Do you love vaulted or open beam ceilings? Whether it’s one room (as we find with a lot of the cathedral ceilings and George Day build houses in Saratoga) or the entire house (which we see in many of the mid-century modern or Eichler houses throughout Silicon Valley), the looks of vaulted ceilings just says “home” to many people. I grew up with wood, open beamed living rooms and family rooms and understand the appeal.
For most ranch style houses here in Silicon Valley, there’s an attic between the finished ceiling in any given room of the house and the roof. In that attic, usually there’s some sort of insulation. With newer construction, it tends to be thicker, making the house below more comfortable in both summer and winter.
Many of the mid-century modern style houses, and some others, find the open beams are pretty much directly below the roof. There’s no attic. Perhaps it was not deemed necessary in our sub-tropical climate when they were built. Less insulation means there’s less to protect you from nature’s hot summers and cold winters.
In some cases, though, there is foam insulation between the roof and the ceiling. That isn’t visible. You may get a hint that it’s there if you look from the outside and do not see vents in this area under the roof. It’s an upgrade over standard insulation, and one you’ll be thankful to have.
Many mid-century modern home owners have opted to install foam roofing when it’s time to re-roof. These foam roofs also offer insulation that helps keep the house comfortable year round.
If you are a home owner, it’s a good idea to get inspections done periodically (even if you aren’t planning to sell) so that you can learn what needs attention before a situation worsens. Roofs tend to need “tune up” work every few years to keep it leak free and prevent future problems. Termites come back. Safety codes change over time. If your house or townhouse features a vaulted or open beam ceiling, talk to your inspectors to learn about the insulation present and discuss if any changes are needed to keep your power bills lower and your comfort higher.