How to Convert a Flat Ceiling to Vaulted

Converting a flat ceiling to a vaulted ceiling can completely transform the look and feel of a room. Vaulted ceilings create a sense of space, height and drama. They also allow more natural light into a room. The conversion process does involve some complex construction work, but the end results are well worth it. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to convert a flat ceiling to vaulted.

Assessing if Conversion is Possible

The first step is to determine if converting to a vaulted ceiling is feasible in your space. There are several factors to consider:

Room size – Vaulted ceilings work best in medium to large sized rooms. The ceiling height at its peak after the conversion must be taken into account.

Construction – Assess if the existing ceiling construction, roof structure, attic space etc. can support a vaulted design. Look for any obstructions like HVAC ducts, electrical wiring etc.

Budget – Converting to a vaulted ceiling requires constructing a new framed ceiling and drywall, along with finishing. So factor in materials, labor and timeframe costs.

Hiring a contractor – Vaulted ceiling installation can be complex, so it’s best to hire a licensed and experienced contractor. Get an estimate of total costs beforehand.

If the room suits the height and space requirements, has minimal obstructions and you can afford the project, then you likely can convert to a vaulted design.

Designing the New Vaulted Ceiling

Once you determine the project is feasible, it’s time for design planning. Here are some factors to consider:

Ceiling height – Final height from the floor to the peak point depends on room size, roof structure etc. Standard height is 8-12 feet, but cathedral ceilings can be 20 feet or higher.

Slope – Pitch of the slope from the sides to the peak can vary. A gentler slope works for low peaked designs. Steeper slopes allow more dramatic, high ceilings.

Shape – Vaulted ceilings can be a simple triangle, arched, curved, or more complex shapes. Choose a shape that fits the space.

Beams – Exposed beams add architectural interest and can be functional or decorative. Beam placement impacts lighting fixture placement.

Windows – Consider adding windows high on the new ceiling to enhance natural light effects. Skylights are also an option.

Lighting – Plan lighting layout for ambient, task and accent lighting through fixtures like track lights, pendant lights and recessed lighting.

Create drawings displaying the ceiling design from different angles to visualize the finished look.

Getting the Necessary Building Permits

Before starting demolition, make sure to obtain all required permits from the local building department. Submit your vaulted ceiling plans and the supervisor or contractor’s license number. The building inspector may visit to check if the existing structure can support the remodel. Once approved, you can move on to the next steps.

Preparing the Room

To get the room ready for the ceiling conversion:

  • Remove existing trim, crown molding, lighting fixtures etc.
  • Detach drywall from ceiling joists with care to avoid damaging walls.
  • Take down the ceiling drywall and insulation.
  • Seal off the room from attic space to prevent dust infiltration.
  • Cover flooring, furniture etc. to prevent damage during construction.
  • Ensure electrical, HVAC registers, ducting etc. are disconnected or rerouted if needed.

Safety comes first – wear protective gear like dust masks, gloves, goggles and hard hats during demo. The room is now prepped and ready for the new framed ceiling.

Constructing the New Ceiling Frame

The ceiling framework has to be built from scratch to create the vaulted structure:

  • Install a ridge board at the center peak point, secured firmly to the roof rafters.
  • Measure and cut 2×6 or 2×8 rafters to desired length and angle. Nail rafters into the ridge board.
  • Frame out ceiling joists between the rafters, 16″ or 24″ apart for stability.
  • Create angled joists from rafters to bearing walls for structural reinforcement.
  • Add blocking between joists and collar ties along rafters for extra strength.
  • Insert joist hangers securing the rafter ends to bearing walls.

Follow all structural codes and specifications. Accurately measure and cut all lumber at proper angles. Nail or screw together securely to withstand the weight. The new ceiling framework now defines the vaulted structure.

