The verdict is in… cornice and valance do not mean the same thing. It’s a common misconception which anyone from purchasing agents to site contacts to designers all have some trouble with. Valances and cornices are not the same thing and the two words therefore cannot be used interchangeably. We understand the confusion and many times pictures look incredibly similar which makes it even worse. So what is the difference between the two? Well we are here to explain and clear all of the confusion up for posterity’s sake.


A cornice is a top treatment constructed out of wood, on all sides. It may be fabric lined and covered, or it may be stained or painted but what makes it a cornice is that the sides and front are all constructed from wood. Plywood is usually used when it is fabric wrapped. Cornices are extremely sturdy, offer a great variety of finishes, and can be produced by a drapery manufacturer, a 3rd party vendor or the site GC. See all of the different cornices styles here.



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A valance is made with a wood top board,  has a fabric front and may have fabric sides which hang loosely from the top board. The fabric front and sides may be finished in a variety of ways. Valances are always made by a drapery manufacturer. See all of the different valance styles here.


And…. That’s it. It is truly that simple. We’ve included a few extra notes on typical valence/cornice information below but the point to remember is – Cornices are constructed of wood on all sides while valances have a wood top board with fabric front and sides.

Both cornices and valances have options on the size drop (length of cornice/valance), the size of return, whether there is a return at all, how the top is constructed and how it is mounted to the wall or ceiling. 


Other Common Cornice/Valance Questions are answered in subsequent blogs titled "What is the Best Cornice Construction for Me?" & "Millwork Cornices - Another Option". If it is specified that the General Contractor or property will be constructing the cornices directly we recommend taking a look at the Resource Card, GC Cornices as reference.


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