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Welcome Canadians! → start here

What are Vault Ceilings?

Vault ceilings come in many different shapes and sizes. They can be large or small, but they cannot be ordinary. Check out this guide to learn more.

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to walk through the Vatican or just about any other historic structure, you’ve seen vault ceilings. They were commonly used in medieval and Romanesque architecture, but they have also been used since. Actually, due to advances in technology that make these ceilings easy to install, these vaults are gaining in popularity.

The first thing you should know about vault ceilings is that they come in many different shapes and sizes. Let’s take a look at a few examples to give you a better idea of what people are talking about when they refer to ceiling vaults.

The Barrel Vault

The barrel vault consists of many curves on the same radius repeated. If you just look at one curve, you can see how simple the design really is. But when you step back and look at the bigger picture, it’s obvious that these curves add up to make a major impact.

For a home, this is a very large barrel vault (Picture at top of post). But it does illustrate how grandiose vault ceilings can be. They can also be used as very small accents, as shown in the picture below. It’s all up to you and your design. Vault the entire ceiling or just a small section (smaller vaults are usually used to draw attention to a specific area in the room).

The Dome

Of all the vault ceilings, the dome is probably the most dramatic. This dome is elliptical, which means it’s more like a half egg shape rather than the standard half circle dome. Nonetheless, you can see how a dome can really open up the space. Add recessed lighting and a light ring and your room will feel even roomier.

The Cove

In simple terms, a cove rounds out the corners of a room. If you don’t want to look up and see that sharp angle where the walls meet the ceiling, install a cove ceiling. This example has a high and low reveal, which essentially means that there is a step between the cove and the ceiling and another between the cove and the wall.

The Groin Vault

The groin vault may be the biggest departure from a standard ceiling. It is not a complicated design, but it can completely change the entire look and feel of a room. The curve is similar to the barrel vault, but it is arranged in a different way.

Now, you should have a good idea of how diverse vault ceilings can be. They can be large or small, complete curves or a combination of curves and angles. The one thing vaults can never be is ordinary. If you install a vault in your home, your guests (or new homeowners) will be impressed. 

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