Armchair Builder

Crown Molding with Indirect Lighting

We recently completed a crown molding with indirect lighting installation.  I have to tell you, the project turned out much better than we anticipated.  It’s not that we didn’t expect good results, but we have installed lighted crown before and didn’t get this type of impact.  The video above shares the specifics of the project and I’ve included some tips below for getting good results on your project.

Lighting Type

There are lots of options for installing indirect lighting these days.  We chose a rope light because of the ease of installation.  All we needed was to add a recessed outlet with a switch and a simple incandescent rope light and tah-dah, a warm indirect light was created.  We chose an incandescent light, because we don’t plan on using the actual light for extended periods of time.  It’s really just for that time just before bed when you are winding down and decompressing after a long stressful day.

If you plan on using the light for longer periods of time, you might want to go with LED’s.  These will last longer and operate at about a tenth of the power consumption of the incandescent.  The only catch is, they are quite a bit more expensive.  Our lighting costs would have more than doubled if we used the LED’s.  One other item to consider if you go with the LED’s, check the color temperature of the light.  You don’t want to end up with something that is the wrong color or is too bright.  Many people complain of bluish tints with LED’s so take the time to investigate what you are buying.  So check out the color as well as the brightness of the lights before purchasing.  Because indirect lighting is supposed to create an ambiance, you don’t want light that is so bright it feels like your back at work.

Crown Configuration

It’s very important to put the time into planning your crown molding with indirect lighting details prior to starting any work.  Think about how the lighting will be installed behind the molding.  We used a three piece crown that created a natural pocket to set the rope into.  This saved us time from having to use special fasteners to keep it straight.

Also pay special attention to the plug for the light.  As you can see from our previous article and video, installing the recessed outlet with switch is a fairly straightforward project that a dedicated do-it-yourselfer can do.  But don’t forget to test the plug with the crown in position prior to installing the crown.  The electrical plugs for these rope lights can be quite long…which can get in the way of the crown.  You don’t want to get all of your crown molding installed, only to find out the plug won’t fit behind it.

You also want to make certain the molding will cover the entire recessed outlet and cover plate.  Nothing looks more amateur than an indirect lighting project where you can see the light source.

Save Time Painting

Painting crown and the wall adjacent to it can be a time consuming job…but it doesn’t have to be.  Here are some tips for making the job much easier…

  • Behind the Crown:  Make sure the wall from the crown up to the ceiling is white to reflect the color upword.  If the wall is blue, the indirect light will look blue.  So paint this area prior to installing the crown…it will be much harder to get to after installation.
  • Walls:  If you are planning on painting a new color in the room, be sure to paint the walls to just above the lower edge of the future trim detail.  This will keep you from having to cut this paint in later.
  • Crown Detail:  Be sure to put two coats of paint on the trim prior to installation (the backside should be painted as well).  Be sure to get the lower edge that will be next to the wall perfect so you won’t need to do any cut work.

Keeping Costs Down

This crown molding with indirect lighting project cost less than $400 for a really custom look.  In addition to doing the work yourself, here are some tips for keeping your costs low.

  • Trim:  Use medium density fiber (MDF) trim for the flat stock.  This is much cheaper than real wood and looks the same.  Just make sure your air gun is set to the proper PSI to prevent damage to the trim’s surface.  Sure, MDF trim can damage more easily…but since it’s next to the ceiling, it won’t matter in this case.
  • Light:  Don’t get too carried away with high-end lighting choices.  We searched around and found lighting up to ten times what we paid.  So don’t grab the first thing you find…there are less expensive options out there.  Our lighting turned out to be about a buck a lineal foot.
  • Crown:  Choose a pre-primed material to save time painting.  Also look for a fingerjointed pine to save.  The medium density crown is also quite inexpensive, but it can be difficult to get the miter cuts to look good.

Have you thought about installing crown molding with indirect lighting?

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