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What is Cavetto?

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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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Cavetto is a type of architectural molding that curves inward towards a wall. It gets its name from the Italian for “to hollow,” and features a concave curve that represents at least one-quarter of a circle or more. This trim serves both an aesthetic and functional purpose within a room. It acts as a decorative element or transition piece, and also helps to hide gaps and seams at walls, ceilings, or doors.

This trim can be used both indoors and out. Cavetto molding is most commonly associated with ancient Egyptian architecture, where it was used to create cornices along the tops of a building. This molding may be applied to baseboards, or can act as a form of crown molding within a room. It may be used at the top of a fireplace to create an attractive mantel or fireplace surround. Cavetto also serves as a popular form of door and window trim.

Many builders who rely on cavetto molding choose this type of trim profile for its unique shadow pattern. This shadow pattern is created by the way that light reflects off of the curved profile of this trim. The concave curve of cavetto causes the top of the trim to appear dark, while the bottom appears light. These light and dark patterns help to draw the eye towards certain architectural elements within a space, and also serve as a decorative feature on their own.

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Cavetto trim is often used in conjunction with a convex trim known as ovulo, which has the opposite profile of cavetto. By placing these two moldings side by side, builders can create an S-shaped profile. When the cavetto is placed above the ovulo, the resulting S-curve is known as a Cyma profile. If the cavetto is placed below the ovulo, the resulting curve is called an ogee molding. Both of these molding profiles are very commonly used as cornice or crown molding in homes and other buildings.

In the past, builders would cut cavetto molding by hand using specialty woodworking tools. Today, many home improvement and hardware stores sell pre-manufactured lengths of this trim, which allows for quick and easy installation. This trim may be manufactured from wood, vinyl, or even metal depending on the application. Buyers simply cut the trim to the desired size and nail or screw it to the wall. The Caevtto molding can then be painted or stained to match other trim and woodwork within the building.

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