Crown Molding Alternatives That Save Money & Time & Look Great

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crown molding alternatives

You must have spent all your life around crown molding, even if you don't realize it. For a standard house, they are omnipresent integrations around your windows, doors, and ceilings. You've probably seen crown molding alternatives and not realized they weren't the genuine product.

Invariably, crown molding are an indispensable part of a house's interior system. Looking back, it is incredible how these design elements can bring life to any interior design. It's easy to forget them as a part of the basic décor. But the truth is a little more ancient.

Crown molding originated for a practical purpose; they were much later pushed and misunderstood to be something solely for aesthetic purposes. The main reason behind creating trims was to convert the ugly gaps where different building materials were placed together.

The problem is these can get fairly expensive if you get the real deal with real wood. You'll be buying 8 foot runs and cutting them up with waste and even making mistakes. Fortunately there are some alternatives to crown molding that are much cheaper due to how they're manufactured.

5 Crown Molding Alternatives

Crown molding isn't outdated, it's just expensive. Fortunately we can get the job done exactly the same but a lot cheaper. Let's look at five ways we can replace any types of crown molding using other materials and techniques.

Picture Molding

picture rail molding

A great option for those who love self-dependence, the picture molding method is an incredibly easy do-it-yourself. This thin option is lightweight, and its installation is a piece of cake. You can get all kinds of inspiration at the Joy of Moldings (their picture above) including some installation tips.

If you do not have those tiny finishing nails to hold the trim in place, fret not, you can also use a hot glue gun to attach them wherever you want, though using any types of nails of the right size will create less damage later if you change your molding.

To achieve a particular length so that they fit right into a corner, you can conveniently use a hand miter tool, which is readily available in any furniture or hardware specialty store. Customizing the size before applying any adhesive helps you avoid making mistakes.

These are comparatively less costly compared to real crown molding. The fact that you can make endless customization makes it a perfect choice if you are on a budget.

We advise you to paint the strips before installing them in place. This will eliminate the need to tap around the edges of the wall, should the paint leak on to the other side.

Caulk the Gap & Paint a Strip

caulk the gap and paint it

You can paint the strip of the top of your wall instead of installing a crown molding if you caulk the gap smoothly. Paint is the most inexpensive method of making sure your room looks elegant without breaking your wallet. You can even caulk over the old caulk later to touch it up.

You can always choose between thin and bold accent strips while painting the edges. Make sure you measure the piece's length and make a sharp line or use a tap to get a straight accent before placing your painter's tape.

Try not to overdo on the accent strip and choose colors that complement the residual walls or the décor of your room. You can also buy a color guide from the paint store for a well-planned home upgrade.

The Peel & Stick Crown Molding  Alternative

stick and peel molding

Many homeowners have converted to the peel and stick method instead as it's easier to work with and cheaper. This faux molding consists of adhesive material at the back and a thin plastic cast in the front to take on the appearance of the genuine option.

You also have the convenience of cutting down the frame to fit the size of your trimmed edges. You can cut the molding easily with the help of scissors. Stick and peel trim strips are cost-effective and a very speedy way of making your house look upscaled.

These can be as simple as pictured above or as ornate and decorative as anything you'd see in old Victorian style architecture.

Polyurethane Molding

polyurethane molding made of foam

While crown molding alternatives such as the peel and stick options are a cheap option, the quality they offer does not escape compromises. If you want something inexpensive, yet of the same visual quality as the genuine article, the polyurethane foam strips are your best choice.

They closely resemble wood and are available in several designs. If you wish to give your room a little more personality, you can always paint these before or after installation.

Much like the stick and peel alternative, you can install the polyurethane type very quickly and without any help. You need to install the quick clips on the walls and then cut the molding to the desired length.

The only thing left to do after that is to fix the strip to the clip attachment. With a few gentle taps, your new room upgrade is now complete.

Wallpaper Borders

wallpaper borders as alternatives to crown molding

Wallpaper borders are rather hassle-free and easy alternatives to crown molding. For the latter, you must invest a considerable amount of money and spend more on the labor for its installation.

Wallpaper border takes away all such limitations to give to equal and sometimes an even better aesthetic appeal. You can purchase a wallpaper that matches the color of your walls. There's also wallpaper alternatives like washi tape that can serve this same purpose for children.

Wallpaper borders can be used for both painted walls and any walls that already have various types of wallpaper attached to them. They're a visually better method than painting an accent strip as mentioned above.

Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)

medium density fiberglass mdf molding

MDF or Medium Density Fibreboard is a wood product made out of hard and softwood residues. It is then processed with wax and resin binders, which lends it to the shape of a panel.

Medium density fibreboards have been used as an alternative to crown molding for ages now. They perfectly resemble the real deal but are a lot cheaper.

MDF options come in different shapes and designs to best match the interior of your space. You can easily find many MDF choices at your local but larger hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe's.

Where Do I Use Crown Molding Alternatives?

One of the best aspects of the alternatives mentioned above is the versatility. You can easily include them in any design. Some other surprising ways of using crown molding alternatives include:


Baseboards generally go unnoticed when it comes to a home upgrade even if you go all out with the baseboard styles. But installing these alternatives is fantastic for two of the most fundamental reasons: protections and aesthetics.

Any of the options above will cover the gap between your flooring and the walls that looks rather unappealing and protect the intersection of the wall and the floor from moisture and dust.


Another critical use for crown molding or its alternatives is casing areas near your windows and doors. The ugly space that runs along the length of your window or door frame can be easily made pretty by installing wallpaper or MDF strips.

Even simply caulking and painting the area the same color works if you're going for a modern and minimal aesthetic in your interior design.

Chair Rail Molding

chair rail molding

If you have a house full of furniture such as chairs and tables, it is often easy to chip certain regions of your wall while moving them around. Stick and peel options or MDF strips are a great way of preventing these dents.

You install these at the height of the back of the chair and they act as a bumper buffer between the drywall (or drywall alternatives) so the chair can't damage the wall. Moreover, the molding adds a bit of visual complexity and can even make your wallpaper look more aligned and sophisticated.

Frequently Asked Questions

There's a handful of questions everyone wants to know when they first discover the convenience and price-savings of alternatives to crown molding. Let's answer those now.

What is the Difference Between Molding & Crown Molding?

Molding is an imprecise term used for any trim layout inside of a space. In general, this would fall under crown molding as a sub-category, while crown molding can be used for anything and everything that has been pulverized from a wooden element. It generally refers to molding around the ceiling as well, as opposed to baseboard trim and shoe molding or quarter round.

With time, as the interior designs became more impactful, both types evolved too, becoming more ornate. But recently simplicity is returning as an aesthetic desire.

What are the Benefits of a Crown Molding?

The original purpose is to provide a pristine cover to hide the other visually unpleasant intersection of building materials. When done the right way, a crown molding is all you need to make a space look more put together.

Unless you are living in a beautiful Victorian house, the lack of of this simple element is too apparent. It is easy to notice that space lacks an architectural touch without the distinction provided by this enhancement.

victorian crown molding

Why Should I Look for Crown Molding Alternatives?

A house can be expensively built, but the lack of trims or crown molding might make it seem rather poorly designed. But what if you wish to cut down on the cost of adding these elements in your home?

It is a fact that trims are expensive, especially when you add the value of premium material and labor expertise.

Most homeowners are hesitant to invest such exuberant amounts into crown molding for the mere possibility that you might move out soon, or their preferences might change with time. You can have the elegance of elegant and save on the expense in this way.

How do I Install a Faux Crown Molding?

To install these you need a few simple tools, including, glue, laser level, nail tacks, paint, and paintbrushes. Typically, all faux options such as polyurethane strips or stick and peel choices come as kits.

You simply need to install the easy clips on the desired area if they're required. Then paint and cut the strip to fit the length of your wall. Then install it on the clips or using an adhesive such as a glue gun. Others require only a tack tapped in with tack types of hammers.

 What Can I Use Instead of a Crown Molding?

Medium density fiberboard molding, stick and peel strips, and polyurethane options are the best alternatives to crown molding. They are inexpensive and easy to install. You can also ‘diy’ the installation.

Moreover, there is plenty of room to customize such options by painting them. You can easily buy such any of these from your local but larger hardware store or online.

Crown Molding Alternatives Save Money!

Bringing elegance and maintenance to your house does necessarily have to be an expensive endeavor. You can gain the same aesthetics and satisfaction using cost-friendly alternatives.

A budget homeowner is a smart homeowner. You know how incredibly unprecedented owning a your own home is when you first get started.

Crown molding alternatives are a fantastic integration to your house, in terms of satisfaction and looks. And they let you save up enough for buying other décor items. Isn't that a pure win-win situation?

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