Installing Cabinet Crown Moldings: Make Your Builder-Grade Cabinets Look Custom
Builder-grade cabinets are popular because they’re affordable. Unless you live in a high-end area, the builder might not have been willing to invest in something fancier. But let’s face it, builder-grade cabinets can be boring - and worse - cheap looking.
One way to upgrade your cabinets without spending thousands to rip them out and replace them is to add crown molding. The small touch makes a huge difference in the look and feel of a kitchen. Moldings can make generic cabinets look like custom.
How Is the Crown Molding Installed?
Crown molding can be installed above and/or below your cabinets. Molding above the cabinets is more common, but some people do both. Bottom molding is commonly used to hide under-cabinet lights after they are installed. In some cases, molding or decorative inserts are installed on the surface of cabinets to add a decorative touch.
Crown molding for the top of the cabinets is sold in a variety of sizes, designs and materials. There are moldings that extend a couple inches above the cabinets, and there are those that extend to the ceiling. Some moldings are made of natural wood that needs to be stained or painted, while others are made of pre-colored synthetic products.
Installation can be tricky, so it’s best left to experienced DIYers or professionals. The molding needs to be cut to exact specifications, and it can be difficult to get the corners to match up, particularly if the cabinets weren’t installed perfectly. Further complications exist if the ceiling isn’t level. In some cases, there’s not enough space above cabinet doors to mount crown molding. If that applies to you, home improvement experts like This Old House recommend building a hardwood frame on top of the cabinets.
Cabinet Crown Molding Materials
Crown molding comes in a variety of materials. Among the most popular are:
- Solid wood - Wood is the most expensive option, but the crown moldings can be intricately carved and custom designed. They can be stained or painted, unlike some of the other crown molding materials. The look is beautiful.
- MDF - Medium-density fiberboard is a composite material that is less expensive but can look very similar to natural wood. All varieties can be painted, and varieties with a natural wood veneer can also be stained. MDF is generally considered a great low-cost alternative to wood, but it is more likely to dent or ding.
- PVC - PVC, or plastic, is the least expensive option. These products stand up well to moisture, but they’re tough to paint, they can look plastic-y, and they’re not available in intricate or ornate designs.
How Much Does Kitchen Cabinet Crown Molding Cost?
Prices are extremely tough to estimate because there are so many factors involved: the type and quality of the molding, the size of your kitchen, the design of the molding, local labor rates and more. You could spend a few hundred dollars for basic PVC moldings or many thousands of dollars for high-end custom wood moldings.
The best way to get an accurate idea of price is to contact several local installers for estimates. Never go with the first estimate - shop around and compare several companies to make sure you’re getting a fair price.