Coffered Ceiling vs. Waffle Ceiling | V.I.P Classic Moulding

Coffered Ceiling vs. Waffle Ceiling

The coffered ceiling is a common motif in architecture that dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times. These ceilings were used for large public buildings, where they needed to create indentations to distribute structural weight, lighten the load of high ceilings and bring symmetry to a high ceiling.

Coffered ceilings are a popular architectural detail that has captured the hearts of many. Homeowners love the dramatic and sophisticated touch coffered ceilings offer, and the ability of these sunken panels to take any room to the next level. From bedrooms to the main floor and every room in between, coffered ceilings are a timeless trend that has stood the test of time.

Today when homeowners renovate their homes to include a coffered or a waffle ceiling, there are many aspects to consider. You need to consider whether this ceiling design is for structural purposes or for aesthetics. Here, we’ll explain the differences and how to decide which ceiling design is right for you.

What Is a Coffered Ceiling?

What Is a Coffered Ceiling

A coffered ceiling is a type of architectural design that creates an illusionary effect to give the room more depth around the perimeter of the room. It’s installed around all four sides of the room, creating a visual distinction. To enhance the visual design, it is often dressed up with cornice moulding.

For a more modern design, most designers will add recessed pot lights or track lights to help enhance the ceiling, creating a different ambiance in the room. Other than adding a coffered ceiling for a visual design, many architects create a coffered ceiling to hide any visual imperfections or more commonly, hide any pipes or ductwork.

 Benefits of coffered ceilings

painting Brampton

Make the room appear bigger – Modern living often means less space, and homeowners must find ways to make their homes look more spacious. The indentations in coffered ceilings can have a massive impact on how a room looks. In many cases, they can make a room appear larger than it is. 

Create different atmospheres – Coffered ceilings are a great way to create a visual separation between rooms in your home without sacrificing floor space.

Creates a focal point – walking into a room with a coffered ceiling instantly draws attention to the ceiling and can create an alluring focal point that wows. In addition to awe, a coffered ceiling can be a perfect way to conceal flaws, ductwork or wiring.

Downside of Coffered Ceilings

Sound – This ceiling feature is unique from other architectural ceiling options in that it absorbs sound and reduces the echo effect typically associated with rooms that have high ceilings. This means voices do not drift as easily into the next room if a coffered ceiling has been installed.

Increases home value – a coffered ceiling provides a good return on investment because it is a creative detail that transforms a standard room into one that makes a statement. And since they are an architectural trend that has been around for a long time, it offers timeless appeal and assurance to potential homeowners that they won’t have to worry about coffered ceilings going out of style any time soon.

Faux or functional beams – coffered ceilings are not usually installed in residential homes for load-bearing purposes. They do not provide structural support and are typically installed for cosmetic purposes. Faux beams are hollow and serve a decorative purpose. Functional beams are those that are used to provide additional support to a home’s structure i.e. supporting a second story.

Customizable design – coffered ceilings can be customized to accentuate any room and make it unique. This allows you to explore various coffered ceiling ideas that enhance and complement the style of the room.

Downside of coffered ceilings

Where to Add Coffered Ceilings

Ceiling height matters

 If you have a ceiling that is less than 9 feet, installing a coffered ceiling will make your space look smaller and more compact. It can make the space look cluttered and do the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve aesthetically. It can also create a practical challenge if it affects the clearance of your room.


Installing a coffered ceiling requires advanced carpentry skills and the cost of hiring a professional usually begins at about $25-$30 per square foot. The type of wood and other materials, design detail, and installation will all impact coffered ceiling costs as well.

Added weight

If coffered ceilings are being used for functional purposes, keep in mind that they can add significant weight to the ceiling and require an engineer’s assessment and approval before installation. Your ceiling may require additional reinforcement to support a coffered ceiling.

Creating separate rooms

This aspect can be seen as a good or bad thing. We mentioned the good but this can also be seen as a negative aspect. You might not want to create a separate visual feature between rooms if you have an open concept home. For instance, if the kitchen and breakfast area is an open concept, creating a visual ceiling separation may hinder the overall design of the entire kitchen area.

Where to Add Coffered Ceilings:

Still, thinking about the best places to add this extra touch? Check out our top 10 suggestions:

  • Living Room
  • Dining Room
  • Bedrooms
  • Den
  • Family Room
  • Office
  • Dining Room
  • Master Bedroom 
  • Master Bedroom Foyer
  • Foyer

What is a waffle ceiling?

Waffle ceilings are a type of coffered ceiling. These two ceiling designs are often used interchangeably but are very different in their design, function, and installation process. Waffle ceilings have beams that cross rectangular panels to form a waffle pattern, hence the name.

These beams can be made from wood or plaster – with plaster being a popular choice in modern homes. Wood offers a rustic element that many homeowners also love.

Coffered and waffle ceilings can be traced back to ancient Greece and were used as a practical feature to support ceilings.

