Foam Crown Molding vs. Wood
Written by Milan Jara on 4th Aug 2018
Foam crown molding is among the easiest ways to dress up a room. Even a simple crown molding design can add a subtle touch of elegance to an otherwise unadorned space. But not all crown molding is created equal. For instance, there are questions of quality and durability. Different types of molding require different approaches to installation. Then, there are pros and cons to each material regarding its adaptability and appearance. And as with all things, the cost is a crucial factor to consider.
Here at Decorative Ceiling Tiles, we’ve got all the information you need to choose the right crown molding for you. So, we’re going to take a closer look at two of the most common types: foam crown molding and wood. As you’ll see, foam crown molding is an excellent alternative to wood for many reasons.
Appearance is King: the Benefits of Foam Crown Molding
Undertaking and home building, improvement, or redesign project take a lot of commitment. Beyond a great deal of planning and research, you really have to think about your budget. Small choices here and there can add up quickly. And even basic material costs can eat away at financial reserves very quickly. There are also schedules to manage. Difficult installs can become a real time sink. And some jobs, by their very nature, require swift completion once begun.
Naturally, it always best to pay extra for quality when you require robust materials. The best-looking load-bearing structure is worthless if it breaks under pressure. This holds true when you need a fast or simple installation in a short amount of time. But if the material is solely for decorative purposes, there are options that can achieve a great look for less. For crown molding, this is where styrofoam alternatives come in.
Like wood, the foam can be crafted for a variety of designs and fittings. The softness of the material works well with a miter saw and other tools, allowing for fine detail work. And though foam crown molding can’t be stained, it is easily paintable. Additionally, it automatically comes in white, a standard color for finished crown moldings of all types.
Survival of the Fittest: the Evolution of Crown Molding
Wood is a wonderfully adaptive material, no doubt. But it's costly to manufacture. And complex jobs can require a lot of time to accurately complete. In the past, installing crown molding has needed a lot of planning and labor. And the more decorative the molding or oddly shaped the room, the harder the job. But the invention and development of foam crown molding have reduced the costs significantly, both in money and time.
Besides being easy to shape into intricate designs, foam crown molding has a natural flexibility. Wood molding can only exceed this through days or even months of steaming and slow bending. So, when a room has curves to its walls, getting wood to fit takes a lot of effort. Except in cases of extreme curvature, foam crown molding is a good choice for such situations. It can usually be easily flexed and bent to fit a wall’s gentle contours.
A Small Price to Pay: the Few Disadvantages of Foam
It should come as no surprise that a lower cost entails some sort of sacrifice in quality. This also holds true of foam crown molding, but only to a small degree. And unless you're choosing wood for its specific attributes, such a sacrifice is generally rendered negligible.
For example, foam crown molding is not nearly as strong as wood. In fact, it can be damaged during installation if little extra care is not taken. And through normal wear and tear, it may require repair or replacement before its wood counterpart. However, wood, even when treated, is notoriously susceptible to water and heat damage. Not so with foam crown molding, which is far more resistant. Also, synthetic materials have the benefit of being more exactly standardized than natural materials. This makes replacement a cinch.
Another thing to consider is appearance. Up close, foam crown molding lacks the “natural” look of its wood counterpart. So, though it looks great unpainted, foam crown molding doesn’t have the beauty of unfinished wood. So, if you really want that natural wood looks, there really is no substitute. Likewise, foam doesn’t take stain the way that wood does.
But it does take paint as well if not better than wood. And with foam, you don't have to worry about matching wood grains. So, when replacing foam crown molding, you need only worry about the original installation’s dimensions, design, and color.
Increasing Returns: the Bright Future of Crown Molding
As a building material, wood has been around since human beings first started making stuff. And its longevity of use is a testament to its undimmed elegance and utility. Conversely, foam crown molding is still in its infancy. But technology continues to develop. And until genetic engineering allows us to create dynamic woods, synthetic building materials will increasingly become the norm.
In light of this fact, we can expect the industry around foam crown molding to continue to develop. New materials, textures, designs, and tools will be coming down the pike very soon. For that reason, learning to work with foam crown molding will be essential for future building, repair, and design requirements. And its versatility, as well as its rivalry with wood crown molding, will only increase.
There is an inherent beauty to wood that is simply unmatched by other materials. And sometimes, there’s no substitute for quality lumber and woodwork. But for low cost, ease of installation, and flexibility in appearance and adaptivity, foam crown molding is your answer. And as material sciences continue to develop, the future possibilities of foam crown molding are secure.
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