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Coving Profiles

Coving Range (for Cornice, see above/below or next menu Category)

Coving and cornice are available in a wide variety of styles, that can either fit in with your existing decor or help you create something brand new, with profiles ranging from contemporary to more traditional designs.

One of the more frequent questions people ask is, what is the difference between coving and cornice?  Most people already know that both are decorative mouldings that cover the joint between wall and ceiling, either to hide any cracks in the plaster or to add architectural interest to what might otherwise be a dull, flat looking room.

What’s the difference between coving and cornice?

Coving is the term that is usually applied to a ceiling moulding that is generally uniform in profile, i.e. it projects across the ceiling 10cm and the drop down the wall is also 10cm. Coving also tends to be simpler in design than cornice and is typically formed around the traditional quarter circle (or “C”) profile.

The size and amount of detail of the coving would depend on factors such as cost and design preference. Most house builders in the post war period would install the very simple C-shaped coving simply because it was clean and effective - and cheap.

Coving profiles tend to come in different sizes, the most common of which is 5” (127mm). These measurements often cause confusion - they refer to the imaginary line drawn across the coving diagonal from wall to ceiling (not the height or projection).

Sizes will of course vary depending on the profile; there are many designs readily available for you to choose from - including Victorian, Edwardian, Georgian, Art Deco and more modern coving styles.

Cornice on the other hand tends to be more ornate and is less uniform in dimensions (though it could potentially still have the same projection and drop). So a piece could be 150mm across the ceiling but only 100mm down the wall (or vice versa). And the shape of cornice can be very complex indeed, with different “ins-and-outs” and a wide range of patterns reflecting the changing architectural fashions.

Line diagram of example Coving and Cornice profiles:

Coving & Cornice Side Profiles

Traditional plaster decorative coving and cornice

Traditionally, the material for both coving and cornice would have been plaster based. However the inherent problem with plaster is that it is both very heavy and brittle. Hanging this heavy weight from the ceiling often caused additional problems and any subsequent movement in the wall or ceiling meant the appearance of unsightly cracks, or at worse, sections falling off, sometimes bringing the ceiling with it. The solution of the 1970’s was the use of polystyrene which, whilst cheap and easy to install, was visually inferior to plaster and soon fell out of favour.

Modern coving materials

Since then, technology has dramatically improved and the industry standard product is now foamed polyurethane. This has all the visual benefits of plaster coving but without the disadvantages of the weight or fragility. It is best described as being like ‘light wood’. It cuts very easily with a standard cross-cut saw, giving a nice clean, sharp edge so that joins between sections can be made invisible with a small amount of filler and a finish of paint.

Advantages of polyurethane mouldings

The lightweight nature means that polyurethane coving and decorative mouldings can be installed with just adhesive (no screws are necessary) and the average DIY-er can easily install coving without extra or professional help. It is also supplied with an undercoat/primer so is ready to be painted with the final finish coat, thus saving both time and money.

Further advice on choosing coving and cornice

If you need any further advice we are more than happy to discuss your requirements with you - please call us on 020 8660 2854.  And don't forget that you can see our Coving Moulding Installation videos on our YouTube channel