Crown molding for the Poor

If you think molding where the walls meet the ceiling is cool but way too expensive, or if you are terrified of trying to get the corners to match correctly this might be for you.

About twenty years ago I decided to paint a room to look like the sky. It really bugged me that the ceiling corners made a right angle and destroyed the whole “skyness” of the painting.

My temporary solution was to snap a line parallel to the ceiling and staple art board to the wall and ceiling with a little Elmer’s glue behind the edges where it touched. The art board made a nice curve about 12 inches from the ceiling which really smoothed the transition. Imagine smooth 12″ crown molding.


 For a tighter curve you can use poster board which bends more readily than art board.

The pieces of  art or poster board can either overlap or not at the sides. It really doesn’t matter. Gaps or uneven little steps will be hidden later. Once the stapling is done for all the easy parts you may encounter an inside corner. Just go ahead and take the molding of one wall to the corner. Hold your piece of art or poster board for the other wall up there and trim it a little at a time using scissors or tin snips till the corners don’t interfere. A little gap is ok.

Using drywall tape and joint compound “tape and bed” the joints at all the edges. Drywall mesh tape is wonderful stuff. Apply the mesh tape to the corner joint to bridge any gap. Wait a day or so and sand very lightly with really coarse drywall sanding mesh to remove any bumps. Another application of drywall tape or even paper with joint compound over it may be needed to finish off any gaps that still show.

Wait till it is all dry, a day or so then paint. A little piece of trim can be added along the wall to make it look fancy if you are going for the crown molding look.

Or … nevermind the joint tape and use fancy ass textured wall paper to cover your installed paper product molding

This and a /or little stencil work can make twenty bucks worth of poster board look like about ten dollar per foot molding.

As for durability, mine is over twenty years old and still looks just fine. The curved paper product with the mud on it is rigid enough to hold its shape well and flexible enough bend if the house shifts.

Few tools are required, good scissors or snips, a utility knife, ruler, string or laser, and a fair stapler. Even an office type stapler will work but the kind you get for 14 dollars is much better.

What could go wrong … You could get it all crooked and have to tear it down. Probably ten or twenty dollars in materials wasted. You could get dust or mud in your eyes or hair. The sanding dust from joint compound isn’t good for you to breathe and will make your hair nasty. Keep a damp towel with you to catch dust and wear a shower cap and cheap mask. You could get a really sore neck from looking up too much. Galileo syndrome, at least the church probably won’t arrest you.

You could get sore fingers or fall and bust your ass, otherwise this is a fairly easy project with dramatic results.

Important skills learned from this include the ability to describe a line parallel to a ceiling and smoothing a joint using drywall mesh tape and drywall compound (mud). The total cost for materials without using a molding strip to fancy things up is less than 50 cents a foot. That is so cheap you can afford to experiment a little.

3 Responses to “Crown molding for the Poor”

  1. This is such a cool tip but the internet is a needy whore: She will want photos to illustrate the technique. And to show how cool the sky room looks.

  2. Needy needy needy, just imagine really hard and you will see…

    Ok, at least till the Zen series is posted I’ll put some photos up.

  3. Dang… the ways of this internet are many. There go yo damn picture. Sometimes with me there is no learning curve, it is more of a wall.

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