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Coffered Ceiling Costs

Every room of your home has a ceiling, and it’s probably a smooth or mildly textured addition that you take for granted. Ceilings are just “there.” But what if you could add structure and interest to your ceilings while muffling sound and adding value to your home? Coffered ceilings offer just that, along with endless design possibilities that range from clean and modern to the ornate and classic. If you’re looking to add coffered ceilings to any room of your home, it’s important understand the costs associated with the materials and design you choose.

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Table of Contents

  1. Coffered Ceiling Cost
  2. What is A Coffered Ceiling?
  3. Best Woods to Use for Coffered Ceilings
  4. Where to Install Coffered Ceilings
  5. Coffered Ceiling Designs
  6. DIY or Hire A Pro?
  7. Find A Pro

Coffered Ceiling Cost

Coffered ceilings can be made of simple drywall or ornate, hand-carved hardwood. They can be clean and modern, or they can be detailed and colorful. Each of these options requires different materials to create. These materials, plus the size of your room, are the biggest factors influencing the cost of a coffered ceiling. Here's a look at how dramatically material costs can range based on the cost per board foot of common hardwoods and alternatives you might choose to install:


  • Cherry: $7 – $15
  • Mahogany: $6 – $28
  • Red Oak: $8 – $34 


  • Drywall: $9 – $10
  • MDF/Fiberboard: $3 – $20
  • Plywood: $7 – $25 

Cost of Coffered Ceilings

In addition to these basic materials, there’s a number of add-ons that you can choose to include in your coffered ceiling design, each of which comes at an additional cost that can range from as little as $100 to several thousand dollars, depending on the size, quantity and quality of each addition. Common examples of these additions are:

  • Soffits
  • Tin Tiles
  • Trim & Molding
  • Recessed Lights
  • Paint & Stain
  • Medallions
  • Chandeliers & Ceiling Fans

What is A Coffered Ceiling?

The architectural word “coffer” refers to any sunken panel used in ceiling design. The term itself has its origins in the Greek word kophinos, which translates to “basket,” and the Old French coffre, which means “chest” or “box.” These custom-designed and installed panels may be placed in a grid pattern of squares or rectangles, or they may incorporate more interesting shapes such as octagons and circles. Either way, their purpose is to create an effect that mimics crisscrossing beams. Inside each panel, designs such as carved wood and crown molding or textural elements such as tin, wallpaper or medallions create a more ornate effect specific to a room or home’s overall design.

Originally, coffered ceilings were a necessity, providing critical acoustic effects to soften and absorb sound along with additional insulation. Today, most coffered ceilings are simply ornamental, though many homes with high ceilings and large spaces do benefit from the acoustic effects. It’s also possible to design a coffered ceiling in any type of architectural style, including clean, modern and minimalist panels as well as more traditional ornate ones with hand-carved wood panels, layered recesses or even stained glass lighting.

Coffered Ceilings

Best Woods to Use for Coffered Ceilings

One of the most critical elements to consider when it comes to calculating coffered ceiling costs is the wood or other material you want to use to make the beams that outline each panel. The choice between each of the main options — hardwood, MDF or drywall — depends largely on your overall design scheme and budget. If you opt for real wood, the most commonly used are pine, cherry, walnut, mahogany, red oak and maple. Each of these can be easily stained or carved for a more unique effect. They’re also stronger and more valuable compared to the two alternatives.

However, if staining isn’t a priority, meaning you plan to paint the beams a solid color, most contractors use MDF instead. MDF (medium-density fiberboard) isn’t only more cost-effective, it’s also easier to cut into unique shapes such as circles. Also, because MDF is manufactured, it’s subject to natural warping and knotting like natural wood, leading to less waste on installation.

Where to Install Coffered Ceilings

You can install coffered ceilings in any room of your home. However, they tend to make the most design impact in great rooms, living rooms and entry halls. Other options include studies or libraries, large master bedrooms, dining rooms and entertainment rooms.

Coffered Ceiling Designs

One of the biggest appeals of coffered ceilings is their versatility. It’s easy to adapt a coffered ceiling to any design or architectural style or any interior design theme. Popular options include:

Clean & Modern

Using clean lines and minimal effects, it’s easy to create a clean, modern finish using MDF or drywall. A simple drop ceiling in light colors adds texture without fuss.


Carved hardwood beams in dark stains add ornamentation and dynamic texture to a coffered ceiling. Like traditional period ceilings, these types of rich, detailed additions, which include molding and hand-carved elements, look like the ultimate in luxury.

Different Shapes

When using MDF, it’s easy to think outside the square or rectangle for a more unique look. Octagons and circles are popular, for example, and are easy to elevate further with the addition of medallions or textured panels.

Ceiling Costs

DIY or Hire A Pro?

Installing a coffered ceiling is a detailed, specific job that poses safety risks (you must use a ladder) as well as a huge time commitment — a DIY job can take several weeks to complete compared to a few days with a pro. You may also have to do additional work, such as remove popcorn ceilings, before you start. In addition, ceiling work requires specific power tools and exact measurements. Mistakes may require a complete redo or even intensive ceiling repair. While an advanced DIYer or avid woodworker can install a coffered ceiling, this labor-intensive work is best left to the professionals.

Find A Pro

If you’re interested in adding a coffered ceiling to your home, contacting a drywall professional is a great first step. Use our free lead generator to instantly connect with pros in your area who can more specifically advise you on your coffered ceiling project.

Last updated on Sep 13, 2016

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