Installing crown molding is one of today’s most-pursued architectural upgrades, giving plain walls depth and formality. Choosing which type of crown molding to use can be a difficult task, so we’ve broken down some of the choices.
Plaster crown molding is used for grand interior, usually with plaster walls. Plaster can be cast into elaborate profiles, some of which can’t be milled out of wood. However, all plaster crown molding is made to order and can be costly. It’s also very heavy material and can be easily cracked.
Solid wood crown molding can be used for any installations. Like plaster, natural wood is a traditional material that is hard to imitate. Its color and grain patterns add warmth to a room. Wood comes in many different simple stock profiles; more ornate reliefs can also be achieved by embossing wood composites onto solid wood. The downside to using a solid wood material for crown molding is that there is a possibility can shrink and swell with changes in the weather.
Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF) crown molding can be used in rooms where trim is painted. MDF is a stable and low-cost alternative to solid wood. It comes in a wide range of stock profiles, some with a natural wood veneer suitable for staining. Without veneers, MDF must be painted. This leads to the cutting and installing posing the same challenges as solid wood. Additionally, MDF is easier to dent or nick.
Polyurethane crown molding works in most installations. Polyurethane is one of the more less expensive materials, is more stable, and is more rot- and insect-repellent than wood. Polyurethane also comes in elaborate, plaster like profiles. Keep in mind that polyurethane is slightly softer than wood, it dents easily, and is only good for painted applications.
PVC crown molding is good for bathrooms, exteriors, or anywhere moisture is a concern and a simple profile is appropriate. The plastic polymers in this product won’t warp or rot, no matter how wet it gets. The way PVC is made limits profile options and precludes ornate designs altogether; its slick surface is difficult to paint neatly, but it needs paint in order to cover the plastic sheen.
Flex crown molding is used with curved walls and window bays. This rubbery material comes in an array of profiles that can bend around a curved wall without the need for relief cuts. While less expensive than a custom carpentry job, flexible molding is costly and needs to be special-ordered.
Polystyrene crown molding is usually used for a quick room redesign. Polystyrene can be cut with scissors or a knife and goes up with construction adhesive. However, polystyrene has thin texture and less-than-crisp edges.
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