I seem to get this question a lot these days, given people are installing more crown molding to help the sale of their houses.  Here are just a couple of tips to make the decision easier on you:

  1. Never paint crown molding white!  Crown molding will collect dust, and then it will look dingy.  So unless you want to dust it frequently, paint it an off white color instead of white.
  2. Paint the crown molding a different color than the ceiling and the wall.  It makes the crown molding pop more.  Ideally, you’ve painted the crown molding the same color as the window, door, and floor trim.
  3. Paint the crown molding the same color in the whole house.  It will create a unification of your home.  There are exceptions to this however.  For example, if you have one unique room that has exposed stained wood beams, you might want the molding to match the beams.


If you’ve ever compared thicknesses of crown molding, you’ll notice a significent difference in price. Thin crown molding is dramatically less expensive than wide, but unfortunately often times doesn’t have the kind of impact that our clients would like. And given these tough economic times, many of our clients end up settling with the thin, less expensive, and less dramatic options. Here’s a little trick we picked up to keep costs low but still get the effect.

When you pick out your crown molding, pick out the narrow kind. But also pick out a simple piece of narrow TRIM as well. Install the crown molding in the normal fashion. Measure down a couple of inches (wherever you invisioned your wider crown molding would end) and install the trim ending at that point. This should leave a couple of inches of bare wall in between the trim and the crown molding. Paint the crown molding, the wall, and the trim all the same color (ideally a glossier finish than whatever your wall was). Viola. Your eye is tricked into thinking the crown molding, the wall, and the trim are all one piece. Fantastic!


I’ve been getting a lot of questions recently on what size moulding to install. Don’t take this guide as an absolute, many times we go against the recommended sizes for drama and it looks fantastic.  But this can be used as general advice.

  Ceiling Height
Moulding Size
6′ 9′ 10′ 11′ 12′ or more
Casing 2 1/4"
Base 3 1/4"
Crown 3 5/8"
Casing 2 1/4" – 3 1/4"
  x x    
Base 4 1/4" to 5 1/4"
  x x    
Crown 4 1/4" to 5 1/4"
  x x    
Casing 3 1/4" to 3 1/2"
      x x
Base 5 1/4" to 7 1/4"
Crown 4 5/8" to 6"
Casing 3 1/4" to 3 1/2"
Base 7 1/4" or more
Crown 7" or more

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I found yet another great article on RemodellingGuy.net about wainscoting.  Read it here, or scroll down for the complete article.

Do you want to make an absolutely stunning difference in any room of your home in less than two days, start to finish? I love big differences made quickly! And this project will do it for sure!

One of the most commonly asked questions from people looking for chair rail ideas is “what is the proper chair rail height?”. I answered in the previous post that the best height is around 30″ – 34″ above the floor for most rooms, but that there isn’t a widely accepted “correct” height. But what if you put it higher? What if you move way up the wall, say to 60″ – 64″ off the floor?

I want to demonstrate just how dramatically the act of changing out some baseboards and door casings and installing simple bead-board wainscoting will change any room of your house. Let’s get started!

ScreenHunter 08 Mar. 29 19

Above, we have a standard room. It has a couple of nice features already with some hardwood floors and a pair of French doors, but other than that it’s bare bones. (Don’t you wish you’re room were just as empty! Moving all the stuff is half the job!)

ScreenHunter 09 Mar. 29 20

If you want to do a very quick job, you could do only what I’ve done here in this image. Ive replaced the baseboard with a 5.25″ Primed Base, and added a 2.25″ Chair Rail installed at a height of 33″ above the floor (to the top).

This room has 8′ ceilings. If you have higher ceilings you might raise the chair a little bit, but not much. I also replaced the door and window casing with something with a little bit more detail in the profile. These things made a huge difference! Wouldn’t you agree? Let’s kick it up another notch:

ScreenHunter 11 Mar. 29 20

Now I’ve gone from a 2.25″ Chair Rail to a custom moulding which combines a standard profile “Howe” casing with a rounded off peice of 1X2 on top of it to create a little shelf (only about 1.5″ deep) at the top of the chair.

