- High quality materials -standing up to stains, impervious to water
- Fast delivery and pick up
- Wide range of colors and decorations
- Affordable prices
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On the down side, hardwood moldings can be quite expensive. Forest resources are limited. The softwood moldings require more time and care to install and finish, although it is less expensive than hardwood. Wood moldings shrink and swell with humidity, they can be damaged by water, it is combustible, it can be damaged by rot and insects, it can crack, it requires mitering and coping skills, it may split and splinter when nailed or cut, and wood molding must be sanded and primed prior to finishing. These disadvantages may outweigh wood's good points for many.
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Renewed interest has been growing in decorative ornamental plaster. Decorative plaster molding can be found in all styles. Ornamental plaster crown moldings do not shrink, burn, warp or produce toxic fumes. Ornamental plaster can be formulated in a wide range of compositions to yield finished products which include a range of properties. They are versatile, safe, stable and economic. Ornamental plaster, although an excellent product, can be costly to install. Although it is no longer required to be manufactured in place, skilled craftsmen are in short supply and it has become almost a lost art.
MDF crown molding, a wood-based composite material that uses wood fibers with a synthetic resin, is another example of how a builder or decorator can accent any room or hallway. MDF is environmentally safe and requires less preparation. It is often primed to a smooth surface which can then be painted with any high quality latex or oil paint. MDF won't split when cutting, is resistant to warping and is consistent in size and shape. However, during installation of MDF, nailing creates blemishes that will require repair, by hand, prior to finishing. Although it is a less costly alternative to other materials in use, most professionals do not recommend its use.
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Polyurethanes are found in many items. They are used in resins, adhesives, fibers, foam padding and insulation. They come in several forms, such as rods, sheets and liquids. Polyurethanes are frequently used as an alternative to such materials as wood, plastics, metal and rubber. And for good reason. Polyurethanes are resistant to wear and tear, weather, impact, scratching and erosion. They are also more cost-effective as an alternative as well.