How to Cut and Install Crown Molding
How to Cut and Install Crown Molding
Crown molding adds an elegant finish to any room. If you like crown molding in your home, you don’t need to hire a pro to do it. With the right preparation and some attention to detail, experienced DIYers can install crown molding on their own in a single weekend. Here’s what you’ll need for this project:
- Stud Finder
- Tape Measure
- Miter Saw
- Crown Stops
- Coping Saw
- Utility Knife
- Caulk Gun
- Sandpaper (120 Grit)
- Nail Set
- Cement Board
- Wood Glue
- 2 or 2-½” 16 Gauge Nails
- Wood Glue
- 9/16 x 3-5/8” Molding – Primed Finger-Jointed
When taking on this DIY task, be sure to equip yourself with the proper safety gear. Throughout the video, we’ll alert you regarding when you should and should not use the safety gear.
Plan your job. Before beginning your installation, take some time to plan out the job. You’ll want to start your first piece in a corner with a flat 90 degree cut. If your wall is longer than your trim, you’ll need to cut a piece with a 90 degree angle at one end and a 45 degree miter joint, also called a scarf joint, at the other end, to help camouflage the seam.
Mark stud locations. Use a tape measure and a scrap piece of molding to measure the distance between the ceiling and the wall. Hold the molding so the flat pieces at the top and bottom are flush with the ceiling and the wall. Use a stud finder to locate wall studs and mark each with painter’s tape, placing the tape below the area where you’ll be making your installation.
Set crown stops on miter saw. Before making any cuts, install crown stops on the miter saw. Start by placing a piece of crown molding upside down and backwards on the miter saw. Confirm the back edges are in full contact with the fence and table of the saw. Then fasten the crown stops against the molding.
Cut the first piece. Measure the first wall to determine your cuts. Set the blade at 90 degrees. Then make your cut. If the piece is shorter than the length of the wall, make a scarf joint by cutting the other end at a 345 degree angle.
Install the starter piece. Install the starter piece with a pneumatic nailer, confirming the flat edges are even with the wall and ceiling. Following your marks, start by nailing the molding into the wall at the studs. For ceiling areas without joists, use two nails at opposite angles. Ceiling areas with joists require only one nail installed directly at the joist. When nailing molding in place, always stop about two feet short of your next joint. This will give you some flexibility when lining up the next piece.
Make a coped joint. Set your saw blade at 45 degrees. Position your molding against the crown stops and make your cut. To remove wood that protrudes beyond the cut edge, clamp your molding onto sawhorses and use a coping saw, angling the cut away from the visible part of the trim. Cope in sections and take your time. Be especially careful when cutting the top and bottom edge, as they’ll be the most visible. Coping a miter joint is easier than it looks, but it takes practice. We recommend practicing a few times on scrap wood before making your final cut.
Check the fit. Measure and cut your second piece of molding. This will most likely need a coped joint as well. Set the piece in place and check the fit. Run a piece along any areas that need slight trimming and use a utility knife for fine tuning.
Check outside corners for square. Keep in mind that outside corners are not always exactly square. After measuring carefully, start with two opposing 45 degree cuts, holding the pieces in place, and marking any areas that need to be trimmed. It may be necessary to re-cut to avoid gaps.
Install one side. Hold both pieces up to the ceiling and position them to get the right fit. Once you’ve achieved a good fit, keep one side in place and remove the other. Nail the remaining piece to the wall and ceiling.
Complete the outside corner. Apply wood glue and position your second piece in place, nailing it along the top and bottom edges.
Make a scarf joint. A full piece of crown molding often won’t span the distance of a long wall. In these cases, join the pieces together with a 45 degree scarf joint. Cut one piece and fasten into place. Wait to nail the last two feet of molding so you have some flexibility when installing the second piece. Cut the joining piece and test the fit. Apply wood glue. Then position and nail the second piece in place.
Finishing touches. Once you’ve installed all of your molding, use a hammer and nail set to sink any visible nails. Fill nail holes with spackle or wood putty. Apply painter’s tape about 1/16 of an inch below the crown molding and run a thin bead of caulk along the bottom edge. Caulking the crown where it meets the ceiling is also a good idea. If your ceiling isn’t white, you’ll want to use painter’s tape to get a smooth line. Sand off any excess glue on scarf joints and outside corners. Apply a small amount of caulk with your finger to smooth if necessary.
Having problems? Here is some more information on installing crown molding.
Your installation is now complete! Step back and enjoy your new crown molding.