how to add decorative moulding to enhance repaired plaster walls

How to Add Decorative Moulding to Enhance Repaired Plaster Walls?

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    Adding decorative moulding to your home is a fabulous way to elevate the aesthetic appeal of your interiors, especially when working with plaster walls. Whether these walls are part of a heritage property or a more modern abode, installing mouldings can transform an ordinary space into a showcase of elegance and charm. This guide will take you through the essentials of enhancing repaired plaster walls with decorative moulding, offering both a practical touch-up and a significant style upgrade.

    Before diving into the creative process, it's crucial to address the condition of your plaster walls. Repairing any damage not only ensures a smooth finish but also prolongs the life of both the plaster and the moulding. In this post, we'll explore various styles and materials of moulding that can complement your home's interior, discuss preparation techniques for your walls, and provide a step-by-step guide on how to install moulding effectively. By the end, you'll see just how transformative your project can be, with stunning before and after examples to inspire your own home improvement journey.

    What Should You Know About Plaster Walls?

    what should you know about plaster walls decorative moulding

    Plaster walls have graced the interiors of homes for centuries, showcasing a classic finish that has stood the test of time. Originally, plaster was used for its practicality and ease of application, allowing builders and craftsmen to create smooth, durable surfaces that could be easily painted or decorated. Historically, plaster was made from lime, sand, and water, a combination that was later enhanced with gypsum to improve durability and drying time. In older homes, especially those from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, plaster was applied over a lattice of wood strips known as lath, which provided a key for the plaster to hold onto.

    Despite their beauty and durability, plaster walls can be prone to certain issues, particularly as they age. The most common problems include cracking and chipping, as well as bubbling or blistering caused by moisture intrusion or poor adhesion. Environmental factors like temperature changes can cause the plaster to expand and contract, leading to cracks. Physical impacts or settling of the building structure can also result in chips or larger sections of plaster breaking away.

    Maintaining and repairing plaster walls, however, offers several benefits that make the effort worthwhile. Properly cared for, plaster walls can last many decades if not centuries. Repairing cracks and chips not only restores the aesthetic appeal of the wall but also reinforces structural integrity, ensuring that the walls continue to provide good thermal and sound insulation. 

    Additionally, maintaining the plaster can enhance the overall value of a home, preserving its historical authenticity and charm, which is highly prized in the real estate market.

    Addressing these issues as they arise extends the life of plaster walls and maintains their functional benefits while also preserving a piece of architectural history. By understanding and caring for plaster walls, homeowners can enjoy the unique character and durable beauty that plaster provides, ensuring that these walls remain a beloved feature of homes for generations to come.

    Types Of Decorative Moulding

    Decorative moulding is a versatile design element that can enhance any room, adding a touch of elegance and character. There are various styles of moulding, each serving different aesthetic and functional purposes:

    • Crown moulding: Installed at the junction of walls and ceilings, crown moulding adds a graceful flare that elevates the perceived height and grandeur of a room.
    • Baseboard moulding: Running along the lower part of walls, baseboards frame the room, protect walls from wear, and cover any gaps between flooring and walls.
    • Chair Rail moulding: Typically positioned about one-third of the way up from the floor, chair rails protect walls from being scuffed by furniture and can also be used to divide wall treatments for added visual interest.
    • Picture Rail moulding: Mounted higher on the wall, picture rails allow for easy hanging of artwork without damaging the wall surfaces.

    When it comes to materials, the choice of moulding depends largely on the desired look, budget, and the environment where the moulding will be installed:

    • Wood: Traditional and versatile, wood moulding can be stained or painted and is ideal for areas where a natural look is preferred. It's perfect for historic renovations or classic home styles.
    • Polyurethane: Resistant to moisture and insects, polyurethane mouldings are lightweight and easy to install. They are an excellent choice for bathrooms and kitchens or in regions with high humidity.
    • Plaster: For high-end installations, plaster offers a crisp, seamless aesthetic. It is particularly well-suited for ornate patterns that require fine detailing.
    • MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard): A cost-effective alternative, MDF can be used in many of the same applications as wood but is best for painted finishes and dry areas.

    Choosing the right type of moulding involves considering both the design and functionality of the room:

    1. Aesthetic Harmony: Select moulding that complements the architectural style of your home. For instance, ornate crown mouldings pair well with traditional decor, whereas simpler, more angular profiles might suit modern interiors better.
    2. Scale and Proportion: The size of the moulding should be in proportion to the room's dimensions. Larger rooms can handle thicker and more elaborate mouldings, while smaller spaces generally benefit from narrower, more understated styles.
    3. Functionality: Consider the functional benefits of each type of moulding. For example, if durability and moisture resistance are priorities, materials like polyurethane or PVC might be preferable over wood.

