Decorative mouldings such as ceiling roses, architrave, picture and dado rails are a good way of adding interest to a room and are relatively easy to put up yourself. Many of these features were stripped out of period houses in the 1950s and 1960s as the fashion for streamlined design took hold, but nowadays people are more likely to be putting them back in to regain period charm.
Putting Up a Ceiling Rose
These decorative mouldings go on the ceiling around the light cord and are a prime example of period details that people are replacing. You can buy either plaster (the original material) or polystyrene roses, polystyrene being the cheapest, plaster being heavy to work with.
Before you start, turn off the electricity and make sure you are able to rewire the light fitting. Prepare your surface beforehand to ensure it is clean and even so the adhesive sticks properly. The heavier the rose, the stronger the glue you will need.
Use specialist adhesive and spread on thickly. You may find you need to use screws to help hold up your rose. Leave to dry then you can rewire your light fitting and paint the rose.
Dado and Picture Rails
From an interior design perspective dado and picture rails break up a large expanse of wall and give you the opportunity to use different decorating styles above and below them. You can hang pictures from a picture rail instead of banging nails into the wall, using ‘S’ profile hooks designed for the purpose that can be bought from hardware shops.
This is in fact the original purpose of picture rails and accounts for the name. Dado rails go around the wall three or four feet from the ground and their original purpose was to protect the wall from damage when furniture was accidentally pushed against it.
Fitting a Dado Rail
If you are replacing a dado rail, keep it at the same height, otherwise position it between 3 to 4ft (1 to 1.2m). Mark the height on each wall using a long straight edge and a spirit level. If your floors aren’t level, you might find you have to adjust your line a little.
Next, make screw holes at 3 feet intervals along your rail with a wood bit. Countersink the holes so that the screw head will disappear below the surface of the rail as it will be easier to fill later.
Start on the longer walls and mitre your corners with the help of your mitre box. Try to use rails long enough for the length of your walls to avoid having to join them. Hold your rail against the wall, lining up the top with the pencil line. Mark through the screw holes then put the rail to one side and drill your holes in the wall. Screw your rail in place using the appropriate wall plugs.
When you have finished fitting your rails, fill in the screw holes and leave to dry.
Use the Same Technique on Picture Rails
Picture rails are usually positioned between 12 and 20 inches (30cm and 50cm) below the ceiling. It’s a good idea to check this height with your window or door frames and if there’s not much difference between the two heights, consider lining them up.
Once you’ve decided on the position, simply follow the instructions for dado rails.
Architraves for Door and Window Frames
Architraves are the mouldings surrounding door frames and windows. It makes them look more attractive and hides the untidy edges between the walls and the door or window.
Architraves are fixed to the frame so that they don’t interfere with any hinges. Measure out your pieces of architrave and mark out the mitres so you don’t cut them the wrong way.
Check that you have made the correct cuts and use a suitable adhesive to stick the lengths around the door. You will then need to nail the surround from the top and sides so the nails can’t be seen. Put two nails, preferably pins with small heads, in at angles across the top corners to fix the frames together.
Knock the nail heads below the surface of the architrave with a hammer and a suitable drift. An upside down nail will suffice but make sure the head isn’t too large. Hide the nails and holes with filler and then paint the whole assembly.
Take a Look at the Decorative Mouldings Range
These are just a few of the decorative mouldings available, but they all follow the same principle. Just remember the old adage, measure twice, cut once, and your rooms will look as though they have been professionally decorated.