How to Paint Cornices

Written by liza hollis | 13/05/2017
How to Paint Cornices
Painting cornices is a great way to add interest to interior spaces. (carved wooden cornice image by Kevin Stephens from

The word cornice refers to mouldings and projections that add architectural interest to a space. Cornices can usually be found around ceilings and as trim around window frames. Painting the cornice can add beauty and drama to an interior space. To successfully paint your cornice, you must thoroughly prepare the surface for painting, especially if it has become damaged or scuffed over time.

Decide on the colour you want to paint your cornice. If the cornice is going to be a different colour than the ceiling, paint the ceiling first and allow it to dry before painting your cornice. If possible, paint the cornice before installing it.

Prepare the surface of your cornice. Repair any holes by filling them with wood filler and allow it to dry for 24 hours. Whether your cornice is new or old, sand the exterior of your cornice with fine-grit sandpaper to make it easier for the primer and paint to adhere.

Paint a layer of primer over the cornice surface. If you have purchased a new cornice, it will most likely already be sealed and primed before it is sold. However, if you are painting your cornice a darker colour, a layer of primer is necessary to enhance the richness of the colour and prevent you from having to paint multiple coats. Allow the primer to dry.

Paint your cornice. Apply your paint evenly, collecting any runs or drips as you go. Use a small angled brush to fill corners and crevices of your cornice. Allow your first coat of paint to dry fully before continuing.

Check your paint for any imperfections. Most often, a second coat can be used to hide any thinning of the paint or stains on the cornice. However, a painted project is only as successful as its initial preparation. If unevenness shines through, you may need to re-sand the cornice and start from scratch.

Add more coats as needed to achieve your desired colour. Allow your paint to fully dry for several hours in between coats. Because your cornice is inside, you probably won't need a sealant or top coat.

Things you need

  • Wood filler
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Paintbrushes
  • Primer
  • Paint

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