Fake Molding
December 29, 2005 9:32 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a cheap and easy way to add molding around an arched doorway.

I have two arched doorways that I would like to add molding to but I don't have the money to pay a carpenter to come out and do a professional job. I keep thinking there must be some sort of ersatz, flexible molding made from plaster or paper that can be pasted to the wall and then painted but I've yet to locate any.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Does it have to be wood or wood-looking? I'm not sure about your decor, but I've seen some really interesting things done with galvanized aluminum flashing - someone took strips of it and weaved them on a wall - it was really, really cool looking. I imagine you could do something really interesting with alternate materials - metal, tile, etc.

Not sure about the plaster, but just thought I'd throw you the idea.
posted by TeamBilly at 9:41 AM on December 29, 2005

Response by poster: I am open to everything. It doesn't have to look like wood. The doorways are pictured here. I plan to paint the living room terra cotta with all accents and moldings in white. The doorways would be more striking and have greater visual appeal if they were accented in some way. I have considered trompe l'oeil, but I would prefer something more substantial.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:52 AM on December 29, 2005

At any Home Depot or Lowes, they sell this composite wood - mainly for trim work. It's basically compressed cardboard for the most part but spray it down with just a bit of water and it will bend quite a bit. It cuts easy, paints easy (and comes already primered). A single piece may not provide the desired effect but there is no reason you can't layer them to get the look you are going for. I don't know what the particular area you are considering looks like but I've used this stuff for all types of trim work - especially when bending is needed.

Also, the stuff is relatively cheap so you can afford to make a few mistakes along the way.
posted by j.p. Hung at 9:53 AM on December 29, 2005

Just saw your pictures. Trust me, this stuff will work fine.
posted by j.p. Hung at 9:54 AM on December 29, 2005

My local lumber supply has a flexible polyurethane moulding product. Looks like wood, bends like rubber. I can't remember the brand, or I'd link it directly. It sounds like just the solution you're looking for. Call and ask the lumber shop.
posted by Triode at 9:58 AM on December 29, 2005

Response by poster: At any Home Depot or Lowes,

That's funny because I have asked a number of times for something like that at Home Depot or Lowes but nobody ever knows what I am talking about.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:06 AM on December 29, 2005

It's definitely there, trust me. Usually at the end of the isle near the 'trim' section. HD and Lowes employees are notoriously stupid.
posted by j.p. Hung at 10:09 AM on December 29, 2005

Response by poster: It is certainly worth a trip. I'll take a look tomorrow when I am running errands.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:11 AM on December 29, 2005

The product in question, I believe, is MDF, easy to work with and inexpensive. The other (per Triode) may be demonstrated here. I've not seen it nor worked with it.
posted by namret at 10:35 AM on December 29, 2005

Ignore the MDF/wood/etc recommendations. They are the old-tech solution.

There is now available a PU-based flexible molding that easily forms a curve. It is not made of wood, MDF, or suchlike.

Keep looking: molding that's as flexible as a noodle does exist. Worst comes to worst, I can always ship it to you...
posted by five fresh fish at 11:45 AM on December 29, 2005

Having spent about 7 years doing interior trim for the rich and shamelessly self-indulgent, I would advise you to either bite the bullet and bring in a master carpenter or just forget the whole thing. Sure you can get flexible mouldings but they only bend the way you want along their thickness, not their width. I’ve cased a lot of arch tops and we always used custom made wood casings.

Are your walls finished with sheet-rock or plaster? If they’re plaster - double forget it. If you want to case the doors, the casing is going to look forever just stuck on unless its mated to wood door jambs. So you can tear off the sheet rock and attach some nice side jambs. For the arch top jamb you can laminate 1/4 inch bendable plywood, bondo the edges and paint the whole thing.

Oh yeah, when you’re doing your side jambs make sure to keep them parallel to that inside corner, shimming when necessary, because the two side-casings will meet there.

Of course, I’m speaking within the bounds of standard practice. You may indeed find a creative solution that will suit you to a tee.
posted by Huplescat at 3:16 PM on December 29, 2005

If very plain, painted mouldings are OK you can cast the curve using plaster of paris. You'll need two strips of something about 3/4" high. A pair of aluminium yard sticks work well. Also obtain your vertical moulding. Some pieces of 1X4 work well. Cut a couple pieces of 1X4 about 6" long and a third piece the width of your door + 7" (3.5" X 2). Screw the two 6" sections to the ends of the third piece and then fasten your bendy pieces to the 6" sections (duct tape works ok for this) taking care to match the curve of your door and to keep a consistent distance between the two bendy pieces. Lay the form on a sheet of plastic or cardboard (waxed works excellent). Mix up a nice stiff mixture of plaster and pour into your mould. Level the plaster with short piece of wood ran over the two edges or your bendy pieces. Let dry. The plaster will probably end up with irregularities or small voids, you can patch these with more plaster and sand smooth. Alternatively I prefer to patch the voids with premixed drywall mud, it's a bit easier to work with than plaster. Because you used offcuts from your 1X4 side mouldings the width should be just right.

You can also make a built up moulding out of 1/8" Masonite. You'll need access to a skil saw or tablesaw (better). Cut a bunch of strips out of your Masonite with a width equal to the thickness of your verticals. Again 1X4 S4S makes for a clean looking casing on the cheap. Install your verticals. Attach one of your strips temporarily to the outside of the verticals creating the curve you want. you'll want to leave an extra 1/8" or so in height. Hear comes the finicky part: cut a strip to the exact length to fit inside the one you have fastened to your uprights. Cut another piece to length to just fit inside the first. However before putting it in place apply a thin coating of wood glue to the side facing the previous strip. Rinse, lather repeat until you have the width you need. Leave the built up moulding in place for a day to let it dry. When you remove your temporary piece the built up moulding will spring a little wider, don't worry about that you can force it back into place again when you install it. You'll notice that the ends of your custom moulding are all jagged, Laying a straight edge over both pieces cut all the jaggy off the end, this is why we left the extra 1/8" in height. Fill any gaps between strips with the wood filler of your choice then sand and paint. Install the moulding on top of the verticals with screws. Attach the ends first so you can force the springback narrower, a clamp long enough to draw the two ends together is perfect for this task. Fill the screw holes and any gap between your verticals and your moulding with filler and give a final coat of paint.
posted by Mitheral at 9:23 PM on December 29, 2005

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