Crown molding. Even if you don’t know what it is, chances are you’ve seen it somewhere before. In fact, odds are good that it’s above your head at this very moment, covering the corner where your home’s ceiling meets the wall below. By simply rounding out the hard edges of a room, crown molding can go a long way towards beautifying that room and any other room it’s in.
In this article, we will go over five tips on selecting a crown molding that is perfect for your home, as well as some other related information that you might find useful and exciting.
What You Need To Know About Crown Molding
1. What Is Crown Molding?
Crown molding isn’t a single thing per se, but a category that encapsulates a large number of ceiling trims and moldings. Crown moldings are decorative types of trim that are generally used to flare out the finished top edge of a wall where it meets the ceiling.
Crown molding is also used for not just capping walls but pilasters, cabinets, floor-to-ceiling windows, and many others things. Crowning can also be used on exteriors as well, such as cornices. Generally, crown moldings can be made from a wide variety of materials, ranging from hard- and softwoods to plaster and polyurethane.
2. What Does Crown Molding Do For My Home?
As mentioned above, crown molding is used to flare out the top edge of a wall where it meets the edge of the ceiling. Primarily, crown molding is decorative and serves to break up hard angles and corners in a room. Depending on several factors ranging from the style of your home to its size, something as simple as molding can make or break the aesthetic of your home.
Why Consider Crown Molding?
If you feel that your home or residence lacks that special something, or feel that it could use something to help spruce up the interior, then you may want to consider adding crown molding, if it doesn’t already have it. In and of itself, crown molding can do much to improve the appearance and overall ‘class’ of your home.
It should be worth noting that not all types of molding will look appropriate, depending on the theme and design of a home. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind whether or not the molding of your choice would look tacky or out of place.
Where Else Can You Use Crown Molding?
Crown molding isn’t just for use on the edges of walls and ceilings. It can be used just about anywhere an interior vertical surface meets a horizontal one. For example, you can use crown molding on entryways and around the mantels of fireplaces. It can also be used on cabinets and even be purposed as a shelf in its own right.
Tips We Covered
1. Assess Your House Interior
House interior assessment can help to determine the right crown molding before selecting one. Importantly, the molding has to be sized according to the volume of the room to work well.
If the molding is too small, it will seem insignificant, and out of place, while if it is too large it will make the room itself seem small and insignificant, and just be overpowering to the viewer. Fortunately, there is a right size of trim for every room.
According to architect Richard Sammons, the coauthor of Get Your House Right, the height of the ceiling is the primary determinator of the size of the molding. For example, for a standard ceiling height of eight feet, the crown or cornice height should be 2½ to 6 inches, for 9-foot ceilings, 3 to 7½ inches, and for 10-foot ceilings, 3½ to 8 inches.
The interior look and design of a home can also play an important determining factor. If your home has a more traditional look and feel to it, then it would strongly benefit from molding.
However, some homes, such as those with minimalist or postmodern design aesthetics wouldn’t benefit from many types of trim, and in some cases, the addition of it would be detrimental. Keep this in mind when looking for a trim, and carefully consider how it would look in your home.
2. Choose The Right Material
Trim comes in a wide variety of materials. Wood and plaster are the most common material, but there are others, such as polyurethane and even stone. The right molding material can make or break the look of a given room, so knowing which material to go with is essential.
The first on this list of materials, wood is arguably the most common kind of material that crown molding is made out of. Because wood’s inexpensiveness, it is useful for decorations of all sort, and moldings are no exception. Because of the wide variety of subtypes of wood, the material is also very flexible regarding where and how it can be applied as molding. One common approach to wooden crown molding is to leave it unpainted and to clearcoat the molding. This shows off the wood grain and is especially common in regards to hardwoods such as oak, elm, and beech which benefit from this. However, hardwood moldings tend to be expensive, and hardwood moldings cut or milled into fancy designs can be more expensive still.
Compared to the relative expensiveness of hardwoods, moldings made from softwoods are often cheaper. It is common to finish and paint softwood molding, as blemishes and irregularities tend to be more apparent.
However, painting your trim means you can match the trim to the color of the wall, or paint it a different color to complement the existing color scheme of a given room. Both hardwood and softwood moldings are easy to install, requiring only standard finishing nails.
Plaster is another material that is used to make the trim. Regarding price, it can be cheaper than most hardwood trim but more expensive than most softwood trims, thereby occupying a sort of middle ground between the two expense-wise. Plaster trim can also be richly ornamented, as individual lengths are individually hand-cast. However, plaster molding is heavy and often requires professional installation using both screws and construction adhesive.
