“How can I add value to my home?” You ponder, wandering from room to room while refreshing your online banking app, confirming that while you have a bit of cash to play with, it’s not in the cards to finish the basement or overhaul the kitchen.
You pause just long enough to stretch, and as your head tilts back and your eyes sweep from wall to ceiling, it hits you: “What about crown molding?”
Crown molding 101
A decorative element usually made of wood or plaster, crown molding (or, if you prefer, crown moulding), is a cornice between the top of a wall and the ceiling. It’s also found above kitchen cabinets, doorways, or windows; effectively earning its reference to a crown.
Despite its traditional connotations, crown molding can enhance a home of any architectural style. When properly executed with consideration to ceiling height and design rules for proportion, contour, and white space, crown molding suits in a wide array of rooms as well.
Common styles of crown molding include:
- Federal (great for adding a visual boost to low ceilings)
- Early American (low-key and subtle)
- Colonial Revival (upscale, in a less-is-more sort of way)
- Classical Revival (traditional and dignified)
- Greek Revival (simple, meant to evoke the style of Greek columns)
Crisp whites and shades of cream are common color choices for crown molding, though the right selection depends on your ceiling height and personal preference. When used as an accent feature above cabinets or windows, crown molding tends to look most cohesive when the color matches the cabinetry or window frame.
As with most aesthetic finishes, craftsmanship is key when it comes to crown molding. Shoddy installation or a slapdash paint job will not only look bad, it can make a potential buyer wonder what’s hiding underneath. If you’re thinking of adding crown molding to your home, the intent should be to enhance a room’s appearance, not to hide cracks, stains, or other wall or ceiling damage.
How much does crown molding cost?
Your walls are in good shape, and you’re curious to price out some crown molding options and see if it’s worth the investment. Where to start?
According to HomeGuide, the average cost for crown molding and installation in 2020 ranges from $7.00 to $16.00 per linear foot, depending on the material of the molding and the cost of labor in your area.
Wood molding tends to be more expensive due to the skilled carpentry required to cut and install. Altogether you can expect to pay between $2,000 and $4,000 to add crown molding throughout your home.
Naturally, less investment is required if you’re only installing in select rooms or using crown molding to accent cabinets or framing.
Does crown molding add value?
Crown molding is tricky in that it’s one of few home improvement endeavors where the cost of installation can exceed the cost of materials.
“The return on investment for crown molding is usually positive, though it depends on how you use your money,” says a representative from Focal Point Products, producers of polyurethane crown molding kits in Greenwood, Delaware. “Crown molding can be quite difficult to install, […] the project could cost thousands.”
If you’re the handy type or happen to have a carpenter in the family, you might be able to DIY the installation of your crown molding and save some cash that way. It’s worth reaching out to fellow homeowner friends or neighbors for their recommendations on local contractors. Most will offer free or low-cost consultations so you’ll know what you’re getting into before you commit to signing any checks.
As far as crown molding adding value to a home?
In Tampa, Florida, top real estate agent Christina Griffin does not see a big demand for crown molding from her clients. Aside from the occasional buyer who chooses crown molding as an add-on option in a new-construction property, the detail has never been the tipping point on a sale or valuation.
“I’ve done thousands of BPOs and when we adjust values and put houses right next to each other and an appraiser goes in, there isn’t much of an adjustment for crown molding,” says Griffin. “A fresh coat of paint would add more value than crown molding, in my opinion.”
Is crown molding worth installing?
While no one likes an answer of, “It depends!”, the reality is that crown molding tends to be a personal preference. Some folks love it; some don’t even notice the added grandeur.
“I think it goes to style,” says Pat Tasker, a top agent based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “I think it’s usually an indication of higher-quality build and more attention to detail.”
That said, Tasker would not advise a seller in her market to add crown molding to their home in hopes of increasing value prior to sale.
“I mean, [crown molding] is desirable, but it’s emotional value. It doesn’t add any financial value,” says Tasker.” [Homeowners] are better off putting in real hardwood floors than crown molding.”
Input from home appraiser Cody Bunch, of For What It’s Worth Appraisals in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, aligns with agent feedback. Crown molding theoretically can add value, but it’s not a given.
“Similar to [adding] a pool, the improvement has value, but the market in which it exists determines the effect,” says Bunch. “There is no clear answer. Crown molding, paint, updated flooring, updated fixtures, etc. can all be improvements which increase the marketability of a home and in turn provide an increase in value, but these improvements are usually not dollar for dollar.”
So, what’s the verdict?
If you’ve fallen in love with the idea of crown molding and this hasn’t been the evaluation you were hoping for, don’t fret. Instead of making it a whole-house project, consider adding crown molding to just one or two rooms to play up the “wow” factor. A formal dining room or living room can be a great space to add decorative molding selectively.
Alternatively, you can use crown molding as an accent above prominent doorways or windows, or you might turn your attention to the kitchen.
“It is a nice finish to put on cabinets,” says Tasker. “Crown molding gives a really nice, finished touch versus just the raw square edges, and a homeowner could do that themselves.”
Finally, don’t hesitate to consult a real estate agent. Every housing market is different, and an expert in your area will be the best resource for advice on whether adding crown molding to your home would be a smart move before listing.
You can also explore more of HomeLight’s Seller Resource Center for lots more tips and ideas on home improvement projects that will help add value to your home and make it irresistible to buyers.
Header Image Source: (John Wollwerth / Shutterstock)