    By carefully selecting the type and material of moulding, you can enhance both the functionality and aesthetic appeal of your space, making it more beautiful and practical.

    Preparing Your Walls

    Proper wall preparation is crucial for the successful installation of decorative moulding. Ensuring that your walls are smooth, clean, and structurally sound not only enhances the final appearance but also guarantees the longevity of your moulding. Here's how to effectively prepare your walls:

    Assessing Wall Damage and Necessary Repairs

    • Visual Inspection: Begin by carefully examining the walls for any signs of damage, such as cracks, holes, or loose plaster. Use a flashlight to highlight imperfections that might be missed under normal lighting conditions.
    • Tap Test: Gently tap on the plaster areas to detect any hollow or soft spots. These areas may indicate underlying issues, such as detached plaster from the lath, which will require more extensive repairs.
    • Moisture Check: Look for any signs of moisture, as this can weaken plaster and lead to mould. Address any moisture sources before proceeding with repairs.

    Repairing Cracks and Smoothing Surfaces

    • Cleaning Cracks: Use a utility knife or a paint scraper to remove loose debris from cracks. Vacuum or wipe down the cracks to ensure they are free from dust and particles.
    • Applying Filler: For small cracks, apply a flexible filler or caulk designed for plaster. For larger cracks or holes, you may need to use a plaster patching compound. Apply the filler using a putty knife, pressing it firmly into the crack and smoothing it over with the flat of the blade.
    • Sanding: Once the filler has dried completely, sand the area smooth with fine-grit sandpaper. Ensure the repair blends seamlessly with the surrounding surface.

    Preparing Walls for moulding Installation

    • Cleaning the Walls: Dust and wash the walls to remove any dirt, grease, or remaining debris. A clean surface ensures better adhesion for any adhesives or nails used to attach the moulding.
    • Priming: Apply a primer to the walls, especially if you have made significant repairs or if the existing paint is glossy. This step will improve the adhesion of the moulding and provide a uniform surface for painting later.
    • Marking Guidelines: Use a level and a pencil to mark where the moulding will be installed. This ensures that your moulding will be perfectly horizontal or vertical, aligning neatly with architectural details of the room.

    Additional Tips

    • Temperature and Humidity: Check that the room's temperature and humidity levels are suitable for the materials you are using. Some adhesives or fillers may require specific conditions to cure properly.
    • Safety Measures: Wear protective gear such as masks and goggles when sanding or handling chemicals.
    • Trial Fit: Before attaching the moulding permanently, do a trial fit to check for any adjustments needed and to ensure that corners and joints align correctly.

    By following these detailed steps to prepare your walls, you set the stage for a smooth and successful installation of your decorative moulding, resulting in a polished and refined finish to your room.

    Installation Of Decorative Moulding

    Installing decorative moulding is a fantastic way to add character and sophistication to any room. To ensure a successful installation, having the right tools and materials and following precise steps are essential. Here's how to go about it:

    Tools and Materials Needed

    • Measuring Tape: Essential for accurate measurements.
    • Miter Saw: Used for cutting the moulding at the correct angles.
    • Level: Ensures that all pieces are perfectly horizontal or vertical.
    • Adhesive: A construction adhesive suitable for the moulding material and wall type.
    • Finishing Nails: These are used to secure the moulding to the walls.
    • Nail Gun or Hammer: Depending on your preference and the tools available.
    • Caulk and Caulk Gun: To fill in gaps and create a seamless finish.
    • Sandpaper: For smoothing any rough edges after cutting.
    • Paint and Brush: If painting is required post-installation.

    Detailed Step-by-Step Instructions

    • Measuring: Measure the wall to determine the length of moulding needed. Always add a little extra to account for any cutting mistakes or adjustments.
    • Cutting: Use a mitre saw to cut the moulding. For corners, you'll need to cut at a 45-degree angle so the pieces fit together seamlessly. Always measure twice before cutting.
    • Dry Fit: Before applying adhesive, place the moulding against the wall to ensure it fits correctly. Adjust as necessary.
    • Applying Adhesive: Apply a bead of construction adhesive to the back of the moulding. Be generous, but avoid applying too much, as it could seep out when pressed against the wall.
    • Attaching to the Wall: Align the moulding on the wall according to your previous marks. Press firmly along the entire length to ensure good contact with the wall.
    • Securing with Nails: While the adhesive holds the moulding in place, use a nail gun or hammer to drive finishing nails through the moulding into the wall at intervals to secure it firmly. For plaster walls, be careful to nail into the lath behind the plaster to avoid damaging the wall.
    • Caulking: Once the moulding is attached, fill any gaps, especially at joints and where the moulding meets the wall, with caulk to create a seamless appearance.
    • Sanding: If necessary, lightly sand over the caulked areas once dry to smooth any excess.
    • Painting: If your moulding isn't pre-finished, apply a coat of paint to match or complement the wall colour.

