Less isn’t more

“The lack of decorative mouldings in a home can make it feel like it’s missing something, especially if your aesthetic is less minimal and more characterful,” says Dylan Miller, from Swartland, leading window and door manufacturer and manufacturer of the Col Timbers range of timber mouldings.

Decorative mouldings, such as the Col Timbers range from Swartland, add layers to bare ceilings, walls and doors in a way that is subtle, yet has an impact.

“Carefully chosen and professionally installed mouldings add character to a space, but they also offer practical solutions that make a home more liveable,” explains Dylan. “Picture rails make hanging pictures a breeze, as no nails are required, and skirting boards neatly disguise the seam where the flooring material meets the wall for a seamless end result.”

Before decorative mouldings were installed, this entrance hall lacked character and definition.
Before decorative mouldings were installed, this entrance hall lacked character and definition. Credit: Swartland


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The installation of picture rails, architraves, dado rails, wall paneling and skirting boards have turned this entrance hall into a welcoming and elegant interior space. Credit: Swartland
The installation of picture rails, architraves, dado rails, wall panelling and skirting boards have turned this entrance hall into a welcoming and elegant interior space. Credit: Swartland


How to choose mouldings

There is a bevy of options when it comes to decorative mouldings, each with its own unique purpose.

Know your mouldings

“Swartland’s Col Timbers range has an extensive inventory of top quality mouldings. But knowing what moulding is used where will really help with the planning process,” points out Dylan. Here is an overview of the various types of mouldings available on the market:


  • As one of the most common decorative mouldings, the cornice creates an elegant transition between the ceiling and the wall.
  • The placement of cornices draws the eye up, enhancing the sense of height in a room.
  • The width and amount of detailing on a cornice can vary, but the general rule is, the bigger the room and the higher the ceiling, the wider the cornice.
  • The amount of detailing depends on personal taste and the general style of the home.

Picture rail

  • This simple, yet practical moulding runs horizontally across the wall, just beneath and parallel to the cornice, and should be installed in line with the top of the door and window frames.
  • Artwork can be hung from the picture rail by simply using an S-shaped hook and wire.
  • This allows you to preserve your walls, as you no longer need to hammer numerous nails into them for all the pictures you want to hang.
  • They also allow you to manoeuvre your artwork quickly and easily as your tastes change. 


  • This moulding provides textural and visual appeal to doorways and windows by creating a frame around them.
  • This frame is not merely decorative, it also conceals the joint where the wall and door frame meet, as well as any subsequent cracks that may occur here as a result of movement between the two.
  • Architraves should be fitted before the skirting boards and doors are installed. Just be sure to get the wood carefully mitred so that the corners join together neatly for a polished look. 

Dado rail

  • Also known as a chair rail, the dado rail was traditionally used to protect walls from the backs of chairs.
  • Fitted horizontally to the wall at about 75cm to 100cm from the floor, it is perfectly positioned to protect your walls from general wear and tear.
  • It creates the opportunity to decorate the upper and lower halves of the wall in two styles, using contrasting yet complimentary pattern and colour.


  • Skirting boards are incredibly popular in traditional and modern homes alike, and come in a wide variety of heights and profiles to suit any taste and style.
  • They help protect the walls from bumps from shoes, furniture, doors and vacuum cleaners.
  • Installed where the wall meets the floor, they hide expansion gaps around the perimeter of the wall, conceal unevenly plastered edges, and can be used to cover piping and electrical cables in a way that is more easily accessible than if they were chased into the wall. 

Plinth block

  • Used where the architrave meets the skirting board, this decorative rectangular block creates an elegant transition between the two.
  • When choosing a plinth block ensure that it is slightly thicker and wider than both the skirting board and architrave. 

Material matters

Once you’ve decided what mouldings the various rooms in your home require, you need to choose the type of material used for the decorative mouldings

Dylan says that when choosing your mouldings, you should invest in the best quality you can afford.

“As with most things, when it comes to mouldings, you get what you pay for. Swartland’s Col Timbers hardwood mouldings for example, might cost a little more, but they will stand the test of time due to their inherent density. The colour consistency and natural grain makes genuine hardwood a great option if you plan on leaving the wood exposed and simply varnishing or staining it. In addition, our hardwood is sourced from sawmills that have strict sustainability policies that help protect the environment, forest ecosystems, and the interests of local communities – making them an impressively green building material.”

Solid Pine timber mouldings are the more affordable option, but can be as elegant as hardwood with the help of a bit of paint. “If you’re going for painted decorative mouldings, then it makes complete sense to go with pine. Paint them in a different colour to your walls to make them really stand out,” suggests Dylan.

“Whichever material, width, or profile you choose for your decorative mouldings, choosing quality will make all the difference to the end result. Also, if professionally installed, sealed and maintained, quality mouldings will last for decades without having to be replaced. Swartland’s Col Timbers range, for example, is laminated for improved strength and stability, and the finger joints allow for longer lengths of clear timber to help to minimise lateral movement, ensuring that the timber retains its natural beauty for years to come.” concludes Dylan.

For for information, visit www.swartland.co.za

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