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foam crown molding

How to Install Crown Molding the Easy Way

I would love to install crown molding in my home to add value.  All the people that I try to hire want a fortune to install it and I can not cut all of the fancy corners!

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Installing crown molding is task that requires significant carpentry experience, as well as a set of specialized tools, capable of make compound miter cuts and more.  For those who want crown molding without that hassle, foam crown moldings are an excellent alternative.

Foam moldings are attractive, lightweight and easy to handle.  Corners, the most difficult part of any crown molding installation, are precut - making installation very, very easy.The foam crown molding installs with painters caulk to most surfaces like drywall, concrete, brick or wood. There are now specialized and expensive tools needed as the molding cuts with a simple hand saw and is attached with a caulk gun. .

To install, just apply a bead of painters caulk on the top and bottom of the molding, press into the wall and ceiling and then wipe off the excess caulk. The molding does not contract or expand like wood moldings, and needs only a single coat of paint, which you can apply even before its installed.

Foam crown molding is also available in a wide variety of styles as shown here.

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painting cabinets

How to Avoid VOC’s when Painting Cabinets

I'm concerned about VOCs, when painting cabinets.  Is it okay to use an oil based primer with a latex paint in order to cut down on the VOCs?  Also, if the cabinets I'm painting have laminate sides, do I need to prime those as well?

Our Answer

Certainly understand and appreciate your concerns about painting cabinets while avoiding VOC's (volatile organic compounds) which can be an ingredient in paint.  However, I don't recommend using a latex top coat.  While latex paint has come a long way, the one area where solvent-based finishes are far superior is durability.  Kitchen cabinets take a lot of wear and tear and latex paint simply doesn't offer the kind of abrasion resistance that an oil-based finish would.

The good news is that most name brand paints has very little VOC's these days compared to years ago.  I suggest you use both an oil based top coat and primer (including on those laminate sides) and take steps to ventilate the room while you are working on it.  Choose a nice day for your project and set up a window fan to exhaust room air to the exterior, and then open a couple of windows inside the house to facilitate the air flow.  When working well, fresh air will flow in the open windows, through the kitchen and out the window with the fan.

Be sure to properly prep the cabinets before painting to make sure the paint sticks!

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low voc paint

Low-voc Paint: Earth- and Human-friendly Paints Provide Great Project Results

I'm taking on some painting projects and am looking for a safer paint. Lately I seem to be more sensitive to working with paint, and get an allergic reaction that makes my eyes water and leads to some nasty headaches. Are there any options for a more environmentally friendly paint product? I have also been reading a lot about something called VOCs in paint. What are VOCs, and could they be causing my problem?

Our Answer

Possibly, and it'd be a good idea to shop for low-VOC paint this time around. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds. Some VOCs are fungicides that prevent mold growth, others help with color and some contribute to the paint's spreadability. The fact of the matter is that chemicals like these have been part of the manufacturing process for many years because it actually made the paint better. Believe it or not, even toxic lead, which is no longer used, was there to improve colorfastness. In fact, I remember finding a can of very, very old paint during a home inspection years ago on which the manufacturer bragged about the paint's high lead content!

Fortunately, the manufacturing process has gotten much better at producing quality paint that is much safer to use. Today, lead is gone and low- or no-VOC paint is the standard. Latex, alkyd-based paint is commonly made with no or low VOCs and even oil paints have a lot less. You can actually read the paint's label to determine how much VOC has been added. A low-VOC latex paint would have about 250 grams of VOCs, and a low oil-based paint would have about 350 grams or so.

When shopping for paint, be sure to inform the clerk that you are particularly interested in low-odor, low-VOC paints. If you ever have a question about what is inside the can, you can also ask for the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) which will list VOCs in Section 9. Odor is another issue that manufacturers have been working to reduce, and most low-VOC products are also low-odor.

Other than selecting low-VOC paint, just make sure you work in a well-ventilated area. Opening up a few windows in the dead of winter might not seem like a smart idea, but the added cost in heat is a small price to pay for your health and comfort throughout the job.

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