Vaulted Ceiling Installation Cost Guide
Updated: 24 Nov 2021
Vaulted Ceiling Installation
Updated: Jul 29, 2021
Reviewed by Cristina Miguelez remodeling expert. Written by Fixr.com.
If you love the idea of open, airy rooms in your home, consider building a vaulted ceiling. Vaulted ceilings come in many types, from the traditional curved ceilings to the popular cathedral style. Vaulted ceilings open your room to the rafters or create a rounded section of higher space in the center for a unique focal point. Most people install the cathedral style when they mean vaulted ceilings, which opens your room to the roof. This can be constructed at the same time as the roof or built after. The project timing and vaulting type impact the project cost.
The national average cost range to create a vaulted ceiling is $16,000 to $25,000, with most people paying $20,000 to convert an existing 350 sq.ft. ceiling to a cathedral-style vaulted ceiling with a roof built of rafters. This project’s low cost is $4,800 to create a simple 200 sq.ft. dome in an existing ceiling. The high cost is $35,000 to create a 350 sq.ft. cathedral-style vaulted ceiling in an existing ceiling with a roof built from trusses.
Vaulted Ceiling Cost
|Cost of Vaulting Ceiling|
|National average cost||$20,000|
What Is a Vaulted Ceiling?
Traditionally, vaulted ceilings were a series of self-supporting arches making the ceiling and roof. This definition has broadened to include cathedral ceilings or ceilings that open to the roof at angles rather than arches or curves. The terms vaulted and cathedral are used interchangeably, and most people mean the latter of the two styles - a ceiling that opens to the roof, sometimes exposing the rafters.
You can create many of the older styles of vaulted ceilings - domes, barrels, and rib ceilings. However, these are much less common than the cathedral style.
Vaulted ceilings can be built at the same time as your roof, increasing the costs of the roof and frame by 5% to 20%, depending on the size. You can also create a vaulted ceiling in an existing home, with domes and shallow curved ceilings being the least expensive, although least common, method and cathedral ceilings being the most costly. A large part of your costs are determined by the roof frame. Rafters are the easiest to work with, while trusses can increase the cost by as much as 40%.
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Vaulted Ceiling Cost by Type of Construction
Vaulted ceilings can be built with the house or structure, or they can be added later. Costs vary tremendously depending on when the ceiling is vaulted and the vault type. The most common type is the cathedral style, which opens the ceiling to the roof deck. In new construction, this means modifying the roof to accommodate it, so you have the costs to frame the roof plus 5% to 20% for the modifications. In conversions, you need to open the existing ceiling to expose the space above and make necessary modifications, depending on whether you have trusses or rafters.
Below are the average costs to create a cathedral-style vaulted ceiling in an average home for new construction and conversion, taking into account the cost of the framing, conversion, and both roof types.
|Type of Construction||Average Costs (Labor Included)|
|New Construction||$16,000 - $21,000|
|Convert a Flat Ceiling to Vaulted||$18,000 - $35,000|
A Vaulted Ceiling in New Construction
The cost to create a vaulted ceiling in new construction ranges from $16,000 to $21,000. These costs include the average cost of framing a roof of $13,500 to $16,500. They also include modifying the frame and finishing costs. Finishing costs for vaulted ceilings are higher than flat ceilings. This is because you need more drywall to cover the higher walls and ceiling. You also pay a higher rate for the work, including the painting, because of the height.
Convert a Flat Ceiling to Vaulted
Converting a flat ceiling to a vaulted ceiling costs $18,000 to $35,000. This includes removing the existing ceiling, modifying rafters or trusses, relocating pipes, ducts, and electrical wires, and the finish work. Your costs are influenced by how many utilities run through the space above, if this is an open “attic” space above the area, and how your roof is built. In some cases, people leave existing rafters and have them remain visible in the room, while they may need to be removed and modified for a more open appearance in other instances. In general, your costs are $40 higher if you have trusses rather than rafters.
