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Ceiling Materials, Types & Shapes

by Don Vandervort, © HomeTips

Most ceilings are essentially horizontal walls, built using the same materials and methods as their vertical counterparts. They consist of wood framing members—joists rather than wall studs—and normally are clad with drywall or plaster. A conventional ceiling is 8 feet high and flat, a norm that corresponds to standard construction practices and material sizes.

ceiling shapesSome ceilings depart from these norms for structural, spatial, or decorative reasons. Perhaps the most familiar departure is the cathedral ceiling, which angles upward from walls to a peak. Such a ceiling adds drama and a sense of spaciousness to a room. On the downside, a room with a cathedral ceiling can be more expensive to heat because warm air rises to the upper part of the room.

Cathedral and shed ceilings follow the roofline. A coved ceiling is rounded at the corners; a tray ceiling has a vertical or angled soffit around the perimeter. A vaulted ceiling rolls up into a half-barrel shape. Another familiar variation is the suspended ceiling, which is often used to lower a too-high ceiling.

Ceiling Systems & Materials

Here is a bit more information about the makeup of common ceilings:

wood paneling ceilingSuspended ceilings are lower than the original ceiling and often cover up cracks or mechanical equipment. A metal grid, suspended from joists or the old ceiling and attached at the walls, supports lightweight ceiling panels. These panels may be made of mineral fiber or fiberglass acoustical board in plain or decorative patterns, or they may be any of several types of translucent plastic panels for above-the-ceiling lighting.

Several different materials may be fastened to existing ceilings or, if they’re strong enough, directly to the ceiling joists. These include wood planks and paneling and classic pressed metal panels.    

drywall ceiling diagramA conventional drywall ceiling consists of drywall panels screwed or nailed to ceiling joists. Joints between panels are taped and finished with drywall compound using the same method that is used for walls. Ceilings are normally hung before drywall is applied to a room’s walls. Older ceilings often have plaster construction.

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