Installing mouldings - are there golden rules?

Interior designers are tasked with bringing a living space concept to life. To make their job easier, they follow tried and tested design rules. If you are just starting out in the exciting world of DIY or are looking for some guidance, then these rules about installing mouldings will save you time and money – and help make your design project look just right!

Ready for your finishing touches?

When all the heavy duty work is done, finishing touches such as baseboards and cornices can really bring your final design concept together. They can complete a theme; draw the eye to a focal point in the room; or create a unique talking point – think beautiful celling roses, ornate fireplace frames, decorative ceiling tiles, or feature walls! Just ask an expert about the endless possibilities...

From floor to ceiling – the rules for baseboards and cornices

Because there are so many options when it comes to these finishing touches, design rules can help you to focus, ensuring that your chosen finishes complete rather than detract for your overall concept.

  • Baseboards: Also called a skirting board, a baseboard is generally wooden and usually an ankle-height board that runs along the bottom half of the wall. First off, they aren’t always necessary – especially in more modern homes – and tend to look best in traditional or older living spaces. The purpose of a baseboard is to cover the ‘join’ between wall and floor, and to protect the wall from damage – for example, from a vacuum cleaner. Baseboards can also serve a decorative purpose. Baseboards should be painted to match another element of the room, such as the ceiling, and finished in semi-gloss paint to ensure they can take a bit of damage without becoming too unsightly.

To ensure visual appeal, the higher the ceiling is, the higher the baseboard, so remember that if your room has a double volume ceiling, your baseboard is going to be wider than average! For a 2.4m high ceiling, use a 14cm wide baseboard; for a 3m high ceiling, use a 17.5cm wide baseboard.

  • Crown mouldings and Cornices: A crown moulding refers to any horizontal decorative moulding that crowns (sits on top of) or highlights an element — the cornice over a door or window, or along the top of an interior wall, for example.

The term ‘cornice’ refers to the decorative crown moulding covering the space where the wall and the ceiling meet (it ‘sits’ on top of the wall). Cornices can assume a variety of forms, from simple designs consisting of nothing more than single painted wooden boards to ornate carvings that create artwork on the ceiling. A cove cornice, for example, is a rounded version of this moulding and can create a softened look.

Cornices are best used on very high ceilings (more than 2.4m high) that you want to ‘bring down’ a bit. The golden rule is 1/10 to 1/20 of the height of the wall. For a series of mouldings, you’ll generally want to keep them less than 50cm. For a 2.4m high wall, the rule of thumb is no larger than 12.7cm across the ceiling. For a 3m high ceiling, 20 to 30cm wide down the walls and 33cm across the ceiling should do the trick.

Need a helping hand?

At times, elements such as baseboards and cornices can seem a little overwhelming in style and choice. If you need supplies, a little advice, or some helping hands, contact Dynamic Artistic Solutions (DAS), South Africa’s largest manufacturer and distributer of decorative polystyrene cornices. And, no matter your taste or budget, at DAS, you will be able to find an easy-to-install finish for any room in your house.

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