Restoring or replacing a cornice in your home may seem like an impossible job and one best left to the experts. However with a small amount of knowledge and the willingness to be careful and take your time, you could restore your cornices or even replace sections with no need for an expensive tradesman.
An exterior cornice is a decorative moulding which usually is around the top of a building and is designed to deflect water away from the walls. They are generally placed just under the roof-line and can consist of jutting out decorative items and even small statue-like protrusions.
An interior cornice is the type which you are more likely to want to replace or improve. Inside they will be used to hide the place where the wall meets the ceiling and are purely for decorative reasons – although sometimes they can be used to hide wiring. Sometimes this type of cornice is called a crown moulding. In older style homes these cornices can be very decorative with lots of intricate plasterwork.
Repairing your cornice
- A damaged cornice will usually need to be replaced with a new section. Basic ones can be easy to find in DIY stores, but more decorative ones may need to be made to order. A local craftsman should be able to take an imprint of the current cornice and make a matching piece.
- Scrape away the damaged plaster and patch any holes left. Cut the new piece of cornice to size and fit it into place with plasterboard adhesive. Sand it down and paint over to hide the joins.
Cornices which have been painted and have lost their original shape may benefit from the paint being removed. You can do this by using a paint-on chemical paint remover. This will get into the nooks and crannies and will wash away easily. Once the paint has been mostly removed you will be able to see if any areas need to be repaired.
- For scratches, broken edges and small holes, you may need to get creative with plaster. Try building up the holes with plaster allowing it to dry before sanding. Other larger holes may need to be packed with polystyrene before the plaster goes on. You will need to closely recreate the profile of the existing cornice, but this can be achieved with careful application and sanding.
Once all the repairs are complete and your cornice is clean of old paint you can sand it down gently and repaint. It is usually best to paint the cornice in white so that your hard work will stand out on any coloured background.