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How would you frame a curved ceiling

wallyo's picture

I am going to start a kitchen remodel but this one is for me this time. It is a small kitchen about 8' x 9 cabinets are u-shaped. The ceiling is dropped 10 inches or so for the whole kitchen in other words is as though instead of building a soffit they just dropped the whole ceiling to soffit height, and the tops of the upper cabinets touch the ceiling. It is boring, then I was watching Home Time. They did a curved ceiling not quite a barrel vault or ELLIPTICAL vault, but more like a cord. I missed the episiode on the framing part, I caught it when sheet rocks was up.

To me the framing does not look too sturdy, here's the link to some photos on their site. (

Anyone have some simple ideas on framing this? I have seen several photos where the framing looks overkill plywood arch on either end with 2x4 between spaced 1 inch apart 500 pounds.
Their framing looks lightweight and my worry is the sheetrock might sag.

If I were just to cut a cord in say a 2x10 would you go 16" or 24" OC, would engineered lumber be better. I want to keep cost down.


(post #107694, reply #1 of 16)

Metal studs. I actually do this a lot. Here is my bedroom ceiling, pretty soft curve, but enough to notice. Framed similar to the link you posted. Ceilings do not need to be very strong as they are only holding up drywall.

 The suspended ceiling systems can be used to create nice arched ceilings also and are easy to work with;


 Might get expensive though.

 The ceing you linked to is fine for 16 oc, any tighter and I would go 12 oc, for true barrels we go 8 or even 6 oc.              



    Small wheel turn by the fire and rod, big wheel turn by the grace of god.

Edited 1/17/2009 1:54 am by ruffmike


    Small wheel turn by the fire and rod, big wheel turn by the grace of god.

master.JPG21.94 KB

(post #107694, reply #2 of 16)

Mike I saw the USG link, from the home time link. Their on line info seems limited, for very complex ceiling they go into great detail, otherwise they say contact your rep. I know how their dome kits work from their web site, but not the simple curves.

What you did is close to my thoughts , I would like the max rise to be a bit more not much, just an inch or so and my span is less. I may keep the area above the cabinets flat, or if gentle enough fill the gap from front to back with some trim. If kept flat, my curve has only a 6 foot cord.

Do you remember what the cost was per stud? I would only need 7 or 8 to do the job if that. But it could be one of those things where to order less costs more so wood may be cheeper. On yours did you use 1/4 two layer or just 1/2 sheetrock since it is so gentle?

My other thought is 2x strapping attached to the current trusses (24oc) since they run perpendicular to the "vault" direction. and to just increase the thickness of the strap. But I worry that 2x would not be enough on edge and have too much wave too them.

Thanks Wallyo

(post #107694, reply #3 of 16)

Do I understand you correctly that you only want an inch or so rise in seven feet? If so I  would just strap it with furring ripped from 2x stock. 1/2 will conform to that curve but 1/4 is always easier. I have never thought about the 1/4 sagging issue but I probably wouldnt worry about it if it were me.

A gentle curve like that done with furing sounds to me like a great relatively low cost upgrade. I am going to keep my eyes open for an opportunity to try that.

(post #107694, reply #7 of 16)

I don't know what I want the max rise to be, what I meant by the inch was just an inch more then what is in Ruffmike's photo (post 2). But then my ceiling is narrow then his master bedroom's. I am thinking 4" rise plus or minus sounds about right for my application over the 6 or 8 feet depending what I do over the upper cabinets,

But I agree with you what they did adds a bit of drama to the ordinary I like it.


(post #107694, reply #4 of 16)

Steel studs are much like wood, the price goes up and down depending on who knows what? I would say the best choice of material is the one you feel more comfortable working with.

If your framing is paralel with the existing joists just sister on with either steel or wood similar to this (silly) sketch. Just make sure you have a solid bite.

The ceiling I posted has a 4" peak in about 16 feet, anything less may just look like a mistake.


    Small wheel turn by the fire and rod, big wheel turn by the grace of god.


    Small wheel turn by the fire and rod, big wheel turn by the grace of god.

(post #107694, reply #8 of 16)

I got it now! Did that once to flatten out a wavy basement ceiling on a job works well, my trusses run the wrong way in this case, I thought you ordered curves studs!


(post #107694, reply #9 of 16)

If joists run the other way, we make the track curved by notching it and screwing to some plywood. The problem then is you lose the ceiling height of the stud thickness.



    Small wheel turn by the fire and rod, big wheel turn by the grace of god.


    Small wheel turn by the fire and rod, big wheel turn by the grace of god.

(post #107694, reply #11 of 16)

Mike when you say track you mean the steel stud track correct?


(post #107694, reply #12 of 16)



    Small wheel turn by the fire and rod, big wheel turn by the grace of god.


    Small wheel turn by the fire and rod, big wheel turn by the grace of god.

(post #107694, reply #5 of 16)

There used to be a couple of guys hanging out here that specialized in groined vaults. Here are two threads from the Photo Gallery archive:


(post #107694, reply #6 of 16)

Are you sure there is nothing above the ceiling to worry about. This sounds like the "drop" used in condos to cover the condo above pipes for the kitchen/bathroom.

If you are making a "curved" ceiling make it enough to show. maybe a 4" rise across the span.  Use plywood to make the curved framing members. Attach to the existing ceiling frame work.

Span across with furring strips. Then drywall with two layers of 3/8" to follow the curve with ease.

You don't need a heavy duty frame work to carry the drywall. Try to keep it simple.

(post #107694, reply #10 of 16)

Yes on the trying to keep it simple. This very much like the condo ceiling you describe, my mom's condos that is in a high rise, is like that to hide the plumbing from the above unit. Mine is single story/family house, Not even a lot of wires up there, I have moved most of the blown in insulation already, the only thing is romex going to the light.


(post #107694, reply #13 of 16)

Looking for more input on this subject if it is out there.


(post #107694, reply #14 of 16)

I'm not really going to add anything, just explain it differently maybe.  I haven't done this exactly but quit a few arches and barrels and such.  I work with wood so I would use wood.

If you were going to use a 4" height I would probably use 2x8's, use a pattern, cut them all, lay them side by side, sand down any big diferences, the small ones will dissapear.  I would cut these centered in overlong boards and after you have them stacked together and sanded, I would lay them all out at once as far as over all length and such.

Next I'd snap a line on each wall (unless th cabinets are in the way) nail just the ends, sistering them to the existing joists.  After I had run them all I'd throw some sor of straight edge in the center of the curve and and nail the res of the span off.

If the rafters are perpendicular to the framing of my curve I would still start at the ends with pressure blocks or such keeping the ends to my line.  In the center of my curve I would use the straight edge again, but now you are just nailing through the shallow part of you arch framing into the ceiling joist, some of thes perhaps needing to be shimmed or such.  I would do this at every crossing point of perpendicular framing points.  When the arch material has grown to thick with the curve I would add cleats.  You could go down to 2x6 material for this method also.

(post #107694, reply #15 of 16)

4" aint worth it !! at least thats what she said

(post #107694, reply #16 of 16)

The "Hometime method" looks awful sturdy to me.  Their vault might have a run of 16 feet or more.

Jigsaw your ply plenums and fix them up there, then nail up your 2x4s.  You'll be ultra stiff if you space your ply plenums at 6 feet or so.

It's fine to introduce metal framing here if you have experience with the materials, the tools, and the supply.  But if you don't, why switch into something that is new to you, when plain old wood will do?


Gene Davis

"A stripe is just as real as a dadgummed flower."

Gene Davis        1920-1985


"A stripe is just as real as a dadgummed flower."

Gene Davis        1920-1985