    Techniques for Ensuring Alignment and Secure Attachment

    • Using a Level: Constantly check with a level as you install the moulding to ensure each piece is perfectly straight.
    • Spacing Nails Appropriately: Space nails about 12 to 16 inches apart for secure attachment, making sure to nail into the lath, not just the plaster.
    • Double-Checking Measurements: Always double-check your measurements and use a pencil to mark where the moulding should go before attaching it. This prevents misalignment.
    • Handling Corners Carefully: Pay extra attention to corners where the moulding meets. Use a coping saw if necessary to adjust the angle so the joints fit tightly.

    By following these detailed instructions, you can install decorative moulding that not only enhances the aesthetic of your room but also lasts for years. Proper installation ensures that the moulding is both visually appealing and structurally sound, adding lasting value to your home.

    Finishing Touches On Your Decorative Moulding

    Once your decorative moulding is securely installed, the final steps are crucial for ensuring it blends seamlessly with your existing décor and stands the test of time. Here are some tips on painting, finishing, and maintaining your moulding to maximise its beauty and longevity.

    finishing touches on your decorative moulding

    Painting and Finishing Techniques

    • Priming: If your moulding is not pre-finished, apply a primer designed for the type of material you are using. Primer helps the paint adhere better and provides a more uniform finish.
    • Paint Selection: Choose a paint that complements the overall colour scheme of the room. For a subtle look, paint the moulding the same colour as the walls but in a different finish (e.g., semi-gloss or gloss for the moulding and matte for the walls). For a more dramatic effect, select a contrasting colour that coordinates with other elements in the room.
    • Painting: Use a high-quality angled brush for precision. Start with the edges and detail work, then move to the broader surfaces. Apply paint in thin, even coats, allowing sufficient drying time between coats as recommended by the paint manufacturer.

    Choosing Paint Colors and Finishes

    • Coordinating with Wall Color: When choosing a paint colour for your moulding, consider the wall colour and the desired visual effect. Lighter colours tend to make rooms feel larger and more open, while darker colours create a sense of warmth and coziness.
    • Finish Matters: The finish of the paint can significantly impact the look and feel of the room. Glossy finishes are more durable and easier to clean but can highlight imperfections. Matte finishes, while less durable, provide a softer look and hide blemishes better.
    • Test Samples: Before committing to a colour and finish, purchase sample paints to test on small sections of the moulding. Observe how different lights throughout the day affect the colour and finish.

    Maintaining and Cleaning mouldings

    • Regular Dusting: Use a soft cloth or a duster to regularly remove dust from your mouldings. This prevents buildup and maintains the fresh appearance of the paint.
    • Cleaning: For deeper cleaning, use a damp cloth with mild soapy water. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as these can damage the paint and material of the moulding.
    • Touch-Ups: Keep some extra paint for occasional touch-ups. This is particularly useful after cleaning or repairing any chips or cracks that might occur over time.
    • Avoid Moisture: In bathrooms or kitchens, ensure that mouldings are properly sealed and painted with moisture-resistant paint to prevent warping and water damage.

    By applying these finishing touches, your decorative moulding will not only complement the existing décor but also maintain its elegance and durability over time. Regular maintenance and careful selection of finishes and colours will ensure that your moulding continues to enhance the aesthetic of your home and remains a highlight of your interior design.


    Adding decorative moulding to repaired plaster walls is more than just a home improvement project; it's a transformational endeavour that blends artistry with history, enhancing both the visual appeal and the structural integrity of your living spaces. Through this guide, we've explored the various types of mouldings available, delved into the necessary preparations for your walls, and provided detailed instructions on how to properly install and finish your moulding.

    The benefits of undertaking such a project are manifold. Not only does decorative moulding elevate the aesthetic of a room, but it also increases the value of your property by adding a touch of sophistication and charm that prospective buyers or admirers find irresistible. Moreover, the practical aspects of moulding, such as improved wall durability and added character, make this enhancement a wise choice for any homeowner.

    As you embark on this journey to revitalise your home's interiors, remember that the key to success lies in meticulous preparation and attention to detail. Whether you choose to go bold with contrasting colours or prefer a more subtle integration, the right moulding can profoundly impact the ambience of a room. Finally, regular maintenance will ensure that your mouldings remain a beautiful and enduring aspect of your home's décor.

