Vaulted Ceilings, Barrel Vaults, Groin Vaults and More

Vaulted Ceilings, Barrel Vaults, Groin Vaults and More
If you have been in rooms that have low ceilings, others with average ceilings and still others with high, vaulted ceilings, you can appreciate and understand the difference.

A room with a low ceiling such as a basement will have a closed-in, small and cramped feel whereas a room with a vaulted ceiling will give one the impression or distinct sense of grandeur.

There are various types of vaulted ceilings. A vault is just an architectural term for the arched form that provides a ceiling or roof of a structure. The vaults can be built either underground or above ground.


This can also be called a tunnel vault or sometimes a wagon vault. It is shaped like a semicircle and forms a continuous arch. Typically it will look almost like a barrel or a tunnel cut in half. This kind of construction dates back thousands of years to Egyptian construction where ruins can be found at Thebes. There are famous examples throughout Europe of barrel vaults which can be seen.


This can be seen in many Roman structures and is a pattern of diagonal arched ribs divided into webs in the framework. A ribbed vault is reinforced by masonry ribs and can be done into either four sections divided by two diagonal ribs or by six sections divided by three diagonal ribs.
Ribbed vaults are more commonly found in early gothic buildings and is usually made out of stone to hold the weight of wooden ceilings. This is found in England, France, Belgium and more places throughout Europe.


This goes back to Byzantine times and a fan vault is a type of vault that consists of a set of concave ribs spreading out from one particular central point as in an open umbrella.


This is where there are two barrel vaults that intersect at right angles. The “groin” refers to the edge where the vaults intersect. They can be pointed or round.

Obviously, a vaulted ceiling will cause more energy inefficiency and usage. In colder climates, more heating is needed, and in warmer areas, more cooling.

Vaulted ceilings give a very awe inspiring, open and airy look and is also very light inviting. They help to make smaller areas seem larger than they actually are.

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Bob Jenkins AuthorWritten By:

Budget My Build
P.O. Box 72987
Phoenix, AZ 85050
Office: (602) 579-9660

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