Differences between Vaulted Plaster Ceilings and Cathedral Ceilings

Blog |May 1st, 2019

Ceilings are typically flat, and anything that is outside of this norm is generally classified in Western architecture as being either a vaulted ceiling or a cathedral ceiling. Inspired by older aesthetics that have become the mainstay of Western architecture, both the vaulted and cathedral ceiling trace their origins to the dome – an architectural feature that existed since circa 6000 B. C.

By the Middle Ages, both types were executed with masterful craftsmanship for churches and other structures expressly reserved for the nobility and aristocracy. Cathedral ceilings have encountered several revivals and adaptations throughout the centuries and have been made from a number of different materials, each with their own unique aesthetic contributions to the architectural style.

One of the most recent revivals for vaulted and cathedral ceilings was during the Art Deco period of the early 1920s. The trend grew out of style again and became something that was elemental only to old-fashioned structures.

During the early to mid-‘20s, vaulted ceilings were made from moulded plaster and became a mainstay of many a public and some private structures. Cathedral ceilings on the other hand were more commonplace in lavish residences, although both were popular enough to hold their ground in aesthetic value.

Today, with the growing revival of plaster for home décor, the popularity of moulded vaulted ceilings and cathedral ceilings have also experienced a revival.

How Vaulted Plaster Ceilings and Cathedral Ceilings Differ

While similar in appearance to the untrained eye, many people today can’t tell the difference between the two. For those interested in architectural designs, here are the differences between vaulted ceilings and cathedral ceilings:

• Vaulted ceilings – vaulted ceilings are discernible for the fact that they are not constructed using the same pitch as the roof. These may feature a single sloping side, unequal sloping sides, or even arched or curved slopes. Arched slopes and curved or unequal sloping sides are further characterised by framework, usually employing moulded or carved trusses.

Vaulted ceilings may feature trusses that are made from plaster, and may be simple or ornately decorated.

• Cathedral ceilings – cathedral ceiling are characterised by their symmetrical appearance, with equal sloping sides that often meet in a pronounced ridge at the centre. It may mirror the pitch of the whole roofing structure and may boast trimmings or trusses, which like vaulted ceilings can be simple or richly ornamented.

If you are looking for an excellent resource for plaster mouldings for vaulted ceilings, or trusses and trimmings for cathedral ceilings, then contact Hopkins Plaster Studio for more information.

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