The Real Cost to Paint Crown Molding: DIY vs Professional Painters

Last updated: April 22, 2020

A room with crown molding along the ceiling

Crown molding – when done right – can really make the look of a room. This type of trim adds a great finishing touch, so you’ll always want to make sure that it looks great against your ceiling and walls. If your crown molding is starting to look less than ideal, freshening it up with paint can help you maintain the appearance of the entire room.

Before getting started, you’ll need to know the cost to paint crown molding, and how choosing between doing it yourself or hiring professional help can have an effect on how much you spend and the end result. This article will help you make some important decisions by addressing the following topics:

Before we dive into how much all of your options will cost you, let’s learn about the challenges presented when painting crown molding.

Crown and base molding: the difference

It’s important to differentiate crown molding from other trims. Crown molding is often used to cover the surface between the wall and the ceiling. It’s designed to be aesthetically pleasing to act as a decoration to the room. You’ll likely find that your crown molding is made from either wood or plaster, but it is also available in other materials.

Base molding, on the other hand, is also a decorative trim that is used to cover the surface between the wall and the floor. It tends to add a nice aesthetic touch to the room while also helping to protect the wall. You’re most likely to find that your base molding is made from either wood, plastic, or vinyl.

The big differences between the two are their placement, appearance, and cost. The two trims are placed on opposite ends of the wall and, while both can be used for decorative purposes, crown molding is often far more elegant than base molding.

In terms of how much you’ll be spending, the average cost to paint crown molding is $1 to $3.50 per linear foot while the average cost to paint base molding is $1 to $5 per linear foot. This is because base molding is often wider and requires more time to paint.

A wall with crown molding that stands out

Image credit: Festoon House

Challenges of painting crown molding

Like other interior paint jobs, you’re likely to encounter some challenges when painting crown molding. Painting interior rooms is tough in general, but crown molding has some additional characteristics that make the job a bit tougher. Here are the main difficulties you’ll experience while painting crown molding:

  • Crown molding is a decorative finish, meaning you’ll want it to look perfect. Mistakes will be easy to spot.
  • Given its placement and features, it’s hard to paint crown molding without making a mistake.
  • If you don’t have your measurements hidden away, you’ll have to get the room measurements yourself (whether you D.I.Y. paint or hire a professional). This can be time-consuming, exhausting, and hazardous.
  • If your crown molding is older, it’s possible it could need repairs or even replacements, further adding to your costs.

Costs of painting crown molding

As with all paint jobs, the cost of painting your crown molding is going to depend on more than just the length. There are plenty of things you’ll need to consider that can really affect your budget. Here are the different things that will impact the cost of painting your crown molding.

  • Paint quality and type – Not only are there various types of paint to choose from, but there are differences in quality. Whichever paint you choose can have a significant impact on the final cost.
  • Primer – To make sure your paint lasts, you’ll want to apply a primer first. Like paint, the cost will also be based on the quality and calculated by linear footage.
  • Prep work – To make sure your paint job is long-lasting, you’ll likely need to prepare the surface of your crown molding. Prep work such as sanding and cleaning can add to your costs.
  • Repairs and replacements – The older your crown molding, the more likely it’s encountered some damage. Any fixes or replacements to it will affect the final total spent.
  • Tools – If you’re D.I.Y. painting your crown molding, you’ll need to invest in the proper brushes and trays to do a proper job. Expect to spend some additional money here.
  • Labour – If you’re planning to hire a contractor, you’ll need to account for the fees there. Luckily, you will be able to get a quote from them before confirming their services.

Types of crown molding

If you’re going to be replacing your crown molding, you might want to explore the different options available. As previously mentioned, crown molding can be made of various materials. Each material offers different advantages, so it’s important to consider all possible options. Below are different common types of crown molding.

1. Aluminum, copper, and steel

A room with metal crown molding around the windows

Although not a popular option, crown molding can be made from these metals. Aluminum, copper, and steel crown molding can be used for both interior and exterior projects. It’s a great option for those that want a seamless transition in and around their home.

Metal moldings cost an average of $13 to $33 per linear foot to install.

2. Medium-density fibreboard

Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) is a great option for anyone who wants the look of wooden crown molding, but doesn’t want to pay for it. It’s very light, is easy to paint, and will serve well in any room that’s not overly humid.

The average cost of installation is $4 to $10 per linear foot.

3. Oak and solid wood

A simple white room with wooden crown molding

With many different types of wood available, solid wood crown molding allows for many possibilities. Oak and solid woods are the easiest to stain, and add lots of beauty and warmth to whatever room they’re in.

