Crown Molding & Other Decorative Moldings

The majority of homes come with some form of basic molding, whether crown molding, casing, or another variety. Most of these moldings are used to hide gaps between two different surfaces or pieces. But while molding is pretty much standard in any home, an upgraded home takes advantage of the more ornate designs on the market. Great molding is the finishing touch of any well-decorated room, and designers often use it in interesting and innovative ways to complement existing d��cor.

Crown Molding: The Most Popular Decorative Molding

The most popular type of decorative molding is crown molding or cornice molding. This molding runs along the ceiling and is again used to hide a gap, this time between the wall and ceiling. Crown molding is usually between three and fifteen inches wide. Experts usually suggest that the molding be one inch wide for every one foot of ceiling height. In other words, if the ceiling is eight feet high, an eight-inch crown molding is best. In addition, the smaller the room, the less wide the crown molding should be, as it can easily become overpowering.


Casing is molding used around a window in order to hide the gap between the wall and the window frame. Casing is usually between two and eight inches wide. Matching molding is typically used around the door to hide the gap between the door frame and wall. There is also baseboard molding, which is used to cover the gap between the floor and wall. This molding also protects the wall from anything that might run along the floor, like furniture and vacuum cleaners.

Chair Rail

Another type of decorative molding is a chair rail. These long strips run horizontally at the proper height to protect the wall from getting damaged as people get in and out of chairs. They are also commonly used for decorative purposes to section off the top and bottom section of a wall, particularly when two different wall treatments are used on these sections, such as wallpaper on bottom and paint on top.

Thin molding can be used to frame out areas of walls in an attempt to make the wall look recessed. This is an inexpensive decoration that adds flair to a flat wall.

Choosing the Proper Molding

Most interior designers will suggest a molding that reflects the architectural style of the house, so a more streamlined molding would be used for the modern home, while a more ornate molding would be used in period homes.

Molding Tips

  • Plan a layout for the molding carefully. Be sure to use each strip to its fullest and also limit the number of joints.
  • Bring your molding into the house a week or two before installation. This allows the moldings to adapt to the humidity and temperature within the house before they are finished.
  • Paint both sides of the molding before installation to reduce warping. It's much easier to paint it beforehand than have to go up and down that ladder a million times!

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