Is Crown Molding Right for Your Home?
By Shannon Wells
If the sight of crown molding automatically gives you the impression that a room is elegant, well-constructed and maybe just a little bit fancy, you’re not alone. In fact, crown molding has been used to make rooms look more finished for more than 2,500 years. While it’s a lot easier to install these days (no pickaxe required), it’s still not the simplest project. Here’s how to decide if crown molding is right for your home.
The Many Benefits of Crown Molding
A Fantastic First Impression
A room with expertly installed trim can make a strong first impression to everyone who enters your home.
Makes Your Room Feel Larger
Because crown molding breaks up your wall and ceiling, it draws the eye higher, making your room feel larger and more spacious. And, this optical illusion isn’t just for fancy rooms with high ceilings — shorter rooms can absolutely benefit! Just be sure that you adjust your scale accordingly.
Trim is great for obscuring cracks, wobbly paint lines or any other minor flaws in the corners and edges of your home.
What Crown Molding Won’t Deliver
If you’re looking for home improvements to skyrocket your home’s value, crown molding may not be your best bet. While moldings and trims can do wonders for your home’s appeal and first impressions, it’s not proven to earn every dollar back.
A Quick and Easy Project
If you aren’t prepared to hire a professional or really dig in on the DIY, moldings and trims should be avoided. Installing crown molding requires a lot of math, precision and detail work. Done poorly, trim work will still draw your guest’s eye, but not in the way you’d like.
How to Choose the Right Crown Molding for Your Home
If you’ve decided to install crown molding, your design choices should be based on two things: style and ceiling height.
First things first, an ultra-modern or contemporary home may not be the best place to add decorative cornices and moldings. If you have your heart set on some kind of molding, keep it very small, say 2-3 inches wide. If you have a Victorian, Colonial, Edwardian, Georgian or Craftsman home, more traditional crown molding is a pretty safe bet.
If you have existing trim, let it be your guide. Match the finish and scale of window casings and baseboards to create a cohesive look. If your room doesn’t have trim, but the rest of the house does, you can use your home’s style as inspiration, but you don’t have to match it exactly.
The ceiling height acts as a useful guide for how wide your crown molding should be. Molding sizes vary widely, ranging from 3 – 20 inches wide. If your ceilings are only 8 feet, you’ll want to stay on the lower end of the spectrum — no more than 6-inches. For higher ceilings, you can add 1 inch per extra foot as a rule of thumb. As an example, a room with 10-foot ceilings will look lovely with 8-inch crown molding.
Crown Molding Options
After you’ve decided that crown molding is right for your room, there are still quite a few choices to make. You’ll need to select the material, the finish and whether or not you’ll do it yourself.
Your finish options are either paint or stain. In most cases, a bright white crown molding is what you’ll see in a Victorian or Colonial home. In a Craftsman style, however, you may see trim and moldings that are stained wood. Occasionally, you may see crown molding painted in bright colors in a contemporary home.
The cost to install crown molding is determined by the type of material you choose. If you opt for solid wood or plaster crown molding, you’ll find that costs range between $25-$50 per running foot. On the other hand, PVC crown molding costs between $10-$20 per running foot.
Trust the Pros or DIY?
If your walls are generally straight, you have few corners and you opt for DIY-friendly materials like wood or plaster-covered foam, installing crown molding may be a great DIY project. If you need to match existing trim, have rounded walls or are using plaster moldings, a professional is your best bet.
Shannon Wells is a freelance writer, real estate agent and DIY enthusiast. She’s happiest when she’s in the middle of a home improvement project, which, lucky for her, is most of the time.