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Barrel Vault vs Groin Vault

Are you considering a decorative ceiling for your home? Well, you have some choices, and the choice between a barrel vault and a groin vault is a difficult one.


Are you trying to decide between a barrel and a groin vault? Which is better? It's an age-old question that has yet to be answered definitively, until now. It's time for the gloves to come off. Let's hash this out once and for all.

Barrel Vault vs Groin Vault: An Overview

A barrel vault is the simplest type of ceiling vault, and a groin vault is the result of two intersecting barrels. So, they share some structural components. That's about where their similarities end. If you look at them side-by-side, you wouldn't guess that they have much in common at all. A barrel is completely smooth without any hard edges; Imagine cutting a barrel in half lengthwise. A groin vault is distinctly curved, but it also has some angles.


They both have historical significance, and they have been used in architecture for many years. The barrel vault dates back to Ancient Egypt . Naturally, the groin vault came later; we first saw this style emerge in Roman times.

Barrel Vault vs Groin Vault: Installation

The installation process is quite different between a barrel and a groin vault. If you use one of our prefabricated kits, both are easy. But there are more steps involved in installing and drywalling a groin vault than there are with a barrel. It's not a major difference in time and effort, but if those things are deciding factors, you may be more comfortable with a barrel ceiling.

Barrel Vault vs Groin Vault: Design

As we mentioned above, each vault creates a distinctly different look. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference, but there are a few factors you may want to consider before you make the call. First, think about where the vault will go. Barrel vaults are most impactful when they span the entire width of the room, but they can also be used to accent a smaller area of the room. Groin vaults are more dramatic than the barrel, so they work well in smaller spaces. Consider adding a groin to a hallway or to the center of a larger room as a focal point.


Next, think about the architectural design of the home and/or the room. Groin vaults were practically made for Medieval or Romanesque spaces, but they can definitely work in modern homes too. Barrel vaults, being less conspicuous are slightly more versatile, meaning that they can complement almost any type of décor.

Barrel Vault vs Groin Vault: The Bottom Line

Okay, now that we've considered everything, we're ready to call this match. It's a tie. You really can't go wrong with either option, so instead of worrying about which you should choose, maybe you should just get one of each or even just combine the two to make for a special custom ceiling.



Our promise is to make it easy for you to get the ceiling design you want while not breaking the bank. Whether you choose a barrel vault or a groin vault, we love seeing your ideas materialize and can’t wait to see your finished project! If you’ve already got a new ceiling project in process, or one already completed, don’t forget to tag us on   Instagram at @archwaysandceilings   or use the hashtag #archwaysandceilings.

We look forward to working with you, and if you have any questions, call us. We’re here to help.


Build Your Barrel Vault


Build Your Groin Vault


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