7 Types of Crown Molding for Your Home
Whether big and bold or understated, crown molding enhances the transition from wall to ceiling. Which of these seven options is right for your home?
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What Is Crown Molding?
Crown molding dates back to ancient Greeks and Romans. It’s decorative and functional trim usually found where the top of the wall meets the ceiling. Today, you’ll see crown molding in all styles of homes. Here, we’ll focus on the different materials crown molding can be made from.
When choosing crown molding, consider the following:
- Where will it be installed? The room dictates, to some degree, the type and style you choose. If it’s bathroom, the material needs to withstand high humidity. If you’re putting it outdoors, it needs to be weather resistant.
- What’s your home’s style? A highly ornate molding might be startling in a modern home, while one with simple lines might be lost in a home with detailed woodwork. Molding can be found in lots of design options, including step, leafy, bead, dentils, egg-and-dart and cove. Your home’s architectural style should ultimately dictate the style you choose.
- Do you want to DIY it? Most crown moldings can be a DIY project, but some are best left to pros, like plaster molding. (More on this below.)
- Do you want to paint or stain it? How you plan to finish the molding determines what materials are best.
- What’s your budget? Molding prices vary according to the design and the material. Determine your budget and let it guide. Material prices range from $1 to $40 per linear foot, according to Sean Chapman, a professional carpenter in Eugene, Oregon and founder of Tools ‘n’ Goods.
Type of Crown Molding: Plaster
“This is one of the most expensive, heavy and fragile types,” says Chapman. “The benefit of plaster is that it allows casting complex profiles that can’t be carved in wood and will not look that good in plastic.”
Plaster molding is often custom-ordered. It’s installed indoors and can be stained or painted. But Chapman doesn’t recommend installing this yourself. “It’s heavy, fragile and requires quick work with construction adhesive that’s impossible to remove if you stain the wall or the ceiling by accident,” he says.
Type of Crown Molding: Solid Wood
“It’s typically installed with a wood adhesive, screws or finishing nails,” he says. “You need to pre-drill the holes for the screws and then cover the holes with putty and sand them to make the holes invisible after painting.”
Though usually installed indoors, Chapman says wood crown molding can be treated with a waterproof layer to withstand the elements after being painted or sealed. Here are a few tips to cut crown molding.
Type of Crown Molding: Polyurethane
Polyurethane gives you the look of a plaster molding at a more affordable price, Chapman says. It resists changes in moisture, pests and rot, so it can be used indoors and outdoors.
“You need to install this type of molding using finish nails and molding-and-paneling adhesive,” he says. Install carefully; poly molding can chip.
Type of Crown Molding: PVC
PVC is the best choice for moist locations like a bathroom or exterior walls, says Chapman. Installation is similar to polyurethane crown molding but requires stainless steel screws with finish heads.
“The material is stable regardless of the weather conditions, but it needs to be painted to eliminate the sheen,” he says. “I recommend using a paint sprayer to avoid smears on the sleek surface.”
Type of Crown Molding: Medium Density Fiberboard
“This material is the most affordable alternative to natural wood,” says Chapman. It’s used indoors only.
“It’s quite easy to dent but highly resistant to moisture and heat levels,” he says. “Premium styles are available with natural wood veneers that can be stained for a great natural look.”
Type of Crown Molding: Polystyrene
Polystyrene (trademarked as Styrofoam) is the most lightweight crown molding material and can be used indoors or outdoors. Installation is easy.
“It can be quickly cut into pieces with scissors and installed with simple construction adhesive, nails or both,” says Chapman. “The only disadvantage is that you need to look out for crisp edges. They’re fragile and can crumble easily if you aren’t gentle enough.”
Type of Crown Molding: Flexible
Made of a pliable material, this type of crown molding is flexible so you can bend it around curved walls. It’s lightweight and easy to install using adhesive, says Chapman. And you don’t have to heat it to bend it.
“This material can withstand extreme weather conditions, so it’s a good option for both indoor and outdoor installation,” Chapman says.