finishing touch
decorative molding adds elegance

By: Thomas M. Ciesla

Types of Finishes
Here is where things get interesting. Typically, decorative moulding is either stained or painted; yet the range of finish treatment is practically unlimited. Reohn Zeleznik of Definitive School of Decorative Art, the largest in America, points visitors to his showroom where dozens of moulding samples are on display. The finish samples offer a multi-color spectrum that includes metallic, stone, peeled paint, aged, distressed, pickled and even one that appeared to be eaten by insects. An artisan himself, Zeleznik was once asked by a client to match the existing moulding in a French Chateau-style house requiring him to develop a distressed, worm-eaten look. His recreation matched so perfectly that the client couldn't tell his work from the original. “That,” he proudly said, “is when you know you were successful.”

Bottom Line
Decorative moulding is priced to match any budget. The least expensive profile starts around thirty cents a foot for pine quarter-round, then prices slowly climb to one dollar per foot for large baseboard or crown moulding, ending with prices exceeding three dollars a foot for embossed hardwood or dentil crown moulding.

If you choose to have a contractor install your molding, be sure to ask for references and get a written quote that specifies exactly what will be done. For the do-it-yourselfer, installation of most profiles is straightforward, requiring a good miter box, or miter saw for corners. Some folks get around mitering by using corner blocks at the floor and ceiling, and rosette blocks for the top corners of doorway casing. Crown moulding, perhaps one of the most popular do-it-yourself moulding projects, can be tricky, requiring you to flip pieces around and backwards to get the proper cut. Read up on exactly what to do before tackling this moulding; you will save yourself the frustration of scrapping multiple pieces of wood

When selecting moulding, choose a profile to fit the size of the room. If a room has an eight- foot ceiling, oversized crown moulding and baseboard will create that 'Alice-In-Wonderland' look. Conversely, a 3 ½-inch crown moulding in a room with an 18-foot ceiling will barely be visible. Higher ceilings offer the perfect opportunity to try a compound moulding combining several profiles to create a larger-than-life moulding. When selecting a finish for your moulding, try to compliment the existing colors in a room, or strive for a modest contrast. For example, if a room already has stained baseboard, the moulding at the ceiling should be stained the same tone. If you are repainting a room using off-white on the walls and a slightly darker color on the ceiling, perhaps the dentil crown moulding you add should be finished in a low luster white to create just enough of a contrast. The more exotic finishes discussed earlier might require the experienced eye of an artisan to match your interior architecture.

Regardless of the architectural style of your home, there is a decorative moulding profile that will complement your environment to create that rich, cozy feel of past eras. Decorative moulding is all about grace, elegance and subtle classic lines. It is jewelry for the home that, when applied properly, will create the look you desire. Keep in mind, however, that excessive amounts of moulding, like too much jewelry, will only distract from your homes appearance. Focus on simple elegance without overwhelming the environment.

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1. Base Shoe
– a moulding used next to the floor on interior baseboard.
2. Base Board
– a flat projection from an interior wall at the floor, covering the joint between the floor and the wall.
3. Corner Block
– thin decorative square block for inside and outside corners, usually the same height as the baseboard.
4. Casing
– moulding around a door or window; may be smooth or molded.
5. Chair Rail
– a horizontal moulding which may be smooth or molded attached 32 inches above the floor, parallel to the baseboard.
6. Crown moulding
– any moulding forming the crowning or finishing member of a structure.
7. Jamb
– the inner top and two sides of a door or window opening
8. Plinth Block
– block of wood placed at the door moldings to separate the baseboard from the casing.
9. Panel Moulding
– a decorative, flat-backed moulding used to frame-out a rectangle or square on a wall.
10. Rosette
– decorative square block used at the upper two corners of door trim to eliminate the need for mitered casing corners.

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