But the real difference is the addition of some color! Nothing sets off a design like white painted chair rail moulding against a nice deep wall color. I’ve shown a taupe-ish color, but it looks great with blues, reds, yellows, you name it! (at this point I started thinking the floor needed to be darker, but never got a round tuit) This is getting fun! Let’s add some wainscoting:

ScreenHunter 12 Mar. 29 20

Now we’re cooking with fire! The type of bead-board wainscot paneling I’m showing here is so easy to install it’s not even funny! I’ve shown this with 4″ wide planks, but something with the lines a little closer or a little more spread out would still look fantastic!

If you paint everything with at least one coat of good primer and give it a light sanding before you install it, this can be done in a couple of days easily (depending on room size of course!).

To keep things simple, I would install the paneling first and then install the baseboards and chair rail over it. The extra peice of 1X2 at the top of the chair rail will cover the top edge of the paneling. The only thing to really watch out for is the overall thickness. If it gets too thick it can cause issues around your doors and windows.

To avoid this, I would use thin 1/4″ paneling, a relatively thin baseboard (standard stuff is fine), and a casing with a good wide “back band” type detail, such as the aforementioned “Howe” casing. If you don’t want to change your casing completely, you can just add a “back-band”. I’ll have to get into that in another post.

Now for the Grand Finale:

ScreenHunter 14 Mar. 29 20

Whooooo Hoooooo! Isn’t she georgeous! I really like the way this looks! Now, you need to invoke your imagination a little and see it with pictures on the top shelf (which I would make deeper, about 4″ or 5″) and with a little furniture in the room…but this is a showstopper now!

I ran the wainscot up to 63″ in this picture and I think it’s just about perfect for the 8′ room. I also added a very simple and relatively small (3″) crown molding which really caps it off. I tried it at first with a larger, more standard shaped crown and it looked funny. The bead board look just didn’t go with the frilly curves of standard crown. The crown shown here is a simple “cove” molding.

There you go! A quick, RG:Express project that can make you feel like you’re living in a new house in no time flat and for not more than a few hundred dollars. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!


I was going to write a topic about this – but found a great summary on Cottage Home Decorating.  I’ve replicated it here for you, but you can read it in its full glory on their site.

Okay, you have decided to try your hand at installing beadboard paneling. When it was first used in the very early 1900’s it was made up of tongue and groove strips, run vertically, to create a striped or paneled effect. It was very solid and had gaps that allowed for expansion and contraction due to humidity and weather. Today, bead board paneling is a solid sheet of wood, with grooves tooled in by machine. It is less expensive to buy and much easier and quicker to install. So let’s get started!

Are you going to leave the paneling unfinished, lightly stain it, or paint it? Let me help you decide. A light wood, left unfinished and not too smooth give a warm, rustic, casual feel to a room. Harder darker woods with heavy staining are more formal, contemporary and classic, in a rich, darker way. Painted bead board can be anything you want it to be, depending on the color and sheen your choose!

When installing beadboard, you really want to have trim molding, both on the top and the bottom of the paneling. This creates a finished, neat line above and below, and can also hide uneveness that can appear after a time, due to settling.

So, have you chosen your bead board in tongue and groove or as paneling? They both can be purchased at any home improvement store. Or, you may want to look for recycled bead board from a reclaiming construction company. Going green is always a nice idea, but be very critical when you purchase this way. It needs to be level, undamaged, and you need to make sure you aren’t getting panels with cutouts that don’t match the outlets, switches, and thermostats in your home. If there are some, make sure they give you extra panels to work with.

