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Planning a vaulted ceiling: everything you need to know

If you're planning a vaulted ceiling in your home design or renovation, this guide is for you. We explain the planning permissions needed and the key considerations to make before raising the roof with this statement design feature.

A vaulted ceiling is an architectural feature that will – quite literally – take your home design to new heights.

An alternative to conventional flat ceilings, we outline all you need to know if you’re considering this option.

As well as planning and building regulations, we share the pros and cons of a vaulted ceiling, the main factors to bear in mind, and the cost of achieving this eye-catching structure.

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What is a vaulted ceiling?

A vaulted ceiling is a self-supporting arch fitted above the walls but below the structure of the roof.

This creates a ceiling that slopes upwards, beyond the standard ceiling height (which is typically around 2.4m in the UK).

Architecturally, this design creates a high, sloping ceiling that creates a bright, open, and airy space with a feeling of grandeur.

There are various shapes and styles of vaulted ceilings:

  • Cathedral ceilings. These rise symmetrically from the walls to create a stunning triangular shape
  • Monopitch vaulted ceilings. One side of the roof begins at standard wall plate height, with the other being lifted to create the monopitch
  • Barrel vault ceilings. These ceilings are curved, just like the inside of a barrel
  • Domed ceilings. These ceilings resemble the inside of a grand, celestial dome

Vaulted ceiling in a kitchen

Do you need planning permission for a vaulted ceiling?

Planning permission is not normally required to replace a floor or ceiling. However, if you live in a listed building or conservation area, you should contact your Local Planning Authority.

Call in the professionals

A qualified architect and structural engineer will ensure your plans for a vaulted ceiling meet the required standards.

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What building regulations are needed for a vaulted ceiling?

Before work starts on your vaulted ceiling, you must check if you need building regulations approval. This is different to planning permission.

Building regulations outline the required standards for safety, structural integrity, insulation, fire safety, and accessibility.

The Planning Portal outlines the building regulations required for a vaulted ceiling.

NB. If you use tradespeople registered with a Competent Person Scheme, you do not need to seek approval yourself.

Skylights within a vaulted ceiling

Are vaulted ceilings a good idea?

Vaulted ceilings are becoming more commonplace, as a striking design feature that transforms your living space.

In this section, we’ll uncover the benefits (and disadvantages) of vaulted ceilings, and the key considerations when planning one, helping you to decide if it’s the right choice for your home.

The benefits of a vaulted ceiling

  • Open and airy. A vaulted ceiling creates a spacious and airy feel, making your home look and feel bigger than it actually is
  • Light and bright. With added vertical space providing the scope for floor-to-ceiling windows, your living space will be flooded with natural light
  • Wow factor. There’s no denying a vaulted ceiling makes a statement. And with space for larger, more dramatic light fixtures, you’ll create a real sense of grandeur

What are the downsides of a vaulted ceiling?

  • Maintenance. Changing a lightbulb, decorating, and cleaning the cobwebs from a vaulted ceiling can present more of a challenge
  • Storage space. With reduced loft space, you’ll need to plan some clever storage solutions
  • Energy efficiency. With a larger space to heat or cool, you may see an increase in your energy bills with a vaulted ceiling
  • Cost. Converting an existing roof cavity requires extensive work, which can carry a significant cost

Key considerations when planning a vaulted ceiling

  • Room proportions and style. The height and size of your room will influence the type of vaulted ceiling and materials that suits it best
  • Materials and insulation. Make sure you adhere to building regulations to select materials and insulation to ensure comfort, energy efficiency, and soundproofing
  • Natural light and ventilation. Windows and ventilation will need to be carefully considered when planning your vaulted ceiling. In addition to skylights, a vaulted ceiling presents a unique opportunity for double-height glazing
  • Light fittings. Spotlights and downlights will highlight the pitch of the ceiling, while pendants will emphasise the height, and wall lights will ensure the walls are adequately illuminated

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How much does it cost to build a vaulted ceiling?

A vaulted ceiling is more expensive to construct than a conventional flat ceiling, by anything from 5% – 20% more.

However, a vaulted ceiling can add value to your home and enhance the overall enjoyment of living in your home.

Read our cost guide for creating a vaulted ceiling to understand the overheads associated with this project.

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