crown molding replacement

yborgalAugust 23, 2011

I mentioned in another thread that our daughter is refurbing a 1928 home she and her DH bought. The walls are plastered and the crown molding appears to be a do-it-yourself job that wasn't done well at all.

The molding was screwed in rather than nailed;I suppose to keep the plaster from cracking. There are screws sticking out all along the skinny molding and it looks terrible.

They will start painting the LR in the next few days. Replacing the molding with real wood is cost prohibitive.

Would it be awful to remove the narrow crown molding and replace it with a foam molding that could be glued on, rather than nailed/screwed in place? Has anyone here used this type of product? And are you pleased with the final look?

Or try to get the screws to wood level so they won't be so obvious?

Also, the end walls that are vaulted have no crown molding. Would you continue it all around or just leave the vaulted ceiling walls plain?

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Given how big that room is I wouldn't scrap the moulding. I'd try to find a way to secure it to the wall and then add on other pieces to it to make it chunkier.
As for the ends. It really depends on how they paint the walls if you would continue the mouldings or not. If it were me I'd be inclined to go from corner to corner with the mouldings to match what is in the room and then treat everything above that line as ceiling.
I'm a big believer in color on ceilings. I wouldn't leave it white.
And I'd look for a real fireplace mantle. Something that fits that room better than just what looks like a painted area. It's too grand a space to have such a unimpressive fireplace area.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 1:15PM
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Trim head screws are just as good as and in some ways better than nails for attaching molding and other interior trim. It ought to be fairly easy to either sink the existing screws below the molding surface and then fill the holes or remove them and the existing molding entirely.

The existing molding is not really crown molding - the walls and ceiling do not meet at a 90 degree angle so molding choices are fairly limited. The reason what's there looks a bit odd is because it's too narrow for the size of the room.

Adding molding to all of the ceiling/wall intersections would be a pretty difficult task with lots of interesting angles to work out. Keeping it on the long horizontal walls only would be a lot easier.

There are some real pluses in using one of the various polyurethane or other non-wood moldings - they will not warp or swell with changes in humidity, they are prefinished. They are somewhat more difficult to put up straight because they are so flexible. You also need to be careful that what you buy is of good quality. Gluing will work, but you have to be awfully careful that everything's lined up perfectly before the glue touches the surface - adjustments are a lot easier for DIY work when using screws and avoiding nails will protect the molding from errant hammer blows which will damage plastic molding more than wood.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 5:28AM
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Not every old home had crown molding and not every renovation needs crown molding.

Is the rest of the house the same sort of spanish influenced/colonial revival mix?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 8:31AM
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Bill, some rooms have a Spanish influence and others could/might have if they were decorated in that style. The previous owners had a mish mash of furniture in the bedrooms and DR.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 9:37AM
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Wow! Cool house!

You might want to google image Spanish Colonial Revival for some inspiration pics.

I'd just take down that little molding and not try to replace it.

Do you have access to above the ceiling to see if they just plastered over wood beams? The room seems to be just screaming for some chunky wood beams and it is characteristic of the style.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 10:05AM
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Bill, what a coincidence. I just looked at your page and see you live in Raleigh. My daughter and her husband just moved back here (Florida) from Raleigh. They lived on Blount Street. Anywhere near you?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 10:13AM
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Bill's right, the crown that is in your photos looks like very recent installation (see corner blocks) most spanish style homes did not have it. Researching old photos of that style of interior will give you the best information. Google Images is your friend, ha ha. It looks like a lovely house ... very spanish ... also check out some photos of Pueblo interiors for inspiration. and resist the modern urge to make everything look like a colonial revival on This Old House.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 10:14AM
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I think the crown in the pics looks out of place on that style of house. Sort like an attempt to colonial-ize something but using the wrong colonial reference (i.e., Adam-esque/British when the correct reference should be Spanish). And at least in the fireplace room it is very undersized and skimpy for the bold proportions.

Be glad it's on with screws since it can be unscrewed and removed so easily.

Look at historic pix to determine what, if any, crown there might have been. The smooth stucco/plaster walls of the genre don't really form the angles or need the trim that is crown.

Otherwise a very cool house!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 10:26AM
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monablair - seriously? Blount is maybe 8 blocks from me.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 1:01PM
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OMG! Small world, isn't it? They lived at 1217 N. Blount St. Wouldn't it be funny if ya'll knew each other? They used to work out at a gym that was next to a Chinese restaurant and one of their favorite restaurants was the 42nd St. Oyster House.

Some friends' names....Reese and Anya. Sound familiar?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 1:13PM
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I started looking through Spanish Colonial home pictures. You're right; molding is not usually seen in these homes. This weekend we're going to try to remove what's there and see how much damage there is up at the ceiling.

Thanks for all the advice and suggestions.

Don't stop; we need lots more.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 10:38PM
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That is a seriously beautiful home. I wondered what it looked like after the other post you had on deco. I agree now after seeing it to really play up the accurate historic features. The windows/french doors are gorgeous...and those wood floors. Can't they take time to research and work on it over a period of months? Sure would be a perfect project and would result in a lovely home for all time. c

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 10:43PM
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Those names don't ring a bell, but I've spent many a happy hour slurping oysters at 42nd st.

As far as the house goes, don't think "Spanish Colonial" as a style and then rigidly apply those rules. Spanish Colonial is more about multiple styles colliding. You've got the earthy and rustic sense of Mission Revival coming in from the west. You've got a mediterranean revival gaining popularity on the southern coast - arches, courtyards etc. You've got a colonial revival spreading from the north and east emphasizing symmetry and classic detailing.

Spanish Colonial is an eclectic mix bringing in elements from multiple sources. So, it isn't that crown molding doesn't belong anywhere in the house. It is most certainly a colonial detail that might have been drawn upon. However, the place probably wouldn't have had white, painted colonial pattern crown in every corner. It certainly won't be forced into places it didn't fit naturally.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 8:46AM
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