And so what are the differences? A high degree of ornamentation is possible in polyurethane moldings that are not possible with wood moldings because of the the fact the the polyurethane is poured into a mold. However, because of the physical constraints of the polyurethane molds, shorter length moldings are the norm. Polyurethane moldings can be had at most 8 – 12 feet in length, whereas sixteen foot wood moldings are not uncommon. On the other hand, where wood moldings can be purchased at longer lengths, polyurethane moldings can be had in wider widths.

This is due in part to the fact that wood molders are typically not capable of molding wood wider than about 9″. Wood moldings become much less stable in those widths anyway (probably why molders are not made any wider). Wood has a tendency to cup, warp, twist and check. The wider the wooden piece, the more apt is wood to do so. Polyurethane, on the other hand, is much more stable and so widths of over sixteen inches are possible. It is less likely that polyurethane moldings will “move” after installation. Wood moldings can – especially wider pieces.

16" wide polyurethane crown molding

16 inch wide polyurethane crown molding

So in summary at this point:

  • Wood moldings are typically longer than polyurethane moldings.
  • Polyurethane moldings can be wider than wood moldings.
  • polyurethane moldings can have deep ornamentation – wood moldings do not.
  • polyurethane moldings are more stable – less prone to cupping, warping, etc.

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