In describing anything aside from a flat ceiling, two terms are frequently used– vaulted and cathedral. What is the difference between the two terms?

Not surprisingly, cathedral ceilings originated from their namesake– cathedrals. By architectural definition, a cathedral ceiling is defined by symmetry with equal steeply sloping sides, meeting at a ridge at the center of a room and normally mirroring the pitch of the roof structure. This collection includes a fine example of a cathedral ceiling.

Vaulted ceilings, moreover, are not typically constructed using the same pitch as the roof. They can have a single sloping side, an arched or curved slope or unequal sloping sides and are frequently framed using engineered scissor trusses.

Vaulted and cathedral ceilings have landed in and out of popularity throughout the years but their potential for dramatic spaces can not be denied. They can make a small room feel more spacious and a large space truly ethereal. Vaulted entries are dramatic and both cathedral and vaulted ceilings render it easier to install skylights without the testy tunnel effect of working between trusses.

The DMJ Restorations Design Build Service can draw up and render a variety of standard flat, vaulted, cathedral, and combination ceilings for you to choose from. If you find a plan and would love to have it customized to achieve a more dramatic ceiling, we are always happy to discuss your wishes and provide a free quote to customize your plan or coordinate with your ideas to develop a custom house layout and design for you.

A vaulted style ceiling without some form of mechanical or convective air circulation can waste substantial amounts of energy in the winter as the warm air rises and remains well above the inhabitants. With that being said, a vaulted ceiling partnered with ventilating skylights can help to keep a home naturally cool in the summer by adding an automatic temperature sensor to open the skylight.