Coffered ceilings

Coffered ceiling  
Coffered ceilings are mostly decorative, but can also affect acoustics.

What is a coffered ceiling?

A coffered (or lacuna) ceiling is a decorative ceiling style, formed out of recessed panels framed by beams. A square-shaped pattern is used in most coffered ceilings, however other geometric patterns can be created.

What are coffered ceilings for?

Coffered ceilings were originally designed to help make stone ceilings lighter. Today, they are mostly used to add interest and a personal touch to ceiling design - an often neglected aspect of home décor. They help to complete interior design themes and use period details and moulding to evoke certain eras. Coffered ceilings can also be used to improve a room’s acoustics.

The history of coffered ceilings


The oldest known use of coffering in a ceiling dates back to 7BC, in San Giuliano, Italy. Stone coffering is also seen in Ancient Greek and Roman buildings - for example the large dome of the Pantheon was build from recessed stone coffering in order to lighten its bearing weight. Examples of coffered ceilings can also be found in early Islamic and Chinese styles of architecture.

How are coffered ceilings built?

Coffered ceilings are built by adding faux beams onto the existing ceiling beams and then installing plasterboard or tin inlay. They can also be added to existing plasterboard ceilings. The beams may be stained, painted or otherwise finished according to your preference. Beams are usually timber but can be made from tin, medium density fibreboard (MDF) or plasterboard.

How much do coffered ceilings cost?

Adding a coffered ceiling is naturally going to be more expensive than installing a simple plasterboard ceiling, however the result is infinitely more interesting and impressive. Timber and metal beams are more expensive than those made from MDF or plasterboard. Money can also be saved by using a DIY coffer kit which comes with prefabricated modular pieces.

How common are coffered ceilings in modern design?

Many newly built contemporary houses do not go to the effort of installing elaborate mouldings or ceilings. Unfortunately this means that many new houses also lack the character that gives older homes a lot of their appeal. Home builders and renovators often forget they can use the ceiling as a space for design expression.

  • Can improve acoustics
  • Can help to add character and visual appeal
  • Can improve the value of your home
  • More expensive than some other options
  • Not always attractive in smaller rooms