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Barndominium Ceiling [A comprehensive guide] + [Proven Tips]

When building or renovating a barndominium, selecting the right ceiling material & the accurate type is crucial for both aesthetics and functionality.

Having options ranging from drywall and wood to exposed beams, the choice of ceiling effects is right from the appearance to temperature control. This is true that a vaulted ceiling offers bigger space but has some drawbacks too.

In this article, we aim to clarify steel structure house’s ceiling-related confusion at best.

So, let’s begin.

Ceiling Style: To Vault or Not?

Why choose a vaulted ceiling?

Vaulted ceiling offers a feel of bigger space, and better breathability but with an additional cost to insulate & maintain.

Here’s a list that shows why would a homeowner prefer a vaulted ceiling.

Vaulted Ceiling

Aesthetic Appeal

A vaulted ceiling dramatically transforms the barndominium’s appearance and helps feeling it bigger.

But is bigger always better?

For some, the coziness of lower ceilings may be more appealing, offering a sense of warmth and intimacy to some people.

Light and Ventilation

Vaulted ceilings can improve natural light distribution and ventilation which contributes to making a room feel brighter and fresher.

The added height also helps to install windows or skylights, which can be a game-changer in darker climates.

However, this benefit comes with a few considerations as well.

More light and air might mean higher energy costs for heating in winter or cooling in summer, We will analyze this on a later part of this article.

Cost and Practicality

The attraction of a vaulted ceiling must be weighed against its practical implications.

Construction or, remodeling costs are generally higher due to the complexity of the design and the need for additional materials such as beams & joists, complex angles, and additional insulation.

There may be additional challenges with insulation and heating that give rise to the utility bills.

Homeowners must ask themselves if the aesthetic and spatial benefits outweigh these additional costs and considerations.

Maintenance and Accessibility

High or vaulted ceilings can be more challenging to maintain.

Cleaning, painting, and changing light fixtures require extra effort or even professional help, which is cost-incurring and complex.

Resale Value and Marketability

Vaulted ceilings can increase the resale value of a home by enhancing its appeal to potential buyers.

However, it’s essential to consider the local market and whether that particular customer segment is willing to pay high for the high ceilings.

As an example, in areas like the upper Midwest, for instance, places like Minnesota or Wisconsin, the practicality of lower heating costs and cozy environments might outweigh the desire for expansive spaces.

Ceiling Materials for Barndominium

Below are the preferred ceiling materials for barndominiums. we will briefly elaborate on each category along with the respective pros and cons.

Drywall ceiling for barndominium


Drywall offers a clean, smooth finish and is relatively easy to install and paint. However, it’s not the most durable option and can be prone to damage.


  • Cost-effective option
  • Easier to install
  • Easy to paint and decorate
  • Can be used in any room and fits with any décor style


  • Susceptible to water damage, cracks, and holes
  • Can be messy and may require professional help for a seamless finish
  • It doesn’t offer much in terms of sound insulation

Wooden Ceiling

Wooden ceilings are versatile in style. They can be more expensive and require more maintenance but offer unparalleled beauty and a timeless appeal.


  • Add warmth, character, and a natural element to the interiors
  • Offers a classic appeal that doesn’t go out of style
  • Available in a variety of finishes
  • Comes with natural insulating properties


  • Generally more expensive than materials like drywall
  • Requires regular maintenance to protect against moisture, warping, and pests
  • Requires additional structural support for being heavier

Exposed Wood Beams

Ideal for adding rustic charm or architectural interest. While they add to the cost, they can be worth it for the style and increased property value. Be mindful of the potential for higher maintenance and the need for structural support.


  • Enhances the room’s visual appeal with a rustic appearance
  • Can be integrated into various design styles, from traditional to contemporary.


  • Requires craftsmanship and materials required.
  • Prone to humidity and pest
  • Requires additional structural support

Need a Barndominium Floor Plan?

We filtered out the trending barndominiun design layouts in one place.

How does ceiling height matter?

