Elegant Extras: Adding Molding to Your Home

Crown and picture molding on yellow wall.

If you would like your home to have the look and feel of a million dollar mansion without spending the million dollars we have some helpful hints on how to create a rich, quality appearance, without going broke. Crown molding, chair rails and wainscoting are just a few of the many elegant extras that can transform even the most modest home into a design dream.

Crown Molding

Designed to soften and decorate an otherwise stark, empty corner where the wall meets the ceiling, crown molding can actually create a visually stunning focal point using a wide variety of styles and materials.


Wood molding is available in a variety of wood species such as pine, spruce, poplar and oak as well as medium density fiberboard, and it comes in various styles from plain to decorative. When installing wood molding you may opt for a simple, single piece of crown molding or create a custom design by combining lengths of various styles of molding.

Danny Lipford installing crown molding.Installing wood molding is fairly straightforward as long as you take accurate measurements, plan carefully and are fairly comfortable using a miter and coping saw. Coping and mitering refer to the two types of cuts necessary to effectively join strips of molding together at the corners.

Select a style of molding based on the overall architectural style of your home as well as the decor in your room. Also, take care of all painting or staining prior to installation, as this is much easier and will provide better results.


As with many other home-related products, synthetic materials such as urethane now provide additional decorative choices in molding and due to the fact that it’s lightweight, make the job of installation much easier. Urethane crown molding resists splitting, cracking and peeling due to age and changes in temperature and humidity. In addition, various manufacturers now make available ready-made corner pieces that virtually eliminate the need for much of the cutting that wood requires.

Danny Lipford with wainscotting on wall.

Chair Rail

Traditionally installed to protect walls from chairs as they were moved away from the table, chair rails also provide both a decorative finish and a means to separate two different colors or finishes on a wall. Generally installed at around 36 inches high, chair rail is very simple to install and can easily be handled by most homeowners. The material used is a strip of molding available at any home center. Simply match the style with that of either your crown molding or the overall style of your room.


Wainscoting refers to the application of wood panels around the lower portion of a wall providing both protection to the wall as well as a rich finishing touch. There are many styles of wainscoting ranging from traditional to modern, and your selection would be based of course on individual preference as well as the overall style of your home.

In the past, wainscoting required custom millwork and a sizable investment and was quite a luxury item. However, a wainscoting kit that is now available makes the project an affordable option for many homeowners, costing a fraction of traditional wainscoting with an installation process that is as simple as putting together a child’s puzzle. The kit of parts includes pre-machined stiles, rails and panels that fit together by a tongue-and-groove joining system.


  1. Actually, I have a question…may I ask it?
    I recently ripped the wallpaper off my guest bedroom walls…that was very easy. However, it left some uneveness from the glue, I would suppose. I would like to try to put a “knock-down” coat of texture on the wall (made of wall board) and wonder if I can just leave the old stuff on the wall? It is not sticking out and it might add more texture? Thank you, Kim Bracher

  2. I am installing crown molding in my living room but am not sure how to cut the outward corners. I have a mitre saw but need help knowing how to measure and cut. Any helpful hints?

    • Hi Lori,
      When cutting outside corners on crown molding, set your miter box to a 45 degree angle. Turn the stock upside down and align it at an angle to the saw fence and table the same way the molding will be positioned against the wall and ceiling. Be sure the beveled angles at the top and bottom of the back of the molding are flush against the saw fence and table, before making your cuts. If you’ve done it right, the top of the molding will be longer than the bottom. Try practicing it on some scrap and holding the pieces up against the ceiling to see if they meet right before tackling the real thing.

  3. Forget about the mitering. I’ve used the Miterless Crown Moulding System from Fypon. Straight cuts only needed that go into corner pieces … it’s so much faster and easier, and has a much more professional look!


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