Vaulted ceilings add architectural interest to a space

How to Get the Measurements of a Vaulted Ceiling

by Jennifer Roberts

Vaulted ceilings add interest to a room and give the feeling of more space, but they can also make decorating a challenge. When it comes time to remodel, it is important to have accurate measurements for calculating costs and ordering materials. Measuring the area, sides or height of a vaulted ceiling can seem like a complicated task. However, with a little bit of mathematical know-how and some basic tools, obtaining accurate measurements is fairly easy to accomplish.

Measuring the Highest Point

Use the measuring tape to determine the width of the room along the base of the pointed wall, then divide in two to find the midpoint.

Measure along the base of the pointed wall to the midpoint and stand at the midpoint.

From the midpoint at the base of the wall, carefully extend the measuring tape upward, sliding it against the wall until the end touches the highest point on the ceiling.

Use a level to ensure that the measuring tape is vertical, and the measurement is accurate.

Measuring the Length of Sloped Sides

Use the measuring tape to measure from the point where the sloped ceiling meets the side wall, to the floor. Note the measurement.

Subtract the lower height from the total ceiling height to determine the rise of the sloped ceiling. Note the measurement.

Measure the total width of the room along the base of the pointed wall. Divide this measurement in two to determine the run of the sloped ceiling. Note the measurement.

Use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the length of the hypotenuse, the sloped side of the ceiling. To do so, multiply the run measurement by itself and record the answer, then multiply the rise by itself. Add these two numbers together. Use a calculator to find the square root, which is the length of one sloped side.

Measuring the Angle

Follow steps 1 to 3 under "Measuring the Length of Sloped Sides" to determine the rise and the run measurements. Divide the rise by the run, and note the answer.

Use a scientific calculator to find the inverse tangent of the previous measurement. With the measurement still entered into the calculator, press the "Shift" or "Inverse" key followed by the "tan" key. The calculated number is the angle of the slope.

If a precise measurement is crucial to your project, round up to the nearest hundredth. If you only need an approximate angle, round up to the nearest whole number.

Measuring the Ceiling Area

Measure the total length of the room along the base of a side wall.

Follow the steps for "Measuring the Length of Sloped Sides" above to determine the length of one sloped side.

Multiply the length of the room by the length of one sloped side. This is the area of one half of the vaulted ceiling. Double this measurement to find the area of the entire ceiling.

Items you will need

  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Scientific calculator


  • An assistant who can hold the measuring tape in place will make measurement of the highest point easier. A ladder may be necessary if the ceiling is very high.
  • Round up final length and area measurements to avoid underestimating the amount of material required for your project.

About the Author

Jennifer Roberts has enjoyed writing since 2008. Her professional experience includes computer aided drafting and design in the hospitality industry, graphic design for several nationally televised PGA Tour events, and an adjunct professorship in Computer Aided Design. She holds a Bachelor of Science in architecture from the University at Buffalo.

Photo Credits

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