Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Specialty Ceilings for Your Home

By: Danny Lipford

The popularity of specialty ceilings has increased in recent years, making them an attractive option in new homes. The various types of specialty ceilings include:

  • Cathedral Ceiling: Rises to a peak in the center of the room, often following the roofline on the house.
  • Coffered Ceiling: Crisscross arrangement of wood beams and moldings installed below a flat ceiling.
  • Barrel Ceiling: As the name implies, a rounded, concave ceiling.
  • Dropped Ceiling: Flat ceiling with a section in the center that is lower than the surrounding ceiling.
  • Recessed Ceiling: Lower around the perimeter, then rising in one or more tiers in the middle. Also known as a pocket, bumped up, or tray (or trey) ceiling.
  • Vaulted Ceiling: Sloped ceiling that rises up on either one or two sides.
  • Turtleback Ceiling: Slopes upward around the perimeter of the room, then flattens out in the middle like a turtle’s shell.

Ceilings can be made from a number of materials, including:

  • Drywall
  • Plaster
  • Wood
  • Stamped metal
  • Laminate
  • Acoustic tile

Read episode article to find out more.

Print   Video Transcript

This week we are going to look at a variety of ways to make ceilings in your home much more interesting. This is good stuff when you are building a new home or just improving the one you have. So, you’ll want to stick around because things are really looking up, literally.

What makes the interior of a home really distinctive? What makes it kind of stand out from the crowd? Well, a lot of the time it is the interior decorators talents the really put all of the elements together to really make it look like it is popping right out of the pages of a magazine. More than anything the design elements that are put together such as specialty ceilings, have such an impact on the overall look of a home. The feel, the tone, every aspect of it.

This ceiling certainly makes a big statement. First of all, there is the height of this thing. It is a cathedral style ceiling that comes off the walls at about 10 feet, and continues up to the ridge at about 15 feet. To give it a more rustic feel, the builder installed a rough sewn cedar ridge. the exposed rafters are the same material leading up to it. The bulk of the ceiling surface is tongue and groove pine that appears to be the underside of the roof, though it actually installed over drywall to maximize the homes energy efficiency. The same treatment is being used on the end walls. The crew is putting up the last of the tongue and groove material. Now the slots left uncovered in the middle will later have track lighting that will provide lots of controllable light in the room. It’s amazing what the application of wood trim over even a flat ceiling can do to get a room depth. This coffered ceiling is a great example of that. Here the wood is painted in a caller contrasts the dry wall so it gives the room a little more of a formal feel.

Mimicking the shape of adjacent architectural details is another cool trick that was used in this wood barrel ceiling, which mimics the arches that were used in the case openings on either side of it. Now if you want to make a real impact, it’s hard to top something like this customs circular drop ceiling. And when the time calms to sell your home, that maybe just the effect you are looking for.

What I am showing home to a buyer it’s fun to go into home that has different architectural interests, whether the home has granite countertops or they’ve remodel the kitchen with stainless steel appliances bathrooms been redone. It just makes it more appealing to the buyer to see new and different things that you might find one home but you don’t find another. If the buyers looking for a home and have their priority list and they’re getting it down to one or two homes there to look at the special features in that home and specialty ceilings is one of those features. If you’re looking at and comparing it would be more interested in a home that have something unique for them. So when they purchase this home, they feel like they do have a treasure, a one-of-a-kind.

The ceilings we just looked at were designed for nothing more than beauty, to enhance the interior of a room. And as Marion just explains, it does have its advantages. But the interior design doesn’t always dictate the design of the ceiling. Sometimes, it’s the exterior. This is a great example. Now you can see, this is a really dark room, but this is going to be a media room. That’s why you have the black walls, black ceiling. It can look really good. On the outside, so you can see this is a beautiful high pitched gable.