Assuming that you have chosen to install the paneling, rather than tongue in groove, here is what you need in the way of supplies and tools:

Supply List

bead board paneling

  • paneling adhesive
  • hammer
  • paneling nails
  • measuring tape
  • circular saw
  • drywall square
  • router
  • ladder
  • How To Start Installing BeadBoard

    country style wainscoting

    Using a level, draw a pencil line around the entire room at the height the paneling will be installed at (or just the length of the wall you are paneling, Captain Obvious). Cut all your paneling to that height. At this point you should still be friends, enthusiastic and energetic.

    Installation is about to begin.

    1.) Apply paneling adhesive in a zigzag manner over the back of the first board.

    2.) Place the board, starting in a corner of the room. You need the paneling to “look” straight, even if your level says it is slightly off. The corner has to be parallel to the striping in the board…minor adjustments can be made when you get to the other corner to make it appear straight there as well. (This step has potential to become your first disagreement. It requires beer number two and a second sip of wine).

    3.) Square the panel and nail it to the wall studs, using your paneling nails. You want to nail it in place in places where you can’t see the nail heads, such as the tongue edge and wherever moldings will hide it. Repeat, working your way around the room from corner to corner. When securing the bead board panel to the wall, leave about a 1/8th inch gap between the end of the bead board panel and the corner to allow for thermal expansion. Likewise leave a 1/8th inch gap around doors, windows, and cutouts for electrical outlets and switches.

    4.) You will not usually be able to use a whole panel at each corner. To cut one, lay it face down and, using a circular saw, cut the desired width. This is also a good time to make corrections to continue to give the appearance of straight walls. As long as the corner doesn’t hit in a groove portion of the panel, it will be unnoticeable.

    5.) Install the bead board molding trim at the top and the base bard trim at the bottom, using, of course, your paneling nails. Quarter round molding is needed for the corners.

    6.) If you are installing beadboard all the way to the ceiling, you will need crown moulding or some kind of trim.


    I’ve been spending some time sorting through our reader emails, and here’s one I thought I would share.

    Our reader says before installing your trim (or you can remove existing trim, add, and replace) – apply expanding insulation along the crack between the wall and floors, ceilings, or window area.  It will cut down on drafts and save you money on your energy bill.

    We want to hear about any tip to save money or conserve energy!


    I came across a new eBook today from Home Additions Plus and was wondering if anyone has read it yet.  Let me know if you have, I’m interested if its any good!


    One question we get frequently is what color to paint crown molding.  If your walls have a color, should you use a contrasting color (such as white) on the molding?

    While many people do, it’s not a hard and fast rule.  If your using crown molding in a room with a low ceiling height (8′ or less), we suggest you paint the crown molding and baseboards the same color as the wall color.  Using a contrasting color, or white, on the moldings will actually make the ceiling feel lower than it is, while painting in the same color give the illusion of height.

    Additionally, if you’re installing moldings in a crowded or narrow hallway or room, it may make the room feel to busy to have wall colors that contrast with the trim colors.  Consider painting them all the same, the exception being the one main door to the room.  Putting the same color on all the walls, trim, and doors (sans the main door) will reduce the clutter and stress of the room and make the main door pop.


    Another question we get frequently is if crown molding looks good on 8′ ceilings, or if it emphasizes the low ceiling height.  Good news – crown molding will look beautiful on 8′ ceilings, as long as you use smaller trim.  Nothing taller than about 6″, preferably 4″ will add luxury to the room.  Another factor might be room size – if your room is too small, then the molding may make the room feel crowded.  Our recommendation is to stay away from crown molding in a room with an 8′ ceiling that is about the size of a powder room, or smaller.

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    I just saw a fun article in the Chicago Tribune that lists installing crown molding as a top home renovation project for 2009.  Of course, we agree!  Since everyone is tightening their belts these days, it’s a great way to add visual impact on a smaller budget.  Especially if you’re planning on selling in 2009 and you live in a pre-planned community or a condo-complex, it’s an exceptional way to set yourself apart from your neighbors.

    There were other great tips as well, read the whole article!