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Crown molding can be a simple and effective way to add more personality to a room. While numerous professionals will happily install your crown molding for you, the process can be done easily on your own. While many people prefer a more traditional installation, there is no “wrong” way to install crown molding.
Crown molding can be installed upside down, although it is usually not recommended. If you like the unconventional style and keep it consistent throughout your home, there is a chance that your guests may not even notice your alternative design.
Whether you’re about to install crown molding in your home for the first time, or have already installed crown molding and are beginning to notice some errors, this article will hopefully help encourage and reassure you on your home decorating journey.
Which Way Is “Up” With Crown Molding?
Crown molding is usually installed with its more detailed side on the bottom and its less detailed side on the top. However, with simpler designs, it can be difficult to distinguish which way is the “right” way based on the details of the pattern alone. Instead, focus on the depth of the waves or grooves. The deeper grooves should be on the bottom, while the shallower grooves should be on the top.
Should You Hire a Professional, or Do It Yourself?
Hiring a professional will usually save time and eliminate your chance of error. If the room you plan to decorate has rounded walls, hiring a professional is probably the better call.
Depending on what kind of material your molding is made of, the process itself can involve some heavy lifting. Certain plaster and wood molds tend to weigh more than a simple one-piece crown. If you are working with heavy material, hiring a professional will ensure that the job gets done safely without injury.
It is important to consider pricing, as well. Pricing primarily depends on the type of molding you select and how much space you plan to cover but, hiring a professional will inevitably contribute to the bill. On average, professionals tend to charge about $6 per linear foot, which can end up being around $3000 per household project.
If you pay close attention to detail and feel confident in your ability to cut and measure, installing your own crown molding is probably a project you can handle. While you’ll still have to pay for your materials, you may feel good about saving some extra money for your budget.
Which Material Is Right for You?
With a wide range of materials to choose from, it can be difficult knowing which one is most suitable to your home. There are a number of factors to consider:
- Your experience with crown molding
- The existing trim in your home
- Your design preference
- Your budget
Depending on whether you are hiring a professional or tackling the job yourself, you may want to opt for lighter or more flexible material. Materials such as polyurethane foam, for example, are ideal for a person with minimal crown molding experience.
If you already have a fireplace that has been framed with crown molding, it might be best to choose the same material and design for the doorway or ceiling. This will help the room look more elegant and uniform.
Do you prefer simple designs, or more intricate patterns? Some materials, such as plaster, are better for sharp detail.
Lastly, consider your budget. Prices can vary between materials, and certain materials require professional installation, which will be an added cost as well.
Plaster can be cast to display intricate and sharp detail, making it a common choice for crown molding. However, plaster is usually quite heavy, and can crack fairly easily.
Because of its weight, plaster usually requires a professional installation. The cost of labor in addition to the materials can get to be quite pricey. Prices for plaster itself vary between $5 and $30 per linear foot.
Plaster-covered foam is a great alternative to regular plaster. It is lighter and more flexible, making it more suitable for a DIY installation. In the end, it will appear as smooth and polished as regular plaster would.
It also is cheaper than regular plaster, only costing between $2 to $8 per linear foot.
Wood is also a great choice of material for a DIY installation. It is
Wood also comes in different stains to give it a classier look. Whereas regular costs about $1.50 to $7 per linear foot, the price of stained wood usually ranges between $1 and $10 per linear foot. Certain stains may even cost slightly more than that.
Polyurethane is a plastic-like substance that is often chosen for its flexibility. However, it can get to be pretty heavy, and may require professional assistance.
Polyurethane can be purchased with a faux wood stain or painted finish. Prices generally range between $1 and $17 per linear foot.
Polyurethane foam looks like plaster, but is far lighter, making it a DIY-friendly choice. It is also relatively flexible. Prices range from about $4 to $45 per linear foot.
Flex is a flexible, rubbery material, making it a great choice for rounded walls. It usually requires professional installation, as it can be tricky to navigate curvy walls on your own while still getting an even finish.
Flex Trim usually costs about the same as wood, but can sometimes be found for even less.
How to Remove Crown Molding
Perhaps you’ve already installed your crown molding upside-down and would like to remove it. There are ways to remove it relatively seamlessly, but the number of cracks and markings left behind will depend on the materials you used to originally install it.
Removing the crown molding will be a time-consuming process, but if done with care and caution, you can minimize the damage done to both the molding and the wall.
1. Cut the paint seams
With a sharp utility knife, cut at the point where the wall meets the crown molding. You will want to do this along the bottom as well as the ends.
If you have two beams that meet in the corner, cut the paint seam at which the corners meet.
2. Slide a putty knife between the wall and the molding
Make sure you use a sturdy knife, as you don’t want the blade to get caught between the wall and the molding.
If the space between the wall and the molding is too narrow, you can use a hammer to lightly hit the handle of the putty knife. This will facilitate your placement of the blade.
3. Pry the molding only a fraction of an inch away from the wall
With the handle of the putty knife, begin prying the molding away from the wall. Be patient with this step; you only want the molding less than a quarter of an inch away from the wall.
Do this along the entire piece of molding.
4. Check for nail shanks
Look down the aisle between the wall and the molding to see if there are nail shanks.
5. Continue to pry the molding
Orient a flat pry bar near each nail shank. Using the flat pry bar, pull the crown molding further away from the wall. Move along the length of molding evenly and carefully until the entire molding is off the wall.
Reinstall the molding
If you have successfully completed steps 1 through 5, you should have very minimal cracks or markings left on your molding. Even if you do have cracks, they will likely only be on the back, which will be covered once you reinstall the molding anyway!
Enjoying Your New Space
Maybe you’re a new homeowner, or maybe you have just made the choice to spice up a room in your house. Either way, congratulations! You’re on your way to an elegantly designed home.
Hopefully, you feel confident enough to install crown molding yourself. Keep in mind that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to install crown molding; however, if you plan to resell your home, for example, you may want to opt for a more traditional installation.
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Giovanni Valle is an architect, designer, internet entrepreneur, and the managing editor of various digital publications including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place. He is the founder of BuilderSpace LLC.