What Is a Step Ceiling?

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The tray or step ceiling can be any shape.
The tray or step ceiling can be any shape. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

To know what a step ceiling is you need to know what a tray — sometimes called trey — ceiling is. Picture a serving tray of any shape and imagine a very large one inserted into your ceiling. This is called an inverted tray. Now, picture that tray turned upside-down and placed there. That is called a recessed tray, the most commonly type found. In construction terms, it’s “where there is more than one horizontal flat surface at different levels.”

Simple Definition of a Step Ceiling

A step ceiling is a series of trays, one inside the other, at different planes. There can be one or two or more steps, depending on the size of the home, the height of the ceilings and the amount of your building budget.

The tray or step ceiling can be any shape.
The tray or step ceiling can be any shape. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Make the Steps in Proportion to the Room

The number of steps you decide to install depends on the size of the room. Too many steps in a small room tend to distort the dimensions and make the room seem uncomfortable. Aside from the number of steps you choose, you also need to decide how wide each step will be. Normal widths range from 6 to 18 inches.

Shapes and Uses for Step Ceilings

Whether tray or stepped, inverted or recessed, they can be built in different shapes: round, square, rectangle, pentagon or octagon. Aside from their aesthetics, they offer ideal lighting and sound options. Lighting can be set in the recesses along the border of the steps to give a soft glow to the activities below. Also, speakers from your sound system can be hidden inside the steps.

Step Ceilings Add Elegance

Generally, step ceilings are found in the dining room and master bedroom because they add such elegance and depth to a room. If you have the room and the budget, you might consider a three-step ceiling with an inverted tray in the middle from which an elaborate chandelier might hang. Whatever shape, size or number of steps you choose, always coordinate your choice of paint and tray moldings with your décor.

Step and tray ceilings offer advantages.
Step and tray ceilings offer advantages. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

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