They are a classic architectural detail that became popular during the Renaissance period, and were more commonly seen in homes of the affluent. Today waffle ceilings have evolved and are a trendy feature that continues to stun. They are used to create depth and style.

Waffle ceilings are versatile which is a huge plus. You can customize the number of boxes in a waffle pattern and make other adjustments to suit your taste. Installing crown mouldings within the waffle ceiling boxes can create more depth and is an intricate detail that enhances the space.

Cornice moulding can be used to conceal flaws and hide gaps between the ceiling and the wall. These gaps are necessary to give the wood room to contract and expand.

Benefits of waffle ceilings

Downside of Waffle Ceilings

Enhancing the design of the room

Waffle ceiling designs have the power to draw the eye to the ceiling and can make any room unique and attractive regardless of the style or design of the room. This is further boosted by the opportunity to customize waffle ceilings for a unique and flattering result.

Reducing sound

Voices in a room that has a waffle ceiling installed do not carry into the next room as easily as a room without waffle ceilings. This makes waffle ceilings suitable for spaces like family rooms or home theatres where noise levels are typically elevated.

Where to Add Waffle Ceilings

Covering blemishes

In addition to offering aesthetic appeal, waffle ceilings can cover up unsightly areas of the ceiling that are damaged, outdated or simply do not look good.

Adding value to your home

Is installing waffle ceilings worthwhile? There’s no doubt that this decorative ceiling feature will give your home a cosmetic upgrade that will add value to your home and attract potential buyers should you decide to sell. It’s a classic look that is not going anywhere anytime soon.

Downside of waffle ceilings

coffered ceiling installation

Lowering ceiling height

If you have a ceiling that is less than 9 feet, installing a waffle ceiling will make your ceiling even lower. This, in turn, can make the room look crowded and small. The waffle is at least 12 inches, which is a considerable size to reduce a ceiling by.

This is why waffle ceilings work best for rooms with ceilings that are 9 feet or higher. The more pronounced the indentations are, the higher the ceiling will need to be to accommodate the beams without compromising head space.

Required sturdy structural support

Your ceiling may need some additional reinforcement to support a waffle ceiling, particularly if you live in an older home. To ensure that your waffle ceiling has the structural support it needs, it’s best to consult professionals and have your waffle ceiling installed by experts.


Waffle ceilings are made from natural materials and require great skill to create and install. The cost of sourcing materials, scaffolds for high ceilings and the labour involved in manufacturing and installing waffle ceilings adds up. The size of the ceiling, the type of material, and the complexity of the design will fluence the cost of installing a waffle ceiling. Additional design features such as pot lights along with more intricate designs will be a large factor to consider.

Where to Add Waffle Ceilings


If you’re ready to add waffle ceilings as the next design feature in your home renovation, here are our top 10 suggestions:

  • Family Room
  • Kitchen/breakfast Area
  • Dining Room
  • Living Room
  • Foyer
  • Master Bedroom
  • Master Retreat
  • Office
  • Walk out basement 
  • Open to below staircase

Contact the Experts in Coffered and Waffle Ceilings

At VIP Classic Moulding, we are experts in coffered ceiling and waffle ceiling installation. During our free consultation, we can provide advice and recommendations based on your home’s layout to help you design the best ceiling design for your home. Contact us today to start your next custom renovation project.

Frequently asked questions

Waffle ceilings and coffered ceilings are similar but different ceiling designs. Waffle ceilings are a type of coffered ceiling that consists of waffle-like squares that give the pattern its name. Coffered ceilings consist of beams that are custom designed to fit the perimeter of the room.

Yes. One of the great things about coffered and waffle ceilings is design versatility. This allows you to choose the best design for your home. For coffered ceilings, you can choose a rectangular or oval design and enhance the ceiling with pot lights or rope lighting. In recent years, waffle ceiling designs with unique geometric shapes have replaced standard square patterns and are a growing trend. The addition of pot lights or rope lighting can further showoff the detail in your ceiling.

Yes. You can add custom lighting to a room with a coffered or waffle ceiling. The best type of lighting to install will be determined by the design of your ceiling panels. Pot lights are a popular option and can be conveniently installed to supplement other lighting fixtures. Other lighting options like soffit lighting, chandeliers or rope lighting are also viable options worth considering.

Coffered ceilings can be installed in almost any room with a ceiling height of 8’ or higher. We recommend coffered ceilings primarily in a foyer, family room, dining room, and in bedrooms to add visual appeal. 

Waffle ceilings can be installed in any room that has the structural integrity or ceiling height clearance to support this ceiling feature. They are most commonly installed in a home’s main living areas i.e. dining rooms, family rooms, kitchens and foyers to enhance your home’s interior. We recommend installing waffle ceilings in rooms that are at least 9’H as the depth of this ceiling detail is min. 8-12 inches which will take up ceiling height space.

On average, the labour costs for installing a coffered ceiling are between $10-$25 per square foot. The size of the room will play a big role in the overall cost. The cost of materials, supplies, and framing also need to be factored in. These can cost an additional $8-$30 per square foot.

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