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Simplifying Groin Vault Construction with a Groin Vault Ceiling Kit

A groin vault ceiling is one of the most popular and beautiful ceilings found in today's custom homes. However, the traditional construction method required to construct this type of ceiling called for a great deal of skill, time, and material. Furthermore, even those carpenters who have the skills necessary to frame this ceiling either refuse or charge such an outlandish price that it becomes impractical to entertain. Thus, this type of ceiling has been left to the upper echelon of homes.

However, this is no longer the case. Groin vault ceiling kits from Archways & Ceilings now allow a builder / contractor to add these to their homes quickly, easily, and affordably.

framing of a groin vault ceiling system

What is a Groin Vault?

Before we get into the construction process, let's make sure we're all on the same page about what a groin vault even is. The Groin Vault is created when two barrel vaults intersect with one another. A groin vault is also known as a cross vault or a double barrel vault. This Architectural marvel is very common in European countries, especially Rome.

In America, the groin vault has become a popular and beautiful ceiling found in many homes. So much so, the groin vault is Archways & Ceilings most popular ceiling kit! The Groin Vault Ceiling Kit, allows anyone to add an elegant architectural feature to their home!

How quick is it to construct a groin vault ceiling kit from Archways & Ceilings?

A groin vault constructed traditionally on site takes 10 times longer than using an Archway & Ceiling’s groin vault kit. For example, an 8’ 0” by 6’ 0” groin vault would normally take two experienced carpenters two full days to construct when you include the prep work, laying it out, scribing the hips, cutting the blocks, and assembling. However, when using an Archways & Ceilings groin vault kit, the construction process is simplified tremendously, and all that is needed is two framers one hour to install.

Although groin ceiling framing looks like it might be complicated, it’s really quite simple. Our prefabricated kits and easy-to-follow instructions take the guesswork out of the process.

Groin Vault Framing Sample Instructions

THE FIRST STEPS TO TAKE WHEN INSTALLING GROIN CEILING FRAMING

  1. You just need to frame a cross brace (two pieces of wood that intersect in the center of your desired location). Just make sure your cross brace is strong enough to support the weight of the groin vault and back bracing. You’ve now completed the foundation for your groin ceiling framing.
  2. Snap two lines to the underside of your or cross brace. Just make sure they’re centered in the groin vault area within ¼”.
  3. Identify and organize your struts. Don’t worry; each one comes labeled with positioning indicators that will tell you exactly where they go. When you see struts marked with an “S,” you’ll know that those belong on the shorter side. Go ahead and separate those from the ones that are marked with an “L.” Those belong on the longer side. Each will also be marked with a number. The number indicates exactly where those struts should be placed within the groin ceiling framing.
  4. Use a square to mark the underside of your existing pieces of the cross brace according to the strut positioning measurements on the groin vault plan that came with your kit.
  5. Now it’s time to place your struts. Start from the outside of the groin vault framing. They may seem short, but don’t despair. They’re made in halves. Line up the squared end of each half to the center mark that you marked in step four. Take a look at the groin vault plan to find the rise and placement of the angle-cut tips. Place your struts and then double check to be sure they are on the correct side and position.
  6. Continue nailing all struts into place until all the outer strut halves are in place. Then, it’s time to work your way inward and follow the steps on your instruction guide to complete the installation.

As you can see from the steps above, you don’t need any fancy tools or showy techniques. All you need is a measuring tape, a nail gun and a little initiative. Your groin ceiling framing will be up in no time.

Groin Vault Installation Before and After

How easy is it to install a groin vault ceiling kit from Archways & Ceilings?

The need for high end skilled framers is not required. As long as the framers can paint by number, read a plan drawing, and use a nail gun, then construction will be a breeze. But what about adding drywall and finishing the groin vault? Well, that's also a pretty simple procedure! In order to get you started, here's a quick rundown on the drywall process. 

HOW TO INSTALL DRYWALL FOR A GROIN VAULT CEILING

We know you want to jump right into it, but before you get started, let’s talk about your choice of drywall. We recommend using a double layer of 1/4 inch flexible drywall, so it’s easy to bend into place. If you really have your heart set on ½ inch boards, you’ll have to wet them from the back in order to help them bend without breaking. Okay, now let’s roll up our sleeves and get to drywalling these groin arches. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Measure the length from the side of the groin arch to the center. This will determine the length of the cut you’ll need for the drywall. If it’s longer than 96 inches, of course, multiple panels of drywall will be needed to complete the job.
  2. Measure the curved length of each curved strut from its center to its tip. Then measure from the side of the groin vault to each strut tip. These dimensions are the layout measurements.
  3. Transfer your layout measurements to the drywall and mark a line that intersects where the center and side measurements meet.
  4. Cut the drywall along this line.
  5. Prop the drywall up against a wall and slowly bend it downward until a curve is formed.
  6. Align the drywall to the groin vault and firmly press it up against the curvature.
  7. Screw the drywall in place.
  8. Repeat these steps along the same side of the groin vault until the corner is drywalled (measure, cut, bend, repeat).
  9. Trim and shave the drywall where needed so that the diagonal cut of the drywall matches up evenly with the groin strut tips.
  10. Repeat these steps for all sides of the groin vault, and then continue repeat the process for any other groin arches you have installed.

Now, all that’s left to do is to add some tape and mud and you’re ready to paint and texture. As you can see from this finished hallway, installing and drywalling groin arches is worth every bit of effort. Check out this simple step by step video demonstrating how to properly drywall a groin vault.

People usually get that installation is easy, but they tend to worry about the drywall process. Have no fear; we’ll provide you with step-by-step instructions so it won’t be much more difficult than drywalling a standard wall.

We've tried to make the complete groin vault construction process as easy and affordable as possible. When we're designing our ceiling kits or archway kits, we want to make them available for everyone, not just professional contractors or carpenters. In fact, we have had several handy DIYers successfully install our groin vault ceiling kits. It is really that easy! See for yourself. Watch the following installation video.

How affordable is it to construct a groin vault ceiling kit from Archways & Ceilings?

Because groin vault construction varies based on size and construction method, prices vary. The one thing we can tell you is that it gets very affordable when you choose a prefabricated kit instead of a groin vault built from scratch. Even if you plan to do the groin construction yourself, you must consider your time into the cost.

For example, an 8’ 0” by 6’ 0” groin vault ceiling kit from Archways & Ceilings costs $504.95. If this ceiling was to be built traditionally, then the cost would consist of $250.00 of material and a minimum of $500 dollars in labor. You do the math!

With Archways & Ceilings it is now possible Mr. Builder or Mr. Contractor to add these beautiful groin vault ceilings to your homes. This could be your next competitive advantage. As more and more homeowners are expecting more and more from their builder, what are you doing to set yourself apart? A beautiful groin vault made quickly, easily, and affordably could be your next meal ticket.

Order Your Groin Vault Kit

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2010 and has been completely revamped and update for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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