Inside you will see walls coming out and then the ceiling follows the same line of the roof outside. However, at the top, the ceiling flattens out. Now yes, this gives it a great unique design in here, but there is also a purpose for this. You see this is actually a bonus area over our garage, and the only access to provide mechanical such as lights here electrical behind here is the heating air conditioning vents. The only way to get to this is to create a space between the ceiling that the flat part in the top of the gable. Now, even though this is brand new construction, it may be that you have a room possibly over garage, somewhere in the attic to get also like to convert to living space. You may want to consider a design like this, because it does allow you to get the best access of space and still have mechanical access to both.

As you can see, the type of ceilings that you can have in your home only limited by your imagination and of course your budget. I can guarantee you a ceiling like this will cost a lot more than just your traditional flat ceiling. Think about all the extra carpentry work that’s involved, the extra dry wall finishing, all the extra trim and I guarantee you the painters are going to charge a lot more to work on a high scaffolding like this. But just think about the impact that it makes when you walk in the front door this house, two story for your like this right on the very top. Pretty impressive.

So far, we’ve looked at a number of options for ceilings on new construction, but also there a lot of ways you can completely change the interior of your home while you’re renovating an existing house. You look at a project we just recently completed where we took just a regular flat ceiling and created a turtle back ceiling with all wood on the inside. Looks great. But first, let’s check in with our buddy Joe Truini who is also working on a ceiling project for this week’s Simple Solutions.

For most homeowners, working on ceiling a lot less complicated than what Danny’s been talking about. In this case we are drilling a hole for a small plant hook we want to put in. Now, drilling a hole in a ceiling of plaster or drywall ceiling, even a small diameter hole, creates a surprising amount of dust. Now suppose you can drill the hole and come back and vacuum up the floor, But I have found an easier way. You can collect the dust right at the point of drilling.

First thing we are going to do is put on our safety glasses, even though we are collecting almost all of the dust– you don’t want to get any in your eyes. then take a paper or Styrofoam cup and drill a hole right thru the bottom of the cup. Now in this case, I had to trim the cup a little bit just so the bit would stick out. Now line up your bit on your mark, and before drilling, press the cup tight against the ceiling, that is very important. Then, drill the hole. And you will see when you look in there, you will see, you can catch quite a bit of dust just from this one hole.

Now, before you move on, if you have other hole to drill, before you move on, empty this out, then move on and drill the next hole.

Coming up we’ll dig into a renovation project that features some great new ceilings.

More homes have specialty ceiling now more than ever before. That is what we are looking at this week, showing you how you can really enhance a room by having a specialty ceiling whether you are building a new home or like these homeowners are doing, extensively renovating a special part of their house. Now, this will be the kitchen and over here was originally a nice little family room that had a brick wall on one side, wood paneling on one wall and a traditional eight-foot tall ceiling. Over here the kitchen painted wood cabinets needed a little upgrading. The homeowners decided to go ahead a remove the walls between the two areas, and then incorporate one nice large turtle back ceiling. It is a real interesting way to kind of top off a renovation like this.

Now, another thing they decided to do is to change up their dining room a little bit. Now traditionally, dining rooms like this are a little more formal, and you can see the work’s already started on this ceiling and what we are planning on doing here is what’s called a trey ceiling or recess ceiling, sometimes it’s called a bump-up ceiling. that’s one of the things about these different ceilings, everybody has their own terminology for them. Basically it will be one that we have shown you a lot on this show where it recess up about 12 inches and then it is a flat spot. Now that’s a little more of a formal look than say a turtleback ceiling. In a dining room, perfect place for that.

But, we are not finished yet. One more ceiling is being altered. This is a little foyer area that leads in, actually these doorways will go right into the den area that we just look at as well as this doorway and so it is a perfect little arrangement as far as a floor plan of this house to have this nice little pattern or traffic pattern. Probably pretty nice for entertaining, too. And, when they are entertaining, this place will fell a lot bigger, too, because here again we have another tray ceiling going in here that will bump up about 12-14 inches and flatten out. Now of course, this is a lot easier to do this kind of work when you are building a brand new home, but it can be done in almost every house that you may have, but it depends on what’s up above. As long as there is not another floor above the joist, the options are pretty broad. But even if it is just attic space, there can be a few challenges.

