dentil crown molding buildup diy

A four-piece dentil crown molding buildup returned to the wall before a bay window.

[This is part of my How to Install Crown Molding Series.]

There are four ways to terminate a crown molding in a room where you can’t simply finish the crown at its starting point.

  1. Hanging Return
  2. Molding Dissolve
  3. Corbel Return
  4. Finial Return

Here are examples of each.

1. Hanging Return Examples

Terminating  a crown in this manner is perfectly acceptable, and has 2,500 years of examples to support its use.  But I prefer a corbel return over a hanging return.

ornate foam crown molding

The transition from 8′ ceiling height to 10′ required a hanging return in this master bedroom.

Below  Half of this kitchen is an addition with a slightly different ceiling height.  It would be better not to have to start and stop the crown like this, but this was easier than any other option.

kitchen crown molding design

Elevation changes are good places for crown molding hanging returns.

Below  This is what I call a flying crown molding.  They are used to divide a room with tall ceilings or one with vaulted ceilings.

master bedroom crown molding

This looks OK, but I’d rather use a corbel return to end a flying crown.

[Learn step by step How to Return a Crown Molding to the Wall here.]

Further Reading

Crown Molding Hanging Return in Historic Home

2. Crown Molding Dissolve Examples

Below  Since architects don’t design homes with moldings in mind, you end up with oddball intersections like the one below.  Note how the tray ceiling (framed in the narrow molding) comes right to the edge of the inside “box” that houses the HVAC ducts (or perhaps it’s a second floor furnace?).

The point is, this intersection does not allow any crown molding to continue uninterrupted around the room.  The most elegant solution was to dissolve the crown on either side of the box, as if it is passing straight through and meeting in the imagined corner.

large crown molding buildup in master bedroom

Dissolves are a great way to start and stop a crown molding.

Below  I could have wrapped the crown molding around the brick fireplace, and that would have looked nice.  But the brick was done so well that I felt it deserved the senior status of the two decorating items, and so I dissolved the crown molding through it.

crown molding around brick fireplace

Living room crown molding dissolving into the fireplace brick. It comes out the other side and continues around the room.

[Read more about other Molding Dissolves here >>]

3. Corbel Return Examples

This is my favorite way to return a crown molding.  You can save this method for your most important rooms.  The material costs to make one are very little, just the price of a corbel.

corbel from lowes home improvement moldings

A dramatic, solid way to terminate a crown molding. They may look super-fancy, but they are very easy to make.

Below  Another flying crown molding, but this time terminated in a corbel return.

corbel return in great room with vaulted ceilings

This is my favorite corbel return application. The corbels were purchased online.

hardwood corbel painted white

[More about corbel returns here: How Do I Build a Corbel Return?]

4. Finial Return Example

how to terminate a crown moldingThis is the fourth method for return a crown molding that is somewhat similar to a corbel return, and I call it a finial return.

I’ve written a separate post about how to install one here: How to Make a Crown Molding Finial Return.



[This is part of my How to Install Moldings series.]