What Are Standard Ceiling Heights for Homes? We Have Answers

<p>FOTOGRAFIA INC. / Getty Images</p>

FOTOGRAFIA INC. / Getty Images

The minimum height for a residential ceiling throughout most of the home is seven feet, though it can be as low as six feet eight inches in the bathroom and laundry rooms. At one time, the standard ceiling height was eight feet due to the typical length of lumber and an attempt to reduce heating and cooling costs across the country by reducing the volume of the home interior.

However, the new standard in most areas is nine feet, giving homes more open space and room for overhead additions, like ceiling fans. Find out more about standard ceiling heights for building a home with this informative guide.

Standard Ceiling Heights for Building a Home

In most cases, the ceiling height will remain about the same throughout the entire home, though the height may change when heading down to the basement. When building a home or renovating an existing space, consider these standard building heights.

  • Basements vary in size and ceiling height depending on the design. The standard ceiling height for a basement is eight to nine feet, though the height may be reduced if you install a drywall ceiling or a drop ceiling.

  • Bathrooms often have pipes, drain lines, and duct work running through the walls and ceilings, which can affect the height. The standard ceiling height for a bathroom ranges from eight to nine feet.

  • Bedrooms will usually have a nine-foot ceiling, though some people may prefer an eight-foot ceiling to give the bedroom a cozy feeling.

  • Dining rooms tend to have higher ceilings to accommodate ornate overhead decor, like a hanging chandelier. The standard height for a dining room ranges from about nine feet to 12 feet depending on the type of ceiling.

  • Kitchens are similar to bathrooms in that the walls and ceiling typically provide space to run plumbing lines, gas lines, drain lines, and more. With this in mind, the standard ceiling height for a kitchen is about eight to nine feet.

  • Living rooms are intended for hosting and receiving guests, but they can also be used to just lounge around when you're home alone. The standard ceiling height for a living room ranges from nine to 11 feet, depending on the type of ceiling and the size of the room.

Type of Ceiling

The standard height of the ceiling can differ based on the type of ceiling. For instance, a cathedral ceiling has two sloping sides and a central point that is higher than the two sides, while a flat ceiling has only one height measurement to worry about.

  • Barrel vault ceilings have a single curved arch that helps make the room look larger. This type of ceiling must remain under the roof's rafters, which limits the height in a pre-existing home. However, for new homes, barrel vault ceilings typically range from about 12 to 15 feet in height.

  • Cathedral ceilings have two equal sloping sides that generally come down to about seven to eight feet in height, while the central point of the ceiling can range from 12 to 15 feet, on average.

  • Cloister vault ceilings have arches that rise from the middle of each wall, instead of the corners. The ribs of the ceiling curve inward to create an appealing design. Like most vaulted ceilings, expect cloister vault ceilings to be about 12 to 15 feet in height.

  • Coffered ceilings are flat, but have grooved panels that form a checkerboard appearance, giving the ceiling a three-dimensional aesthetic. This type of ceiling only needs to be about nine to 10 feet in height to look great.

  • Groin vault ceilings are essentially two barrel vaults that intersect at 90-degree angles. This design makes four outward-curving ribs that extend from the corners of the room. Groin vault ceilings typically stretch from about 12 to 15 feet.

  • Sloped ceilings vary in height based on the location of the room inside the home and the size of the space. In most cases, the low side of the slops will sit at about seven to nine feet, while the high side of the slope will be about 10 to 12 feet.

  • Tray ceilings have a high ceiling in the center and a slightly lower ceiling that creates a perimeter around the room. On average, the lower ceiling is about nine to 10 feet in height, while the raised central section is generally set about a foot higher.

How to Choose a Ceiling Height

You should consider a few key factors when choosing a ceiling height, including the purpose of the room, the size of the space, and the architectural style of the ceiling.

Purpose of the Room

Bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens don't really require a lot of overhead space, so if the ceiling is being installed in one of these rooms, eight to nine feet is the standard. However, living rooms and dining rooms may require a higher ceiling depending on the ceiling architecture and home aesthetic. Additionally, some rooms, like a home gym, may require the extra ceiling height for more practical reasons, rather than aesthetics.

Size of the Space

Small rooms look odd with very high ceilings, while large rooms look cramped when the ceiling is too low. Consider the size of the room to determine which ceiling height would look and feel the best. Generally, smaller rooms should have an eight to nine-foot ceiling, while larger rooms may have a 10 to 12-foot ceiling.

Ceiling Style

Ceiling height can differ significantly based on the architectural style. Flat ceilings and coffered ceilings ranges from about eight to 10 feet on average, but cathedral and vaulted ceilings can stretch to over 15 feet in height.

How to Measure Ceiling Height

Get a tape measure and position one end on the floor before extending the measuring tape up to the ceiling. Read the measurement listed on the measuring tape to determine the height of the ceiling in that specific location.

If the ceiling has more than one height, like a cathedral ceiling with sloping sides or a tray ceiling with a lower perimeter, then you will need to take additional measurements. Measure the highest point of the ceiling and the lowest point to get a basic ceiling height range for the room.

Some smartphone apps may be able to measure the space without the need for a measuring tape using augmented reality technology. However, the accuracy of the measurement can vary between applications.

Challenges With High Ceilings

A high ceiling can seem like a great idea. The higher ceiling allows for overhead accessories, like hanging lights, chandeliers, or ceiling fans. It gives the room more space to stretch out and can help a small room feel a bit larger, while making a large room look even more spacious.

However, the cost to heat and cool the room will increase as the ceiling height increases since the total volume of the room grows with each added inch of space. Additionally, shorter individuals may struggle to reach bulbs or clean dust, dirt, and cobwebs out of the corners without resorting to a ladder.

Also, a room with a high ceiling may not have a cozy atmosphere. Changes to a room with a high ceiling, like painting, wallpapering, or replacing light fixtures, will also be more difficult due to the extra effort required to reach the top of the room.

How to Improve a Low Ceiling

The height of the ceiling can be decided when building the home, but even if the house is already finished, there are ways of improving a low ceiling. You can pay to have the entire ceiling raised a foot or two to increase the space in the home. It's also possible to extend part of the ceiling up into the attic as long as there is enough room, allowing you to create a cathedral or vaulted ceiling.

If you don't want to raise the ceiling or there simply isn't enough space for this job, then there are other ways to make the space appear larger. One option is to remove all or part of the drywall ceiling, leaving the joists exposed. Another method is to use the decor, such as adding striped wallpaper or tall mirrors to give the appearance of a taller ceiling.

Similarly, painting both the walls and ceiling the same color will make the room seem more spacious, while selecting lower profiled furniture and in-ceiling lighting can make the most of the space available.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal ceiling height for a great room?

When building a great room, height is an important consideration. Large rooms with low ceilings often feel cramped, but if the ceiling is too high, it can detract from the aesthetic. Ideally, the ceiling height for a great room should be about 14 to 16 feet.

Are eight-foot ceilings too low?

Whether an eight foot ceiling is too low or not depends on the function of the room, the height of the residents, and if there are any accents or obstructions that extend down from the ceiling, like a fan or chandelier.


Generally, eight foot ceilings are lower than the standard ceiling height, but higher than the minimum ceiling heights, so as long as the homeowner is comfortable, and eight foot ceiling isn't too low.

Are 10 foot ceilings worth it?

Putting in a 10-foot ceiling will come with a higher construction and material cost, but the extra height may be worth it depending on the design. A 10-foot ceiling gives the home lots of space for beam work, large windows, hanging chandeliers, ceiling fans, and ornate lighting.

Read the original article on The Spruce.