Your questions, Our Answers

See Answer
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!

Our Answer

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.

See Answer

Bathroom Makeover with Wainscoting: Moisture-Resistant Panels Add Style and Interest

We have a very small bathroom that has no character at all. How do we give the room the decorative makeover it needs?

Our Answer

Try an easy bathroom makeover with wainscoting. Bathrooms can be challenging spaces to work in but by adding wainscoting, you can really make the room stand out no matter how big or small the space is. Traditionally, wainscoting is about three feet tall and mounted along the bottom of the wall. The easiest way to add wainscoting is to buy bead board. Bead board gives the illusion of having been made with many different small pieces of lumber, but is in reality a sheet that can be cut to fit any size space.
Glossy white bead board looks great in a bathroom and will stand up to the moisture that space can dole out. AZEK, a manufacturer of cellular PVC trim products, also makes bead board that won't rot and never needs painting. To create a finished edge along the top portion of the bead board, use a decorative trim molding or combine two or more moldings to create a narrow ledge. For the base of the wall, use a baseboard with a quarter-round molding for a finished look.
You can also enhance a bathtub with a combination of urethane window panels and molding. Because urethane does not absorb water, the panels and trim are ideal for upgrading a master bath. A huge selection of urethane moldings is available from Fypon, and the combinations offered create clever variations on a bathroom makeover with wainscoting.

See Answer

How Do I Replace Missing Craftsman Exterior Trim?

I recently purchased a 1934 home in Baltimore that features Craftsman details, including the trim that runs along the entire perimeter of the exterior of the house. It starts about four inches off the ground and wraps all the way around. The trim is a wide, flat piece of wood with another piece above it to create a lip on the top. That lip is 2 inches deep and 3/4 inch tall. The wide flat piece below that is about 9 inches in height.  I don't really know how deep either piece is as they attach to the house's stucco exterior.

The problem I have is that there's one side of the house where the lip is missing. There is just a single flat piece of trim.  The weird thing is that nowhere else on the house does it look like the lip on the top is attached to the flat piece.  So maybe both pieces were removed and replaced with one taller flat piece without a lip?

Here are my questions:
Does this style of trim have a name?
How does it normally attach to the exterior wall?
Should I remove this flat piece to reinstall the lip?
What type of wood is used for this trim?


Our Answer

Thanks for the photos - they help me understand your situation better. 
First, let's ID all these elements.  I would refer to this trim as band board, and the lip as a sill.  Both are normally secured to a foundation by nails or screws, and a waterproof seal should exist between the trim and the stucco.  In layman terms, the water has to run down the stucco, strike the sill, and run OFF rather than behind the band board - similar to any type of flashing connection that stops absorption and leaks. 
I wouldn't, then, recommend adding the missing sill, because at this point it'll be difficult to restore any waterproofing integrity.  Instead, I'd monitor the band board for signs of decay and rot.  Trim is a common area for rot.  Make sure to stay on top of painting and caulking it.  And if you find yourself in a situation where you have to replace it because of rot or decay, use a pressure-treated lumber.  This existing band board may have originally been a decay-resistant lumber like cedar, but you see how its integrity can be tainted when there's no waterproofing or flashing.  For that reason, then, go with pressure-treated lumber moving forward. 

See Answer

Crown Moulding in Bathroom


I own a small home built in 1960. There are no exhaust fans in the bathrooms. I would like to put up crown moulding and would like to know if there is a certain type I should use. Will the crown moulding swell?

Our Answer

Your concern about moisture is well-founded, but you should worry less about damage to the molding and more about damage to the bathroom itself.  The fact that your bathroom is not vented puts you at risk for excessive humidity in the bathroom, leading to mold growth and unhealthy conditions, even rot.  You need to figure out what it would take to get a bath fan installed.  It must be properly vented to the outside of the house so warm, humid air does not build up in another part of the house, such as the attic.
In terms of the molding, choose a synthetic material such as Easy Crown - not a natural material like wood.

See Answer

Baseboard Molding Against an Uneven Floor

Is there a way to pattern molding against an uneven floor, using plastic molding as the trim, similar to cutting tile pieces for not full pieces?
This is between drywall and a concrete floor in the garage.

See Answer

Are Baseboards Okay on a Concrete Slab?

We are building a new house.  The first floor has a concrete slab which we stained and sealed. Can we put wooden baseboards, which are primed and painted, directly on the finished concrete?