The average cost for installation is $5 to $12 per linear foot, but you could spend up to $45 per linear foot if you choose to go with a custom, luxury wood.

4. Plaster

One of the most difficult to install, plaster moldings were often molded into place right in the room; however, pre-made plaster moldings do exist today. Since they are very intricate, you’ll need to have a professional install them.

Expect to pay an average of $9 to $20 per linear foot in addition to the labour fees.

5. Polystyrene foam

The foam crown molding is the easiest to install. It’s incredibly lightweight, can be cut with scissors, and can be installed with glue or tape. This is a great option when you’re looking to decorate in a hurry.

Average installation costs are between $3.50 and $6 per linear foot.

6. Polyurethane

If you’re opting for longevity over appearance, polyurethane crown molding could be the best option for you. It’s resistant to damage and rot (with the exception of the odd dent here and there), but is more difficult to paint.

Installation will cost an average of $5 to $10 per linear foot.

7. PVC

A bathroom with crown molding along the ceiling

This is your best option if you’re looking to add crown molding to areas that hold moisture, such as your bathroom or kitchen. The downside is that it’s difficult to paint, and only comes in white.

The average cost you’ll spend on installation is $3.50 to $8 per linear foot.

Crown molding ideas for beautiful finishes

Crown molding is all about the look. There are many different ways that it can be used to beautify any of your rooms. These are some of the ways crown molding can be used to create a beautiful finish.

Federal or Early American style

Federal crown molding running along a ceiling

Crown molding with subtle and clean lines. Best used on low ceilings to make the room appear larger.

Colonial Revival

Colonial crown molding used on a ceiling

Mimicking the rooftops of older buildings, this type of crown molding features details that flare outward. Helps to draw eyes towards high or vaulted ceilings while adding a crisp, clean look to the room.


A closeup of unpainted, wooden trim

Crown molding composed entirely of wood. Ideal for interior rooms that you want to have a warm, cozy feeling.

Georgian style

A black and white photo of a room that uses georgian molding

Created using the moldings of classical architecture. Best option if you want your room to have a historic feel.

Coloured trim

A bedroom that uses gray molding to contrast the ceiling and walls

Any type of trim that has been painted a non-traditional colour. Can create a modern look on crown molding that will allow for paint.

Doors and windows

A front foyer with crown molding around the windows and doors

Any trim applied specifically around doors and windows. Surrounding your doors or windows with crown molding can add an elegant look to the room.

Kitchens and bathrooms

A bright kitchen with crown molding running along the top of the cabinets

There are also different types of trim that are complementary to the layout of your kitchen and bathrooms. Adding crown molding as a cabinet topper or cornice to these rooms will help keep them looking fresh.

Lighted molding

Designed to allow for light bulbs to be installed behind the molding. Installing crown molding with lights gives your room an ambient look.

Hollow PVC molding

Molding designed with hollow space behind it. This type of PVC crown molding will allow for you to easily conceal cables and wires in the room.

Should I D.I.Y. paint crown molding?

Making the decision to take on a paint job yourself can be exciting, but it can also be a little scary and intimidating at times. It might seem like the ultimate solution to saving money, but at what other costs? Here are the pros and cons of D.I.Y. painting your crown molding.


  • Costs less than hiring professional painters
  • You have complete control over the project, including what paint is used and what you do with it


  • You’ll end up spending more over time if the project isn’t done correctly
  • Unless you have a background in painting, you might lack some skill sets required to do a quality job
  • Having to purchase your own materials will add to your costs

Should I hire professionals to paint crown molding?

If you’re feeling anxious about painting your ceiling yourself, you might want to consider having it professionally painted. Professional painters have the skills and expertise to get the job done as quickly as possible, while making sure the final result is one you’ll be happy with. Here are some benefits of hiring professionals.

  • They’ll give you quality results that look great
  • They are trained to spot structural defects before they begin painting (saving you from lots of grief later)
  • They are familiar with ceiling paint and can offer great advice on what brands to use
  • They’re trained in safety, reducing the risk of an accident in your home
  • They can conduct surface preparations before beginning to paint
  • They can complete the project in a timely manner
  • They will ensure high-quality results that are long lasting
  • There will be reduced stress on your part

Now that you have the facts, it’s time to decide how much you’re willing to spend on painting your crown molding. If you decide on the professional route, City Painters is here for you. Contact us here or give us a call to get a quote for your project!