Skip to content

Cross vaults may be called by different names, but they’re never ordinary

An Introduction to Cross Vaults

So, you’re a fan of cross vaults? Well, you’re in good company. These are among our favorite vaults too. Because they’re made up of intersecting barrel vaults, the design is a bit more intricate than other vaulted ceiling designs. This allows you to leave them plain decorate them with opulence; either way, the end result is stunning. But we’re probably preaching to the choir. Instead of telling you what you already know, let’s explore some things you may not know about cross vaults.

What are cross vaults exactly?

Cross vaults are also known as groin vaults or double barrel vaults and they are made by intersecting two barrel vaults at right angles. Cross vaults were often used in early Roman architecture, but they fell by the wayside with the introduction of Gothic rib vaults. A rib vault is essentially a cross vault that is accented with piped masonry. Fortunately, these vaults weren’t lost forever. Some famous cross vaults can be found at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome and the Basilica of Sant’Amgrogio in Milan. And for some more good news; it has never been easier to install a cross vault in your home.

How do I order a cross vault?

Whether you’re ordering one or twenty cross vaults, the process is simple. First, you’ll need to take three measurements: the long side, the short side and the rise. There are a few ways to determine the rise, but the most popular is by using a multiplier. Most builders will simply multiply the short side by 20 percent to find the rise. So, if the short side measures 120 inches, your rise will be 24 inches (or two feet). If you’re ordering more than one vault, it’s very important to designate a location when you place your order. This way, the vaults will be labeled and you’ll know where each needs to be installed. You can place the order by phone, fax, email or online.

How do I install a cross vault?

Your kit will come with groin vault struts and an installation plan. To complete installation, you’ll need a nail gun, square, circular saw, level and tape measure. Before you begin the installation, you may want to watch one of our how-to videos in the video library. Then, just follow the installation plan.

After installation, comes drywall. But don’t worry. We also have how-to videos for this step of the process. It’s definitely more involved than your standard drywall installation, but it’s probably not as difficult as you might think. If you’re concerned about your drywall skills, you can always hire a professional for this part.

After the installation comes the fun part: paint and décor. You can simply paint your cross vaults the same color as the rest of the room, or you can get fancy. You may notice that the vault shown here was painted to mimic the look of a rib vault with its intricate piping detail. For more inspiration, check out our photo gallery. 

Previous article The Humster Wheel