Home & Garden--elegant Edges
Moldings literally add dimension to a room.
Thursday, October 8, 1998
One of the simpler and relatively inexpensive ways to dramatically change the character of your home is to install moldings. Base moldings, railings, picture moldings, door and window casings, crown and cornice moldings are all used to add depth and elegance to a room. They highlight the room''s best features by establishing scale and tricking the eye into seeing a wider or taller space. Moldings instantly make a plain salon more interesting and complex. They add a warmth and feeling of home rivaled only by an oversized hearth filed with a roaring fire.
Moldings embody a classical style and symbolize a return to classical architecture. According to Michael Bolton of Monterey''s Bolton Design Group, today''s architecture is turning away from modern influences and moving again towards traditional design. This is particularly true in an area like Monterey County where there are many turn-of-the-century and Victorian homes. Moldings are a perfect complement to elaborate exteriors, but they can also add a sense of tradition to recently built homes.
Installing moldings can be quite a difficult and laborious process; something the less-ambitious handyperson may not want to attempt. The same basics apply here as for any home improvement: Choose your contractor carefully, check references and be sure to discuss and put in writing every detail of the project in advance. For example, contractors may want to charge by the hour. With an average of only three to four pieces of molding installed per hour, negotiating a fair job rate beforehand may significantly keep your costs down.
If cost is not a barrier, consulting a professional contractor to install all types of molding is definitely the easiest option, despite the ready availability of all the materials at any hardware or do-it-yourself home store.
Earl Boyd, a molding and finish carpentry specialist at the Salinas Home Depot, believes that anyone with the time, correct tools and a good how-to book can artfully install their own moldings.
If you feel ready to rise to the molding challenge, there are a few things you should know before you start your project.
Getting your hands on the right tools is the first hurdle to overcome. Just of few of the mandatory items include miter box and back saw, electric nail gun, squeeze clamps, stud finder, coping saw, and the list goes on. Unless you already own this specific equipment, purchasing them could become quite expensive.
Then there is the molding itself. Each different kind of molding, whether crown or baseboard, comes in hundreds of shapes, styles and materials. The prices of each vary equally as much. Some things to think about include choosing a molding type suitable to the room''s style and purpose.
It is also important to keep the width of the molding proportionate to the size of the room. Variety of wood, quality and grains are significant for a natural wood finish. There are also plastic moldings, that require no paint or stain to achieve a finished product. These also come in a variety of colors and styles. A few places to start looking for tools and moldings are Home Depot in Salinas, M&S Home Center & Building Supply in Monterey, and Knapp Mill & Cabinet Company in Carmel.
Now for the really tricky part. After the perfect molding has been selected, the basic cutting and installing must still be done. And for this task, an unsuspecting do-it-yourselfer may need a degree in higher math. For example, to accurately line up the ridges where the crown molding turns a corner along your ceiling, multiple angles must be cut. A refresher course in calculus might also be especially helpful. (No kidding, Finish Carpentry, edited by Kevin Ireton gave this formula for just the bevel-whatever that is-as: B = sin-1(D/2xC.) Since ceilings, floors and windows are rarely square to the walls, more elaborate fine-tuning may be necessary to make the molding lay flush against an uneven surface.
Nonetheless, Boyd assures us that the average handyperson can make the grade. Just a few words of caution. Installing moldings is not a weekend project. Preparation is key. Get your hands on the best molding guide you can find. Choose your tools and material carefully. And lastly, good luck! A beautifully molded home may be well worth the effort. H&G