In a nutshell, ceiling height affects a barndominium in two ways. First, the aesthetic appeal and secondly, overall space optimization.

Ceiling height for barndominium

I saw a barndominium located in Texas, where temperatures can rise during summer and remain mild in winter.

The owner decided on a ceiling height of 12 feet whereas the others prefer 8-9 feet on average.

But why?

Let me answer that from different perspectives:

Aesthetic Perception:

The elevated ceiling offered the owner a sense of freedom.

Indirectly, it makes the interior spaces feel larger and more inviting. This is particularly advantageous in common areas like the living room or kitchen, where a spacious feel promotes a welcoming environment for gatherings.

However, higher ceilings can sometimes make a room feel less cozy, which might not align with everyone’s personal preference for a homey atmosphere.

Energy Efficiency and Climate Control:

In hot climates like Texas, higher ceilings can allow hot air to rise above the living space, potentially making the lower part of the room feel cooler.

This can be a relief during sweltering summer months.

On the flip side, cooling a larger volume of air requires more energy, which could lead to higher electricity bills.

In winter, although mild in Texas, the challenge would be heating a larger space, which can also increase energy consumption.

Lighting and Ventilation:

With higher ceilings, natural light can penetrate deeper into the space, reducing the need for artificial lighting during the day and offering potential energy savings.

Moreover, ventilation can be improved, contributing to better air quality and comfort.

However, installing and maintaining light fixtures becomes more challenging with higher ceilings, requiring specialized equipment or professional help, which can be an additional expense.

To summarize, in this Texas barndominium, the choice of a 12-foot ceiling was driven by a desire for an open, airy space that complements the landscape’s expansiveness. From the homeowner’s perspective, the potential advantages outweighed the negative sides of a longer ceiling.

That’s it.

Cost comparison & analysis

As said earlier each type of barndominium ceiling comes with respective positive and negative sides.

Drywall is often preferred for its affordability and simplicity, which costs less than its wooden counterparts. Wooden ceilings and exposed beams, while enhancing aesthetic appeal and potentially increasing property value, can drive costs up due to both materials and labor involved.

Wooden Ceiling for barndominium

For instance, wooden options might be 50% to 100% more expensive than drywall, depending on the type of wood and the complexity of the design.

The decision to vault a ceiling further complicates the cost comparison.

Vaulting can add anywhere from 20% to 30% to the overall cost of ceiling due to the need for additional materials, specialized labor, and potential structural modifications.

This percentage can vary widely based on the specific architectural requirements and the base material chosen for the ceiling.

For example, vaulting a drywall ceiling in a standard-sized barndominium might add an estimated $5,000 to $10,000 to the project.

However, incorporating wooden elements or exposed beams in a vaulted design could push this premium even higher.

Lastly, any modification in the ceiling would need structural integrity that comes from your initial barndominium design.

So, this is always preferred that you should express your desires to your metal fabricators before making any ceiling modifications.

Considerable issues from the homeowners’ perspective

When homeowners starts selecting or renovating their barndominium ceilings, several key issues stand at the forefront of their decision-making process.

Here’s a comprehensive list of considerations that can guide you through making an informed choice:

  • Budget Constraints: The total cost, including materials and labor, is a primary concern. It’s vital to balance desires with financial reality.
  • Aesthetic Preferences: The look and feel of the ceiling can dramatically alter the space’s ambiance. Preferences for modern, rustic, or traditional styles will guide material and design choices.
  • Ceiling Height and Space: Deciding between standard, high, or vaulted ceilings affects the perception of space, lighting, and the overall atmosphere.
  • Material Durability: Considering the longevity and wear resistance of materials like drywall, wood, or metal is crucial for long-term satisfaction.
  • Maintenance Requirements: Some materials and designs require more upkeep. Homeowners must consider their willingness and ability to maintain the ceiling.
  • Energy Efficiency: How the ceiling material and design impact heating, cooling, and overall energy consumption is a significant consideration, especially in extreme climates.
  • Acoustic Properties: The ceiling’s effect on sound transmission and insulation can influence comfort, particularly in open-plan or multi-story barndominiums.
  • Installation Complexity: Some ceiling options require more complex installation processes, which can affect the project’s timeline and cost.
  • Resale Value: The potential impact on the home’s marketability and resale value can guide investment decisions in ceiling renovation or replacement.
  • Local Building Codes: Compliance with regulations and building codes is non-negotiable and can limit or dictate certain choices.
  • Environmental Impact: For eco-conscious homeowners, the sustainability of materials and the environmental footprint of their choices are crucial considerations.
  • Lighting Needs: The integration of natural and artificial lighting solutions in relation to ceiling design must be planned to ensure the space is well-lit and energy-efficient.
  • Ventilation and Air Quality: High or vaulted ceilings can impact air circulation patterns, affecting indoor air quality and comfort levels.