Our Answer

There's no reason you can't, assuming your new home is properly graded to avoid moisture around its foundation.  The most common way baseboards become water damaged in a situation like this one is when moisture gets up into that concrete slab.  

See Answer

What’s the Best Way to Vent My Dryer Out of My House?

I had a hallway laundry closet built, but the contractor did not put in a vent for the dryer.  The closet is on the first level of my home, about halfway between the front and back of the house, and about 15 feet from the side exterior wall.  I can either vent the dryer through the floor and the basement ceiling, then out the back bric,k or I can go up and out of the attic.  Either way, I have to cut through flooring which I have never done.  This is all new to me but I am learning many things after being married 33 years and now on my own.  I can do it -  I just need to know which approach would be best.  Thanks!  Karen

Our Answer

First of all, congratulations on taking on these projects on your own.  There's a lot I'm sure you're capable of doing.  Keep in mind, though, that working beyond your skill set can end up being more expensive in the long run.  Opening up ceilings may be a little out of your league for you (and most homeowners, for that matter), considering you could hit wiring and make an electrical mess - or get hurt. 
In terms of the best way to redirect the dryer vent: As a rule of thumb, the shortest, straightest path out is best  If you vent up through attic, you'll notice it takes longer for clothes to dry because your dryer isn't strong enough to push air up efficiently.  And remember that every 90-degree bend in the ducting is the equivalent of 15-feet of straight ducting in terms of the energy needed to push air through - so any bend greatly reduces efficiency and potentially your dryer's performance.

See Answer

Home Updating/Repair

Hi -

My dad recently passed away and now we are trying to figure out what needs to e done to his house to get it updated.  The house was built in the late 90s.  Specifically, I'm looking for things like the water heater, filters, roofs, etc.  Also, I think his house has aluminum pipes and you can hear when the water runs throughout the entire house.  What can we do to fix this without having to tear down the walls?

See Answer

Crown Molding Color

I just installed foam crown molding in my entire living, dining, and family rooms.  What color do I paint the molding?  Is it supposed to be gloss?  Is it supposed to be the same color as the ceiling or the walls?  All three rooms are diferent color. The molding is already very white and looks fantastic, I dont want to mess it up with the wrong paint.  I'm 60 years old and not an interior designer.

See Answer

Using Decorative Molding to Feature Artwork: Add interest to bare walls as you showcase art and photos

We have a beautiful dining room but the walls are boring and our artwork and photos look pretty lonely. Is there any way to give the room some extra pizzazz without doing a paint treatment or wall covering?

Our Answer

Accenting artwork displays with decorative molding is an easy and effective solution. A wall is an amazing blank canvas on which your inner designer can create a showcase for the decorative items you already have in your home, and while wallpaper and painting treatments are great options, you can use molding to create an equally interesting effect.
One idea is to showcase your art and photos on your walls by creating a sectioned area of molding detail within which to hang these treasures.  To start, deciding which of your artwork or photographs would look nice showcased together. Once you have gathered these items, lay them out on the floor to determine an arrangement that'll look good on the wall. Using the floor as your temporary canvas, arrange low-profile moldings to frame these groups together. For example, a series of rectangles that are two feet wide by four feet tall, starting at about two-and-a-half feet up from the floor, can make a great focal feature in your room and allows for plenty of space to highlight your décor.
Once you have nailed down your design, paint the molding detail the same color as the trim in your room for a traditional look or be adventurous and choose a color that complements your wall color or brings out the color of your eyes. This molding magic will make a perfect accent for your artwork display.

See Answer

Kitchen Window Coverings: Dress your windows with decorative molding instead of drapes to maximize natural light

My kitchen isn't that big and my one window is a precious source of natural light. Can you suggest any window coverings that provide style but don't block out the light?

Our Answer

Actually, no. Because in your case, we'd recommend you go naked. Well, not you, exactly, but your kitchen window! A naked window is one of the newest decorating trends and refers to the concept of using either no or minimal window covering (like a valance at the top). Finish off the project by trimming out the windows with plinth blocks at the upper corners and decorative trim. By leaving the window coverings off, you'll deliver maximum light to the kitchen space and the naked window will act as a visual gateway to the outdoors.

See Answer

Decorative Molding Adds Architectural Interest: Use Molding to Dress Up a Drab Living Space

We just bought our first house, and in order to save money opted for a newly built home when we really had our hearts set on one that was more historic and traditional. How do we add some historical characteristics to our plain white box?

