28th Jun 2023 -

When it comes to transforming the ambience and adding a touch of elegance to your home or workspace, installing coving can work wonders. But this decorative finishing touch is often accompanied by the common concerns of time and money. The good news is that with the right approach and a few clever techniques, you can streamline the coving installation process while saving time and cutting costs. In this article, we explore practical tips and expert advice to help you tackle your ceiling coving project efficiently, ensuring a seamless and cost-effective experience.

What are the different types of coving?

Type of covingOverview
1. Wooden covingIt is crafted from various types of wood, such as oak, pine, or medium-density fibreboard (MDF). It can be stained, painted, or left natural to match the décor. Wood coving is popular for its warm, traditional look and is often used in period-style interiors.
2. Plaster covingAlso known as gypsum coving, this type is made from gypsum, water, and reinforcing fibres. You can customise plaster coving by adding a traditional Victorian mould style and other intricate designs. It is favoured for its durability, longevity, and ability to be painted in various colours and finishes.
3. Polystyrene covingAlso known as foam coving, it is made from lightweight expanded polystyrene foam. Also known as plastic coving, it is easy to install and comes in a range of designs and profiles. It is a cost-effective coving option suitable for modern and traditional interiors.
4. Polyurethane covingThis coving type is manufactured from high-density polyurethane foam. It is durable, lightweight, and resistant to moisture and decay. It offers intricate detailing and is available in a variety of styles. Also, it can be painted over and is suitable for both interior and exterior projects.
5. PVC covingPVC coving is manufactured using polyvinyl chloride and is a durable and flexible material. It is often used in areas that require moisture resistance, such as bathrooms or kitchens. This coving is easy to install, low maintenance and can be painted to suit your design needs.
6. Metal covingManufactured from materials such as aluminium or stainless steel, offers a sleek and contemporary look. It is commonly used in modern and industrial-style interiors. Metal coving can be customised and fabricated to specific profiles and designs.

How much does it typically cost to install coving?

A construction worker wearing a red baseball cap and a red t-shirt working on coving installation.

Below is a breakdown of the estimated duration and costs for coving installation, including labour costs to cover a coving specialist or decorator, and material costs based on each coving type. It is important to note that prices can vary based on factors such as the complexity of your coving design, the size of your room, and the general labour rates of where you live in the UK.

Coving typeMaterial cost (per m)Labour cost (per m)Duration (per m)
Wooden coving£10 - £30£20 - £401 - 2 hours
Plaster coving£5 - £20£20 - £401 - 2 hours
Polystyrene coving£2 - £10£15 - £3030 mins - 1 hour
Polyurethane coving£10 - £30£20 - £401 - 2 hours
PVC coving£5 - £20£15 - £3030 mins - 1 hour
Metal coving£15 - £50£25 - £501 - 2 hours

What to consider if you choose a cheaper coving type

If you buy one of the cheaper types of coving, it is important to weigh up several factors. While cost savings may be appealing, you need to assess all areas, such as material quality, the difficulty of installation, longevity, and overall return on investment. By carefully considering these aspects, you can make an informed decision that balances affordability with desired outcomes. Below is an overview of everything you should think about.

Material quality

From MDF to polystyrene, cheaper coving types may be made from lower-quality materials compared to their more expensive counterparts. Also, cheaper materials are prone to cracking, chipping, or discolouration. Ensure that the material is durable and can withstand wear and tear over time. 


Less expensive coving options may have limited design choices or lack intricate patterns, such as cornice mouldings which can enhance the overall look of your room. Consider whether the cheaper coving type matches your desired aesthetic. 

Installation difficulty

Some inexpensive coving types may be more challenging to install compared to higher-priced options. Think about whether you have the necessary skills and tools to install the coving properly. If not, you may need to hire a professional.


Cheaper coving materials such as polystyrene and MDF may not have the same longevity as higher-quality options. They might be more prone to damage or deterioration over time, leading to replacement or repairs sooner than expected. Make sure to consider the lifespan of the coving and whether the cost savings justify potential future expenses.

Maintenance requirements

Some cheaper coving types, such as polystyrene, may require more frequent maintenance and cleaning to preserve their appearance. Think about whether you are willing to invest the time and effort into properly maintaining the coving to prevent it from looking worn. 

Room compatibility

Consider the specific requirements of your room where the coving will be installed. For example, some cheaper coving options may not be suitable for high-moisture areas like bathrooms or kitchens, as they may be more prone to water damage or warping. 

Return on investment

You may find cheaper coving options will offer initial cost savings, but they may not provide the same long-term value as higher-quality options. Be sure to consider the overall return on investment, factoring in key points such as durability, aesthetics, and future expenses.

8 top tips for saving time and money on coving installation

Two construction workers wearing orange baseball caps, white overalls and orange t-shirts working on coving installation.

Saving time and money on coving installation can be a worthwhile goal for both construction workers and DIY enthusiasts. By following the below 8 practical ideas - such as utilising the right tools, considering flexible options, and optimising material usage - you can streamline the installation process and achieve cost-effective results. 

1. Carefully plan and measure

Before you start to fit the coving, take accurate measurements of your room and plan the layout of the coving. This will help avoid unnecessary cuts, wastage of materials, and time-consuming adjustments later on.

Choose pre-finished or pre-primed coving

Opting to use pre-finished or pre-primed coving can save both time and money. A pre-finished type eliminates the need for painting coving or finishing work, while pre-primed coving reduces the number of paint coats required for a finished look.

3. Utilise the right coving tools

Particularly if you decide to install the coving yourself, be sure to invest in quality coving installation tools such as a coving mitre box, a coping saw, and an excellent coving adhesive. These tools can make the installation process faster, more precise, and more efficient, saving both time and effort.

4. Flexible coving options

Flexible covings, such as plaster or PVC, are made from materials that can easily bend and adapt to curved walls and corners. This can significantly reduce installation time and the need for complicated cutting and fitting techniques.

5. Optimise material usage

To minimise material waste and save money, calculate the required amount of coving accurately and purchase accordingly. Plus, consider joining lengths of coving using scarf joints (where 2 tapered ends are seamlessly joined together at an angle to create the illusion of one piece) or overlapping techniques instead of discarding smaller offcuts.

6. Collaborate and share resources

If you are working on a larger project with multiple workers or DIYers, think about collaborating and sharing resources. Sharing tools, materials, and expertise can help reduce individual costs and increase overall efficiency.

7. Properly maintain tools

Taking care of your coving installation tools will prolong their lifespan and save you from unnecessary replacement costs. Clean and store them properly after you use them, and perform regular maintenance tasks such as blade sharpening. 

8. Learn and improve

It is beneficial to continuously educate yourself on new coving ideas and techniques, as well as tools and materials in the field of coving installation. By incorporating modern practices, you can increase efficiency, save time, and find cost-effective alternatives.

How to apply for a Building Materials Nationwide trade account

Perhaps you are looking for a hassle-free and efficient way to manage your building material needs. We offer a trade account service which is tailored specifically for trade customers like you. By signing up for a trade account, you gain immediate access to a wide range of benefits, such as competitive trade prices and your own personal trade account manager.

Whether you buy cove or ceiling cornice products for your home or a construction project, your account manager also organises delivery for when and where you need them. You may also be eligible for flexible trade credit options. Either sign up for a trade account online or call us for a friendly chat to discuss more.