Building a Shop-Help Me Understand Why I Need 10ft High Ceilings

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Forum topic by gerrym526 posted 05-10-2019 08:20 PM 3581 views 0 times favorited 57 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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301 posts in 4866 days

05-10-2019 08:20 PM


Now in the process of designing my new standalone shop building. It will be “stick built” (not a pole building).

My original shop was in the basement of my former home, and had only 6.5ft ceilings. I know the ceiling in the new shop will have to be higher, but not sure I need 10ft.

I’ve thought about previous and future cabinet, furntiture, and chair projects and the processes involved in building these pieces and have yet to see where more than an 8 ft. ceiling will be needed.

So, thought I’d ask all you Lumberjocks for help-tell me about a project you did where you were glad the ceiling height was 10 ft. And, let me know if I’m missing anything.

I live in Northern Idaho, and while the winters are cold, they’re not like the Great Lakes area I left. However, I heat the house with propane, and will heat the shop with it as well, so the added cubic area a 10ft vs. 8ft ceiling yields translates in $$’s spent to heat it. (Assume at this point I’ll have R30 in the walls and R50 in the ceiling of the building in insulation). And, 10ft ceilings translate into higher building costs because of the height of lumber needed for the stud walls, and additional siding for the added height.

Help me understand why I want 10ft ceilings, or let me know I’ll be OK with 8ft

Thanks in advance for the help guys.

-- Gerry

57 replies so far

View RobHannon's profile


347 posts in 1588 days

#1 posted 05-10-2019 08:27 PM

I’m not going to be much help with what you want to here. Wall space, like every other type of space in a shop, is very valuable. I have been paper napkin designing my retirement shop for a while now and it always starts with 12’ ceiling height.

Are you doing traditional stick building or post frame? In my comparisons post frame has a less significant increase in material costs than stick framing does when making a building taller. Post frame also lends itself to thick exterior wall cavities to have better insulation thickness.

View MrRon's profile


6006 posts in 4301 days

#2 posted 05-10-2019 08:35 PM

I guess the 10’ ceiling was due to handling of 4×8 sheets of plywood. If you never will use 4×8 sheets of plywood, then an 8’ ceiling will work. If your shop floor plan will be large, a 10’ ceiling avoids the 8’ “tunnel” aspect. Remember lighting fixtures will intrude into your 8’ space. As a tip, use plenty of outlet receptacles and put them 4’-6” above the floor. I have 200 amp service in my shop with separate circuits for lighting, receptacles, machines and a DC. Electrical service is something I would not skimp on.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6929 posts in 3551 days

#3 posted 05-10-2019 08:40 PM

My first shop had 9’ ceilings, we moved and the second shop had 8’ ceilings, then we moved again and I had to have one built and went with 10’ ceilings (all were freestanding buildings). At some point I thought the 9’ height was ideal, I actually got that weird height by having the slab curbs poured 7” high, and then the walls framed using full length 8’ studs. But if you put 6” DC ducts, lights, furnaces, and air cleaners on the ceiling you will wind up with some spots in the room that aren’t quite tall enough to twirl an 8’ board (my standard for adequate ceiling height). With 10’ ceilings I find it looks too tall, but actually works out well. There’s no concern with htiing anything on the ceiling, and even the LP furnace (a Modine type) is high enough to be safe. This last shop is very well insulated (R19 walls, and R50 ceiling) and I heat 30×32’ of the building, this past winter was very cold for us and I burned about 300 gallons of LP heating it (65º daytime, 55º night usually). I’m not sure you need 10’, but I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t go back 8’.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View HerringImpaired's profile


91 posts in 767 days

#4 posted 05-10-2019 10:17 PM

I guess it all comes down to perspective. I’m 6’8” (Or as I like to tell people when they ask, 5”20”).
Having ceilings of 9’ or even 10’ would be nice in one way, but as it is now, I don’t need a stepladder to change light bulbs, plug in equipment to the 110V outlets I have in the ceiling, or reach the other stuff I have stored on the ceiling. (fishing rods, flashing, molding, and other miscellaneous stuff).
If I were to build a shop, I’m not sure I could justify the added expense for heating, cooling, etc… Just to be able to flip an 8’ board end for end. On the other hand, it’s another foot or two for cabinets, shelving, etc… for storage.

-- "My greatest fear is that upon my demise, my wife will sell my tools for what I said I paid for them."

View Kirk650's profile


735 posts in 1806 days

#5 posted 05-10-2019 10:50 PM

I have an 8’ ceiling in my workshop. After 10 years, I wish i had 10’ ceilings. My ceiling fan and ceiling mounted Jet air cleaner are often in the way. If you have a choice go for the higher ceiling.

