7 Steps for Easy Elegance:  Visually Enhance Any Room with Panel Molding

Panel molding dates back to the Georgian period of the 1700’s. Georgian architecture is characterized by a sense of proportion and balance. Symmetry and adherence to the classical rules were valued as regular and desirable. Today, panel molding is used to break up large surfaces, which adds a formal feeling to most designs. It is also utilized as a border separating colors or textures. Visually enhance any room with decorative panel molding; from walls and doors to ceilings, these exquisite accents can be installed by the average do it yourself home owner.
As with any project, proper safety practices should be used at all times. That includes wearing hearing and eye protection as appropriate. If you need to use a respirator, dust mask or any other tool or equipment, always select the right one for the job.


When beginning any project, it is important to plan the layout. Establishing a plan keeps the job flowing smoothly. It is perhaps the most important step. Although installing panel molding requires that you have a good drawing that accurately shows the room and the pattern, you won’t need to generate detailed blueprints. A pencil sketch on graph paper will do. Be certain that the measurements are accurate. Reference dimensions on the drawing to either the center of the room (or to a ceiling dome or ceiling medallion, etc..) or to the walls. This will depend on the dominant feature of your design. Although you may not have any interest in recreating an extravagant baroque ceiling for your own home, you can often find some great pattern ideas by studying the ceilings of historic castles and palaces. Look around your room and decide whether you will have full or split panels; single size or variable sizes, or symmetric sized panels. Panel molding is strictly a decorative element, so there are no rules to follow for the design. This is your opportunity to create a unique and individual design.


When ordering your panel molding make sure that the pattern of the molding is compatible with the corners (if you are using corners) and that you have made adequate allowance for cutting waste. Remember to take pattern repeat into account when figuring cutting waste. I like to use a cut list for all trim work. It allows me to plan all of the joints before I start cutting. I use the same list to plan my order. Normally, panel molding is inexpensive due to its small profile. Therefore, you may want to save some work and order enough to eliminate as many joints as possible. You are also going to need adhesive, caulk, etc. to complete the installation.


If you are not planning to finish (paint or faux finish) the ceiling and the molding at the same, you may want to prefinish the molding and then touch it up after installation.
Assemble Materials
Setup a work area close to the job and assemble your tools and materials. Look over the moldings to make sure they haven’t been damaged either on shipping or on the job. Inventory your tools and supplies to ensure that everything you will need is there. If something is missing, stop and get it now rather than waiting until you need it, which inevitably is at the worst possible time.


Transfer your plan to the ceiling in full size. Layout the outline of the molding rather than the centerlines so the layout will be visible with the molding installed. Remember to reference patterns that surround ceiling domes or ceiling medallions, to the center of the feature they surround. Reference moldings that run parallel to walls to the wall (to minimize the effect of out of square or wavy walls).


Because of their light weight no mechanical fasteners are required. Use an appropriate size bead of adhesive and temporary fasteners as necessary until the adhesive sets.

Finish Up

After the adhesive has set, remove the temporary fasteners or set below surface. Caulk the joint between the ceiling and the molding. Fill the holes made by the fasteners with non-shrink filler, sand, prime and paint.
Voila! Enjoy and relish in the glow of all the compliments you receive when others see how beautiful your room is with the simple addition of panel molding.
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