Cathedral Ceilings

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Bruce Wentworth, AIA, is a practicing architect whose
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“Would you please provide me with the definition of a cathedral ceiling? I understand that a cathedral ceiling can be considered a vaulted ceiling but not all vaulted ceilings are cathedral ceilings. My understanding is that a cathedral ceiling follows the roofline while a vaulted ceiling may or may not follow the roof line. Is this correct?”

- B.P., Potomac, Maryla


The dictionary defines Cathedral Ceiling as, “A pointed or slanted ceiling of a room that rises through more than one floor.

Often, it’s a generic term or a variation on “vaulted ceiling—” and I can’t find the term in my Dictionary of Building Preservation by Bucher.

Bruce Wentworth, AIA, is the principal of Wentworth, Inc, a residential architecture, interiors, and construction practice. For questions about architectural style considerations in the greater Washington area, consult our free resources at