Vaulted Ceilings Vs Cathedral Ceilings – Everything You Need To Know

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High ceilings are a beautiful feature that will add a grande and dramatic touch to any home. You may have heard of the terms vaulted ceilings and cathedral ceilings, both types of high ceilings. But you may be wondering what really is the difference between vaulted ceilings and cathedral ceilings? What are the benefits and disadvantages of each? Luckily, we did the research for you. Below, we lay out the main differences between vaulted ceilings and cathedral ceilings, as well as factors you should take into consideration for both.

A vaulted ceiling is an umbrella term for any elevated ceiling constructed with a self-supporting arch. It may have curved or straight sides and symmetrical or asymmetrical lines. A cathedral ceiling is a type of vaulted ceiling that features straight, symmetrical sides that slope upward at the same angle as the exterior roofline.

As you can see, the main difference between vaulted and cathedral ceilings is in the appearance: the symmetry and shape of the ceiling. However, there are several additional factors to keep in mind when looking at the difference between these two styles of high ceilings, including cost. Keep on reading below to learn everything you need to know about the differences between vaulted ceilings and cathedral ceilings.

Collage of a home with vaulted ceiling and cathedral ceiling, Vaulted Ceilings Vs Cathedral Ceilings - Everything You Need To Know

All About Vaulted Ceilings

As mentioned above, a vaulted ceiling is a high ceiling constructed with a self-supporting arch. The sides may be straight, curved, symmetrical, or asymmetrical. You have likely seen several different types of vaulted ceilings in different homes. Here are a few common types of vaulted ceilings:

Barrel Vaulted

A barrel vaulted ceiling is one of the most popular types of vaulted ceilings. It is made up of one uniform arch that extends across the entire room. It is common to use barrel vaulted ceilings in hallways to create the illusion of more space.  

Groin Vaulted

A groin vaulted ceiling is made with two barrel vaults that intersect at a right angle. This angle creates an edge — or a groin. Groin vaulted ceilings are also popular in hallways, as well as entryways. These ceilings are great for adding depth and movement to a room.

Dome Vaulted

A dome vaulted ceiling is a typical flat ceiling with a recessed dome in the center. Dome vaulted ceilings are a popular choice in offices, studies, master bedrooms, and any other room where you would want to add an extra touch of grandeur.  

How Much Does A Vaulted Ceiling Cost?

One of the biggest — and most practical — questions you may have about vaulted ceilings is how much will one cost? The answer depends on whether you’re dealing with a new build or adding vaulted ceilings to an existing house. For a new build, adding the basic framing for a large 20 x 20-foot room with a vaulted ceiling can increase costs by about five to 20 percent in a home.

If you want to add vaulted ceilings to an existing house with regular, flat ceilings, the cost goes way up. To remodel a home to put in a vaulted ceiling, you must seek input from a structural engineer and architect to identify the load-bearing walls and determine if the ceiling portions can be renovated to a vaulted ceiling. It’s possible, but it is an expensive process. This renovation could add as much as $18,000 to $25,000, per HomeAdvisor. Additionally, the type of vaulted ceiling you want will likely affect the total cost.

Always consult a contractor for the most accurate estimate in your location. 

Do Vaulted Ceilings Add Value To A House?

While considering the costs of a vaulted ceiling, it’s worth asking if it will add value to a house. There are several desirable features of a vaulted ceiling. They create the illusion of a larger space, allow more light to flow into a room, and offer the potential for exposed beams or even a skylight. For these reasons, vaulted ceilings can add value to a house. 

However, there are certain styles of houses where vaulted ceilings do not fit the design aesthetic. For example, it would be strange to see a vaulted ceiling in a mid-century modern home. If you want a vaulted ceiling to add value to a house, make sure the ceiling style fits well with the overall style of the house. 

And just to be safe, it is always a good idea to ask a real estate professional if a vaulted ceiling will add value to your home. 

Are Vaulted Ceilings Energy Efficient?

We have gone over several benefits of having a vaulted ceiling, but that doesn’t mean they don’t come with their faults as well.

One considerable downside to a vaulted ceiling is that they are not very energy efficient, especially during the cooler months. This is because if you turn your heat on in the winter, the hot air will naturally rise to the top of the room. In a room with a vaulted ceiling, this means there is a lot of extra space for the hot air to rise, which won’t benefit the rest of the house. Rooms with vaulted ceilings can also be much draftier due to warm air rising and cool air falling. This is important to consider if you’re in a cooler climate.

Additionally, since rooms with vaulted ceilings can also boast skylights or roof windows, there can be much more energy loss. The good news is that some of these energy efficiency issues can be assuaged by adding extra insulation in the ceiling or by installing ceiling fans to force warm air down into living spaces. 

All About Cathedral Ceilings

Cathedral ceilings, a type of vaulted ceiling, feature straight, symmetrical sides that slope upward at the same angle as the exterior roofline. You will probably not be surprised to learn that cathedral ceilings are named after cathedrals! You will find this type of beautiful ceiling in most cathedrals you enter. 

How Much Does A Cathedral Ceiling Cost?

Not surprisingly, cathedral ceiling costs track those of vaulted ceilings. According to HomeAdvisor, adding a cathedral ceiling to an existing house with regular, flat ceilings can cost around $18,000 to $25,000. However, this is just an estimate and will likely vary based on location. 

Just like with the vaulted ceiling cost mentioned above, adding a cathedral ceiling to a new build can increase construction costs by about five to 20 percent.

Does A Cathedral Ceiling Need To Be Vented?

The natural flow of hot air rising and cool air falling can lead cathedral ceilings to collect condensation. Unfortunately, this condensation can lead to wood rot and mold. 

The best ways to prevent condensation from amassing in your cathedral ceilings are vented batt insulation and unvented spray-applied insulation. The preferred method is vented batt insulation. This simply means that the ceiling is constructed with enough space between the rafters to allow for both insulation and venting. 

While vented ceilings are preferred, most experts agree that a closed-cell spray foam installation is the best option for a non-vented cathedral ceiling.  

Are You Team Vaulted Ceiling Or Cathedral Ceiling?

Whether you go with a cathedral ceiling or any other type of vaulted ceiling — such as barrel, groin, or dome — a high ceiling will undoubtedly add a gorgeous feature to your home. Although they have their pros and cons, many individuals find that the benefits of vaulted or cathedral ceilings far outweigh any disadvantages.

If you enjoyed this post, you will definitely want to check out a couple of our other posts on this topic. We rounded up some of the greatest ideas and inspiration for rooms with high ceilings: 

15 Great Vaulted Ceiling Ideas

15 Awesome High Ceiling Living Room Ideas

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