Floor-to-ceiling heights Print

Design Checklist

  1. Higher ceiling heights are used as a method to naturally light and ventilate areas of a building with a deep floor plan
  2. Higher ceiling heights are used to create a sense of spaciousness within smaller rooms
  3. Floor-to-floor heights allow flexibility for future changes of use


Ceiling heights are measured from the finished floor to finished ceiling level. Ceiling heights should be carefully considered as higher ceilings increase daylight access,  assist natural ventilation and contribute to a sense of spaciousness.

Better Design Practice

Create better quality spaces by using ceilings to:

  • enable better proportioned rooms - for example, smaller rooms often feel larger and more spacious when ceilings are higher
  • maximise heights in habitable rooms by stacking wet areas from floor to floor - this ensures that services within lower bulkheads are located above bathroom and storage areas rather than above habitable spaces.

Facilitate access to natural light and ventilation by using ceiling heights that:
  • allow the use of taller windows and highlight windows (windows above doors). This is particularly important for rooms with limited light access, such as ground floor units and units with deep floor plans;
  • allow the use of light shelves to enhance daylight distribution into deep interiors;
  • allow better natural ventilation for spaces furthest from the windows.

Provide floor-to-floor heights that allow for changes of use within the building over time.

For example residential units on the ground floor that may become retail or commercial uses in the future.​

Rules of Thumb

Where there is the potential for future uses other than residential, design the ground floor of a mixed use development to have a minimum floor-to-floor height of 4.5 metres.

The ground floor of a mixed use development should be designed to allow future changes of use. Note that this recommended dimension is given as a floor-to-floor height, as the floor-to-ceiling height in a retail or commercial development will depend on the fitout. Commercial buildings have increased service requirements and therefore will generally require minimum floor-to-underside-of-slab heights of 3.5-4.0 metres to achieve minimum ceiling heights of 3.0 metres but this is dependent upon structure and services depths.​

Design all other floors to have minimum floor-to-ceiling heights of 2.7 metres in habitable spaces.

Residential spaces are frequently planned with a floor-to-ceiling height of 2.4 metres or less. However building ceiling heights to 2.7 metres can have significant advantages in flexibility of use. Designing for higher ceiling heights throughout a development allows for maximum flexibility with respect to future use. This adaptability broadens the project’s market appeal, and therefore its economic viability.
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