Barrel Vault Ceiling

What is a Barrel Vault Ceiling?

October 14, 2022 6:40 pm Published by

Are you remodeling or adding an extension to your existing building? Perhaps you’re building a brand new building? Whatever the case may be, of the many factors that you’re going to have to take into consideration in terms of the architecture of the space, the ceiling is, without a doubt, one of the most important, yet often overlooked elements. A lot of people don’t think much about ceilings. While they know that a ceiling is important, they’re kind of just, well, there. Believe it or not, however, there are several different types of ceilings, and each type boasts different features and offers different benefits. In this article, we discuss what a barrel vault ceiling is as well as the finish and trim carpentry benefits of this type of ceiling.

What is a Barrel Vault Ceiling?

If you’re trying to decide what type of ceiling to incorporate into your space, the barrel vault is an option that you might want to consider. This type of ceiling offers architectural interest, yet it can also provide benefits in terms of heating and cooling, as well as structural stability. What exactly is a barrel vault ceiling? Let’s take a deeper look.

Barrel Vault Ceiling Defined

There are several different types of vault-style ceilings, and the barrel style is the simplest of them all. This style of ceiling is also known as a tunnel vault or a wagon vault, as it resembles a tunnel or a barrel that has been cut in half lengthwise. Typically, the vault in this style of ceiling is created from a single continuous archway; in other words, the vault is made with a constant radius at a length greater than 24 inches.

Barrel vault ceilings are commonly seen in long hallways and cellars. However, they can be used in pretty much any space. A variety of materials can be used to create a barrel vault ceiling, such as wood, stone, and brick.

A barrel vault ceiling is comprised of three key measurements: length, width, and rise.

  • Length. The length is the distance from one end to the other of a barrel vault.
  • Width. This measurement spans the barrel vault.
  • Rise. The rise is the measurement that is used to indicate the drop of the arch, which is measured from the apex (the top) of the arch to the lowest point that it encounters.

While all three measurements are important, the rise is the most important, as it will ultimately determine the style of the barrel vault.

Barrel Vault Ceiling Styles

There are three different types of barrel vault ceilings. While all barrel ceiling stypes feature a vault shape that resembles a barrel that has been cut in half lengthwise, each one has its own unique design elements that add aesthetic appeal to a room. The three styles include:

  • Soft arch
  • Half-round
  • Elliptical

The style is determined by the rise of the barrel and depends on the severity of the curve that is needed in order to achieve the effect that you desire.

History of a Barrel Vault Ceilings

Barrel vault ceilings have been popular architectural features for centuries. In fact, they were commonly used in Roman-style architecture. Also, many ancient Egyptian structures feature this type of decorative ceiling as well. Barrel vault ceilings were also seen in buildings throughout Northern Europe, Morocco, and Turkey, and they were commonly used in the construction of castles and tower houses.

Famous structures that feature barrel vault ceilings include the Sumerian ziggurat at Nippur in Babylonia and the Cluny Abbey church. Barrel vault ceilings still remain popular today and can be seen in the construction of various types of buildings, including churches, academic institutions, hotels, residential buildings, and so much more.

The Benefits of Barrel Vault Ceilings

Barrel vault ceilings, no matter the style, offer distinct benefits. One of the primary advantages of barrel vault ceilings is the flexibility that the barrel construction offers over other types of ornamental ceilings.

Another key benefit is that this ceiling style makes a space look larger than it actually is. Barrel vault ceilings create additional height, thus creating an optical illusion that makes a room appear bigger than it actually is.

Finally, barrel vault ceilings are easy for commercial finish and trim carpenters to install. Installation is easy in existing structures as well, as they can be framed beneath existing trusses and joints.

  • Next time you visit the Lost Rail Clubhouse, look up! The hallways feature barrel ceilings that give castle-like vibes as you make your way to the dining room, bar, or locker rooms.

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This post was written by Contour Construction