Vaulting A Ceiling


Old 02-17-01, 09:53 AM
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I have a dormer-style home built back in the mid-late 1920s. It has a full second-story and an attic ( not used for anything). The old plaster ceiling in the 2nd story is looking pretty weak, and as part of our continuing renovation, we are considering pulling the plaster down and vaulting the ceiling up. I'm kinda new to this and I know there are some "parameters" in here, but I don't want to make this a 40 page book, so I'll try to keep it short:

The existing cieling-joists are 2x4s, running front-to-back, resting on top of the walls. The rafters at the roof are 2x4s, resting on the front-and-back walls. There appears to be eight 1x10s nailed to the peak of the rafters, dropping down and nailed the cieling-joists, spaced evenly (apparently supporting the tall peak of the roof).

What I'm considering doing is adding 2x4s (or maybe 4x4s?) to bring the cieling up about 4 feet, or-so, attaching to a 2x12 to form the top of the new ceiling. I would resupport the peak of the roof on the 2x12.

Like I said, I know there are some parameters in there and this is more simplistic than it is. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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Old 02-18-01, 07:27 AM
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You have all the makings here of a big piece of mess. I would call in a contractor to look at it. You have alot of areas of very potential problems and only an on the site inspection by a contractor can tell you if this is reasonable. I am not sure if your building dept will even give you a permit for this work unless it is done by a professional.
Old 02-21-01, 10:51 AM
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Arrow RE: Vaulting A Ceiling

Thanks for the response Jack,
I spoke with a local builder and framer and had him check it out. He recommended either building a new cieling underneath the existing roof with 2x10s, or using a scissor-truss setup. Either could be built to add additional support to the roof. This will be a lot of work and $$$, but I'm planning on doing it myself with a friend who's experienced with this type of conversion. Adding additional support for the roof is a big part of my plan now, as I didn't realize no-one uses 2x4s for rafters these days. Anyway, thanks for the feedback, and I'll let everyone know how things go.


BTW: I'm considering posting some pictures of what it all looks like now, and posting more as I go along through the conversion. Is this ok?
Old 02-22-01, 03:52 AM
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Don't know how the pictures will will work on this forum, but you can mail them to me and I will be glad to look at them. If you can manage it I would use the sissor truss.
Since you are pulling the ceiling out anyway, you could also use a vaulted truss. You might consider just pulling off your whole roof and rebuilding it new. Would probably save you money and time. Just a thought. Good Luck
Old 10-20-08, 12:22 PM
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Remodelling: Facts versus Spin from Contractors

A word about "impossible" projects ...

Very few home remodeling jobs are impossible or terribly difficult, in spite of what some contractors and special interests might urge you to believe.

Having never taken on a remodel project of any size before, my wife and I just completed a full master bath remodel: the works; new travertine tile, sinks, fixtures, floor and subfloor, tub, window, cabinets, custom alcove, custom marble niches and spent under $3500 dollars. The project finished like a dream. This same job was bid by local "contractors" at $15,000 to $20,000+.

My message is this: do not let anyone tell you a project is a potential nightmare, as we were. Life itself is a potential disaster if you're not careful and think first. In most cases it is not. This is usually a fear tactic used to intimidate unskilled homeowners into buying their overpriced services.

Want to vault your ceiling? It's very doable, and not terribly difficult if you take it slowly and think each step out. At certain points we brought in for a few hours, skilled labor, for advice and help (the electrical) and often asked other local homeowners how they fixed or did certain tasks. We worked it out on paper in advance and worked in manageable steps. The result -- we saved thousands of dollars -- kept our money in our pocket and have a bathroom that is first class in every respect.

When a contractor starts telling you a project is impossible, it's time to get a second opinion. And don't look back. These are the same people who sold sub-prime mortgages and told the signators that "everything is peachy."

Happy in Iowa.
Old 10-20-08, 01:07 PM
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i'll start by saying that yes this project is very possible. jack contractor is simply saying that altering the truss profile could potentially cause major problems and it is only good advice to at least first seek the opinion of some local pro's. this is not a bath remodel as was previously eluded to/compared against (cosmetic). This is a significant structural change. you owe it to yourself to seek out help. with that out of the way you, with any luck, could probably diy and save a load of cash, just as long as you know the implications in doing so. educate yourself.

so heres my take on the specifics. use 2x10, or 12 ceiling joists for the vault itself. size will depend on your spans. if there is a wall dividing the span in half and it is currently load bearing, raise the wall height run the clg. joists up to it to create the vault. if this is not the case, just fasten the ends together. then in a similar manner as done by your existing trusses, place some 2x webbing in between the roof members and the new clg joists to create what in effect will be a scissor truss. you'll probably want to do this one truss at a time. the only problem i forsee with this method would be if your existing heal cut does not provide enough space for the 2x clg. joists. post some pictures on a site like photobucket and provide the URL's here in a post if you would like.

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