Top 7 Crown Molding Materials to Elevate Your Home’s Style

Stacey Marcus
Written by Stacey Marcus
Updated October 7, 2021
Crown molding in living room
chuckcollier/E+ via Getty Images

The best crown molding materials to upgrade your home include wood, PVC, and plaster

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Looking to add architectural interest and elegance to your room? Crown moldings, also called cornices, add character to your space by attractively separating walls and ceilings and decorating tops of door casings or cabinet tops. Learn how to give your home the royal treatment by choosing the best crown molding materials for your home’s style. 

Child's room with crown molding
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Over 2,000 years ago, ancient Greeks chiseled heavy stones to create “crown moldings” for Roman temples. Today’s homeowners can install a one-piece crown on their own or hire a professional for a more complex project. 

“Adding crown molding is the icing on the cake,” says interior designer Eileen Patterson. She notes that crown molding can beautifully frame a room, but you need to marry the crown molding materials to your home style. While you can use a slim style for a contemporary home, you may use a more detailed or decorative crown molding for a traditional home. 

Compare the difference between materials like plaster, wood, and PVC to find the best trim for your space.

1. Wood—Best for Variety

Wood is one of the most popular choices for crown molding. Available in a variety of colors and options, wood can be easily stained and painted. Choose from a variety of woods such as pine, walnut, oak, or ash. You can also create an elaborate hardwood crown molding with a carved or milled design. 

The cost of common wood crown moldings like pine, maple, poplar, and aspen are $10 per linear foot, while hardwoods such as oak and mahogany cost between $10 to $15 per linear foot installed. Exotic woods like ipe and padauk run between $15 to $45 per linear foot installed. Hardwoods can be stained to bring out their natural grains, while softwoods are often cut and sanded before they are painted.

2. Plaster—Best for High-End and High-Style Projects

Plaster is the king of crown molding and the most expensive option. It is typically paired with plaster walls. Perfect for high ceilings and grand interiors, plaster crown molding requires custom ordering and professional installation. Plaster crown molding casts beautiful shadows. 

Premade plaster will run between $9 to $20 per linear foot. You will need to hire a plaster repair contractor with experience in plaster molding installation.

3. PVC—Best for High Humidity Hot Spots

Looking to add crown molding to your bathroom or an area with high humidity? PVC crown molding is a great solution for trimming spaces where moisture is an issue. A major benefit of PVC is that it won’t rot or warp if it gets wet.  

A budget-friendly choice, PVC crown molding costs between $4 to $8 per linear foot installed.

4. Flex—Best for Curvy Walls and Windows

Flex is a rubbery material that is flexible enough to wrap around bay windows and curved walls. Flex crown molding is a special-order material that can be pricey, yet is more cost-effective than a custom carpentry job required for intricate architecture.

The cost for flex molding varies as it is a special-order item and can range from $50 per linear foot to $500 and above based on the job.

5. Polystyrene Foam—Best for DIY No-Fuss Projects

Looking for an easy and fast way to add crown molding to your room? Polystyrene foam is ideal for sprucing up your room in a jiffy. The light foam material is great for DIY projects, as the only tool required is scissors. This simple budget-friendly crown molding works well for homeowners who are looking for a quick solution more than a design elevation. 

Polystyrene foam runs from $3.50 to $8 per linear foot installed.

6. Polyurethane—Best for Versatility

Polyurethane is a versatile and cost-effective crown molding that is a good fit for most installations. Along with being insect- and rot-repellent, polyurethane can be easily painted and is available in intricate profiles that mimic plaster. 

Polyurethane crown molding is $5 to $10 per linear foot installed.

7. MDF or Medium-Density Fiberboard—Best for Spaces With Painted Trim

MDF or medium-density fiberboard is stable and low-cost crown molding compared to solid wood. MDF is great for rooms where the trim is painted. The ultralight crown molding is a cost-effective alternative to wood and comes in a plethora of profiles.

MDF is reliable and cost-effective at only $4 to $10 per linear foot installed.

Will Crown Molding Increase the Value of Your Home?

Crown molding can increase the value of your home as it elevates its aesthetic appeal. It also masks blemishes and imperfections along the ceiling line. If you can install crown molding throughout your home, it will add a lovely cohesiveness that will increase your home’s appeal and value.

Cost to DIY Crown Molding Installation vs. Hire a Professional

Unless you have experience installing crown molding or a desire to learn the craft, it is best to hire a professional. Every crown molding joint is composed of compound angles that require a bounty of patience, an understanding of spatial relationships, and the proper tools and materials. 

If you are a novice, you will most likely make a few mistakes through trial and error. For labor alone, it’ll cost you anywhere from $3 to $8 per linear foot to hire a professional. Ultimately, it may cost you less to find a crown molding installer in your area.

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