John Allen: Coping With An Uneven Ceiling When Crown Moulding and Cabinets

Ultracraft Tuscany - crown moulding below ceiling

Ultracraft Tuscany cabinets with crown moulding below ceiling

Most people may not realize this, but often the ceilings in their homes are not flat. They could be slightly sloped, have high and low spots or a combination of all of these.

This condition can be created as a house settles as it ages or the ceiling may have been made uneven to start with. Rolling or uneven ceilings go mostly unnoticed because light usually shines down in a room and does not highlight the flaws in a ceiling.

Uneven ceilings can create issues in kitchens when it comes to crown or other mouldings that finish out the tops of cabinets. Properly installed cabinets are flat and level. If the ceiling above the cabinets is not flat and level, crown moulding will touch the ceiling at one point and have significant gaps at others. Caulking the seam between the moulding and the ceiling is not advisable since the gap between the ceiling and molding will swell and shrink with the seasons and the caulk line will open up over time.

The two best solutions for dealing with this are having the crown moulding not extend all the way to the ceiling or using flat stock above the cabinets.

Stopping the moulding below the ceiling may not be as attractive as crown moulding that fills all the space above the cabinets, but it is an improvement over unsightly gaps.

Using flat stock as a moulding gives the installer the ability to scribe (cut away) portions of the moulding and bring it all the way to the ceiling. The flat face of the moulding still looks clean and attractive even if some of in needs to be cut down. Typical crown moulding has too much detail to trim part of it away without affecting the appearance.

Finding out if a ceiling has issues early in the design process can help address and solve problems before they become a major problem.

Working with the Kitchen Views Design Team provides you with a well-trained person trouble-shooting your particular situation and making the process go smoothly.

John Allen, Showroom Manager
Kitchen Views at National Lumber
15 Needham Street, Newton, MA 02461


3 Responses to “John Allen: Coping With An Uneven Ceiling When Crown Moulding and Cabinets”

  1. 1 Robin M Tinsley March 19, 2013 at 11:38 am

    This is interesting. I have noticed warps here and there in the ceilings of my home, which show up as the light enters through the window. In those places the ceilings are perfectly firm and there are no cracks, but I’m thinking of selling the house and I was wondering whether “flattening” action needs to be taken if buyers are not to be discouraged.

    • 2 John Allen March 27, 2013 at 9:56 am

      I am, by no means, an expert on construction, but here are my thoughts:
      Plaster and joint compound do not have a lot of inherent flexibility and tend to crack when stressed. Since there are no cracks in the ceiling I would say that it is likely that the uneven surface of the ceiling has been there for some time, perhaps even when the ceiling was put up.

      Many houses in New England are old by American standards and uneven ceilings are very common. Most people do not notice them. I would not advise trying to flatten a ceiling as a preparation for sale. Perhaps the homeowner should get a rough estimate on such a project in case a prospective buyer brings up the ceiling as an issue.

      John Allen, Showroom Manager
      Newton, MA

      • 3 Robin M Tinsley May 25, 2013 at 6:27 am

        Thank you very much for this – very reassuring – reply, which is the answer I was hoping for. Some years ago I actually experienced at first hand the lack of inherent flexibility of plasterboard when I inadvertently put my hand through a ceiling. Any notion I might have had about its elastic properties was instantly put paid to. As it’s also often said, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, it’s no doubt sensible to forget about my wonky ceiling, even if patches of unevenness here and there may not be aesthetically pleasing to some sensitive souls. I’ll just have to hope for the best. Thank you once again and good luck to you.

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