Case study: How different ceiling contributes to energy savings

In the diverse climates of the USA, the choice of ceiling type can significantly impact a homeowner’s energy savings, with variations in material and design playing a crucial role.

In the warmer southern states, such as Texas and Florida, high or vaulted ceilings are popular for their ability to allow hot air to rise, keeping living spaces cooler. It directly reduces the dependency on continuous air conditioning.

However, without proper insulation, these lofty ceilings can also lead to increased energy use due to the larger volume of air to cool.

Conversely, in cooler northern regions like Minnesota and Maine, lower ceilings are favored for their ability to retain heat, contributing to a reduction in heating costs.

For instance, a barndominium with a standard 9-foot ceiling in these colder areas might see a 10-15% savings in heating energy compared to one with a 12-foot or vaulted ceiling, assuming both are equally well-insulated.

Material choice further influences energy efficiency across different geographies.

In arid, sunny locations such as Arizona and New Mexico, ceilings made of materials with high thermal mass, like adobe or certain woods, can help regulate indoor temperatures by absorbing heat during the day and releasing it at night.

It offers natural cooling and reduces energy costs.

Meanwhile, in humid climates like those in the Southeast, lightweight materials like drywall, when combined with proper ventilation strategies, can help manage moisture and reduce the need for dehumidifying, leading to energy savings.

Ultimately, the interaction between ceiling height, material, and local climate dictates the energy efficiency of a home, with potential savings varying widely based on these factors and the specific energy practices of the homeowners.

What do building codes suggest?

Building codes across different regions of the USA play a significant role in shaping homeowners’ decisions regarding the ceilings of barndominiums or steel-structured homes.

These codes vary by state and even by local jurisdictions.

For instance, in areas prone to hurricanes or tornadoes, like Florida or Oklahoma, building codes may dictate specific requirements for ceiling materials and construction techniques to withstand high winds.

This could limit the use of certain lightweight materials or designs, such as wide-span trusses without adequate support.

Additionally, in regions with stringent energy codes, such as California, the choice of ceiling construction and insulation must meet high standards of energy efficiency.

This influences homeowners to opt for ceiling solutions that provide excellent thermal resistance, potentially affecting the aesthetic choices and overall budget.

In colder climates, like Minnesota, building codes that emphasize insulation and air sealing to minimize heat loss can also dictate the type of ceiling constructions permissible.

Adherence to these codes not only affects the immediate construction costs and design possibilities but also impacts long-term energy usage and savings.

Alternatively, it makes compliance a keyfactor in the planning and execution of barndominium and steel-structured home projects.

Brian Cooper
Brian Cooper

I'm Brian, an architectural engineer from the University of Texas

Writing about barndominium is my passion. I try to bring informative and technical contents on barndominium so that the entire sourcing and construction process seems easy.

As an architectural engineer, I do have expertise of designing and building using prefabricated steel structures. Moreover, I am connected with 500+ prefabricated steel structure experts that helps me to gather and prepare the relevant information for your help.

I have experience of 250+ barndominium contrustion of which 75% are built with metal structure. Moreover, I am a trained energy audit professional, and with that specialization I can help you to bring your barndo's energy consumption at minimum level.

I hope you like my write-ups which is my greatest inspiration.

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