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Upgrading Your Ceiling - How Much Does it Cost to Install a Tray Ceiling?


A tray ceiling is just as it sounds – a ceiling that looks like an upside-down tray. The center portion of the ceiling is raised about a foot or so above the edges to create a more stylish and dramatic look. In homes, most tray ceilings are square or rectangular, but in other buildings you might see circular or geometric versions.

It seems as though there are two distinct camps when it comes to tray ceilings: people who absolutely love them and people who absolutely hate them. If you’re one of the lovers, you’re probably curious about whether the end result justifies the cost.

Tray Ceilings

Cost to Install a Tray Ceiling

Generally, it is much cheaper to install tray ceilings during the home’s construction than to go back and have the work done later. Prices vary dramatically based on your location, the size of the home, the detail work and more, but generally plan on $500 to $1,500 per ceiling.

If your house is long past the construction phase, you’re probably looking at closer to $1,500 to $3,000 per ceiling – and that’s if the project is even feasible. On the first floor, a tray ceiling has to be constructed by building and mounting edges since the ceiling can’t be raised. Unless you have very tall ceilings, however, that can make the room look smaller and boxed in. Most people don’t want to sacrifice height in standard-size rooms to add tray ceilings.

On the second floor (if you only have two), the project is more feasible. Some people decide to have tray ceilings installed in the master bedroom, for example, by cutting into the attic space to raise the ceiling. However, be warned that if the project involves altering the attic framework or modifying the truss system, it’s going to be very pricey – likely $10,000 or more. Not all projects are equally complex, though, so it’s best to get a quote from a local contractor. The quote is free, and it never hurts to find out – particularly if you really want the tray ceiling.

One more cost effective option is to do a reverse tray ceiling where the middle part comes down instead of going up. This is trendy and far cheaper. However, it only works if you have ceilings that are at least 9- or 10-feet high. Otherwise, the ceilings look too low.

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