Installing Insulation and Drywall

Once the framing is complete, the next steps are:

  • Add batt insulation like Roxul between ceiling joists for thermal insulation, acoustics and fire resistance.
  • Install sheets of drywall, screwing them into the ceiling joists and rafters. Use moisture resistant drywall for bathrooms.
  • Fill seams with joint compound for a smooth look.
  • Screw in ledger boards along bearing walls to mount the edges of vertical drywall sheets.

Getting the drywall seamlessly installed takes some skill. Hire drywall contractors or use the proper lifts and scaffolding for high ceilings. Take your time to get clean, smooth drywall to prep for finishing.

Applying Finishing Touches

The final and most exciting stage is finishing to get your new vaulted ceiling looking its best:

  • Seal drywall and do any repairs to smooth imperfections. Apply primer for painting prep.
  • Paint the ceiling and rafters in desired colors. Consider accent colors to make details pop.
  • Add crown molding along the edges where ceiling meets walls for a polished look.
  • Install new lighting fixtures like sleek track lights, pendant lamps or recessed lighting.
  • Attach hardware like curtains or blinds to windows placed high on new ceiling.
  • Update flooring to complement the new ceiling height and shapes like hardwood or patterned carpet.

Finishing touches like lighting and decor elements complement the newfound sense of space from the conversion. Choose fixtures and accessories that enhance the ceiling as a focal point.

Update Other Rooms Accordingly

Beyond the room itself, update adjoining areas accordingly:

  • Revise wiring, ductwork etc. in the attic to align with the new ceiling.
  • Patch old drywall, paint and install trim in surrounding rooms.
  • Remove dropped soffits or alter overhead lighting and vents.
  • Change railings or bannisters to match new ceiling heights.

These adjustments make the transition between the converted space and adjoining rooms feel cohesive.

Converting a flat ceiling to a spacious, soaring vaulted ceiling requires serious construction work. But it’s a worthwhile investment to transform a room and make a dramatic statement. With the right prep work, materials and finishing, you’ll love enjoying your new vaulted ceiling space for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Converting Flat to Vaulted Ceilings

What are the benefits of vaulted ceilings?

Some key benefits of vaulted ceilings include:

  • Increased ceiling height creates a sense of airiness and space.
  • Allows more natural light into the room through higher or additional windows.
  • Visually appealing architectural details like exposed beams, angles and shapes.
  • Can increase home value and appeal for future buyers.

Do vaulted ceilings cost more to heat and cool?

Yes, the additional space can increase heating and cooling costs. However, proper insulation helps control costs. Energy efficient windows, skylights and HVAC also help.

How long does it take to convert to a vaulted ceiling?

The timeframe depends on the size of the room and complexity of the project. It could take 2-4 weeks between demolition, framing, drywall and finishing. Hiring contractors expedites the process.

Can you install vaulted ceilings in old homes?

Yes, it is possible to add vaulted ceilings by altering the existing structure. Though extra care is needed for homes with lath and plaster walls, which are more delicate.

Which rooms are best suited for vaulted ceilings?

Living rooms, dens, master bedrooms and entryways are common rooms where high, dramatic vaulted ceilings can make a statement. The larger the room, the greater the impact.

What are faux vaulted ceilings?

Faux vaulted ceilings use dropped sections of drywall, framing, lighting and paint to create the illusion of a raised, arched ceiling without the major construction work.


Converting a flat ceiling to an impressive, spacious vaulted design takes strategic planning and a significant remodeling effort. But it can be one of the most rewarding ways to instantly give a room more height, light and flair. If done properly with the right materials and contractor, you’ll enjoy the warm, uplifting ambiance a vaulted ceiling brings for years to come. Just be sure to assess your space, budget and goals first before tackling this major but worthwhile project. With an eye for quality design and some vision, you can craft a vaulted ceiling that infuses your room with artful style and visual grace.

Meta Description

This comprehensive guide covers all aspects of converting a basic flat ceiling into an impressive, spacious vaulted ceiling to completely transform a room. We discuss how to assess if conversion is feasible, design planning, permits, demo, framing, drywall, finishing and more.

How to Convert a Flat Ceiling to Vaulted