Learning About Tray Ceilings

When designing a room, the appearance of the ceiling is not frequently taken into account. It is often left unadorned, and the common way to design it is only through the addition of crown molding or striking lighting fixtures. But aside from these, there are more inventive ceiling solutions that you can opt for to make a room look more attractive. One of these is through the installation of tray ceilings. It is a type of ceiling that may provide your space a whole new dimension and change its atmosphere.

Tray ceilings are stylish and elegant, and they can add depth and interest to any room in your home. They can also be made in different designs using various materials, making them one of the versatile options for any décor style. If you are looking to learn more about this type of ceiling, we are here to help you. In this article, we are giving you more information about tray ceilings, including their different types, benefits, drawbacks, and ways to decorate them.

What are Tray Ceilings?

room with a tray ceiling

A tray ceiling features a raised center, and it is also sometimes called a recessed ceiling, inverted ceiling, or spread ceiling. The term comes from the appearance of the ceiling, which seems to hold an inverted tray because of the different heights.

The edges of a tray ceiling can be angled or curved to create additional visual interest. They can also be bordered by molding or other decorative elements. Tray ceilings can also be made using different materials, such as wood, plaster, or drywall. They can also be painted with wallpaper or other decorative treatments.

Depending on the design of your home and the height of the room, the distance between the two ceiling levels might range from a few inches to about a foot. If you are thinking of considering installing a tray ceiling in your home, it is best to work with a professional contractor or designer who can guide you in choosing the right design and materials that will match your space.

Different Types of Tray Ceilings

a bedroom with a tray ceiling

Tray ceilings are a common architectural feature in modern interior design because they can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to any room or space. There are different types of tray ceilings, each with its unique design and construction method. Read on below to learn more about them:

Single Tray Ceiling

This is the most basic type of tray ceiling. It has a single level of a recessed area surrounded by a higher outer border. It has a simple design, making it one of the popular choices for homeowners who want to add a bit of sophistication to their space without being too elaborate.

Double Tray Ceiling

This is a more intricate version of the single tray ceiling as it features two or more levels of recessed areas. It can add more depth and dimension to a room, making it look more spacious and luxurious.

Coffered Tray Ceiling

This type of tray ceiling has a grid of recessed panels, often in a square or rectangular pattern. It features an intricate design that can add a classic and elegant touch to a room or space in your home.

Recessed Tray Ceiling

A recessed tray ceiling is somewhat similar to a single tray ceiling. However, instead of having a raised border, the ceiling is flush with the walls. It is an ideal type of ceiling if you are looking to create a clean and modern look in a room or space.

Materials Used for Tray Ceilings

a white tray ceiling with a ceiling fan

There are various materials that can be used in constructing tray ceilings. These include gypsum board, metal, plaster, wood, and fiberboard. The most common among these is gypsum board, as it is affordable and versatile. Wood and metal, on the other hand, are popularly used for creating a luxurious look. Plaster can offer a more traditional and classic look to a tray ceiling. Fiberboard, on the other hand, can give a lightweight and cost-effective option.

The material would depend on your budget, chosen aesthetic, and the overall style and design of the room or space. Also, different materials may need various installation methods and maintenance requirements. Therefore, it is important to choose the right materials for your specific needs.

Benefits of Installing a Tray Ceiling

Tray ceilings are not just aesthetically pleasing, but they are also functional. It works well with different architectural types, and it also gives the impression of having high ceilings. Below are more benefits that you can get from installing a tray ceiling:

Increased Height

In general, a tray ceiling may help increase the height and space of a room because of the additional depth that it can provide in the central part of the ceiling. Therefore, if you wish to transform and enhance a small room with a low ceiling in your home, choosing to install a tray ceiling can be ideal.

Enhance a Room’s Aesthetics

A tray ceiling may also help enhance the overall beauty of a certain room. Its style can provide a rich and luxurious touch to any room or open space in your house. In addition to that, it can also be used to cover up ugly wirings, piping, and vents.

