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How to install crown moulding

Last modified: 2020-01-07 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Amanda Harvey

When it comes down to finer details of home décor, it’s all about the unique and sophisticated. In the modern, streamlined home, these careful particulars are becoming less and less common. Timeless elements are forgotten, and included in this is the classic crown moulding.

Crown moulding may not be a common feature in the rooms of newer houses, but if it’s something you’re interested in adding, this can be done as a weekend renovation project. This isn’t the easiest of jobs and does require some serious attention to detail. However, with a bit of patience, it can be done.

Read on for the step-by-step guide on how to install crown moulding

1- Getting started

source: unsplash

Before heading out to your local hardware store to gather materials for this project, you’ll need to take careful measurements of the room and this should include jotting down the length of each wall. Make sure that when you do head out to gather materials, you buy those which are long enough to span the entire length of the wall.

Once you’ve carefully measured the space, determine what type of crown moulding you’d like to use for the room. You’ll likely be choosing between wood moulding or moulding made of MDF which is a combination of wood and resin. Wood moulding will be much more expensive than MDF.

However, MDF moulding should not be used in the kitchen or bathroom, as it can warp as a result of moisture buildup and humidity.  Make sure to inspect the moulding that you do purchase for any splits or milling marks, as these will need to be sanded down before installation.

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2- Correctly cut the crown moulding

Cutting your crown moulding correctly will require a saw that allows you to tilt the blade as well as rotate it. In most cases, you will need a mitre angle or a power mitre saw. Instead of cutting the moulding as it lays flat, cut it in such a way that it mimics the angle at which it will be nailed to the wall. For this method to work, the moulding will need to be placed upside down.

There will be two lengths of moulding along the wall joints, and these will be joined by something referred to as a scarf joint. A scarf joint will need to be angled correctly for the two pieces of moulding to fit together perfectly.

Using a saw, set it to a 45-degree mitre cut. If you’re working counter-clockwise around the room, adjust the saw to the left. Of course, if working clockwise, adjust it to the right. Hold the moulding very securely and cut as slowly and delicately as possible. Following this, cut the adjoining length of the moulding.

3- Mark, position and install moulding


source: unsplash

Start by locating and marking the position of studs or joists in the wall, as this will be the place where you drive the nails through the moulding into the wall. Before installing anything in place, test the mitre angles to make sure that they fit neatly together without a gap. Remember, wall corners are rarely perfectly square, so this step might require a bit of finesse. If you find a gap between pieces, they will need to be recut.

Now, depending on the direction that you’re working, you’ll start from the corner of the room and install the piece with square cuts at both ends. With this piece in place, you can begin to add the pieces to the right or left. An important note is to make sure you’re using constructive adhesive on all materials, even when securing them in place with nails.

Use only a thin layer of adhesive so that the excess doesn’t run out the sides and damage the moulding. Install the scarf joints in the same fashion and the adjoining piece of crown as you move forward. Wipe away any excess glue that’s present on the scarf joints. Once the glue has fully dried, use sandpaper to sand the joint smooth.

For inside corners, you’ll need to create a square piece that butts the corner as well as a corresponding piece that is cut to carefully conform to the first piece. These can be cut by inserting a piece of the moulding upside down with the blade set to a mitre cut. Once this has been completed, use a coping saw to cut away the bevel in a technique known as “back beveling.” Test fit the cope cut against the previously trimmed square cut to make sure it fits. If it fits, nail it into place.

In places where the moulding doesn’t butt into anything, you”ll need to create a piece called a return. This will involve cutting a 45-degree mitre cut on the crown, nail this up and cut a piece exactly alike but in the opposite direction. Following this, adjust your saw to zero degrees. Laying the piece flat and face-down, cut directly through the crown starting at the point of the mitre.

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