Ceiling Remodel: From Flat to Cathedral
Reframing exploits unused attic space and helps to open up a cramped ranch house.
Synopsis: When builder Mike Guertin was remodeling a ranch-style house in his neighborhood, one of his tasks was to open up the low ceiling of the family room. In doing so, Guertin transformed a flat-ceilinged room into one with a cathedral ceiling. Before Guertin started working, he came up with a ceiling design, then began the demolition, taking care to save (and ultimately recycle) the existing ceiling joists, which saved some money at the lumberyard. Guertin also did some extra work fixing a sagging roof with tapered shims. This article includes a sidebar on determining when it’s necessary to consult an engineer for a remodeling project.
Most of the homes in my neighborhood are ranch style, built in the late ’50s and early ’60s. They all seem to have low ceilings that often measure 88 in. high, which makes them feel cramped and dark. Such a low ceiling is especially out of scale in a 16-ft. by 18-ft. family/living room, as was the case in a ranch I was remodeling. A quick peek in the attic confirmed that the framing was conventional rafters, not trusses. This meant that I could transform the room by adding a structural ridge and reframing the ceiling. The new ceiling would add about 42 in. of height at the center and improve the character of the room. By recycling the existing ceiling joists, I’d need to buy only drywall and a bit of lumber.
Finish the design before starting work on the demolition
I had two options for the ceiling design: a monoslope vault that ran uninterrupted from the exterior wall to the interior bearing wall; or what I would call a gable vault, which created a false ridge in the middle of the room. This second option seemed in keeping with a ranch…