By Gene and Katie Hamilton
The most noticed architectural elements in a room are the moldings that outline the ceiling, baseboard, doors and windows, and sometimes provide a chair rail. In older homes the moldings were made of wood or plaster, but today many are made of polystyrene. When these enhancements are added to a Plain Jane room, the transformation is dramatic, helping create a distinct style and mood. You'll find these materials sold in the lumber section of most home centers and lumber yards. They come in an array of designs and configurations, from deep ceiling cornices to intricate profiles, often mimicking those traditionally made in plaster or wood. Many need to be installed with mitered corners, while others are designed with plinth blocks or rosettes on the corners so no miter cuts are needed.
If you’re planning to add molding to a room and have trouble imagining how it will look, try this. Buy a roll of 3-inch wide blue masking tape (for painting) and use it as make-believe molding. Apply it lightly as a chair rail or ceiling molding and see how it looks. Run two strips of tape measured to simulate the width of the molding you’re planning to install. This poor man’s molding is a good first step to see how real molding will draw attention and create a whole new look to a room.
A carpenter will charge $182 to trim out a 5-by-7-foot door and 3-by-4-foot window with molding, which includes the labor and material; but you can do the job for $100, the cost of the material and adhesive, saving 45 percent. It'll take you about four hours to install the molding. The trim is fastened to the wall with adhesive spread on the backside of each piece and then secured in place with finishing nails. Make sure to countersink the small nail holes and fill with spackling compound for a completely smooth finish.
You can prime and paint the new molding in place, or finish it before installation, assuming you have an area large enough to lay out the material on a work surface.
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Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2019