Crowns, Astragals, and Casings

For the last couple of months we have been picking out molding.  Our architect specified two inch flat stock in the plans for the new rooms.  In other areas they were supposed to match the molding already there.  This is something for new renovators to be aware of: when you get your plans you will be overwhelmed with the details but at least specify that moldings should match the rest of the house because period molding is much more expensive than the flat plain sort.  When the project is already overdue a contractor will not be happy that they need to substitute fancy hard-to-install molding.

A few months ago, we had signed a change order for the contractor to replace the plaster ceilings with drywall and match the crown molding.  Big mistake.  Contractors always want the easy way out and that is dry wall.  Don’t fall for it.  The subcontractor (now gone) said he could easily match the molding but this has not been the case.  As an alternative we may have been able to replace the center of the ceiling with dry wall and save most of the plaster moldings.  What’s done is done.

Now, you may wonder why it took us months to pick out the moldings.  Let’s just say there was a difference of opinion.  Different rooms required different moldings because of their height or the distance between the window casings and the ceilings, so we had a lot of choices to make.   For the doorways, we were torn between trying to reuse old moldings that would need to be cut down in size and new moldings that did not match but were easy to install.  For the ceilings, we were trying to recreate the original plaster molding and this was no easy task.

Despite the fact that our contractor was supposed to match existing moldings, (promises from earlier in the project) they had not lifted a finger to do so, so we began our research.

In our Brooklyn neighborhood there is not a lot of places to find moldings.  We went to Dyke’s Lumber first but did not find exactly what we were looking for.  So it was off to New Jersey to Kuiken Brothers where we found most of what we needed. They even give free samples.

This is what we are trying to mimic:


These were of course plaster.  In some areas they were in great shape like here and in others not so good.  We wish we had had the money to lovingly restore them but we  we needed other luxuries, like bathrooms.

After about three trips to NJ (because we need at to go to each vendor at least three times) we had all our molding picked out.  We had to use three pieces of separate molding: a crown, an astragal and a picture rail to get this look for the small bedroom.  For the parlor floor living room we are going to do something a little more detailed (our contractor doesn’t know yet).

We explained how we wanted everything to the one guy that was going to work on it.  We were a little nervous when we saw this lying around!

bookDid this guy know what he was doing?  My husband took pity on him and lent him his compound sliding power miter, which was more advanced than the one he was using and was a back saver since it had a table.

Well, he did a decent job.  Nothing in the way of molding will ever be perfect enough for my husband who actually knows how to install molding (which he will be doing in all his spare time up in the rental unit for the next several months).  With the choices we made and the worker’s basic skills it all worked out OK.  We’ve discovered that if we keep our expectations low then we are sometimes pleasantly surprised.  I know, that is kinda messed up when you are paying this kind of money.

In this photo they had not yet put up the picture rail.small crown


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