How much does a tray ceiling cost?
Ashburn, VA

How much does a tray ceiling cost?

Ashburn, VA

How much does a tray ceiling cost?

$3 – $7tray ceiling cost per square foot
$700 – $1,600average total cost to install in 15’x15’ room

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$3 – $7 tray ceiling cost per square foot

$700 – $1,600 average total cost to install in 15’x15’ room


Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Jennifer Carlson
Written by
Jennifer Carlson
Edited by
Kristen Cramer
Fact-checked by
Tom Grupa

Tray ceiling cost

A tray ceiling costs $3 to $7 per square foot or $700 to $1,600 on average to build, including labor and framing materials. Adding a tray ceiling is easiest during new construction or a remodel. Carpenters build a tray ceiling by attaching a drop-down frame border to an existing ceiling.

Tray ceiling average cost
Project Average installed cost
Office / bedroom (10'x10') $300 – $700
Dining room (12'x12') $400 – $1,000
Primary bedroom (15'x15') $700 – $1,600
Living room (16'x20') $950 – $2,200

Cost data is from research and project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

Get free estimates from ceiling contractors near you.

Cost to add a tray ceiling

A tray ceiling costs $3 to $7 per square foot with installation, depending on the size and design. In comparison, other types of ceiling installation cost $2 to $20 per square foot on average.

Tray ceiling installation costs
Factor Average cost per square foot
Materials $2.00 – $3.50
Installation labor $1.00 – $3.50
Total cost $3.00 – $7.00

Labor cost to frame and build a tray ceiling

The following factors affect the cost to frame and build a tray ceiling:

  • Ceiling size / supports / obstructions – Large, complex, or coffered ceilings cost more than average to convert to a tray ceiling. Additional structural support increases final costs.

  • Design / tray depth – Multiple layers, an inverted tray, or added decoration will increase installation costs.

  • Minimum ceiling height – Adding a drop-down border for a tray ceiling requires a ceiling height of at least eight feet. Otherwise, the contractor must raise the ceiling, which can significantly increase installation costs.

  • Carpenter / framing – A carpenter charges $30 to $100 per hour. Framing costs $25 to $64 per linear foot on average for labor and materials.

  • Electrician / lighting – Costs involved in adding lighting to a tray ceiling include:

    • An electrician charges $40 to $100 per hour to repair, install, or replace wiring and fixtures.

    • A basic light fixture costs $50 to $150 with installation, or more for a chandelier or custom lighting. Fixture installation costs less during a remodel or new construction.

    • Recessed lighting costs $10 to $130 per light installed during a remodel or $20 to $140 for LED lights.

    • A skylight costs $1,600 to $4,200 with installation.

  • Structural engineer – A structural engineer costs $100 to $220 per hour to evaluate whether the ceiling joists and trusses can support a tray ceiling.

  • Architect – An architect charges $100 to $250 per hour or $2 to $15 per square foot on average to draw plans.

  • Interior designer – An interior designer charges $50 to $200 per hour to inspect, plan, and oversee remodeling.

  • DrywallCeiling drywall costs $2 to $4 per square foot on average installed.

  • Permits – A building permit costs $50 to $300 for small jobs such as plumbing or electrical and $500 to $2,000 for complicated construction or remodeling.

  • HVAC / plumbing – Changes to the ceiling may require relocating ductwork or pipes, or may uncover problems like mold requiring remediation:

    • An HVAC tech charges $75 to $150 per hour to install, remove, or alter air ducts when necessary.

    • Plumbing costs $450 to $1,800 with installation for new fixtures or small sections of piping.

    • Mold remediation costs $15 to $30 per square foot or $1,500 to $6,000 total on average.

A tray ceiling in a primary bedroom.
A tray ceiling in a primary bedroom.

Tray ceiling remodel cost

Adding a tray ceiling during a remodel may require the following additional work:

Tray ceiling design ideas

Consider these add-ons when installing a tray ceiling:

What is a tray ceiling

A tray ceiling—also called an inverted or recessed ceiling—has a drop-down border with a large, raised area in the middle. This ceiling style is popular in living rooms, dining rooms, or primary bedrooms. Tray ceilings vary in popularity by region but are not considered outdated.

Tray ceiling pros and cons
Pros Cons
  • Ceiling looks higher
  • Increases home value
  • Adds character
  • Customizable
  • Can hide plumbing or wiring
  • May feel confined
  • Requires certain ceiling height
  • May require permit
  • Hard to clean and paint

What is the difference between a coffered ceiling and tray ceiling?

A tray ceiling, sometimes called a boxed or step-up ceiling, has one large, raised area surrounded by a drop-down border. A coffered ceiling costs $10 to $40 per square foot and consists of a grid pattern with many raised areas surrounded by wood beams.

Can you add a tray ceiling?

Yes, you can add a tray ceiling to an existing home, but it is more expensive than adding one during construction.

How deep and tall should a tray ceiling be?

A tray ceiling is typically 1 to 12 inches deep. Most building codes require ceilings to be at least 8 feet tall to install a tray ceiling.

Do tray ceilings make a room look smaller?

A tray ceiling can make a room look bigger even though it drops the borders of a ceiling slightly.

Getting estimates from tray ceiling builders

Before hiring a ceiling installer near you, be sure to:

  • Get three or more quotes to compare.

  • Read reviews on HomeGuide and Google.

  • Choose licensed, bonded, insured companies with 5+ years of experience.

  • Browse their portfolios of past projects.

  • Ask for references from recent jobs.

  • Avoid choosing the lowest estimate as quality may suffer.

  • Get a detailed, written estimate and contract in writing before paying.

  • Follow a payment plan instead of paying in full up front.

Questions to ask

  • How long have you been in business?

  • Have you worked on similar ceiling projects?

  • Are you licensed and insured?

  • Can you provide references from recent projects?

  • How should I prepare the space for the project?

  • Do you charge extra to move furniture?

  • Does the estimate include prepping and cleanup?

  • What other costs should I expect?

  • How long will the job take?