|Roof Construction||Average Modification Costs (Labor Included)|
|Rafters||$18,000 - $25,000|
|Trusses||$25,200 - $35,000|
Average Cost of a Vaulted Ceiling by Type
The most common vaulted ceiling and the one most familiar to people today is the cathedral. However, vaulted ceilings can be found in several arched and rounded shapes. These are arguably less expensive to build because they are often more shallow, do not extend to the roof, require no roof modification in most cases, and can often be built in a couple of days. Therefore, rounded vaulted ceilings can often be created for less than the more popular cathedral. Below are the average costs to create different types of vaulted ceilings.
|Type||Average Costs (Labor Included)|
|Groin||$4,800 - $10,000|
|Dome||$4,800 - $10,000|
|Barrel||$4,800 - $10,000|
|Rib||$4,800 - $10,000|
|Cathedral||$16,000 - $35,000|
Groin Vault Ceiling
The cost of building a groin vault is $4,800 to $10,000. Groin vaults are also called double-barrel vaults and cross vaults. This ceiling is made with two crossing barrel vaults. They are not as high as cathedral vaults, so they do not require the same amount of modification. This lowers the project cost. Groin vaults can be finished in several ways. You can plaster over the ceiling to create a double archway overhead. Or, you can leave the rafters for a more rustic appearance.
The cost of a dome ceiling averages $4,800 to $10,000. Dome ceilings are unique because the area can be flat or extend to the entire room. The dome is essentially a curved ceiling with a circular edge. They are much more shallow than cathedral ceilings. They are easier to add to existing properties and do not require roof modifications. This is a good way to add height to a specific area or create a focal point in the ceiling above.
The cost of a barrel ceiling ranges from $4,800 to $10,000. Barrel ceilings are a type of vault that forms an arch overhead. Like the dome and groin ceilings, this is more shallow than the cathedral. It does not require roof modification, only some attic space. The ceiling is created with a series of overhead arches. This can be drywalled and finished to create a rounded, higher ceiling. This can give a room more height and interest than a standard flat ceiling.
Rib Vault Ceiling
The cost of a rib vault ceiling is $4,800 to $10,000. Rib vaults look similar to groin vaults. Rather than being made of intersecting arches, they are made of many individual arched beams. This makes it a slightly more flexible design to fit into more areas. Like the other arched vaults, this does not require roof modification. You only need some attic space to extend into, and the rafters can be left untouched above it.
Cathedral Vault Ceiling
The cost of the cathedral vault ceiling ranges from $16,000 to $35,000. Cathedral vault ceilings are the most common and what most people think of when they hear the term vaulted ceiling. Rather than being curved, these ceilings are angular. They extend to the roof and require roof modifications. This can be as simple as moving the rafters and allowing them to remain visible to completely resupporting the roof. While this style looks the simplest, it is the most complex to build in a conversion, so it has higher costs.
Cost of a Vaulted Ceiling by Location
When you vault a ceiling, you need to have the maximum space in the area above for the best results. This means vaulting a ceiling in the center, directly under the roof’s peak, gives you the best results and allows you to capture the entire area below. Therefore, you can vault ceilings in attic bedrooms, centrally placed living rooms and kitchens, and open-floor-plan homes. It becomes more difficult to vault the ceiling of a single room located to one side of the home. You do not gain as much height, and the room will not be symmetrical. The alternative is in homes with cross gable roofs or room additions with their own roof, separate from the roof on the rest of the home. In these homes, you can have vaulted ceilings in areas not central to the main living area.
The following costs are for the average size of each room, assuming it has its own roof extending over the entire space, centrally located with a cross gable, or as an addition.
|Location||Average Costs (Labor Included)|
|Bathroom||$12,000 - $18,000|
|Bedroom||$12,000 - $18,000|
|Kitchen||$12,000 - $18,000|
|Living Room||$18,000 - $25,000|
|Kitchen / Living Room||$18,000 - $35,000|
Bathroom With a Vaulted Ceiling
The cost to vault a ceiling over a bathroom averages $12,000 to $18,000. This assumes a large-sized master bathroom in an addition. The bathroom needs a separate roof for this conversion. Vaulting a ceiling in a master bathroom is a great way to create an open and airy space. However, additional care must be taken to deal with the humidity. Without a space above the ceiling, it is difficult to install an exhaust fan, while the ceiling’s height and shape means humidity collects here, potentially leading to mold and mildew.