In many cases, the framing that supports a ceiling for a room may also provide some support for the roof structure above it. In these situations, it is important that this load be transported at least temporarily while the old ceiling is being demolished and the new one crested. Of course, it is inevitable there will be some electrical wires, maybe some heating and cooling ducts and possibly some plumbing to content with. But most of these can be relocated without a lot of difficulty. But once the space has been cleared, it is time to begin laying out the new ceiling and this often requires a little experimentation. Here we got the owner involved in this process to be sure she would be happy with the height and shape of the finished ceiling. This also gives you a clear picture of how much space will be left above for any ductwork or mechanicals that have to back into the smaller attic space.

This turtleback ceiling will start with a 2x 6 joist resting on the inside wall running to the roof rafters in the middle of the room so we can get equal angles on both sides. This also replaces some of the roof support that was lost when the old ceiling came out Finally, another 2 x 6 was nailed between the new Joyce and the rafters at carefully marked positions to create a flat spot across the top of the ceiling. Well, all of our framing is complete on all of the specialty ceilings in this house and now it is time for an electrician. You know an electrician has a pretty tough job on a project like this because he has to come out very early in the project and move all of the wires out of the way and still keep everything active so the homeowners can live in one part of the house and we can continue working in the other part. So, he will be back out soon to re-wire this entire area, which will include adding any additional lights, any additional switches and a great time to add any additional outlets, cable or phone – any of those wires – now is the time before the walls and the ceiling go up.

Now another contractor we need to see fairly soon is our air-conditioning and heating contractor that will reroute all of the duct work back over the new ceiling we have created. Now, along the way, one of the things that he will do is to eliminate all of the original wall grills. You can see one of the holes here that will have to be patched. And you can see here where the grill is still in place on this wall. But basically what that is, is a metal housing behind it that’s non-insulated – the air-conditioning guys call it a boot. The problem with it not being insulated is you are kind of loosing a little bit if the effectiveness of your heat and cold air when it hits that point. It kind of looses a little something. So, we will be replacing those in the new ceiling part with insulated ones and putting the duct work here that should provide a lot more efficient operation of the heating and cooling and better circulation.

Another great way to improve the ventilation in your home is with a ceiling fan, especially if you have higher ceilings like the ones we are looking at this week. Hey, did you know that ceiling fans actually help save energy and consequently save money besides just circulating air. Yeah. It’s because the air they move makes the room cooler during warm weather so you do not have to crank that air-conditioning up. And during the winter, you can reverse the fan circulation to help distribute the warm air that rises up near the ceiling.

But, this new line of fans from Hampton Bay does all of that even more efficiently because it uses Aero-Breeze blade technology which increases the air flow by 40% over the standard ceiling fan. That means you can run the fan at a lower speed without sacrificing any comfort, and still save energy. These models are also designed to be wobble free and ultra quite which means you may not even notice that they are there. But, in case you do, they have combined all of this great technology with stylish designs. So, these fans will work with almost any decor.

Hey, we are continuing our look at specialty ceilings and how they can make a tremendous impact on any room in your house. Now when you are remodeling like we are here, you are a little more limited on exactly how high you can raise a ceiling. Whereas, earlier when we looked at some of the new houses and some of the things they are doing with some of these houses, you can do almost anything. But here, we have still made a very large difference by raising the ceiling up in a turtle back fashion and removing the wall between what was a kitchen and a living room.

Of course we are doing something a little bit different here, to make it a little nicer and that’s we are installing a wood ceiling. Now the homeowners wanted to have a painted ceiling so we used the 1 x 6 pine and we put a coat of primer on it. Once it is all installed , there will be a little caulking, a little spackling here and there. Then they can put the last two coats on to finish up the look of it. Now, another option is to stain this wood. You can see it is pretty clear.. there are no knots on it.. makes for a nice looking ceiling. you can stain it a light color or may choose for that rich wood color and darken it down a bit. Put a coat of sealer on it, install it, one last coat of sealer and it will last for a long, long time.

