A ceiling is an overhead interior surface that covers the upper limit of a room. It is generally not a structural element, but a finished surface concealing the underside of the floor or roof structure above.

  • A cathedral ceiling is any tall ceiling area similar to those in a church. Not everyone calls a cathedral ceiling by that term. It is also sometimes called a tray ceiling or a vaulted ceiling, and it can be enclosed with sheet rock or open to the attic rafters, depending on how it was designed.
  • A dropped ceiling is one in which the finished surface is constructed anywhere from a few inches to several feet below the structure above it. In contemporary construction this is typically done with an acoustic ceiling tile. This may be done for aesthetic purposes, such as achieving a desirable ceiling height; or practical purposes such as providing a space for HVAC or piping. An inverse of this would be a raised floor.
  • A concave or barrel shaped ceiling is curved or rounded, usually for visual or acoustical value.
  • A coffered ceiling is divided into a grid of recessed square or octagonal panels, also called a lacunar ceiling.
  • A cove ceiling uses a curved plaster transition between wall and ceiling; it is named for cove molding, a molding with a concave curve.
  • Ceilings have frequently been decorated with fresco painting, mosaic tiles and other surface treatments. While hard to execute (at least in place) a decorated ceiling has the advantage that it is largely protected from damage by fingers and dust. In the past, however, this was more than compensated for by the damage from smoke from candles or a fireplace. Many historic buildings have celebrated ceilings. Perhaps the most famous is the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo.
  • A tray ceiling is a rectangular architectural feature that is either inverted or recessed. Tray ceilings can be plain, ornate, subtle or dramatic.
  • A shed ceiling has an angle, similar to a cathedral ceiling, to the central peak. However, the other side of the peak is a solid vertical wall to the floor.
  • A popcorn ceiling, also known as an acoustic ceiling, is a term for a spray-on or paint-on ceiling treatment used from the late 1950s into the 1980s in residential construction.

Coffer: A recessed panel in a ceiling.  Uses can include acoustic control, daylight harvesting and even taking weight out of a ceiling to lighten the structural load.

  • A coffer (or coffering) in architecture, is a sunken panel in the shape of a square, rectangle, or octagon in a ceiling, soffit or vault.  A series of these sunken panels were used as decoration for a ceiling or a vault, also called caissons (‘boxes”), or lacunaria (“spaces, openings”), so that a coffered ceiling can be called a lacunar ceiling: the strength of the structure is in the framework of the coffers.
  • A prominent example of Roman coffering, employed to lighten the weight of the dome, can be found in the ceiling of the rotunda dome in the Pantheon, Rome.