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The height of an average ceiling

Updated April 17, 2017

Ceiling heights in the UK vary greatly due to the variety of new-build and period architecture. Cottages generally have exceptionally low ceilings; Georgian manor houses have high ones. Ceilings in commercial properties will tend to be higher than in residences. Loft, cellar, warehouse or garage conversions produce non-standard residential ceiling heights. For reasons of ventilation, over-crowding and fire safety, there is a minimum practical height. There is little restriction on maximum ceiling heights.

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Industry standards

From 2008, building regulations were relaxed and simplified. There is currently no specified minimum ceiling height. However, according to Tameside Borough Council, regulations governing ventilation and lighting infer adequate ceiling heights. Ceilings should generally be no lower than 2.1m. In rooms with sloping ceilings, at least 50 per cent of the floor area should have a ceiling this height. Ceilings on stairwells and landings should be at least 2m high for safety reasons. These regulations do not apply to listed properties or to properties within national parks or conservation areas. The standard ceiling height for most new build properties is 2.4m.


The height of a standard doorway is approximately 1.98m. This height allow the passage of most people without stooping. It is usual for ceilings to be situated approximately 45- to 60cm above the top of the doorway, achieving a ceiling height of around 2.4m/approximately 8 feet. Ceiling height is a matter of practicality and aesthetics: too low feels claustrophobic and people may need to stoop. High ceilings increase a sense of spaciousness and freedom, but lighting and heating may become problematic. In extensions and loft conversions, regulations on stairways, roof lines and room volumes impact on ceiling heights.

Low ceilings

Cottage ceilings are frequently as low as 1.8m to 2.1m/6 to 7 feet. A sense of increased height may be obtained by removing the original ceiling to expose the beams, using the floor of the room above as ceiling. Though visually this reduces a sense of confinement, the beams remain at the original low level. Tall people may need to mind their heads, particularly when going through doorways. Lowering the internal ground level may be the only way to achieve more practical ceiling heights.

High ceilings

Housing for well-to-do Georgians and Victorians was built on elegant lines. Ceilings were high; windows tall. An average ceiling height in one of these homes might be 3.6 to 4.25m/12 to 14 feet. The drawback to such high ceilings is that heat rises. Heating high-ceilinged homes can be expensive. According to “The Times” property guide however, Georgian homes remain Britain's most desirable, largely due to their airy proportions.

Studies published in the "Journal of Consumer Research" in 2007 which were conducted by marketing professor Joan Meyers-Levy, of the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and assistant marketing professor Rui Zhu, of the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, found people experienced a sense of freedom in high-ceilinged spaces. They also found that in these spaces people's thought processes are more abstract and less preoccupied with detail. Ceilings are even higher in public spaces, including churches, libraries and concert halls. In high-ceilinged, lofty spaces, people feel inspired, awed and calmed.

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About the Author

Based in the Isle of Man, Tamasin Wedgwood has been writing on historical topics since 2007. Her articles have appeared in "The International Journal of Heritage Studies," "Museum and Society" and "Bobbin and Shuttle" magazine. She has a Master of Arts (Distinction) in museum studies from Leicester University.

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