What molding to put on ceiling when you tile to ceiling?

newhomeowner2011aApril 19, 2012

With our new addition, there is now some separation where the ceiling meets the walls (cracking).

We have beautiful carrera marble field tiles to the ceiling. He has offered to put in a small molding in the bathroom and to go OVER the field tiles (he'd anchor it only to the ceiling and not the wall so there was room for movement as the temperature changes each season) - won't that look strange?

I saw some fancy molding in this picture - http://www.decorpad.com/photo.htm?photoId=89808 - he had suggested more along the lines of a chair rail (thin) molding probably because it is less expensive...

Our frameless doors do not go all the way to the ceiling all the way around (not a steam shower) but since the trim would be wood, is mold something we would then need to worry about?

Our neighbor suggested having him put in the molding everywhere except for where the tile is and then having them re-caulk it (which we'd have to do every season as the temperature changes and it cracks again).

Please tell me what you would suggest for us to have to remedy the situation without it looking odd and ruining our lovely new bathroom?


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I was having a hard time uploading pictures - I think the below link should work so you can view the cracks -


    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 12:26AM
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Your photos:

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 10:17AM
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Anyone want to comment on what you'd ask your contractor to do if this happened to you?

He is coming tomorrow and wants to put a strip around the corners (other than where the tile is) that would make the molding (that would go around the entire ceiling) flush. Basically there won't be any "bump" between where the molding is on the wall vs. tile. Molding over tile - is this weird to anyone else? Any other solution you can think of???

Any suggestions? Pictures?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 11:53PM
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Can't comment on his proposed install method, but I can tell you that there is a wide selection of vinyl trim molding out there. I just had vinyl crown installed in my bathroom and I can't tell the difference. Comes in many profiles as well. My installer stopped the subway tile in the alcove just shy of the ceiling so the crown could be attached at the wall/ceiling intersection.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 12:36PM
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Why don't you pull out the top row of tile and put in a new row that goes to 1/8" below the ceiling? That's the way it should have been done to begin with. It looks like you have caulk going all the way around at the wall/ceiling joint. If so, pull out all that caulk and have the joint taped properly. Again, like it should have been done originally.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 1:52PM
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Here's a picture of what mine looks like (pay no attention to the blue tape) .... https://picasaweb.google.com/114144876617016849150/DropBox?authkey=Gv1sRgCIqE3tL6y8WC1QE#5733542419419121362

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 1:56PM
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The truss is raising up and causing this per what our contractor said.

Here is a pic of what they did - what do y'all think? Does it look silly/cheapen our bathroom?

They nailed the bottom piece to the wall and the top piece to the ceiling. They were going to caulk the top and bottom but not the middle (between the two pieces) so it has wiggle room as the weather changes.

Does that make sense? Any other alternatives you can think of?

I'm personally not a fan but I can't think of an alternative and not sure if it b/c of the truss(es?) that it is due to the joint not being taped properly - please help clarify!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 10:59PM
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I'm having a hard time understanding what is happening with the trusses moving. That doesn't seem to be a good thing. I'm not a carpenter but it seems if there is a structural problem that is causing the wall to move, THAT needs to be fixed. Otherwise you're just putting on bandaids.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 11:14AM
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Two main reasons for basic movement at that joint are:

1) new construction settling and shrinkage. That usually occurs after the first year, and it's usually a "get it out of my system" thing. It happens once, then it's usually done.

2) I was going to ask if your house is built with trusses and if there was an attic above this bathroom. As your builder already explained to you, there's a phenomenon called "truss lift" where seasonally, the lower chord of the truss moves (flexes upwards and downwards) due to movement of the other parts of the truss. Usually, movement is highest at the mid-span of the truss chord.

Truss lift will usually repeat itself seasonally. It is usually accommodated for in just the manner your contractor specified, a "slip joint" with crown molding. The crown is secured to the ceiling only, so when the ceiling moves, the crown "slides" against the wall.

