Some Thoughts on Crown Molding


When I was but a wee lad, I heard my parents talking about crown molding and I thought that they were talking about a golden crown that no one was wearing because it had mold growing on it.  Now, when I think about molding, I pretty much think about various types of decorative wooden strips that are used as accent pieces, to cover up mistakes, and to protect your wall from chairs.  Moldings can be all kinds of things.  They can be baseboards, crown moldings or even chair rails.  Moldings are a way that you can create a very different look and control the appearance and feeling within a room without major alterations to the room itself.  Arguably crown Moldings can achieve these looks faster than the other two molding types.

           When a lot of people think about crown molding they picture elaborate Corinthian pillars with decorative details all over.

But if you have a very modern house those sorts of moldings won’t work nearly as well as a more contemporary crown molding.  The feeling and appearance that are provided by the crown molding can be simple and straightforward.

This sort of molding can bring a room together without drawing too much attention to it.

 Naturally the opposite can also be true.


This gorgeous living room has a very elaborate crown molding that works to help set and accentuate the style and look of the room but also to keep the room from feeling excessively tall.  This technique can be used in bedrooms, hallways and other rooms that are traditionally shorter as well.

          One of my favorite uses for crown molding is as an indirect lighting source.   Lighted crown molding can create a truly intimate setting.  


I feel that this is best for room that you will be spending time in low light conditions.

Bedroom and home theater rooms in particular.

If you have a round room or a room with walls that curve then you can still use crown molding.  Some contractors will use techniques where they cut the molding into slight wedge shapes and place dozens of small pieces together to allow the bend.  Perhaps the easiest way to address this situation is to buy flexible crown molding.  


There are a variety of crown moldings that are made from flexible plastics and polymers.  You can even use these bendable moldings to cover an arch above a window or doorway.


One use for crown molding that many people do not utilize is a space to hide your electrical wiring.  So many people, my parents included, have nice living rooms with nice televisions and they can afford a nice sound system but instead they watch movies and television off the inferior sound on the TV.  This is usually because they don’t want a bunch of unsightly wires running around the room.

Some companies are making hollow PVC crown molding that you can snake wire through.  This can be helpful in hiding wiring for surround sound speakers, or overhead lighting.

           It is very important that you match the crown molding to the room décor.  If you want big wide molding, you should fill your room with big décor.  (And sometimes vis-versa)  This may seem simplistic but if you have a room with a tall ceiling and you put in a large crown molding you should be prepared to put rather large items in the room to balance it all out.  Keeping that in mind, if your room is clean, simple, and contemporary, try to use very simple molding with no extra details.  Finally, just try to roughly match the size of the baseboards with the crown molding.  If these two elements are the same it will look correct and it may direct attention away from any mistakes.


Crown molding is often more than one piece.  In fact it can be made up of several different pieces.  You just have to decide what will give you the desired effect that you are going for.


The two diagrams above show how you would first mount the filler or molding to the wall and then add the crown molding, effectively building off the other piece.  This is very similar to how a lot of crown molding is used on kitchen cabinets.

           There are some obstacles that people often encounter when dealing with crown molding.  Whenever possible it is best to avoid placing two mismatched crown moldings right next to each other.  Sometimes this is unavoidable.

           Many houses have outlets, air vents, or other things near the ceiling that can interrupt the crown molding.  This can be a major problem or a minor obstacle depending on how you deal with it.  Look around your house and plan for these obstacles before you are installing your molding.  






Sometimes there is little that can be done about vents.  If you have to resort to these kinds of fixes I would suggest that you do not mention or draw attention to the issue.

          Just like your air vents and outlets, you have to check your corners and windows for potential problems as well.



In this picture you can see a crown molding job where the corners were not thought about at all.  The left side was an attempt to fix the situation but it too leaves an embarrassing hole of empty space.


           Whether it is on furniture or on the walls, crown molding can have a powerful effect on your room.  The whole look and feel can be drastically changed with just a few long strips of wood.  If installed with haste the crown molding can make your cabinets look cheap and rickety.  

But in most cases, as long as you are careful with installation and choosing the right look, the addition of crown molding will be an improvement.














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