Do Vaulted Ceilings Add To Square Footage? (Detailed Analysis)

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray

vault ceiling sq foot

When determining the square footage of a home, so many factors enter into play. There are also significant discrepancies between different municipalities regarding how square footage is measured and what part of the home constitutes an addition to its overall square footage.

Generally speaking, square footage refers to the floor area and not to the height of the rooms. Therefore, vaulted ceilings would not ordinarily enter into square footage calculations. However, some municipalities will double the area of a room boasting a vaulted ceiling.

There are a few grey areas when it comes to vaulted ceilings and measuring the square footage of a home. Vaulted ceilings naturally add to the volume of a room. They will also usually add to the home’s value as a whole. However, this is not always the case, as a home’s value depends on several other influencing factors.

Do Vaulted Ceilings Add To Square Footage?

As a general rule, vaulted ceilings do not add to the square footage. This is because square footage is generally considered a measurement of the home’s floor area. Square footage in most circumstances does not include the volume of the spaces within, as this would fall under a different measurement referred to as cubic footage.

Having said that, vaulted ceilings can still add a significant amount of value to your home, so when appraisals are conducted, the presence of a vaulted ceiling is taken into account.

With the leasing of commercial office space, organizations have put into place a set of standards that help measure rentable office space. However, when it comes to residential property, no such measurements have been put in place as yet.

As a result of the above, each municipality across the US has a different means of determining the square footage of a house. This means that vaulted ceilings, in some cases, will cause the square footage of a room to be doubled, according to the estate agent. In other municipalities, square footage is taken only as habitable floor space.

There are other municipalities where porches, pergolas, and overhangs are considered in the square footage calculations and others where these items are not considered. 

Some situations include only a percentage of the basement floor area as part of the home’s area. At the same time, there are some circumstances where the entire basement is disregarded in terms of the home’s floor area.

Some municipalities will include attic space up to a certain height as part of the home’s area calculations, while others will not. This is irrespective of whether the attic is fitted out or not. 

In some cases, the square footage of the house is taken as a measurement of the exterior dimensions of the house. If the house is a double story, the area is simply doubled to determine the total square footage. 

In other circumstances, the square footage is calculated only as a total of the internal dimensions of individual rooms while excluding uninhabitable spaces such as closets, etc. Some situations will include these uninhabitable spaces as part of the floor area.

It’s evident from the above that while vaulted ceilings are generally not considered part of a home’s square footage, certain circumstances will include the increased volume associated with vaulted ceilings as part of the square footage. However, this is generally for appraisal purposes and not a determination of habitable space.

Pros Of Vaulted Ceilings

Vaulted ceilings may create a sense of vastness and volume in a room that a flat ceiling of eight to ten feet would not be able to achieve. Because of the increased ceiling height, a vaulted ceiling gives the sense of a larger space.

Vaulted ceilings have the potential to bring a lot of extra light into a room while also making use of previously “wasted” attic space. The additional height achieved by installing a vaulted ceiling will allow for the addition of more windows and skylights and generally more oversized windows.

This is especially beneficial in the summer because the large windows and longer daylight hours minimize overall energy usage in the home. This is because there is no need for artificial lighting in the home when so much natural light is available.

Depending on how they’re done, vaulted ceilings have the potential to blend in with any architectural style and become a fantastic design feature in any home.

Because vaulted ceilings don’t have to match the angle of the roof above them, the architectural possibilities are nearly endless. A vaulted ceiling can be used to create attractive designs that feature curves, domes, and numerous levels within the ceiling, to name a few.

Cons Of Vaulted Ceilings

Your home’s square footage may not necessarily increase with a vaulted ceiling. Still,  a structure’s cost per square foot will likely rise significantly. The added height will necessitate more labor, raising the house’s building costs.

Vaulted ceilings can add anywhere between 5% and 25% to the overall cost of constructing a home. Assuming that the vaulted ceiling has arches or domes, the additional cost of customizing the building materials will increase significantly.

A vaulted ceiling will result in greater heating and cooling costs and wasted energy, in addition to the extra construction costs. Room OneRoos with vaulted ceilings and large windows can heat up much faster in the summer than rooms with smaller windows. This could mean that you’ll have to use the air conditioner more often, raising your cooling bills.

Due to their significantly greater volume, rooms with vaulted ceilings will be more expensive to heat in the winter.

Vaulted ceilings are more difficult to maintain clean than flat ceilings, which can be a significant disadvantage for some and an added unnecessary expenditure.

A vaulted ceiling also has the potential to make a room noisier. This is due to the increased amount of echo within the space. In addition to the increased noise, vaulted ceilings may require additional venting. Exceptionally high vaulted ceilings can trap moisture, so vents may be required to prevent mold growth.  

Construction Considerations For Vaulted Ceilings

vaulted ceiling

Installing a vaulted ceiling during the original building of the structure will be substantially easier. This is also true for properties that are being remodeled or expanded. A vaulted ceiling will require complex engineering and a significant financial expenditure to incorporate it into a finished dwelling.

The installation of a vaulted ceiling will demand meticulous respect for all local construction laws and engineers’ specifications. As a result, as a DIY enthusiast, you should leave this project to the professionals and not attempt it on your own.

Depending on the project, a vaulted ceiling can be made with scissor trusses or vaulted parallel chord trusses.

Stick framing is the process of connecting individual truss parts to create the main structure for vaulted ceilings. Alternatively, the structural trusses required for a vaulted ceiling could be custom-built off-site before construction.


As a general rule, vaulted ceilings do not add to the square footage, as the height of the room usually has nothing to do with its floor area. However, for appraisals, rooms with vaulted ceilings sometimes have their floor areas doubled to account for the extra height. Technically speaking,  this is not accurate in terms of square footage, however, as the room’s height is only taken into account when looking at cubic footage.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.