Coffered Ceiling Tips and Examples

A brief discussion of coffered ceiling installation techniques, with a couple of beautiful examples. July 12, 2012

I would like to learn more about coffered ceilings. I've never done one but always wanted to. I have a new office that I'd like to put one in, and I'd like to go with cherry.

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum )
From contributor L:
Here's one done a few years ago. A private library, cherry.

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From the original questioner:
That looks great. Where did you get the moulding for around the bottom where the bottom and side of the beams meet? Is it custom? If that moulding wasn't there, would I see end grain on the side or bottom? Are the beams solid wood or plywood? I'm thinking of plywood for structural integrity and uniformity of color. Thanks for the help.

Also, anyone used the Gary Katz method?

From contributor L:
We make our own moldings (both straight and curved) and knives. The covering of the bottom of the beams is all solid as requested by the designer. Otherwise there would have been butt seams of veneer board on the long runs. For you to save on costs there are lots of shops with molders that can run a suitable pattern from their stock knives without having to pay for custom knives.

As you can probably tell from the photos, this was a high dollar job! In addition to the library there was a billiards room, a bar room, a reception area, guest apartment, food prep area for large gatherings, all the basic necessities. There were a lot of tricky fits to work out from the intersections of curved moldings, crowns, niches, hidden doors, etc.

From contributor N:
I have used Gary Katz's method a few times and it works well.

From contributor R:
That ceiling is gorgeous! Great craftsmanship! Here is one I did a few years ago.

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Photo by Rich Soby

From contributor L:
I can't take the bow for the nice work. My company produced the moldings, and the installers did a very nice job on the entire project. This was one of those projects with constant changes. It took longer than it should have, cost more than hoped, but in the end the entire thing looks impressive.

From Gary Katz, forum technical advisor:
Here's an article on a method we use (borrowed from another finish carpentry crew I spied on!). It works wonderfully - simplifies problems with ceilings that aren't flat, makes it easy to lay out and end up with square coffers (at least most of them), and is incredibly fast. You can use it for any type of coffered or beam ceiling, too. Here's one over-the-top example.

This document is in PDF format. To view, left click the link. To download, right click the link. Download Acrobat Reader if required.

Quicker Coffered Ceilings

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From contributor E:
Gary, have you ever used a two axis laser for some of the layout on the ceiling?

From Gary Katz, forum technical advisor:
No, I haven't. We usually lay them out on the floor and transfer lines up with a plumb-bob laser. Or, in a remodel, pull measurements and snap lines on the ceiling.