November 18, 2020
By: The Finished Space
If your home has low ceilings – standard in houses built between the 1950s and the 1980s – you may worry that potential buyers may balk since so many today want high ceilings and open floor plans. You can't rebuild your house, but you can try a few clever tricks, including the creative application of crown molding, to add visual height to the space.
Standard ceiling heights continue to rise with the increasing availability of energy-efficient products and techniques.
Houses built before efficient heating systems often had a lower ceiling and smaller rooms, making them easier to heat with fireplaces. Therefore, many older farmhouses have 7-foot ceilings. As mechanical heating systems and insulation options improved, homeowners moved towards higher ceilings. For most of the 19th-century, 8-foot ceilings were the norm, mainly because of the availability of 8-foot timber lengths. The energy crisis during the 1970s and 1980s further kept ceilings low to stem heating and cooling costs.
Today, energy-efficient building materials and methods have pushed the standard ceiling height up to 9-feet for the first floor and 8-foot ceilings for the second floor— now, anything above 9-feet is considered a high ceiling.
Proper scaling of molding to your ceiling's height will create a warm, inviting, and cozy home. The crown molding proportion affects how it relates to other design elements in the room. Generally speaking, a low ceiling requires a thin, simple crown molding, while a high ceiling requires a broad and fully entablature crown to make a visual impact in the room.
For low ceilings (≤ 9-feet), use 2- to 5-inch width crown moldings placed on the edge of the ceiling. This will draw the eye upward, giving the illusion of height. Then, painting the molding and walls the same light or white color will blend the molding and walls into one coherent feature, minimizing attraction towards the low ceiling and making the room appear taller and brighter.
Along with the size and style, you must also choose a material type for your crown molding. Three good material choices for crown molding for low ceilings include paint-grade wood, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) moldings, and finger-jointed-pine or poplar. All come primed and ready to paint.
Paint-grade-wood crown moldings allow homeowners to choose a custom color to match the decor and align interior style. Paint-grade wood crown molding costs between $1 to $6 per linear foot, depending on width and design.
Multi-density fiberboard (MDF) crown molding, formed from resin and sawdust, is a durable, inexpensive product that resembles paint-grade wood casings. Most MDF crown moldings come primed and ready to paint. Like pine, MDF swells when exposed to water, so avoid using it in moisture-prone areas.
MDF crown moldings cost between $1 to $4 per linear foot, depending on their size and design.
Primed, finger-jointed pine or poplar molding includes small pieces of wood connected in lines of little, interlocking fingers, creating zig-zag shapes. Finger jointed molding lacks knots in the wood and produces a straight board. They will not warp or twist as much as solid wood moldings.
Finger jointed molding may have loose joints and joints that show through the primer, and the misalignment of joints makes it difficult to sand smooth. It is important to purchase finger-jointed molding from a reputable, high-quality manufacturer.
Metrie™, a leading manufacturer and distributor of interior finishings with locations across North America, makes it easy for you to choose, purchase, and design crown moldings for your home. Metrie has crown moldings in numerous styles and materials to accommodate every home's unique personality and decor.
For more information on choosing the best crown moldings for low ceilings, please contact the professionals at one of our Metrie dealer showrooms.