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Use Decorative Moulding for a Finishing Touch in Your Home

Choosing Moulding for Home Installations

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Use Decorative Moulding for a Finishing Touch in Your Home

This beautiful doorway is enhanced by the wonderful moulding.

Coral Nafie
Almost any home can be enriched and enhanced with the installation of decorative moulding.

Newly constructed homes usually have a simple baseboard moulding along the floor and narrow casings around the windows and doors. Older homes often can be found with wider decorative mouldings and this gives these homes real character.

You'll be amazed how a home can look more luxurious with the simple addition of wider casings, deeper baseboards, crown mouldings, and a chair rail.

Though this is not a job for the timid, you'll save a great portion of the cost of new moulding if you install it yourself.

First, let's talk about these decorative mouldings. The most common moldings used in homes today are:

  • Baseboard Mouldings
    This moulding is installed at the bottom of a wall against the flooring to cover the gap between the two surfaces. A typical home uses baseboards from 2" to 6" deep from top to bottom.

  • Casing
    This moulding is used to fill the gap between a window and wall or door and wall. A typical home has casings between 1" to 4" wide.

  • Crown Moulding
    This moulding is used to fill the gap between a wall and the ceiling. Crown mouldings can measure from 1 1/2" to 15" or 20" depending on the size of the room, the height of the ceiling, and the grandness of the space. A typical home uses crown mouldings of about 4" to 5".

  • Chair Railing Moulding
    This moulding runs horizontal to the floor, approximately 30" from the floor to protect the wall from chairs bumping. Today, a chair rail is often used for decorative purposes only.

Other decorative mouldings are used in different situations. These include a banister (the cap on a stair railing), newel post (the central post or column which provides support for a staircase), and spindles (the vertical posts lining the open sides of a railing), as a railing up a stairs.

Also, beautiful decorative moulding of different configurations and sizes are used to define a fireplace, providing a mantel and side frame.

Here are some of our tips on choosing, measuring, and buying the right decorative mouldings for your home.

  • Consider the style of your home.
    Choose moulding styles to coordinate with the style of your home. You may love deep crown moulding and a center medallion on the ceiling, but this would probably not work in a contemporary or ranch style home. A modern home should have plain mouldings with little detail. Traditional homes look wonderful with deep baseboards and wide casings. Elegant period style homes are enhanced with very detailed decorative mouldings.

  • Determine the size of crown moulding to buy.
    Crown mouldings should enrich the look of a room, not overpower it. Decorators and interior designers usually advise that you select the width of crown moulding based on the height of the ceiling, usually 1" of depth for each foot of ceiling height. This rule works well for large rooms where a room with 10' ceilings would have 10" crown mouldings. For smaller rooms and lower ceilings, the dimensions might be too wide and you would need to cut back on the width. Tape a piece of paper or cardboard to test different sizes.

  • Buy more than you think you need.
    Baseboards, casing, and crown mouldings are sold in long pieces, usually 8', 10', and 12' lengths. Draw a floor and wall plan and measure carefully. For longer walls, you'll need to join two or more strips together. Determine the perfect lengths for your job to minimize waste. You might need 3- 12' pieces and 1- 8' piece for your space. Buy what you need, and then a little more for joints and miter corner cuts.

  • Let the pieces of moulding "rest" where they'll be installed.
    Wood and MDF are vulnerable to changes in temperature and humidity, so bring the moulding pieces into the room about ten days before installation.

  • Prime, stain, or paint the moulding strips before you install them.
    You'll save lots of time and effort if you paint the strips of moulding before they're installed in the room. Line the pieces up spanning sawhorses or chairs and the work will be a breeze. After cutting and installation, you'll probably have to do some final touch-ups. Be sure to finish both the right and underside of the moulding to prevent warping. Let the finish dry thoroughly before installing.

  • Add a special finishing glaze for extra interest.
    For texture and depth of color, add a colored glaze. Paint it on the moulding carefully, then wipe off with an old rag in the direction of the grain or long side of the board. The glaze will fill gaps and cracks, showing off the details of the decorative moulding, whether it's fancy or plain.

Read our Tips on Installing Decorative Moulding.

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