Standard Ceiling Height

The standard height for ceilings used to be eight feet. Not anymore. New homes are typically coming in with 9 ft ceilings.  Also, two-story homes now feature a first floor with nine-foot ceilings and a second floor with an eight-foot ceiling.

Compared with modern homes with nine-foot ceilings, old houses with eight-foot roofs present a cramped feeling. Although you might still find entry-level homes being built with eight-foot ceilings, custom-built homes offer a wider variety of ceiling options. It is also possible to build a house with ceilings higher than nine feet.

Ceiling Designs and Height Requirements

A factor that will determine the final height of your ceilings is the ceiling design. There are a variety of choices for ceilings that you can consider. Here are a few.

  • The Coffered Ceiling: This type of ceiling is quite dramatic. Although it is a flat ceiling, the Coffered ceiling offers a three-dimensional feel that can be impressive. This ceiling uses grooved wood panels that can be arranged in a checkerboard pattern. Naturally, this ceiling design requires at least nine feet to pull off the desired effect. You will need an expert carpenter to install this highly customized ceiling.
  • The Tray Ceiling: Here is an eye-catching ceiling design that requires at least nine feet to be effective. This ceiling design features nine feet around the perimeter and a raised center that can be at least a foot higher. The size of your home or rooms will also determine whether a tray ceiling is the best option. Such ceilings work well for larger and taller homes.
  • The Sloped Ceiling: This type of ceiling is raised at an angle and follows the roofline. You might see examples of such ceilings in homes that also feature an attic or pitched roofs. Generally speaking, the height of a sloped ceiling will differ based on the room sizes. So, for living rooms and some bedrooms, the sloped ceiling may rise from a low of seven feet at the sides to a peak of 10 feet or more. You may, however, need to consult your local building codes to ensure that you are not breaching the lower limit of your sloped ceiling requirements. Building codes, typically, do not dictate the upper limit of roof or ceiling heights for the sloped ceiling. So, you can go as high as you desire as long as you allow at least 50 percent of your ceiling to be higher than the lower limit of around seven feet.
  • Luxury Ceilings: Mansions and custom-built homes require vaulted ceilings that surpass 13 feet. Such ceilings pull attention upward and may feature intricate artistic and architectural designs that are also impressive. Popular luxury ceiling designs include the cathedral and vaulted ceilings. So, the cathedral ceiling consists of equal sloping sides that follow the pitch of the roof with a central point that is taller than both sides. The vaulted ceiling, of which there are three popular options – the barrel vault, groin vault, and the cloister vault- consists of single or double curved arches that are built under the roof’s rafters.

It is a good idea to check with your builder for the precise measurements you will need to construct a cathedral or vaulted ceiling successfully. Consider your room sizes and the costs to cool and heat the rooms. Installation costs for such ceilings are also much higher.

Ceiling Considerations

  • The Living Room: Many custom homes feature living rooms that are on a grand scale. For such rooms, it is possible to design ceilings that are anywhere from nine feet to even twenty-four feet. Many factors determine the ideal height of ceilings in living rooms. The height of the surrounding ceilings will determine how high your living room ceiling. The living room ceiling design and height must fit well with the design and height of surrounding rooms and ceilings.
  • Two Storey Ceilings: When considering ceilings that are two stories tall, think of the size of your room as well as the space inside the walls. Do they fit with the dimensions of the two-story ceiling? The typical height of a ‘two-story’ ceiling is around 18 feet. That is because such ceilings require the height of a typical two-story house to work. To calculate whether you need a two-story ceiling, assume that the height of the first floor will be around nine feet, and the height of a second-story ceiling is at least eight feet. Allow for a one-foot floor space between stories to arrive at the final two-story ceiling height. Check this calculation over with your builder. A vaulted ceiling designed can be considered a two-story ceiling, so confirm with your builder what height would be required.

Confirming your ceiling height

When considering your options for ceiling heights, it is a good idea to consult with your builder before you commit to a design. Most builders will provide a nine-foot ceiling for a first story and an eight-foot ceiling for a second floor. If you do not discuss your ceiling requirements with your builder beforehand, they will deliver this typical dimension. If you desire a different type of ceiling that also requires custom heights above nine feet, prepare to pay a little extra per square foot for the installation.

Another consideration that is sometimes overlooked is the costs and energy requirements to heat or cool your home. Homes with higher ceilings will require more energy (at a higher cost) to cool or heat them. If you are not prepared to foot a higher bill for cooling and heating your home, then reconsider the ceiling dimensions.

How to choose the right ceiling

Ultimately, the final choice of the type of ceiling you need for your new or remodeled home rests with you.

Here are a few tips that will guide you in choosing the right ceiling that fits your situation.

  • Choose a minimum of nine feet if you are looking to install a coffered, sloped, tray, or flat ceiling in your new home.
  • In remodeling a home with eight-foot ceilings, aim to raise the ceiling by at least one foot taller.
  • If you intend to remodel an old ceiling to incorporate a tray extension, confirm with your builder whether the existing ceiling in your home can accommodate a drop-down border of at least eight feet. If your existing ceiling cannot provide this, then reconsider your options.
  • Check with your builder whether your home can take high ceilings of up to 12 feet tall. Visit other homes that feature similar ceilings to assess whether your desire for a high ceiling is feasible.
  • When considering a cathedral or vaulted ceiling which must use a minimum of 13 feet, check with your builder on the best height and type of vaulted ceiling. Such considerations may be determined by the space and structure of your home and how these may limit your choices.

Conclusion

The standard height for ceilings has changed from eight feet to nine feet. For larger homes requiring higher ceilings, your options will include ceilings up to 24 feet. Consult with your builder to ensure that you get the right recommended height for a ceiling that goes well with your home design.

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