my Old Workshop

How to build a cathedral ceiling (Part 2)

Last time we outlined three methods of constructing a cathedral ceiling. Let’s look at some of the relative merits of each.

The first option was to install a series of rafter ties to replace the joists that would otherwise be installed in a normal flat-ceilinged room, and which tie the opposite walls together to keep them from being pressured outward by the weight of the rafters.

The main advantage of this method is it’s pretty straightforward. While you’ll need to check with the building inspector and possibly with an engineer in order to determine how many ties and what dimension lumber you’d need to use, setting them in place is relatively easy.

But depending on your tastes, the interruption of these ties may detract from the soaring space you’re looking for in a cathedral ceiling. If you are happy with the look, you can use the ties to make a design statement. They can be rough-hewn beams, or enclosed in drywall for a clean, modern look. You can even use cables as opposed to wooden ties for a totally different look.

In method two, you’d install a ridge beam, which will bear the load of the rafters (as opposed to the usual non-load-bearing ridge board.) This beam might be a solid piece of lumber (as in a barn), supported by posts, or it might be made of a number of pieces of laminated veneer lumber (LVL), and supported by the end wall framing.

You’ll need to check with the inspector and possibly an engineer to determine what’s required to bear the load. The advantage of this method is it gives the highest cathedral ceiling possible, without the visual interruption of ties.

Next time, we’ll look at trusses and discuss insulation.