is a beautiful artistic example of the grome vaulted ceiling.

Bandini Chapel in the Church of San Silvestro al Quirinale

12. Igloo vaulted ceiling

Igloo vaulted ceilings, also known as lunette vaulted ceilings, basically barrel-vaulted ceilings with arches carved out. Windows or other objects can fit under these arches to keep from covering them. The large archways in the igloo vaulted ceiling pictured below are exaggerated examples of this ceiling type.

Interior of St. Michael's Church in Munich. St Michael is a Jesuit church

13. Astroid curve vaulted ceiling

Astroid curve vaulted ceiling, often called ceiling etching, is a decorative ceiling structure that is custom-designed to any ceiling. Often fabricated using kits, astroid curve vaulted ceilings can easily fit most ceiling spaces. As seen in the example below, contrasting colors can add a distinct look to the ceiling structure. 

14. Radius vaulted ceiling

Much like the astroid curve vaulted ceiling, a radius vaulted ceiling is a ceiling structure that is custom designed to fit any space. Radius vaulted ceilings also come in easy-to-install kits like astroid curve vaulted ceilings. The main difference between the radius design and the astroid curve design is the simple round design of the radius vaulted ceiling, sometimes referred to as a donut. The radius vaulted ceiling in the example below gives this otherwise traditional plain ceiling some depth and dimension. 

What is the difference between a vaulted ceiling and a cathedral ceiling?

The terms vaulted ceiling and cathedral ceiling are sometimes used interchangeably, although they really aren’t the same. One of the biggest defining characteristics of cathedral ceilings is their symmetrical design. Vaulted ceilings aren’t necessarily symmetrical and may be one solid arch. Either of these designs will add the same illusion of airiness and space to your room. 

Are vaulted ceilings out of style?

As with any other design trend, vaulted ceilings will go in and out of style. One thing that will never go out of style, though, is the effect that vaulted ceilings will have on your space. Whether you decide to go with a symmetrical cathedral ceiling or another style of vaulted ceiling, vaulted ceilings add a sense of openness and light to most spaces. 

How can you tell if you can vault a ceiling?

If your home is a single-story home with a pitched roof, it is likely a candidate for a vaulted ceiling. However, because vaulting a ceiling will need modifications that may affect the roof’s stability, always consult with a professional. Most homeowners choose to vault ceilings in a living or family room for maximum impact. Virtually any room is a potential candidate for vaulted ceilings. 

Final thoughts

Vaulted ceilings add a dramatic effect to any space and tend to draw the eye upward. The airy and spacious feel that vaulted ceilings add to your room can be the perfect complement, especially in homes or rooms with limited space. Before you go, here are a couple of articles that may be of interest to you.

15 Great Vaulted Ceiling Ideas

What Is The Best Lighting For Vaulted Ceilings?

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