Our Answer

Buying a home that was built ages ago has its pluses and minuses. Older homes maintain the personality and charm of the era in which they were crafted, but newer homes offer far better energy efficiency, an important cost-saving consideration today. Fortunately, with a bit of trim work using decorative molding, you can have it both ways.
Installing crown molding around your ceiling is a great place to start and offers you the biggest bang for your buck. It can range in price from under $1 per linear foot to hundreds of dollars per foot depending on how ornate the molding is and the type of wood used.
Chair rail molding is probably the easiest to install and is great for a kitchen, home office or den. It adds a nice accent and gives you the opportunity to choose a darker paint for the lower section of the wall and a brighter shade for the top, giving the room a much larger feeling.
Molding is available in several formats, at varying price points:

Clear: This is the most expensive as it has no visible joints and is designed to be stained and finished with a clear polyurethane or varnish.
Finger-joint: This wood trim is less expensive than clear and is designed to be painted. It's made up of several smaller pieces of molding attached together with a wood joint.
Primed: Typically this is finger-joint wood trim that is already primed. It's very handy to start with this as it's easier than having to prime it yourself.
Synthetic: Various types of synthetic molding are available. This molding can be urethane, PVC or even a composite mixture of wood and is available to be painted, stained or left in its manufactured color. Unlike wood, synthetic will have no defects to cause it to twist or turn.

When working with decorative molding, it's usually best to attach everything with an air compressor and brad nailer. These tools make the job simple and will have you tackling projects like a pro. There's a great compressor available from Tom Boy Tools; its compact one-gallon size makes it very manageable but it still packs a real punch when you need it.
Just because your house is from a more modern time doesn't mean that you can't make it look wise beyond its years with a little help from decorative molding.

See Answer

Paint Stripping Tips: Whether Sanding, Heat Gun Stripping or Chemical Stripping, Choose Paint Stripping Options That Are Best for Your Paint Stripping Project

This year my wife and I bought our first house.  It's a 1910 bungalow and we love it; however there are a few things that we'd like to change around the house.  The first thing that I'd like to tackle is paint stripping and refinishing all the woodwork in the house.  I was thinking of starting with some of the bedroom doors.  The doors appear to be all solid wood and have at least 4 coats of paint on them, and the paint is peeling in one corner of one of the doors. 

In the past, I've refinished some furniture.  At that time, I stripped the furniture with a chemical stripper called Citrus type strip.  It worked really well, but made a big mess.  A friend recommended I try a heat gun or some sort of steamer.  I was wondering what your advice would be in stripping all that paint off?

Our Answer

When it comes to home improvement, there aren't too many jobs worse than stripping paint!  I can offer you a few paint stripping tips to make it a bit easier but with several doors and trim having multiple layers of paint, you should prepare yourself for a long project! 
First, presuming you want to remove all the paint, you have three options:  sanding, chemical stripping and heat gun stripping.  Before you decide which paint stripping method is best, you should first make sure the doors and trim are worth stripping to raw wood.  You might want to work on one in an inconspicuous area to get a sense as to what kind of wood you might be discovering after all that hard work. 
Your friend is right to suggest the heat gun. A steamer is not the right tool for paint stripping, although it works nicely to remove old wallpaper.  However, with a heat gun you need to be very careful for several reasons.  First, a heat gun can be a fire hazard.  Second, it can be a health hazard.  Stripping all that old paint will produce some very toxic fumes.  When stripping paint, you'll need to work in a well ventilated space and wear a very good quality respirator (NOT just a dust mask ).
As for chemical strippers, I have had good success with Rock Miracle.  Again, you need to wear appropriate eye, hands, face and respiratory protection.
Sanding is almost guaranteed to be a part of your paint stripping project too.  Even if the heat gun or chemical stripping get off a majority of the paint, you'll need to sand to remove the remaining bit.
Also, since this is an old house, you may very well be stripping off lead paint, which can be a health hazard to you as well as your children.  You would be wise to have the paint tested before you begin this paint stripping project to make sure you are not creating an unsafe condition.
Finally, by the time your paint stripping project is at an end and you have stripped such a large amount of painted wood, you might find you'll be better off just removing and replacing the trim and perhaps even the doors.  I have an 1886 home and did this in almost the entire house.  As a result, I was able to replace the trim to look almost exactly like the original but avoided hundreds of hours of labor in the process.