Q. My living room has a vaulted ceiling. I have always liked the look of a curved ceiling. Can I convert the living room ceiling into a curved one? Can this also be done in a room with a flat ceiling?
An arched, curved ceiling can give a room an elegant feel and completely change its character. It is surprising that more homes are not built with curved ceilings because it is not significantly more expensive than installing a typical vaulted or cathedral ceiling.
You should not have a problem converting a vaulted ceiling into a curved one. Some headroom will be lost near the walls, but people seldom stand flat against a wall anyway. The headroom lost at the peak of the ceiling should not be an issue because the ceiling is tall.
On the other hand, converting a room with a flat ceiling to a curved one is problematic. There generally is a truss roof above it in the attic, which must be removed and replaced with rafters to get the necessary headroom. Unless your room with a flat ceiling is at least 9 feet high, I would not recommend hanging a curved ceiling beneath it.
In your living room with the vaulted ceiling, the process to install a curved ceiling is relatively straightforward. One-by-4-inch wood furring strips are nailed to the wall and a beam is dropped from the center peak. Several backing boards are positioned in between. The furring strips are bent and nailed to these boards. Either paneling or drywall is nailed or screwed to the bent furring strips.
The first step is determining the shape of the curve you desire. These furring strips are usually available in lengths up to 16 feet, so you will likely need a separate one for each side of the curve. The curve need not be uniform throughout its length. Often, the final section coming down to the sidewall is flatter, with less curve than in the midsection of its length.
You will need a couple of helpers on ladders. Position one at the peak and one at the wall. Have each hold a 1-by-4 furring strip against an end wall and bow it to various curves. You can determine which curve you like and then drawn a line along the wall. This line will be your template for the curved ceiling.
Locate the rafters above the ceiling drywall. Nail a 2-by-6 backing board across the rafters so its bottom edge touches the line drawn on the wall. Space the backing boards about 3 feet apart. For the ones that have to be deeper to follow the curve, add a perpendicular 2-by-4 to create an L-shaped backing board.
Make a double-thick beam the appropriate depth to create the curve and attach it under the peak. Nail another backing board along the sidewall where the curved ceiling ends. Nail or screw the furring strips to the backing boards and center beam to create the framing for the ceiling.
Hang the ceiling covering from the curved furring strips. Most paneling is fairly flexible and easy to bend, but rigid enough to hold its shape. Select a tongue-and-groove design. Drywall that is 3/8 inch thick can also be bent slightly, but it is more difficult to work with than paneling.
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