Different Coving Materials and Types

When installing floors, especially on commercial and industrial properties, attention to detail plays a vital role in ensuring that the floor functions properly. One detail that is often implemented improperly or overlooked is the coving. Most people think that it is nothing more than a finishing touch, but proper coves are a necessity and a legal requirement sometimes.


Here, we’ll discuss what ceiling coves are for and their different types.

What are coves and what are they for?

Coving is a type of cornice and refers to the technique of installing moulding or small barriers lining the edges of a floor. Referred to as coves, these linings meet the wall and are generally rounded 45-degree angles which slope upwards, as opposed to a hard 90-degree where floor and wall meet.


These linings serve several purposes and are often used for both functional and aesthetic applications. For one, they prevent dirt and grime from building up in the corners and along the edges of the floor. Without these linings, hidden or far corners can be extremely difficult to clean. Worse, it can lead to hygiene issues.


What is the difference between coves and cornices?

A ceiling cornice is the general term for a moulding that can be decorative or plain and serves an aesthetic as well as functional purpose. It usually comes in uniform pieces. Most ceiling cornice work today can be laid side by side on the joints of walls and ceilings in both residential and commercial buildings.


Coves, on the other hand, is much simpler in design than a cornice. They are typically formed around the traditional C-shaped profile or quarter circle. The size and amount of details in coves also would depend on several factors, including cost and design preference.


During the post-war period, C-shaped coves were mostly installed because they are clean, effective, and cheap to mass-produce. Coves come in gypsum, plaster, polyurethane, timber, and other types. More of this will be talked about in the next section, but let’s mention cove sizes first.


Unlike cornices that come in uniform pieces, coves range in sizes. The most common is 127 mm or 5 inches. These measurements do not refer to the height or projection of a ceiling rose but rather to the imaginary straight line drawn across the cove diagonal from a point touching both wall and ceiling.


What are the different types of coves?

As previously mentioned, coves are made using a variety of materials such as gypsum, plaster, paper-covered gypsum, POP, medium-density fibreboard, polyutherane, and glass-reinforced concrete (GRC).


Below are the most common types of coves:



This material is a mixture of cement, sand, glass fibres, and water. GRC is an excellent material as it offers many benefits. It is light in weight but very strong, easy to install and commensurate with any design, and has a smooth finish in white or pigmented. GRC can replicate any type of moulding and any shape and still provide better detail than other materials.



It is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in mines. Gypsum easily dissolves in water, rendering it amenable to restoration to its original state of hardness. This is why it is an excellent choice material for coves and cornices. Older coves and cornices made of gypsum can also be recycled as new.



MDF is another popular building material that can be used for a wide range of applications such as building coves. It is sawdust fused with glue under heat and pressure, giving it its smooth surface that allows versatility in various finishes.


Paper-covered gypsum

This material is made of gypsum or lime pressed between two paper facers (as its name suggests). Paper-covered gypsum has all the properties of gypsum, but it should be painted with oil- or water-based paint.



Plaster is a mixture of cement, lime, or gypsum but is a rather expensive material compared to the others mentioned above. It should also be painted with oil- or water-based paint only, like paper-covered gypsum. Coves made of this material need extra care while installing.



This material is light in weight and robust. It is available in several patterns and colours. Like paper-covered gypsum and plaster, polyurethane needs to be painted with oil- or water-based paint.



Although a lesser-known material, POP can also be used to make ceiling coves. POP is made of lime, cement, or gypsum.



Wood-like timber is a popular material for a variety of construction projects. Timber is especially ideal for coves. As it is the most expensive material in this material, it’s worth noting that it needs to be treated properly. This is to prevent warping.


For Professional Coving, Call Paul Atkins Plastering

Do you need professional help with your coves? Feel free to get in touch with us here at Paul Atkins Plastering to get started on your next ceiling and flooring project.


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