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Decor and design is in the detail

Any home can be enhanced by adding architectural detailing with the installation of decorative mouldings. Dylan Miller from Swartland, a leading manufacturer of wooden windows and doors, and the Col Timbers range of decorative mouldings, offers some insight into how mouldings can add character and style to any space they grace.

 

Decorative mouldings can be used to great effect to create a sense of grandeur or simply to add a subtle decorative touch to any home. "The impact that well-chosen and professionally installed mouldings can have on a space is often underestimated – if well executed, they can really transform a space from mundane and boring, into a truly finished space that exudes elegance and class."

He says that today, decorative mouldings are made from a variety of materials, including Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) and polystyrene, but that the best quality ones are made from genuine solid wood. Says Dylan, "Solid timber decorative mouldings may be on the upper end of the price spectrum, but they are the best quality that you can get, which will ensure their longevity and supreme good looks." Find a selection of decorative mouldings at your local Builders.

Genuine hardwood is a must if you want to stain or varnish the wood so that you see the natural grain. "Hardwood mouldings are great for a pure warm timber finish for a classic look. They offer longevity of use due to the inherent density of timber, and Swartland’s hardwood mouldings also offer colour consistency for an overall streamlined effect," explains Dylan.

If, however, you intend to paint the mouldings with a solid colour, then he says that the more affordable solid Pine timber mouldings are a better choice, as they are less expensive and you can’t tell the difference once they are painted: "Pine is ideal for a paint finish, as the opaque colour will inevitably hide the knots in the wood."

 

DIFFERENT TYPES OF MOULDINGS

Here is an overview on the most common types of standard mouldings:

 

The cornice

Otherwise known as crown mouldings, cornices are used to fill the gap between the wall and the ceiling. It is one of the most commonly used mouldings, and the width of a cornice can vary, depending on the size of the room, the height of the ceiling and the grandeur of the décor.

The picture rail

Running horizontally along the wall, parallel to the cornice, a picture rail should be installed at the same height as the top of the door. A narrow moulding, a picture rail was traditionally used to hang pictures from it using string and hooks – this way, the masonry wasn’t disturbed by any nails or screws. Today, however, picture rails tend to be valued more for their decorative aesthetic than their traditional function.

The dado rail

A dado rail is a moulding that is fixed horizontally along a wall about 75cm from the floor. Aesthetically, it divides the wall into two parts – the top and the bottom – which can be useful with regards to décor as you can decorate the two parts in two different, yet complementary styles. Usually at a height of around 75cm, the dado rail was traditionally used to protect the wall from chairs and other furniture bumping into it.

The architrave

This is essentially a moulded frame used to surround a doorway, window, arch or fireplace. Also known as casing, architraves can go a long way to dress up a window or a door to truly complete the picture. A frame around your fireplace can turn it into a focal point of the room. Here, architraves will be used to form the vertical sides of the surrounds, while a simple or dramatic horizontal mantle affords an area on which to display framed pictures or objets d’art

The plinth block

This is a decorative rectangular block of wood on which an architrave will stand for added stability and good looks.

The skirting

Also known as baseboards, skirtings are another incredibly popular moulding. They are installed where the wall meets the floor, and help protect the wall from scuffs caused by shoes, furniture, brooms or vacuum cleaners.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

When investing in timber mouldings the following top tips should be considered:

 

◊ Decide on a complementary style

It is imperative that the style of the mouldings you choose complements the architectural and décor style of your home. For example, Col Timbers’ range of premium mouldings complement both Victorian or modern styles. The range comprises classic profiles that will suit more traditional homes. Alternatively, you can choose super simple profiles for more contemporary homes.

◊ Combine mouldings for added drama

You can make impressive trim features by combining various moulding profiles. Combine smaller mouldings to create larger, more imposing profiles. This allows for endless possibilities for customisation, and smaller mouldings have the added benefit of being easier to work with, as they are easier to cut and allow for more flexibility on irregular walls. The easiest way to add your personal touch and value to your home is by replacing your skirtings. Try increasing the height of the moulding from 44mm to 140mm or 220mm in a style of your choice to give your home a more luxurious and glamorous look and feel.

◊ Examine mouldings before you buy them

Mouldings can vary dramatically with regards to aesthetics and quality, so it imperative that you examine them closely when selecting them. If you intend to stain the mouldings so that you see the natural grain of the timber, ensure that the mouldings you choose have a similar grain pattern, and that the wood is a similar tone. Swartland’s hardwood mouldings, for example, boast colour and grain consistency for an even aesthetic throughout.

◊ For DIY installation

There are two very useful tools if you are installing your own mouldings. The first is mitre clamps, which are special clamps that will hold mouldings in place until the glue dries. These handy little clamps are basically bent spring steel with sharp points that grab the mouldings and squeeze them together. They are perfect for holding small pieces of mitred moulding together while the glue dries and for clamping cornices while you pin them together. A micro pinner is another incredibly useful tool. It is a finish nail gun that shoots super thin pins. The small diameter of the pins leaves smaller holes than traditional nails, which are almost invisible after you fill them. The tiny pins also allow you to nail very small parts without splitting the mouldings, like thicker nails may do.

◊ Always buy a little more than you need

Moulding is usually sold in standard 3m and 3.6m lengths. Before you buy any moulding, it is important to carefully measure the area in question and determine the perfect lengths you will need in order to minimise waste. However, add on a little extra to take into consideration the wastage caused by joints and mitre corner cuts.

◊ Treat the mouldings before installation

You will save lots of time and effort if you prime, stain or paint the strips of moulding after cutting them to size and before you install them. Be sure to paint both the top and bottom sides of the mouldings in order to prevent warping, and let them dry thoroughly before installing. Once installed, you will probably have to do some touch-ups, but the majority of work will be done.

◊ Measure twice and cut once

Measure the walls carefully, mark the proper length on the moulding, then measure the wall again, and measure the moulding profiles again. Only then cut the moulding with the proper mitre angle.

◊ Fill in the gaps

For a truly polished finish, be sure to fill in all the small gaps between mouldings and the wall with filler. Use a wood filler compound to fill any indentations made in the surface of the mouldings by nails, between the different lengths of moulding, and between the floor and the mouldings. Wait for the various fillers to dry, sand down until smooth and seal with your choice of sealant.

 

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