Ceilings are often used to hide roof construction. They have been favourite places for decoration from the earliest times: either by painting the flat surface, by emphasizing the structural members of roof, or by treating it as a field for an overall pattern of relief…
In modern architecture ceilings may be divided into two major classes—the suspended (or hung) ceiling and the exposed ceiling. With ceilings hung at some distance below the structural members, some architects have sought to conceal great amounts of mechanical and electrical equipment, such as electrical conduits, air-conditioning ducts, water pipes, sewage lines, and lighting fixtures. Most suspended ceilings use a lightweight metal grid suspended from the structure by wires or rods to support plasterboard sheets or acoustical tiles.
Beams, trusses or system piping are revealed in an exposed ceiling. Wooden beams and trusses found in original construction of older homes lend a sense of history to a room. Fabricated beams made to look like wood can also be attached to a ceiling. Exposed system elements, such as duct work and piping, give a modernist, loft ambiance to a room, creating an open and industrial feel.
A tray ceiling begins as a normal ceiling. The drama begins when it rises, most often in the center of the room, creating a recess of at least 6 inches. Tray ceilings can also be dropped, becoming a floating false ceiling.
Similar to a tray ceiling, a coffered ceiling has several recesses covering the entire ceiling surface. Often lined with decorative molding, coffered ceilings add strength to the room’s construction. Coffers add height and depth to the feel of a room.
An architectural design element, a vaulted ceiling peaks at the center of a room, or follows the roof line. An off-side vault, or a simple angle running upwards to the roof line also adds drama to a room. Skylights and paint enhance the vault.
Originating in Roman architecture, a barrel vault looks like a barrel that’s cut in half and tacked to the ceiling. Found in major rooms of a home or down a long hallway, barrel vaults in natural stone or brick are dramatic. A stark, modernist look for a barrel vault is created with lightly toned or white paint.
Unlike a barrel vault, a domed ceiling opens up a specific area of a room. Often found in tight hallways or above a sweeping staircase, the dome is a blank canvas for a mural. Creative inset lighting or a cascading chandelier adds to the cachet of the dome.
A coved ceiling curves up from the four main walls of a room and leads to the actual ceiling. Coving is applied as a molding attached between the wall and ceiling or is incorporated into the architecture of the room. Usually painted white to match the floor molding, a dramatic effect is achieved with paint or texture. Coves are also found as arches separating one living space from another.