Ceiling Coving: How to Put Up Coving
You can enhance the decorative effect of a room — and hide defects — by adding coving and a complementary centre to the ceiling.
Installation is quite straightforward and it should be no trouble to find a variety which suits your room.
When you are planning your decoration scheme, don’t forget the ceiling. Often this simply ends up being painted white and without ornament. Sometimes this may be the right solution but at others a more imaginative treatment can enhance the overall appearance of a room.
You can use colour on the ceiling to make a very tall room appear lower; or change the proportions of a box-like room to make the shape seem more interesting; or even increase the apparent size of a small room. Alternatively, you can add some form of ornament to the ceiling surface. In bathrooms and bedrooms where you will be aware of the ceiling much more often than in other rooms—when you are lying in the bath or in bed — it’s particularly worth making the view more interesting.
Ornamental ceilings can be created either by using cornices — mouldings fixed in the angle between the wall and the ceiling — or more simple coving which links the two surfaces. (There is a clear distinction architecturally, but here both will be referred to as coving.) Ceiling centres — ornamental mouldings fixed in the middle of the ceiling — will provide an attractive focal point.
In practical terms, a nice, neat coving between wall and ceiling, apart from looking more elegant and ‘finished’, will hide the joints between ceiling and wall decorations or hide cracks, wires or pipes; sometimes it may be continued to form a pelmet for curtains or blinds, or to conceal strip lighting. Ceiling centres, used to complement coving, will also disguise a poorly plastered ceiling, hide joins, bumps and electrics and are a perfect foil to attractive light fittings like chandeliers.
Types of ceiling ornaments
It is still possible to find a craftsman who will ‘sculpt’ a decorative coving or ceiling centre for you but this is likely to be prohibitively expensive. It is cheaper to use some form of prepared, preformed coving or ceiling centre.
These come in various materials which break down into four categories: fibrous plaster, plasterboard or gypsum, plastic and wood. Fibrous plaster covings and ceiling centres are available in different styles, mostly traditional. Plasterboard or gypsum covings are streamlined and simple to install. Of the various plastic types there are covings and ceiling centres made from glass fibre and also ones made from cellular plastics such as polyurethane and expanded polystyrene: these are all light and easy to handle. There are also covings and ceiling centres made from a new plastic resin product that looks like genuine plasterwork and can be sawn, drilled and sanded like wood; and, unlike the other plastics, it is fire-resistant.
Wood covings — a final variant — are particularly effective in a room with walls completely or partly covered in wood cladding where they will provide a feature in keeping with the rest of the room.
Manufacturers usually recommend a suitable— always check with their instructions when buying the coving or ceiling centre. Adhesives come ready-mixed or, for fixing plasterboard or gypsum coving, in powder form — you mix the with water.
As a guideline, fibrous plaster ornaments should be stuck with a wall panelor a contact adhesive — it will be easier to manage if an application gun is used. Plasterboard or gypsum coving is fixed with plaster — you can use this to fill any gaps as well. Glass fibre is fixed with the same types of adhesive as fibrous plaster. For polyurethane you will need a ready-mixed paste adhesive which again can be used to fill gaps. Polystyrene should be stuck with a special expanded polystyrene adhesive of the type used to fix ceiling tiles. Plastic resin ornaments are fixed in a similar way to wood. Choose a wood adhesive such as PVA, synthetic resin adhesive, a multi-purpose type or even a wall panel adhesive in an easy-to-apply gun. For wooden covings you will need a wood adhesive — this is often used in conjunction with or .
Any adhesive is only really effective if it is applied to a clean, dust-free surface. New plaster should be allowed to dry out before multi-purpose, wood, or expanded polystyreneare used, although the plaster/gypsum type can be used on damp plaster.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when using any type of adhesive. If you are using an adhesive which is likely to ‘go off’, or harden quickly, work on manageable lengths of coving at a time. With powder adhesives, don’t guess how much water to add, follow the instructions.