It is also rigid and is therefore prone to cracking and breaking during installation if special care is not employed during handling. Finally, plaster has to be finished and painted, adding to the complexity of installation.
Plaster-covered foam combines the smooth and detailed look of plaster with the DIY-friendliness and flexibility of foam. Plaster-covered foam generally comes in eight-foot lengths and are topped with a fiberglass and a thin coat of acrylic plaster.
It’s generally about the same weight as wood and can be easily installed with joint compound. However, like plaster, it too has to be painted.
Polyurethane foam can be a good molding choice, especially if you are looking for something that is inexpensive to purchase and easy to install. Polyurethane foam comes in lengths of eight or twelve feet.
It resembles plaster but is very lightweight and doesn’t require professional installation and is easily installed with just construction adhesive. The downsides to using foam molding are that it doesn’t have fancy profiles like wood or plaster do and that it too has to be painted.
Similar to wood in some ways, flexible polyurethane cuts like wood but is heavier. However, unlike the other options above this type of molding is exceptionally flexible, being able to fit a radius as small as 24 inches.
This flexibility makes it a good choice of material when dealing with edges that are curved. It is also easy to install, requiring only construction adhesive and finishing nails to hold it in place. Flexible polyurethane can also come with either painted or stained-wood-look finishes.
3. Consider The Profile
Something as equally important to choosing your crown molding material is determining what the molding’s profile, I.e., its overall shape and appearance will be. There are many things you must consider when selecting the profile. To start off with, light and shadow both play an essential role in how the molding in question looks to the observer. For this reason, some moldings with fancy or elaborate profiles are designed in such a way as to cast shadows on themselves. To this end, consider the light sources that will be present in the room, both natural and artificial.
One should also consider that the fancier or more extravagant the profile of the molding, the more expensive that molding is likely going to be. A contributor to the cost of the molding is in this regard is whether or not the molding requires two or more parts to create the profile of the trim.
Another thing to consider is the room that the molding will go into. Depending on factors such as height and headspace, having molding that is fancy can be a good thing, as it can draw the eye and give the impression that a room is impressive. Otherwise, simple molding in a smaller or more private room can help make a room feel cozier.
An example of a good profile choice for a dining room that has relatively plain walls and wooden flooring would be wooden molding with a simple concave profile. Another good profile choice would be a simple stair-step molding in a home that has a modern or postmodernist theme to it, as a style of molding that is minimalist in design would be perfect for such homes.
4. Think About The Style
There are a wide variety and styles of crown molding, in all sizes and profiles. They range from simple wooden molding to more complex and extravagant plaster moldings. To start off with, you can find many styles of molding in wood. One example of wood molding style is dentil molding, which is a style of molding that uses small blocks in a repeating order. Another style common in wood is the double bead, which uses one or more pairs of raised ‘beads’ on the surface of the molding to give the impression of complexity and depth. Another option is stair-step molding, which is a relatively simple design made by layering two or more strips of molding stock atop one another.
Plaster also has a variety of styles. Plaster moldings in the Classical Greek or Roman theme are common, as they can give your home a classical architectural flair.
Art Deco moldings are also standard, coming in a wide variety of profiles ranging from minimalist to artistic. Plaster moldings might also have shapes molded directly into them, increasing their visual variety even further.
Other materials can have similar variations of the above styles. For example, profiles with such names as Bead and Curve and Ornamental Volvo are both simple and artistic profiles available in polyurethane.
5. Or, Just Duplicate The Existing Molding
As the header says, sometimes the simplest thing to do when trying to decide what molding to use for your home is to go with what’s already there. From here, you’ll want to make sure you find the same style and size of molding used in your home.
If you can't find a matching profile at a lumberyard or home center, the easiest way to get a copy of your existing crown is to send a cutoff to a wood millwork shop or a maker of foam or plaster moldings, such as Fypon or Hyde Park. However, if a scrap isn’t available and you don’t want to go ripping your wall apart to get one, you can make a template using a profile gauge by tracing the molding’s shape onto cardboard.
Like with any DIY job or home improvement task, choosing the right crown molding that is perfect for your abode can be a major decision. Therefore, being as well-informed and knowledgeable as possible when coming to the right choice can be a boon in the long run. Because when all is said and done, you’ll know you have made the right decision.