Coffered ceilings use a series of beams to create the look of sunken panels on a ceiling. Although their primary purpose is generally ornamental, they may have practical purposes, such as lessening ceiling load, covering up wavy ceilings or improving acoustics.
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Builders usually use a pattern of squares in coffered ceilings, as well as other shapes, such as rectangles and octagons---especially on complex structures, such as domes. Coffered ceilings bring a look of elegance and luxury to a room. When a ceiling is inherently wavy, coffered ceilings can hide the flaw.
Another practical application of coffered---or lacunar---ceilings is managing weight. Load bearing ceilings can have their weight distributed and lightened through the use of coffering. This is particularly true in domed ceilings, as seen in Renaissance style architecture.
Acoustics experts add or build coffered ceilings---using sound absorbing panel---to create great sound in theaters or home theater rooms or to minimize sound in a space. The coffers allow flexibility in retrofitting a room for acoustical improvements, while creating a great architectural look.