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Ceilings and Cornices

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Ceiling Height

Probably the most obvious thing about a ceiling is the height of it. In WA about the lowest ceiling you will get is 28c (28 brick courses high =2400mm) any lower and you will feel like you’re in a box! If you can afford it 32c courses is much nicer,  and if you can afford to go higher then the sky's the limit.

If you’ve ever been in an old Federation house the ceilings could have been over(3.5 metres

Decorative Cornice    

The other item to consider when choosing a ceiling is the cornice. All ceilings need cornice to cover the join where the ceiling meets the wall. The standard domestic cornice supplied in the cost of the ceiling is ‘cove’ cornice.

From this basic cornice there are hundreds of other cornices you can choose. Modern Shadow Cornice or ornate European replicas.  Be aware you will be charged for supply, installation and painting of any non-standard cornice. (The higher the ceiling the higher the cost) However the results speak for themselves and can complete a room beautifully.

Other plaster products to be considered at this time are

  • Ceiling Domes
  • Corbels
  • Columns
  • Picture rails
  • Arches
  • Fire Surrounds
  • Vents
  • Ceiling Roses.
  • Ceiling Types
  • Plasterboard

These days nearly all ceilings in single storey houses are plasterboard. This is supplied in sheets and attached to the ceiling joists with adhesive and screws. The joins and screws are then covered over (flushed) to create a smooth finish.

Suspended Slab

If you are building a 2 storey house with a suspended concrete slab then the ceilings to the area of the house underneath the top storey will be concrete with a ‘skim coat’ of plaster applied, all areas not under the slab will be plasterboard.

Coffered Ceilings

Coffered ceilings are where the ceiling is divided into a grid of squares or rectangles. However the term is used in domestic construction to describe a ceiling with a raised centre. So if the ceiling is at 32c the rectangle in the centre is at 35c. An effective addition to a coffered ceiling is to add a light trough. This is a type of cornice that allows light to be shone from behind the cornice onto the raised area of the ceiling

Cathedral Ceilings

Originally meaning a very grand, soaring ceiling as you would see in a cathedral, in domestic terms could refer to the pitched ceiling in an open  two storey area.

Dropped Ceiling

A dropped ceiling is where the finished ceiling sits below the actual structure above it. Normally used where access is required. For example where air conditioning ductwork needs to access beneath a concrete slab. However can be used to define a space within a larger area


A Bulkhead can be used where an area needs to be defined within a larger space, for example a Kitchen within an open plan living area. A bulkhead drops down from the ceiling possibly following the line of the island bench. The centre of the ceiling is kept at the same level as rest of the room. Lights can be placed inside the bulkhead as can air conditioning duct and vents


If you can’t afford to raise the ceiling in the whole house just raise the entry and living areas and leave the bedrooms and wet areas at a lower level

Make sure you are confident in the position and quantity of electrical and plumbing required to downstairs rooms under the slab in a 2 storey house. Once the suspended slab is poured changing lights etc involves cutting the concrete. You also must have air conditioning finalised before the slab is poured to allow for slab penetrations (getting air to rooms below the concrete)

If you are installing a 3 in 1 fan, light,heater to the bathrooms that are under the slab you will have to have a dropped ceiling. This is because the fitting requires clearance and cannot be attached directly to the slab.

Bear in mind if you are having non standard ceilings do you want cornice on these. For example do you want cornice inside the coffered ceiling as well as where it meets the wall plate. Check this is allowed for in the price.

Related Topics

Acoustic Insulation


Lights and Lighting