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installing crown molding

Crown Molding: Worth the Investment?

Apr 12, 2021 by Liz Brumer
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Real estate investors and landlords are faced with a laundry list of design decisions when it comes to renovating homes or rental properties. It can be difficult to properly assess not only whether the improvement is worth the cost but also in what retail or rental market it makes sense to use it in. One of those renovation items you might be debating is crown molding. Deciding whether it's worth the expense will depend on your market, but first we'll discuss what crown molding is and how much it costs to install so you have the financial foundation for making your next renovation decision.

What is crown molding?

Crown molding is a piece of decorative trim generally installed where the wall meets the ceiling. Its original use was to help cover and conceal cracks between the wall and ceiling, but today it's used primarily as a decorative accent.

In addition to its use along the ceiling, contractors and homeowners will also install it along mantels, to replace simple door trim at entryways, and for edging the top of cabinets or bookshelves. It is most often found in midscale and upscale homes where embellishments and finishing touches like this are sought after.

Many people visualize incredibly large ornate stone or woodwork like you might see in places like the Biltmore Estate or the New York Public Library. But crown molding comes in a huge variety of sizes, styles, and patterns. It can be a simple 4-inch single-groove board, or it could be an 8-inch intricate Greek revival pattern. Similar to baseboard or window and door molding, it is typically made out of wood, plaster, or polyurethane.

How much does crown molding cost?

The cost of crown molding will depend on a number of factors. Obviously, the size of the house or room will impact the final cost, as will the intricacy of the pattern and the material selected.

According to Home Advisor (NYSE: ANGI), the average cost per linear foot is between $4 and up to $45 for both material and installation, depending on the materials used. It's usually recommended to have a professional install it, as it requires proper tools, experience, and precision, making it more challenging than some other home improvement projects landlords and investors may be considering. The cheapest material is typically polystyrene foam at around $3.50 per foot but can skyrocket up to $45 per foot for certain exotic hardwoods.

Is crown molding worth the expense?

While a single room may only run you an average of $500, doing the whole house could easily reach $8,000 or even $15,000 for larger homes. That's a huge expense for most investors, unless you're working in a high-end market where such improvements are expected. For most flips and rentals, the return isn't enough to justify the expense. Would-be homeowners or renters may not even take note of the crown molding, and most wouldn't be willing to actually pay more for it to be in a home.

If you want to add some grandeur, you could potentially do a few select rooms like the living or dining room. It's perfectly acceptable to have crown molding in some rooms but not all of them, so you can add a nice touch without the full expense.

In addition, a significant portion of the cost is from hiring professionals to install it. So if you have the necessary skills, you could possibly make this project cost-effective and worth it, but only if the skill set is there.

For most investors, this is probably not the project to spend your money on, as there are many other renovations that offer more bang for the buck.

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Liz Brumer-Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.