How to Create a Coffered Ceiling Using a Coffered Ceiling System

Written by Milan Jara on 21st Jun 2022

Coffered Ceiling

Looking to install a coffered ceiling in a shorter time? Here’s how to do it quickly and easily using a coffered ceiling system.

Nothing elevates your room more than installing a coffered ceiling, yet there is nothing more potentially time-consuming than installing your own from scratch. If you are looking to install a coffered ceiling but don’t want the hassle, we’ll teach you how to create a coffered ceiling using a DIY coffered ceiling system.

What Is a Coffered Ceiling?

Traditional coffered ceilings contain a series of hollows or indentations on your ceiling’s surface. They decoratively hide any imperfections in your ceiling and generate the illusion of height. Coffer translated means “indentation” which is the characteristic of this style. Coffered ceilings originated in the early Renaissance and Baroque periods and add architectural interest to any room.

Historically, coffered ceilings were thought to be formal and dignified. Most people still think this today as they can create a more formal space; however, they fit in just as well in modern décor.

A faux coffered ceiling is great for upgrading a room or separating areas in an open concept. You can use them to make a space more formal, create an illusion of ceiling height, or make a room appear more contemporary.

Coffered Ceiling

Tools Required:

  • Square
  • Tape measure
  • Stud finder
  • Nailer
  • Laser leveler


  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Chalk
  • Adjustable lag screws
  • Beadboard
  • Fastening flange
  • Nailer boards
  • Perimeter boards
  • Perimeter molding

How to Install a Coffered Ceiling Using a Coffered Ceiling System

While the process may appear to involve many steps, installing a coffered ceiling treatment system is probably less involved than creating one yourself. It will also take less time because all your coffered system has already been pre-built. The only thing that may be time-consuming is doing all the measurements. However, this is necessary to ensure accuracy and a great-looking finished product.

  1. Measure and mark the width and length of your ceiling.
  2. Place a chalk mark in the center, both horizontally and vertically, dividing the ceiling into quadrants.
  3. Locate and mark each end of the ceiling joists. Make markings every 16” to indicate the positioning of the remaining joists. Do this on both sides, so they match up.
  4. Connect the marks with chalk so they line up on each side of the ceiling.
  5. Locate and mark the first wall stud and the locations of the studs every 16”. Repeat this step on each wall until all your studs are clearly marked. The markings should be a little lower than the coffered ceiling system to ensure they are visible throughout the installation.
  6. The room is now marked and ready for the coffered modules to be installed.
  7. On the first coffered module, mark in the center of each side flange. Then, mark the coffer’s backside with an arrow to indicate which way it needs to be installed. Position your first coffered module with one side to the right or left of your vertical centerline. Use the markings for the middle of the coffer to match up to the horizontal line. The line should dissect the coffer in half. The fastening flange should line up with one or both ceiling lines, depending on the coffer layout.
  8. Pre-drill two holes in the fastening flanges, perpendicular to the ceiling joists. You will have a total of four holes, one on each side. Fasten the module to the ceiling with lag screws in each of the pre-drilled holes. Tighten the screws so that the coffer is snug to the ceiling.
  9. Align the next module to the first and fasten using the same method as above using the adjustable lag screws.
  10. It is best to complete a single row using the modules first. Once you finish, the next row goes beneath, then the following goes above until the ceiling is relatively covered.
  11. Once installed, shoot a laser leveler below all your modules. Measure up from the laser level to see which module is closest to the line. Use this module as your starting point for the remainder of the process.
  12. Adjust the lag screws until they measure up to the laser line. Use the laser line as your benchmark to adjust the remaining modules. This results in a level plane across all your modules.
  13. In each corner, mark on each wall with the bottom of each of your coffered modules. Connect the marks with a chalk line. Once you create the horizontal line, install the first nailer board just above your chalk line. Fasten it to the wall at each of the stud locations. Repeat the process for each remaining wall.
  14. Fasten your perimeter bead boards in place by the bottom edge of the nailer boards. Fasten it to the coffer module and nailer boards to make it secure. The outer edge of your beadboard doesn’t need to fit tightly to the wall. The perimeter molding will cover any defects.
  15. Once the perimeter boards are installed, install the middle sections. Use the bottom edges of the coffer modules for fastening locations. Begin with the longest boards first, then fasten the short pieces in between.
  16. Place your perimeter molding below the beadboard and securely to the wall. Fasten it to each wall stud location as previously marked. Repeat these instructions for all walls. Once this is all done, the coffered ceiling system is finished.

Coffered Ceiling

Coffered ceilings can contain recessed lighting, a statement light fixture, pops of color, or even wallpaper. Their purpose is to generate decorative ceiling detail, add visual interest, and create depth. Coffered ceilings are great at absorbing sound, getting rid of echoes, and preventing other people from hearing noise in adjacent rooms.

The only downside to this ceiling design is that if you have low ceilings, they may make them feel even lower.

When you consider how to create a coffered ceiling using a modern coffered ceiling system, you realize that the process isn’t as involved as doing a DIY style wherein you measure and cut boards, etc. The installation is easier, and you can do it in much less time.

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