Here’s How to Choose the Best Ceiling For Your Climate

Written by Milan Jara on 18th Aug 2015

If you had to put a ceiling in that tropical bedroom in the picture, what would you choose? One of the things that I love about ceilings is that they offer diverse options that often depend on the climate you live in. A cathedral ceiling would be risky in a colder climate because it opens up the space and increases the heating bill. However, that same cathedral ceiling would be great for a moderate climate because it would allow the air to expand. The best ceiling for your situation often depends on the weather where you live.

Choose Ceiling For Your Climate

Photo by Brett and Sue Coulstock (Flickr)

Tropical Climates

The key to good ceilings in tropical climates is separating hot air from cold air and allowing for good airflow. I have first-hand experience with this subject because I live in a tropical climate in Florida. A cathedral or domed ceiling would be ideal for a tropical climate because it would allow the hot air to rise and the cold air to flow through the house. A flat ceiling is a really bad idea because flat ceilings do not encourage air flow. If you must have a flat ceiling, then try one of our Styrofoam hanging ceilings that mutes sound but allows for air to flow. Tropical climates can get pretty humid, so it is always a good idea to have a ceiling fan in the rooms with lower ceilings to keep the air moving.

Dry Climate

Since there is little moisture in the air in dry climates, a paneled ceiling is a very bad idea. Any type of woodwork will crack in a dry climate and require a lot of repairs over time. You will have the same problem with a drywall ceiling as well. In a dry climate, you can go with a drop ceiling made from Styrofoam or metal, or you can go with a decorative tile ceiling. Ceiling fans are something I always recommend in dryer climates just to help keep the air moving and prevent it from getting stagnant. Since the weather is dry, a ceiling fan will also be more effective at cooling a room, which will save money on air conditioning.


True to its name, a moderate climate can accommodate pretty much any type of ceiling. I personally love moderate climates because it is like working with a blank canvas that you can fill with anything you want. Cathedral ceilings, dome ceilings, tile ceilings, and drop ceilings all look and function great in moderate climates. This is the type of climate where those beautiful paneled ceilings would look great and retain their value.

Continental Climate

A continental climate is dry but experiences wide ranges of temperatures. Since you will be dealing with some pretty cold weather in these climates, domes and cathedral ceilings are not going to work. A decorative metal ceiling would be ideal because I think they look great and metal ceilings do not expand and contract with the intense changes in the weather. Flat tile ceilings would work great and add a lot of color to your room.

Polar Climate

I always love asking people what kind of ceiling they would put in an igloo. The looks on their faces as they consider the question are pretty priceless. A polar climate, despite the snow, is cold and dry. Since you want to trap the warm air, you want to use flat ceilings and drop ceilings. Tile is kind of risky because of the frigid temperatures, and a paneled ceiling is out of the question. Another reason I love the igloo question is because it immediately makes people think that ceilings in polar climates should be domed, which is not true. A domed or cathedral ceiling will draw any warm air to the top of the room, where it doesn’t do anyone any good.

The type of ceiling that would work best in your home depends almost solely on the climate where you live. Drier climates are horrible for drywall and paneled ceilings, but tile ceilings thrive in this environment. Metal and tile ceilings are ideal for climates with wild temperature swings because the material does not expand and contract like wood does. Match your ceiling with your climate and you will be very happy with the results.

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