Vault a Bedroom Ceiling
The cost of a vaulted bedroom ceiling ranges from $12,000 to $18,000. This assumes an average-sized bedroom of 200 to 300 sq.ft. The bedroom must be centrally located at the top of the house or its own addition. If you have a bedroom larger than this, your costs are higher. Vaulting the ceiling in a bedroom can make a beautiful statement in the room. This can make the room feel larger and airier and transform a standard bedroom into a master.
Vaulted Ceiling in a Kitchen
The cost of a vaulted ceiling in a kitchen is $12,000 to $18,000. This assumes a kitchen that is in an addition with a roof. The average size is between 200 and 300 sq.ft. If your kitchen is larger or smaller, your costs can be different. Vaulting the ceiling in a kitchen can make a beautiful statement. Care must be taken with exhaust hoods in this area, however. With no traditional ceiling and space to vent into above the kitchen, you must find a different route to vent your hood outdoors.
Vault a Living Room Ceiling
The cost to vault a living room ceiling averages $18,000 to $25,000. This assumes an average living room size of 300 to 400 sq.ft. Vaulting the living room ceiling is one of the most common areas to tackle this project. Living rooms are often centrally located, making this an ideal area to vault. Raising the ceiling can visually open the space, making it feel larger and brighter. Care must be taken if you have a chimney in the living room because it may be affected by the project.
Vaulted Living Room and Kitchen
The cost to vault the ceiling over a living room and kitchen ranges from $18,000 to $35,000. Open floor plans with a living room and kitchen that feed into one another are common places to put a vaulted ceiling. The cost is about the same as a living room but can be higher based on the total size. The larger the area, the higher the costs. This assumes a combined space size of between 300 and 500 sq.ft. If your space is larger or smaller, your costs could be different.
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Labor Cost to Vault a Ceiling
Many professionals may be involved in creating a vaulted ceiling. This includes a structural engineer if you are modifying an existing roof and ceiling, electrician, carpenter, and general contractor. In addition, the area must be demoed, drywalled, and painted. This can lead to a wide range of professionals and total costs. Therefore, the bulk of the project costs is in labor, with permits and materials making up less than ¼ of the total costs. Labor makes up $13,500 to $26,250 out of a total of $18,000 to $35,000 for the average ceiling conversion. A total breakdown of the project follows.
|Project Area||Average Costs|
|Planning and Permits||$500 - $2,000|
|Structural Engineer||$500 - $2,000|
|Demo and Disposal||$3,700 - $4,700|
|Roofing Modifications||$3,600 - $10,600|
|Moving Wiring and Ducts||$2,900 - $4,900|
|Insulation||$1,300 - $3,300|
|Drywall||$3,900 - $4,900|
|Painting||$1,600 - $2,600|
Pros and Cons of Vaulted Ceilings
Vaulted ceilings are beautiful additions to many homes. They give the appearance of a larger, more airy space to rooms that might otherwise appear dark and cramped. With skylights, they can also bring more natural light into the room. Vaulted ceilings can give a home the appearance of grandeur and improve the room’s design. If you have unused attic space, this can remove it while adding the benefits already described.
However, vaulted ceilings come with several drawbacks. They cost significantly more than a standard height ceiling to clean, paint, and maintain. They are difficult to reach, and cobwebs, dust, and other marks can quickly build where they cannot be removed. Lights installed in the ceiling can be difficult to reach to change the light bulbs.
Because heat rises, vaulted ceilings can also make rooms difficult to heat. The heat in the room rises and collects in the ceiling above. This means that to make the room comfortable, you need to increase the amount of heat. In the warmer months, the space is more likely to hold unwanted heat and can superheat the space below.
Vaulted ceilings can also be noisy. The space can amplify sounds and create echoes you cannot find in rooms with standard ceiling heights.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Vaulted ceilings can be difficult to clean and maintain. Because of their height, you need a ladder and tools with an extension to dust and remove cobwebs from the ceiling. You also need to have access to a ladder or lift to change the lights located near the ceiling.
