The Craft of Coffered Ceilings
A trim carpenter problem-solves a tricky installation for this sought-after detail
Trim carpenter and FHB contributing editor Gary M. Katz recently moved into a 50-year-old house in rural Oregon. He decided to install a coffered ceiling in the living room, but he faced some initial complications: The room wasn’t square, and it had a badly cracked, undulating plaster ceiling. In this Master Carpenter article, he explains how he overcame these obstacles. He established a right angle of two beams, which he used to base the rest of the layout. Using a mock-up, he figured out how to reconcile conflicts between the room features and the layout grid. With a plan in place, he built the backing, which consists of three-sided pine boxes that were later glued and nailed to the ceiling at coffer intersections and midpoints. The next step was staining and finish coating all the stock, cutting the pieces to length, then assembling the bed molding and crown molding for each coffer. To begin the actual installation, Katz snapped chalklines, then fastened the backing to the ceiling. After shimming the ceiling where necessary, he installed 1/2-in. MDF panels, which created a flat surface. With so much attention paid to the previous steps, installing the bed and crown assemblies was straightforward and quick. The final step was to assemble the perimeter coffers, which was done on site because of the irregular shape of the room. Katz includes a sidebar on how he thought through the design for his coffered ceiling.
Video Extra: The Craft of Coffered Ceilings