I've seen instances of 3/4" gaps between the partition wall drywall and the ceiling drywall during the lifting. I recall one case where the builder went and and tried to stop the truss lift by going in the attic and securing the truss chords to the partitions walls with Simpson clips. The next season, the truss lift was so strong it actually pulled one entire partition wall off the floor!

The proper way is to allow for the movement. There are truss clips that connect the truss chord to the partition walls while still allowing vertical movement of the bottom chord of the truss.

Also, when the ceiling is drywalled, the ceiling drywall is not screwed to the truss chords near the perimeter walls of the room. The drywall floats. Clips are then used to connect the edges of the ceiling's drywall to top edge of the wall's drywall. Then you mud and tape the corners.

With that detail, when your truss lifts, the edges of the ceiling drywall don't move upwards with the truss. The edges stay connected to the wall drywall. As the chord lifts, the ceiling panels flex just a tad, and you get no cracking in the corners.

Your movement is not significant. But that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt to look up and see the cracks and gaps.

Truss lift is a hit or miss thing. Sometimes it happens throughout the house, sometimes it shows itself in one room more than another. In a subdivision, one house may have it another may not.

Your contractor's "repair" is technically correct. But the "trim" he used may aesthetically be inadequate. Without other photos I have no idea how that added "trim" melds with the detailing in the remainder of your house, but that's your call. To my eye, the "trim" that was added is inadequate and undersized.

Anyone (contractor or builder) building with trusses should be aware of the possibility of truss lift. The only way I know to minimize or eliminate it is to insulate the roof plane of the house instead of insulating the attic floor. That minimizes some of the seasonal environmental swings that the trusses are exposed to.

Hope this info helps!

Best, Mongo

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 11:59AM
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"I'm not a carpenter but it seems if there is a structural problem that is causing the wall to move, THAT needs to be fixed. "

Good thing you are not a carpenter.

Trusses move under varying loads, and a common problem is the center of the bottom cord rising up as the load in the roof increases.

Even wind loading on the roof can cause the trusses to flex more than desired.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 12:23PM
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Good feedback, Mongo.

I agree, the trim looks skimpy. I don't like how the top row of tile looks cut off. How about having your GC put in a sample piece of larger trim that covers the top row of tile? (Or, take out that row, per what an earlier poster said.)

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 10:51PM
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Thanks for that great explanation mongo.

@brickeye: No need to be snarky. I said "IF" there is a structural problem, and there does not appear to be one. I thought it was worth bringing up as a possibility.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 2:46PM
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It's hard to tell from that photo if that trim's okay or not; the real question is how it looks in the room as a WHOLE. My guess is it's fine, no one else will ever think about it/notice and you won't either unless you obsess over it. In the up close photo you posted, my initial impression was it looks nice. And I'm fussy about things looking just right. I think your problem is solved.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 9:41AM
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I wouldn't have expected to see the lip they did on the wall sides to make it even with the tile. I would have expected a small jog in the transition from tile to wall. More work and since the piece is small tricky to attach. I would attach it with glue to another piece of trim and then attach.

You can see in the link below what I'm talking about if you scroll down and look at the seamless valance pic. It is of course a larger transition piece but illustrates the transition.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 9:34AM
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I've attached pics of the rest of the room so you can see what the molding looks like in the rest of the bathroom.

I've also attached a pic of what our molding looks like in the master bedroom. Obviously w/ the extra piece of wood to make it "flush," it doesn't match what he has done in the master bathroom exactly.

Downstairs we have much nicer molding - this thin molding was original in our master so the builder added it to the new rooms in the addition to make up for this truss issue. I don't mind it in the master closet, 4th bedroom and our master bedroom as it is better than nothing but not sure it looks right with the tile going to the ceiling in the master bathroom.

Would you still have him change it knowing this? If so, wouldn't it be easier (and look better) to add wider molding vs. take out the top row of tile and have matching trim around the entire ceiling in the master bathroom?

Obviously additions don't come cheap and we didn't pick out the cheapest bathroom options either so I don't want this molding issue to "cheapen" this bathroom which is why I've come to y'all for your honest opinions. Thanks again for ALL of your feedback!!!

Trim in master (obviously needs some caulking - ha!) -

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 5:31PM
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