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How to fit cornicing

Date posted: 12 March 2014

A room's cornicing or coving – the ornamental moulding that wraps around the walls – crowns a room and covers the wall/ceiling join. If a room's original cornicing is missing or damaged you can replace it yourself without needing too many advanced DIY skills.

An average-sized room will only take most DIY amateurs about a day to finish, and the addition of cornicing will significantly elevate the overall look and feel of the room.

Tools & materials
Before you get started, you will need various tools and materials including a tape measure; a spirit level; multi purpose adhesive; a craft knife; a mitre block; a cordless drill and masonary drill bit set; a claw hammer; a step ladder; a saw; a paint scraper and paint brush; and a stud detector. If you don't own any of these tools, contact your local tool hire centre which should be able to supply them at affordable rental rates.

Measuring up
Before you can buy your cornicing you will need to measure the length of the room's walls in order to work out how much you need. Always add on an extra 5% just to be on the safe side.

Buying your cornicing & adhesive
At DIY shops you will find various types of coving available, each made using different materials, and flexible enough to give a little bit if your wall is slightly bowed. Polystyrene is a lightweight and inexpensive option, but bear in mind that it is not very durable so needs to be handled carefully, and it will also need several coats of paint to look good. Paper-coated plaster is another affordable option, but it is heavier than polystyrene and still needs to be painted. Plaster is the most expensive option, available in a wide range of period styles to suit different houses, and it offers a smooth, white finish that will need minimum painting. Finally, another option is duropolymer which offers all the benefits of plaster, including availability in a variety of styles, yet it is also pre-primed and very lightweight to handle.

Fitting your cornicing

  1. Take a 10cm length of cornicing as a guide template to simply mark the top and bottom edges of the coving on the walls and ceiling of your room. Mark along the wall at regular intervals then join these marks together with a straight edge.
  2. Remove any loose wallpaper or flaky paint between the two lines, then score along the wall between the lines with your craft knife to create a key for the adhesive.
  3. Begin work on the longest wall, using your mitre block to cut the end of the first piece of coving using a fine-toothed saw at an angle of 45 degrees. Sand off any rough edges.
  4. Use the filling knife to spread coving adhesive evenly all over the back of the first piece of coving on all parts that will come into contact with the walls/ceiling.
  5. Holding the coving in place, line up the edges using the pencil guide lines on the wall and ceiling, then press gently along the entire length of the piece to make sure the glue sticks properly.
  6. While it is drying you can make sure the cornice remains firmly in place by supporting the bottom and top edges with a few galvanised nails, which you can remove once the adhesive has dried, then fill up the holes.
  7. Where bits of excess adhesive ooze out from the sides of the coving when you press it down, use a damp paintbrush or sponge to get rid of it.
  8. If you're using very heavy plaster cornicing you will need to fix it using brass screws at 1m intervals. As you work around the room, hold each piece in position then drill carefully through the coving into the wall. Add wall plugs then spread on the adhesive and screw the cornice into place. Finally, use a small amount of filler to conceal the screw heads.
  9. Carry on working around the room, pushing together the joins of the cornicing on straight sections of wall. Use a bit of filler to smooth over any joins once you've completed the job.



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