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How to Choose the Right Crown Molding for a Room

Crown molding is a type of architectural millwork that can work in any size room. It draws the eye upward, creates a sense of length in even the smallest spaces, and unifies a room’s space. It is also an easy way to add character to a room and increase a home’s value as many buyers are attracted to the finished detail that crown molding provides.

When choosing crown molding, it’s important to get the scale right. Molding that is too large will overwhelm small spaces or rooms with lower ceilings. Select a molding that is too small for the scale of the room, and the result will have minimal impact.


One thing that architectural millwork experts recommend is to choose crown molding by playing off of the other existing trims in the room. If there are baseboards or window casings, crown moldings should be proportionate to those pieces. Crown molding will typically be the same height as – or perhaps just slightly smaller than – the baseboards.

In addition, it’s a good idea to choose crown molding based on ceiling height. Standard 8-foot ceilings, can accommodate molding that is between 2.5 inches and 6 inches wide. Higher 10-foot ceilings should not have any molding smaller than 5.5 inches wide. For homes with 12-foot ceilings and higher, molding should be at least 7 inches wide. Essentially, higher ceilings can accommodate wider moldings because the volume of the space increases, and the additional height means that moldings that are too small will be difficult to see.

Of course, larger moldings will cost more than narrow moldings. For this reason, architectural millwork experts sometimes suggest assembling a larger molding using smaller pieces. For example, a piece of baseboard can be attached to the wall with crown molding mounted on the ceiling, flush with the baseboard. This method is more affordable than choosing one large piece of molding, and it gives homeowners and designers endless design combinations from which to choose.

In addition to scale, designers and home owners must also choose a molding that will play into the room’s décor. Very ornate crown molding may work for a home that traditionally furnished, but it would look out of place among mid-century modern design.

Most crown moldings are made out of wood, and the type of wood will depend partly on how the molding is to be finished. Pine is a popular and affordable choice as it is soft and often comes pretreated. This makes painting easy. Oak, maple, mahogany and cedar are harder woods that are often recommended if the molding is to be clear-coated, varnished or stained, rather than painted.

Choosing the right crown molding for a room can seem like an overwhelming task, so designers and homeowners may want to seek the advice of architectural millwork experts before purchasing any materials. Custom woodworkers are artisans who can make recommendations that will help achieve the desired look and feel for a room.

Posted: February 29, 2016

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