What is the difference between cornicing and coving?

Oxford Dictionary definition:



an ornamental moulding round the wall of a room just below the ceiling.



a curved or shaped strip of wood or other material fitted as a feature at the junction of a wall with a ceiling.

a term that also covers ceiling roses, dado rails etc.

Cornice & Coving explained

The terms are often interchangeable and have developed over the centuries but here is a simple explanation:

A cornice is a profiled moulding that is used to conceal a joint between the wall and ceiling. The overall aesthetic looks more ‘finished’ rather than just leaving any cracking along the joint. Cornice mouldings can be either plain or decorative and it’s the very plain designs that are often referred to as ‘coving’.

The word cornicing is often associated with a more ornate style, typically formed around the traditional quarter circle or ‘C’ shaped profile. From a profile view, it creates a soft, curved join between the ceiling and wall. Some styles are particularly ornate covering large areas of the ceiling, depending on the architectural fashions of the Victorians, Edwardians, Georgians, Art Deco, 30’s pre-war to the modern day.

What is the difference between cornice and coving? Explained by The Library Ladder Company

Above: Heritage Cornice Moulding No. 344 (extra large) £161.59 for a 2 metre length. Also available in small, medium and large. 

Contemporary designs now incorporate hidden lighting elements designed to throw light up and across the ceiling or down onto worktops. We sell LED lighting cornice products here. Whether you live in a period or contemporary property, every space can benefit from cornicing – without it, rooms can appear plain and characterless.

Cornice Lighting Collection by The Library Ladder Company

Above: Contemporary cornice range No.353 (Medium) £78.19 for a 2 metre length. 

Our range of cornicing spans across highly decorative Baroque designs to elegant clean lines and everything in between. Available in a variety of sizes to suit any interior, we even sell a flexible range to work on uneven and curved walls. The lightweight nature of Purotouch means they are easy to install, ready to paint, durable and water-resistant.

All cornice mouldings can be bought in 2 metre lengths online here.

A brief history of Decorative Mouldings

These architectural terms date back to the ancient Greeks who were the first to consider form, balance and decoration in their interior and exterior architecture. Most patterns have evolved from the foundations of classical design and it has influenced the way we consider symmetry and space ever since. Think of columns, flutes, bases, friezes and motifs.

Architectural mouldings can be found both inside and outside buildings and became a fundamental element in the character of Victorian interior design. Mouldings give form and shape and help bring definition to the spaces they are used within.

Decorative plasterwork was also used to emphasise social hierarchy. Ornate plaster mouldings could underline a room’s importance – heavy decoration and large decorative features were intended to impress one’s guests in the more public areas of the house.

Classic Baroque mouldings by The Library Ladder Company

Above: Ba'Rock Cornice Moulding No.338A (large Rococo) £97.49 for a 2 metre length. 

Pre-Victorians, decorative plaster mouldings were created in situ by using fingers and wet plaster ~ many 17th century plasterwork ceilings were impressively ornate. Wealthy Italians hired stuccadores to create intricate ceiling designs on site, by hand. Mouldings were matched to the purpose of each room so for example fruit would feature on the mouldings in the dining room and floral swags in the drawing-room. Styles crossed many eras, and ultimately it was at the whim of the builder and architect to design a room. ‘Egg and dart’ and fleur-de-lys patterns were synonymous with the Victorians whilst the Georgians favoured square patterns and ‘dentils’ or teeth.

Regency Cornice Range by The Library Ladder Company

Regency Cornice range as a pelmet by The Library Ladder Company

Above: The Regency Cornice range No.308 large, used as a pelmet. £82.01 for a 2 metre length, shop online here

In the 19th century mouldings became less ornate and more bulky with heavier detail. In the Georgian period, it was fashionable to leave the dining room chairs against the walls away from the table and so a wooden dado rail or chair rail became fashionable to protect the walls from knocks.

Around 1850, moulds were commercialised, lowing the cost and doing away with the handmade expense. After 1880 the taste in plaster mouldings became simpler as decorative wallpaper became more widely used.

Our range of Purotouch products can be used together from wall panelling, wall mouldings, cornicing, skirting, ceiling roses and door mouldings.

When you need some extra help

We are here to quote for cornicing so please get in touch at info@thelibraryladdercompany.co.uk

All products are available to order online at https://llcompany.co.uk/.

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