Waffle Vs. Coffered Ceiling (Which One To Choose?)

Last Updated on October 30, 2023 by Barry Gray

Ceilings have taken the world by storm and, from plain and boring, have transitioned to various styles and colors. With the array of ceilings on the market, the daunting task is to find one that will match your style preference and the ambiance of your humble abode. If you are looking for chic and classy, then there are two that come to mind, Waffle Vs. Coffered Ceiling.

As the name suggests, waffle ceilings resemble the shape of a waffle. A series of recessed panels arranged in a grid best describes a coffered ceiling. From rustic to elegant, the difference between a waffle and a coffered ceiling lies in the panels. A ceiling height of 9 feet is best suited to both.

When making your final choice, you will need to consider some factors. The advantages and disadvantages of both ceilings and the ambiance you hope to create in your home should be your determining factor. 

Waffle Vs. Coffered Ceiling (The 3 Factors to Consider)

While both ceilings are aesthetically pleasing to look at, there is one that might command your attention. To help guide you in this decision, let’s look at the comparison.

1. Features 

Waffle ceilings are very similar to coffered ceilings; however, the difference in the layout of the panels is what distinguishes the two. The beams cross each other to create a waffle pattern. 

In contrast, traditional square and rectangular panels have been famous for many years. The introduction of diamond and octagon shapes also draws some attention.

Carpenters can now use wood and plaster to create beams for waffle ceilings. Plaster panels are more suited to modern homes, while stained wood adapts well in rustic homes.

On the other hand, coffered ceilings have a very classic architectural design that consists of three-dimension octogen, square or rectangular grid panels that are typically sunken or recessed. This type of ceiling typically adds depth to a flat or vaulted ceiling. 

Although coffered ceilings extend the eye upwards due to their design features, the beams hang downwards. The more profound the coffered indentations, the higher the ceilings will have to be, as the beams take up hanging space, affecting headspace or the room space.

It is recommended for rooms on the larger side, with ceilings that are higher than 9 feet. You, too, can be made to feel like a baron by investing in a coffered ceiling that uses more lightweight material. 

2. Cost

The cost of waffle ceilings can vary from budget to high-end. The size of the ceiling, the materials to be used, and the complexity of the design will determine the cost of the installation.

In the case of coffered ceilings, the installation is quite an expensive exercise as a skilled carpenter can only install the coffered ceiling beams. When choosing the materials, opt for a painted pine instead of red oak or stained cherry, which can further boost the price.

3. Installation

When installing waffle ceilings, ensure that your ceilings have 9 feet in height. Although the usual depth of the waffle ceiling is about an inch, you can adjust it as per your requirements. Colour the waffle ceiling a few shades lighter than your wall to get a more visibly appealing effect.

The versatility of waffle ceilings allows you to change the number of boxes, shape, depth, and crown profile to suit your taste. It is advisable to install between 5 – 12 waffle boxes which you can adjust according to your specifications for a more modern look. 

You can install crown moldings within the waffle ceiling boxes to add more depth. 

The installation process of coffered ceilings is a lot more complicated and often requires the services of a skilled carpenter. Should you be daring enough to want to attempt a D.I.Y. project of this nature, the first step would be to decide on the number of coffers you require and the depth and width of the beams. 

Figure out the proper ceiling and coffer dimensions; once done using some chalk, you can draw the lines according to where you would like the beams positioned. Position the main ceiling beams perpendicular to the direction of the existing ceiling joists. Cut out the base crossbeams and attach them to the inner edges of the main base beams with some adhesive and glue. 

The next step is to construct the faux beams as three-sided boxes, which you can over the base beams. It is advisable to stain these boxes before installation. Install the coffer trim if desired and sit back and enjoy the effect.

Advantages Of Waffle Ceilings

Waffle ceilings do more than resemble a waffle. They have a variety of advantages.

  • When selecting waffle ceilings, you are not limited to squares and rectangles; they now feature an array of shapes from octagons and diamonds, catering to varied tastes.
  • Waffle ceilings can minimize noise by creating suitable sound barriers within the room and from other rooms. A popular choice of ceiling for hospitals, offices, and churches.
  • These ceilings are versatile as they can suit any home, from rustic to contemporary. You can paint or stain this ceiling according to your preference.
  • Depending on your design, waffle ceilings can add visual length to the room, making the room appear larger.

Disadvantages Of Waffle Ceilings

Here are some disadvantages of waffle ceilings.

  • The high-end waffle ceilings with varied styles can be costly.
  • Installing waffle ceilings in a small room with ample furniture can often make the room appear smaller.
  • Although the design adds to the room’s aesthetics, dust, grease, and dirt can build up over time, making it difficult to clean. Often homeowners opt to re-install new ones to avoid the time-consuming cleaning process.  Installation of new ceilings means additional capital layout.

Advantages Of Coffered Ceilings 

coffered ceiling

Coffered ceilings have the following advantages.

  • Why settle for a flat ceiling when you can settle for indentations that add some class and sophistication to any room. Apart from the dramatic appearance that this ceiling creates, it also adds some customization to a home, where you can create elaborate designs.
  • A popular choice for bedrooms and lounges, coffered ceilings help minimize sound. Although they cannot replace soundproofing, they have known to create an excellent sound barrier within the room and between other rooms.
  • The actual layout of coffered ceilings creates an illusion of an open plan living, making the room seem more spacious.
  • Proper installation of a coffered ceiling can potentially increase the resale value of your home.

Disadvantages Of Coffered Ceilings

This classic architectural design ceiling is not perfect for every situation. Let’s explore some of those disadvantages.

  • You will have to install coffer ceilings on flat ceilings. The installation of these beams can lower the ceiling making a small room appear cramped. Hence it is more suitable for higher ceilings of 9 feet or more.
  • A professionally installed coffer ceiling can be expensive since someone skilled needs to carry out the installation to achieve the desired results. It may, however, increase your home’s value, although you will never be able to recoup the entire cost of the installation.


Both waffle ceilings and coffered ceilings are ideal choices for large spaces needing some style and luxury. No matter what ceiling you opt for, with just an addition of a few beam materials, you can adapt your ceiling to match the rest of your décor.

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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.