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Coffered Ceiling Installation Cost

Coffered Ceiling Installation Cost

National average
$3,600
(coffered ceiling with minimal moldings made of poplar in a 12 x 12-foot room)
Low: $2,400

(coffered ceiling with no moldings or trim made of MDF in a 12 x 12-foot room)

High: $7,800

(highly decorative coffered ceiling made of walnut with medallions in a 12 x 12-foot room)

Cost to install a coffered ceiling varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from local contractors in your city.

The average cost of installing a coffered ceiling is $3,600.

In this guide

Location
Materials
Shape
Molding
Installation
Labor costs
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to install a coffered ceiling?

Homeowners who want a way to give a detailed and interesting appearance to a room in their home may be interested in installing a coffered ceiling. Coffered ceilings are made up of panels that are inset between “coffers” or beams. The word coffers comes from the French word for box, so essentially you are using boxes to create a grid on the ceiling. The look is fairly traditional and can be found in many architectural styles.

Creating a coffered ceiling can be done using several different materials, which impacts the cost. The average homeowner installing a coffered ceiling made of poplar with minimal moldings in a 12 x 12-foot room can expect to pay around $3,600 for the job.

Location

Coffered ceilings look wonderful in any room they are installed in. Traditionally, they are most commonly found in dining rooms, living rooms, and kitchens, but you can use them anywhere you want to create a more detailed appearance on the ceiling. Ideally, you want the room to be large enough for the effect to be truly visible. Small rooms may only see a few coffers, while large rooms can get the full effect.

Materials

Originally, coffers were typically made of hardwoods, but today, you can find them in a variety of materials, which impacts the cost. Keep in mind that the coffers themselves are usually hollow boxes but can be made of solid materials if desired.

The two most common materials are poplar (wood) and lightweight MDF. However, it is possible to make coffered ceilings out of a wide range of different materials, each with positive and negative attributes.


MaterialProsCons
MDF ($1/sq.ft.)

Smooth surface

Takes paint well

Low cost

Some may be heavy

Some may splinter

Cannot stain

Drywall 1 ($1/sq.ft.)

Creates a contemporary finish

Takes paint well

Only works with very shallow coffers
Poplar ($3/sq.ft.)

Smooth and easy to work with

Takes paint and stain well

Low cost

Little character

Softer wood

Pine ($3/sq.ft.)

Easy to work with

Readily available

Takes paint well

Low cost

Splinters easily

May not shown stain well

Plywood 2 ($3/sq.ft.)

Easy to work with

Readily available

Some have a smooth surface

Little character

Wide range of surfaces

Wide range of quality

Oak ($4/sq.ft.)

Easy to work with

Takes paint or stain well

Beautiful grain and finish

May have extreme variation

Heavy

Maple ($5/sq.ft.)

Smooth finish

Little to no grain

Takes paint and stain well

Hard

Difficult to work with

Heavy

Cherry ($7/sq.ft.)

Rich color 

Beautiful grain

Takes stain well

Heavy

Harder to work with

Costly

Walnut ($8/sq.ft.)

Beautiful color and finish

Rich grain

Distinctive look

Expensive

Hard

Difficult to work with

Mahogany ($17/sq.ft.)

Beautiful color

Rich grain

Distinct appearance

Very expensive

Hard

Difficult to work with

Difficult to obtain

PVC Panels ($20/sq.ft.)

Easy to install

Can be extremely decorative

Covers entire ceiling with the same material and finish

Very expensive

Requires special installation

Cannot be painted or stained

Shape

Most coffered ceilings create a grid on the ceiling, but they do not all need to be square. While square is the easiest shape to create, rectangles and octagons are also fairly common. It is even possible to create nearly any geometric pattern on the ceiling using coffers, including hexagons and triangles. If using readymade coffered panels, circles are also possible, although this shape is difficult to create using traditional methods.

Molding

The box beams that create a coffered ceiling can be left plain for either a rustic or contemporary look or lined and edged with moldings. Moldings are frequently used to provide a more detailed and decorative appearance. Any molding can be used - scalloped, ridged, dental, ogee, and even crown moldings 3.

Moldings can be applied where the coffer attaches to the ceiling, to the edges of the coffers themselves, or to both areas, depending on how decorative you want the finished ceiling.

When using moldings on the ceiling, it is also common to use some form of decorative finials 4 at the junctions 5 where the coffers meet to complete the look.

Installation

Installation begins by creating the grid or pattern on the ceiling. Some readymade panels are designed to screw directly into the studs in your existing ceiling, covering it completely. Making a true coffered ceiling, however, is done in layers.

First, support beams are installed perpendicularly to the studs. These are thin and will be wrapped with the final material later. They support the ceiling. Then, the crossbeams are installed parallel to the ceiling joists.

From there, the box beams are created. They can be built first, then installed over the support beams or built in place on the ceiling, wrapping the support beams. The boxes adhere directly to the support beams rather than to the ceiling joists.

The trim is installed last, and the beams are either painted or stained their final color. This is a time-consuming process and requires a carpenter to do correctly.