Adds Value to Your Home

A tray ceiling can let more natural light and air into your home, which in turn, adds more value to it.

Offers Installation of More Light

Since a tray ceiling is recessed, it can offer special light addition, such as LED lights, recessed lights, accent lights, and more, which can provide an ambient look to your living space.

Decorating Flexibility

Based on your taste, you can easily paint a tray ceiling with different colors, add décor and lights, mold a border, and more. It is a flexible type of ceiling that can match various designs and styles of any room or space.

Drawbacks of Installing a Tray Ceiling

While tray ceilings have many benefits, you also need to learn about their drawbacks before you choose to install them. Below are the disadvantages of installing a tray ceiling:


A tray ceiling is a bit more expensive compared to other types of ceilings. It’s because it needs additional labor charges and material charges. The price of tray ceilings varies greatly from one project to another. All are based on the size of the area and the simplicity or complexity of installation. For example, changing the ceiling joists or trusses in an existing house may be needed in order to add a tray ceiling. This calls for a significant amount of labor and engineering knowledge, which can make it more expensive.

More Maintenance Required

Since a tray ceiling has a recessed part, it can be difficult to maintain and clean. You might need to hire professional cleaning services in order to clean and maintain the beauty of a tray ceiling.

Dated Style

When a tray ceiling is not installed properly, it may look like a dated version. Therefore, it is important to make sure that before installing a tray ceiling in an older house, it should be compatible with the present interior of the house.

Room Height Requirement

It is important to take into account the height of your ceiling before you add one or more tray ceilings. It’s because the drop-down border that surrounds the recessed tray may restrict headroom and may exacerbate the cramped feeling in a compact space. Its lower borders may also affect headroom, tall furniture pieces, and built-in cabinet space. The room should have at least 8 feet tall ceilings for a tray ceiling to work well.

How to Decorate a Tray Ceiling

Some people think that a tray ceiling can be regarded as a blank canvas even though it can easily make a statement on its own. By including flashes of color, patterned wallpaper, or textured trimmings to the layers and centers within, tray ceilings are a fantastic opportunity to provide variance to otherwise bland areas. By wiring lights beneath their edges to generate a glitzy glow, they’re also a fascinating way to add contemporary lighting where more traditional fixtures, like chandeliers, cannot. However, one thing is guaranteed no matter how you design a tray ceiling: Your room will be eye-catching from any viewpoint.


A tray ceiling can be made to stand out, blend in, or appear to disappear into the distance by using color. Try keeping color palettes modest and muted for a straightforward, contemporary look. Paint the ceiling a rich color that contrasts or deliberately matches the other colors in the space to add a touch of drama and elegance. To emphasize the height difference, these might be put into the tray’s trimmings. Utilizing dark hues inside the tray might heighten the impression of height and make the tray appear to be receding or farther away than it actually is.

Stencils, Wallpapers, Tiles, or Mural

Tray ceilings make the ideal backdrop for ceiling art. For a more understated touch of art, try adding stencils to the border. To go all out, use wallpaper, and consider painted murals on your ceiling or patterned tiles inside the tray.


Tray ceilings only amplify the effect of lighting fixtures, which have a significant influence on how a place feels. Hang a chandelier from the tray’s middle to give the room an upscale feel. Along the margins of the tray ceiling, install recessed lighting or rope lighting for a cleaner, more modern appearance.


Since tray ceilings conform to the geometry of the room, they are often rectangular. The inner shape, however, is completely up to you and can be anything from circular to diamond-shaped. Don’t be scared to test the design prior to installation.


Overall, we can say that a tray ceiling is a beautiful and sophisticated design feature that can add depth, interest, and drama to any room in your home. It comes with a wide range of designs, materials, and finishes that you can customize to fit any style and taste. They are indeed a stunning addition to any home, as long as there is proper planning and execution. Therefore, it is always best to work with professionals, especially for more complex ceiling types like tray ceilings. We hope this post helped you learn more about tray ceilings.