    We encourage you to personalise your space and make it uniquely yours. Each step of this process not only adds value to your home but also brings personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. So, take up the challenge, enhance your plaster walls with beautiful moulding, and enjoy the enriched environment that you create.

    Content Summary: 

    • Adding decorative moulding to plaster walls is an excellent way to boost the aesthetic appeal of interiors.
    • Mouldings can transform spaces in both heritage properties and modern homes, providing style and elegance.
    • The guide covers essential aspects of enhancing plaster walls with decorative moulding, offering practical and stylistic upgrades.
    • Addressing the condition of plaster walls is crucial before beginning any decorative work.
    • Repairing wall damage ensures a smooth finish and extends the life of both the plaster and moulding.
    • The blog explores different styles and materials of moulding suitable for various interior designs.
    • Various types of moulding include crown moulding, baseboard moulding, chair rail moulding, and picture rail moulding.
    • Materials used for mouldings range from wood and polyurethane to plaster and MDF.
    • Selecting the right moulding involves considering the room's design, functionality, and overall aesthetic harmony.
    • The size of the moulding should match the proportions of the room to maintain balance.
    • Preparing the walls involves assessing damage, repairing surfaces, and ensuring they are clean and primed for installation.
    • Detailed instructions are provided for measuring, cutting, and installing moulding effectively.
    • Techniques to ensure proper alignment and secure attachment to plaster walls are crucial for a successful installation.
    • Plaster walls have a long history, initially made from lime, sand, and water, and later enhanced with gypsum.
    • They can face issues like cracking and chipping, often due to environmental factors and physical impacts.
    • Maintaining and repairing plaster walls can significantly extend their lifespan and preserve their aesthetic and structural integrity.
    • The durability and historical value of well-maintained plaster walls are highly valued in real estate.
    • Tools needed for moulding installation include a measuring tape, miter saw, level, adhesive, and finishing nails.
    • The installation process involves precise measurements, careful cutting, and meticulous attachment to ensure alignment.
    • Painting and finishing techniques include priming, selecting suitable paint colours, and applying paint in thin, even coats.
    • Choosing the right paint colours and finishes can greatly enhance the interaction between the moulding and wall decor.
    • Regular maintenance, such as dusting and gentle cleaning, helps preserve the moulding's appearance.
    • Touch-ups and moisture control are essential, especially in areas prone to dampness.
    • The final touches on the moulding should integrate seamlessly with the existing room decor, maintaining durability over time.
    • The transformation through decorative moulding not only enhances visual appeal but also adds significant value to the property.
    • The blog encourages homeowners to embark on this enriching journey to revitalise their home's interiors.
    • Attention to detail and careful planning are emphasised as key to successful moulding installation.
    • Homeowners are advised to choose styles and colours that reflect their personal taste and complement the home's existing aesthetics.
    • The process of adding moulding is not just about home improvement but also about personal satisfaction and accomplishment.
    • Enhancing plaster walls with decorative moulding is presented as a wise investment in the beauty and function of a home.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    For plaster walls, it's ideal to choose moulding materials that are lightweight yet durable, such as polyurethane or high-density foam. These materials are easier to install and less likely to cause damage to the existing plaster compared to heavier wood mouldings. Additionally, they can be intricately designed, making them suitable for both modern and traditional interiors.

    Preparing your plaster walls involves several key steps: First, repair any cracks or damage to ensure a smooth surface. This may include filling cracks with plaster or a flexible filler and sanding down uneven areas. Next, clean the walls to remove dust and debris, and apply a primer to help the adhesive and moulding adhere more effectively to the surface.

    Installing decorative moulding can be a DIY project if you have the right tools and a basic understanding of carpentry. However, for intricate designs or large projects, it might be beneficial to hire a professional. A skilled installer can ensure that the moulding is cut and fitted perfectly, which is crucial for achieving a polished look, especially in rooms with uneven walls or complex angles.

    To cut decorative moulding accurately, use a mitre saw equipped with a fine-toothed blade. Measure the wall space carefully, and plan your cuts to ensure tight joins, especially at corners. For inside corners, cope cuts are preferable as they allow for the most precise fit. Always measure twice and cut once to avoid wastage of materials.

    Maintaining decorative moulding involves regular dusting to prevent the buildup of dirt and debris. For deeper cleaning, use a soft cloth slightly dampened with water and a mild detergent. Avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the finish. Periodically check for any gaps or cracks in the caulking, especially in areas with high humidity, and reapply caulk as necessary to keep the joints sealed and looking fresh. Touch-up paint may also be required from time to time to keep the moulding looking its best.

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