Labor costs

Labor makes up the majority of the costs in creating a coffered ceiling. It takes several hours and many steps to create the finished look. More decorative ceilings take longer than plain ceilings. Most carpenters charge between $10 and $15 per square foot to create a coffered ceiling. In a 12 x 12-foot room, this makes the labor portion between $1,440 and $2,160 of the $3,600 final cost, assuming a poplar coffered ceiling with minimal moldings.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Soffits

Because coffered ceilings are made with box beams, they can often incorporate a soffit 6 to help fill the gap between the top of a cabinet or bookcase and the rest of the ceiling. They may also go over and around pipes and wires to conceal them. Using coffered ceilings as soffits does not add to the cost.

Tin tiles

If you want to make your ceiling even more decorative, line the “bottoms” of the line the inside of the coffers with tin or faux tin ceiling tiles, meaning inside the coffers, with tin or faux tin ceiling tiles. These can be painted to match the coffers to create a very intricate ceiling. Expect to add at least $1,500 to the project for this look.

Medallions

Medallions can be used at the intersections 5 of the beams or in the centers of the sunken areas in the ceiling. They add a lot of interest and detail. A typical medallion costs around $80 each.

Recessed lights

Coffered ceilings are still functional ceilings and can have recessed lights 7 installed. It only takes a little more planning to avoid the coffers. Otherwise, the installation is the same. Recessed lights cost around $780 for 6 lights.

Painting or staining

Most coffered ceilings are either painted or stained. The coffers and beams may match the ceiling and be painted white or be a contrasting color or stain. Painting costs start at around $2 a square foot for a decorative ceiling.

Ceiling fan

You may also want to add a ceiling fan to the ceiling. Ceiling fans can be installed between the beams at any area and cost around $575.

Skylights

If you want to add additional light to your room, consider adding a skylight to the ceiling. The skylight can be framed by the coffers and become part of the pattern. Skylights start at around $450.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Some coffered ceilings can help with noise absorption, creating an acoustic ceiling. This can be a benefit to home theaters, offices, and other sensitive areas.
  • If you do not have a high ceiling, use shallow beams to get the look of a coffered ceiling without taking up valuable headroom.
  • Wood beams used on a coffered ceiling have the potential to warp due to swelling and shrinking from moisture levels. Leaving an expansion gap at the edges of the room can help prevent this.
  • Use coffers of differing sizes to create a unique design, such as coffers that change size slowly as they move across the room.
  • It is possible to combine coffered ceilings with tray ceilings by using the central area for the coffers and matching the molding around the tray.
  • By painting the ceiling, molding, and beams three different colors, you can create a lot of depth on the ceiling.
  • It is also possible to use wallpaper in the area between the coffers to add even more interest and pattern to the ceiling.

FAQ

  • What is the difference between a tray ceiling and a coffered ceiling?

Tray ceilings have a sunken interior and one, large decorative area around the perimeter of the room. Coffered ceilings create a grid on the ceiling.

  • Do coffered ceilings add value?

This depends on several factors, including what it is made of, how decorative it is, what your architectural style is, and where it is located. In some areas, it may add value, while in others it may help a home sell faster.​

  • How tall should coffered ceilings be?

Ideally, you want them at least 8 to 10 feet high because coffers lower it slightly, but you can get away with lower ceilings and shallow coffers.​

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Sheetrock 1 Drywall: Type of plasterboard, commonly used to build walls and ceilings, composed of gypsum that is layered between sheets of heavy paper
glossary term picture Plywood 2 Plywood: An engineered construction material manufactured from thin slices of wood glued together in alternating grain patterns for strength
glossary term picture Crown Molding 3 Crown moldings: A decorative finish that adds interest to the area where the top of a window meets the wall, or lines the area where the wall meets the ceiling
4 Finials: It is a metal rod with a pointed or round tip that allows the lightning to be caught and safely diffused through conductor cables to ground rods buried in a safe place. All three components together make up a complete lightning protection system
5 Intersections: (Also known as Junctions) A fold, line, or groove where two pieces of material join together
glossary term picture Soffit 6 Soffit: Construction material, typically composed of vinyl or aluminum, used to enclose the underside of eaves and ceilings
7 Recessed lights: A type of recessed lighting where the light is installed into a hole in the ceiling, giving downward light.

Cost to install a coffered ceiling varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Kitchen with large island and coffered ceiling

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Athens, GA
-9%
Austin, TX
+13%
Cape Coral, FL
-9%
Chula Vista, CA
+8%
Columbus, OH
+5%
Danbury, CT
+43%
Dublin, OH
+13%
El Paso, TX
-28%
Escondido, CA
+9%
Ewa Beach, HI
+31%
Gainesville, FL
-12%
Grand Rapids, MI
+7%
Greenville, SC
-12%
Kenner, LA
+25%
Louisville, KY
-7%
Mesa, AZ
-2%
New Albany, OH
+25%
Norfolk, VA
-6%
Novi, MI
+37%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Palm Coast, FL
-32%
Pasadena, TX
+16%
Portland, OR
+11%
Rahway, NJ
+39%
Red Oak, TX
-18%
Smyrna, GA
+10%
Somerville, NJ
+36%
Woodbridge, VA
+2%
Wylie, TX
+2%
Labor cost in your zip code
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Methodology and sources