A common truss ceiling which fellow contestants Josh and Charlotte exposed, painting over the gang nails, on The Block Triple Threat series. This truss was made from rough sawn hardwood.
A common truss ceiling which fellow contestants Josh and Charlotte exposed, painting over the gang nails, on The Block Triple Threat series. This truss was made from rough sawn hardwood. Martin Philbey

Beam me up: A guide to choosing ceiling finishes

WHAT a massive first week back. Jess and I have spent a month on holidays with the kids and now a full week together nutting out exactly what she would like to see as the finished product of our house. I think a boys' trip to Fraser Island is definitely on the cards.

The main area of concern this week was our ceiling. Which finish is the right one for us?

When you start searching rafter ceiling or truss ceiling you are bombarded with many confusing photos and text that really don't explain much at all. So when Jess asked if we could have an exposed ceiling, I didn't really know what she meant.

Luckily Jess has started a Pinterest account and has gathered pictures from all over the world in a gallery just for our build. It's a pretty good way to scrapbook images of things that you like and they are on your phone all the time if your builder or, in our case, husband, needs to know what you are talking about.

I'm going to try to explain some different varieties of ceilings, trusses and rafters. After all of that, Jess would like to see exposed beams as rafters with VJ board in between.

Common truss plaster ceiling

Most homes have a common truss with a flat plastered ceiling, either 2.4m or 2.7m high, which is easy and affordable when it comes to construction. You also get a bit of space in the ceiling to store clutter. All of our bedrooms are just simple square set plastered ceilings.

This truss system is totally enclosed between your roof and the plaster above you. They are by far the cheapest option, made from pine or treated pine and are nailed together with two top chords, a bottom chord, a king post and two truss webs.

Exposed rafter ceiling

A rafter ceiling is made up of slightly larger decorative timber beams that can be varnished or painted and run from the top of your walls to the pitch or peak of your ceiling - usually in an A frame-style pitch.

If we look at the common roof truss, an exposed rafter system is literally just the two top chords of the truss. There can be many beams making up the ceiling. Ours are 600mm apart and only in the main living, dining and kitchen area.

They make the room look massive as the peak is usually about four to five metres high. It is a great solution if your home is going to be built in an area with not much sunlight as it will brighten the whole area up. The costing is in the mid-range too so it won't hurt the back pocket either.

Exposed decorative truss ceiling.
Exposed decorative truss ceiling. Contributed

Exposed truss ceiling

Exposed truss ceilings can look amazing. They are the most decorative way to build your ceiling. Much like a common roof truss in an A-shape, exposed truss ceilings tend to be constructed out of a specific timber and joined with metal brackets or timber joints.

There are a few different variants of the exposed trusses. These look awesome in large homes and usually in cathedrals - one of the reasons it is also known as a cathedral ceiling. They are by far the most expensive way to go but look amazing.

Since our living, dining and kitchen face south, we really need as much light as possible so we chose against this option because of that reason. Also the price was a lot greater than the rafter system as they need to be engineered, which can add cost and time.

There are some downsides to an exposed truss ceiling, such as where to put the air-conditioning duct, as there is no internal roof cavity. If you choose this design, make sure all electrical and data wires are run before your roof goes on.

Ayden and Jess Hogan were on The Block Triple Threat and won Reno Rumble this year. Follow them as they build their dream home on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AydenAndJess


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