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The Home Depot

Installing a Tray Ceiling

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Carpentry > Installing a Tray Ceiling
Installing a Tray Ceiling

When you’re searching for the perfect touch to a room to transform the ordinary into something innovative and eye-catching, look to a tray ceiling to create the feel you want. Although you might think your architectural energy would be more effective at eye level or below, applying design at the ceiling level can be a compelling decorative touch.


If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and make it happen, learn all the details about tray ceilings and installing them in your home. This ceiling style works with a variety of décor styles to give them a special feel.

  1. 1.Where to Install

    Imagine an inverted tray against the ceiling and you get the idea behind the name of this ceiling treatment. The sides of a tray ceiling generally slope down from the outer perimeter to the main ceiling surface. Generally, because of the significant height requirement for a tray ceiling, installing this ceiling works best in ranch homes without second floors or in second-floor rooms with attic space directly above the tray ceiling. If you have high ceilings, you have the freedom to install a tray ceiling virtually anywhere you fancy – your entire home, the entryway, bedrooms, hallways…anything goes!

  2. 2.Installing Lighting

    The lighting you choose in your tray ceiling will add to the drama and increase the attention. Try an ornate chandelier or even modern pendant lighting, suspended from the recessed areas of the ceiling. You’ve got a little more height at that point, so take advantage of it with a suspended light fixture.

    Another option for striking lighting that will set off the architecture of the tray ceiling is concealed lighting installed behind the crown molding around the perimeter of the ceiling. With the delicate row of lights shining up and out from the recessed perimeter, the entire ceiling will seem extravagant and classy.

  3. 3.Installing Molding

    Installing a tray ceiling takes some experience and technical skills. If you’re comfortable with working with crown molding to cut it to size and install it on the ceiling, you might save yourself some installation expenses. Choose a crown molding design that fits your décor and the height of your ceiling. A lower ceiling requires narrower and simpler crown molding and a higher ceiling needs wide and intricate crown molding. It’s important to measure the perimeter of the ceiling precisely to enable you to cut the crown molding to make the corners fit exactly. If you leave gaps at the joints, the tray ceiling will not look professional.

  4. 4.Painting

    The paint colors you select for a tray ceiling will have a significant impact on the overall effect of the ceiling. If you choose paint colors already present in the room, the tray ceiling will add cohesiveness to the décor and make the room feel cozier. If you use a contrasting paint color, it will create a focal point in the ceiling and make the room feel larger and more open.

    Take the time to prepare the tray ceiling properly before applying paint. Prime the surfaces first and then add a flat paint to the ceiling surfaces. Cut in the edges with a paintbrush and then use a paint roller to fill in larger areas. If you need clean lines between areas, use painter’s tape to create the lines.

  5. 5.Adding Texture

    Adding texture to a ceiling can add another element of style. By spraying the texture to the ceiling with a special hopper gun, your tray ceiling might become even more interesting. Because of the mess involved with applying the texture, it’s important to prepare the room carefully prior to the project. Remove furniture and cover all surfaces completely. Use painter’s tape to line the perimeters to prevent the texture from overspraying where you don’t want it to go. After you apply the texture in an even layer, allow it to dry and then paint over it to complete the project.

  6. 6.Hiring a Professional

    The process of installing a tray ceiling is not for the timid do-it-yourselfer. If you don’t possess strong home improvement skills and a bold desire to take on the challenging process, visit Redbeacon for some help in finding a professional who will take on the job. After you submit a work request, the pros at Redbeacon will search their vast database to find a list of contractors who can take on your project and ensure winning results. You’ll get a short list of the best ones to examine and you can choose the one that fits your style and budget. Once you tell Redbeacon which pro to hire, the rest happens without any more worry or effort from you. When your tray ceiling work is finished, simply pay Redbeacon and you’ll also enjoy the confidence of having a satisfaction guarantee for the work to protect you against damage or loss.


    If you’re ready to make a dramatic change in your interior ceilings, a tray ceiling might be the ideal solution. After installing this focal point in a room, you may wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Don’t forget to drop by Redbeacon for more design tips and ideas as you plan your ceiling project, too.

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