View Rayne's profile


1319 posts in 2597 days

#6 posted 05-10-2019 10:56 PM

+1 if you’re planning to install air cleaners and especially duct work for Dust Collection. The added space to move 8’ boards/plywood helps a lot. Even now, with my 10’ ceiling, I occasionally hit the air cleaner with a 4×8 ply.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


6482 posts in 3367 days

#7 posted 05-10-2019 11:00 PM

Just do it you’ll be glad you did someday. Put in a ceiling fan to help move the hot air off the ceiling. Nobody ever said that woodworking was a cheap hobby.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View ibewjon's profile


2361 posts in 3851 days

#8 posted 05-10-2019 11:21 PM

I have 10’, giving clearance for DC, air cleaner, light fixtures,vand a little space for clearance. My main garage is 8’4”, and it feels like a cave withe fixtures hanging down.

View ibewjon's profile


2361 posts in 3851 days

#9 posted 05-10-2019 11:23 PM

And check into the new super efficient inverter heat pumps from LG and others. Mine heats down to -10, and heating a 16×24 x 10’ high to 60 + only cost about a dollar a day.

View Delete's profile


439 posts in 1430 days

#10 posted 05-10-2019 11:41 PM

I have had four workshops over the years, the first was a spare bedroom and I won’t go into that one. My second shop was a basement 7’ ceiling height. things were definitely squeezed, little room on the walls for storing material and the ceiling which was sheathed was to close for some operations. I remember wishing the ceiling was higher when I was finger joining the corners of a set of beds for the boys, ended up cutting them by hand. The third was to be my dream house and shop that I built from scratch. The shop 22’ X 36’ had 10’ ceilings, ceiling hung electric heaters, R20 and R52 insulation and more room than I had tools to fill. I felt guilty working in it, all that space made me feel like I should be producing something for sale, rather than just playing and experimenting with my different interests, which was my only interest.

My current shops, three main areas all have different ceiling heights, the metal working shop has a 9’ ceiling, lots of wall area above the machines for hanging and storing things like extension cords, air hose, welding cable, welding helmets, pipe clamps, etc. etc. The second space is a ventilated shop space. The ceiling hight starts close to 11’ and slopes to 7’6”. It is ventilated so I can do the roughest work, protected from the elements. In winter it is used for parking. In summer I can do welding , grinding, metal melting, wood construction, etc. all protected from the weather and still well ventilated. Last summer I built and Installed a hoist so the extra height comes in real handy.

My woodworking and little machine shop is part of the shell of the main house. Half of the house is living space and sealed off from the other half which is my wood shop and little machine shop. Ceiling height is 8’ and I would choose it over the former 10’ height. I feel comfortable working in the smaller space, the passage of time can easily disappear puttering away at something. I never felt that way in the big shop with 10’ ceilings. Insulation is R20 and R60, winters up here regularly hit -40 I heat the house with a wood stove and electrical backup. Living space back-up is set at 65 and workshop back-up is set at 55. If I make no long trips and pay attention to my wood stove I can go a whole winter without paying a single dollar in electrical heating back-up.

View CWWoodworking's profile


1675 posts in 1237 days

#11 posted 05-11-2019 04:06 AM

I like 12 ft. I use a lot of longer lumber up to 16 ft. If I wanna use the other end of board at chop saw, i like the extra room.

View Redoak49's profile


5188 posts in 3046 days

#12 posted 05-11-2019 11:06 AM

If it were me, I would have the 10 ft ceilings. Easier for lighting, dust collection, storage and many others. Also, if you ever sell it, would be great selling point.

View Berto's profile


30 posts in 2549 days

#13 posted 05-11-2019 11:48 AM

At a minimum, I would go with 9’ ceilings. Most lumber yards carry 2”x4” – 105” (for 9’ walls – at a cost of $.60 more per stud than 93” precuts). If you’re planning on finishing the interior walls with drywall, they also make dryall in widths of 54” (4’-6” x 8’ or 12’) so you only have one line joint at midwall.

-- - Berto in VA -

View Hermit's profile


248 posts in 2383 days

#14 posted 05-11-2019 12:37 PM

My shop is 22×20. My walls are 9’6”. I use the added room on top for lumber storage/drying. Also put air cleaner and fans up there. Just keep in mind that your light fixtures reduce ceiling height also. It’s a personal choice you’ll have to make based on your own needs.

-- I'm like the farmer's duck. If it don't rain, I'll walk.

View bondogaposis's profile


5978 posts in 3409 days

#15 posted 05-11-2019 01:44 PM

Help me understand why I want 10ft ceilings, or let me know I’ll be OK with 8ft

I went through the same thought process, when I built my shop, I live in west Montana, so similar climate as you. I opted for 10” ceilings. Why, because I didn’t want to worry about smacking my lights every time I moved an 8’ board around the shop. More than likely your light fixtures are going to be below the ceiling height, also you may want to suspend other things from the shop ceiling, like an ambient air filter. It also gives you a lot more room for shelving. I have room above my windows for lumber racks. It will cost you more to heat, obviously. I opted for pellets to heat my shop and I have it on every day. I have the thermostat set at 46°F night time and 62°F daytime, this last winter I spent $330.00 on pellets.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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