Now, when you re installing this much wood, it take a long time. The biggest reason is that there are an awful lot of cuts that have to be made and each board has to be positioned perfectly, so that all the joints line up neatly. This V-groove material we are using is a very good grade of wood, but all conventional lumber has some warping and bowing, so each individual piece has its own unique personality. That means they often require a little persuasion to lineup in the groove of the previous piece, so that each new joint is as tight as before. And, all of this has to be done without scarring the surface of the wood. Then, of course, the end joints need to be staggered along the length of the room so they don’t all meet on the same joist which would give the ceiling a lopsided look. And as you might guess, cuts around light fixtures and ceiling fans are also a little more time consuming.

All of these factors combined, make installing a wood ceiling much more labor intensive than a simple drywall ceiling. Think about it this way, two men can hang a 4 x 12 sheet of drywall in just a few minutes and they have installed 48 square feet of ceiling. While the same square footage of ceiling could take a pair of skilled carpenters as much as two hours to install. Of course the drywall ceiling will need some finish work and a couple coats of paint to be complete. But a wood ceiling requires a fair amount of prep work, too, whether you stain it or paint it, a good finish on wood takes time. Now all this additional time adds up to money, unless you are doing the work yourself, but the results will be spectacular.

All of the time we spent on the ceiling really paid off. It looks great and the colors that the homeowner chose compliment all the new cabinetry and floor and the island area just perfectly. You know I realize not everyone has the time or skill to install a ceiling like this, but here’s an option that is a lot more do it yourself friendly. Now this type of ceiling that simulates wood very closely, even with the texture and the finish on it is a lot easier to install because it simply just glues or staples right to the existing ceiling. So you can change the look of a room very quickly with a material like this.

Now the material itself costs about the same as our wood ceiling, but where you really save money is saving on the amount of time it takes and on it being completely pre-finished. It is available in several types of finishes. And I’ll tell you getting a ceiling like this primed and painted with two topcoats costs a lot of money. Now another system that is very similar to this as far as installation but it is a completely different look and certainly one that will add a lot of character to a room is a stamped metal ceiling. Now I am seeing these in all kinds of rooms form game rooms to dens to dining rooms, just about any kind of room can benefit, and really, change a lot by having a stampede metal ceiling. Hey, check out one of the questions we recently got from one of our viewers.

Danny, what’s so important about me having ventilation in my attic when it’s not a living space?

Oh, I could go on and talk about that one for an hour, but let me give you two really big reasons. The first has to do with moisture. you know in the winter warm air form below meets the cold air in the attic and creates moisture. With no place to go, it will eventually find its way back into your home in the form of mold or mildew.

Now, the second reason is all about shingles. Now during those hot summer months even with decent ventilation, your attic becomes a seam bath. With little or no ventilation it becomes an oven. The heat continues to build up, much like a pressure cooker and it literally bakes your shingles from the underside. Now the result is a shingle that becomes brittle or curls before they should. In other words, it will cut the life of your roof in half.

So make sure you have enough ventilation in your soffit areas, ridge and gables and also consider adding a power roof ventilator to increase the ventilation in your attic.

There is still more to come so don’t go anywhere.

You probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about ceilings; but I hope now, when you see a cool one, you will remember it. But more than that, I hope we have given you some ides and inspiration you can use in your own home, whether you are building a new one or improving the one you have. besides the obvious aesthetic and even financial benefits that come with this kind of project, you also get an enormous since of pride when you do something that makes your home uniquely your own.

Boy, it was a lot of fun putting this project together and putting this show together was a blast seeing all the different imaginative ceilings that are available and being created by people to change a very mundane space in their home to a very elegant space. That’s what we did to this room by just raising it up 12 inches and installing a five stage crown molding, it changed this room completely and gave it a lot more of a formal look, which is exactly what the homeowners wanted.

Hey, I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the possibilities that are out there for ceilings in your home. I’m Danny Lipford, we will see you next week.

Next week I am building my own workshop, But I am sure there will be a few things you can use at your home.



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