When it is time to paint the room walls or ceiling, you pay higher rates. This is because of the height. Scaffolding is often necessary to safely paint the area, increasing labor costs.
However, beyond the logistics of reaching the vaulted ceiling, they have no special cleaning or maintenance requirements beyond what is needed for a standard ceiling.
Vaulted Ceiling vs Cathedral Ceiling
Historically, a vaulted ceiling was a rounded or arched ceiling, while a cathedral ceiling was an angled ceiling that went to the roof. Today, the two terms have become interchangeable. Vaulted and cathedral ceilings now often mean the same thing. Cathedral ceilings have become a subtype of the vaulted ceiling and are the most commonly known vaulted ceiling installed today. Most people who create a vaulted ceiling in their homes are creating a type of cathedral ceiling.
Vaulted Ceiling vs Coffered Ceiling
Vaulted ceilings are frequently installed to add detail, grandeur, or interest. Another ceiling type offering these benefits is the coffered ceiling. Coffered ceilings use a series of boxes or beams, coffers, installed across a flat ceiling. This adds detail and interest but does not require moving electrical wires and ducts or modifying the roof frame like a vaulted ceiling does. While a coffered ceiling is much lower, it is also much less expensive than a vaulted ceiling. Below are the average costs to install these ceiling types in an average living room.
|Type||Average Costs (Labor Included)|
|Coffered||$3,500 - $7,500|
|Vaulted||$16,000 - $25,000|
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Enhancement and Improvement Costs
It is common to add skylights to a vaulted ceiling. This increases the amount of natural light entering the room. The cost of installing a skylight averages $1,300 to $3,000.
Paint a Vaulted Ceiling
The cost to paint a vaulted ceiling can be much higher than painting a standard ceiling. The height and shape can make it more challenging, resulting in higher costs. The average cost to paint a vaulted ceiling is $1,600 to $2,600.
Because the vaulted ceiling extends to your roof, you need some insulation in this area. Otherwise, you could develop issues with ice dams and roof deterioration. The average cost of insulating your vaulted ceiling is $1,300 to $3,300.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Electrical wiring. You need to reroute electrical wiring if you extend a standard ceiling to a vaulted ceiling. This may include lengthening existing cables to go around the area.
- HVAC ducts. You may also need to reroute ductwork located above the ceiling. There is not enough room above the vaulted ceiling for the ducts.
- Value. Vaulted ceilings increase the cost of building a new home or addition. They do not add value to a home, however. They look attractive and may be a selling feature of some properties.
- Planning permission. You need a permit before undertaking this project. However, you do not need planning permissions before modifying the ceiling because the home’s exterior is unaffected.
- Space. Vaulted ceilings increase the cubic feet of the room but not the home’s square footage.
- Ventilation. Vaulted ceilings do not require the same ventilation as attics because they are not enclosed spaces. However, this can be a problem in damp areas like bathrooms.
- Condensation. Damp areas, such as bathrooms, can develop issues with condensation. This is mostly from the lack of ventilation because you cannot run ducts outdoors.
- Ceiling fans. You can hang a ceiling fan at the peak of a vaulted ceiling. This can cool the area and push heat down from the vaulted area in the winter.
- Can a regular ceiling be vaulted?
Yes, if you have unused attic space above, you can vault a regular ceiling. You may need to modify your roof to accommodate it.
- Can I vault an existing ceiling?
Yes, you can vault an existing ceiling if you have unused attic space above. You may have to modify your roof to accommodate the new ceiling.
- How high is a typical vaulted ceiling?
This depends on your roof pitch. You can have shallow and very high vaulted ceilings. The higher the pitch, the higher the ceiling.
- Do vaulted ceilings have an attic?
No, the vaulted ceiling extends to the roof. They can use unused attic space when creating one.
- Do vaulted ceilings cost more to heat and cool?
Yes, the high ceiling makes the space less energy-efficient. This raises your heating and cooling bills and is less comfortable than the other rooms of the home.
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