Although crown molding isn’t typically considered a do-it-yourself kind of project, the truth is that just like anything else you learn to do when it comes to renovations, it’s going to get easier each time you try it. Yes, do it yourself crown molding is difficult and tricky, but you’ll never learn if you don’t at least make an attempt.
Before You Install
Regardless of whether you’re planning to install crown molding around a window, door, as a baseboard, or chair railing, make sure you provide everyone helping you on the project with plans and drawings ahead of time. This should help to avoid complications in the future. Even if you only have one friend helping out, it’ll be easier for you to work together if he knows exactly what you have in mind.
Check your specifications, and determine exactly how many feet of molding your project is going to need. When you order molding, add several extra feet to your order to allow for mistakes and to compensate for potential installation issues.
Things to Keep in Mind
In the room you’re renovating, think about crown molding placement even at the earliest stages of construction. Include these on your blueprint or sketch plans, so that you can determine how to avoid things like air vents and electrical outlets later on. Identify the locations of your wall studs and check your ceiling height – that way, you can pre-drill holes for the molding, saving you time in the long run.
Once you’ve cut the molding to your specifications, you can actually install the crown molding yourself. Pre-drill all your nail holes in order to avoid damaging the finish on the moldings, and then use construction adhesive on the spots where the wall and molding will meet. In the mitered corners of the molding, use wood glue, as it is much stronger and will hold these parts of the molding in place far better.
If some glue manages to seep around the outsides of the molding, clean it up immediately before it dries and ruins your finish. If it’s on the wall or ceiling, you should also wipe it away to avoid doing paint touch-ups later to cover the glue patches.
Make sure you hold the molding in place long enough to allow the glue to set firmly against the wall. The amount of time this takes may vary according to brand, so read the label on your glue and adhesive before using any of the products. When it’s had enough time to set, use a nail gun to affix the moldings to the studs for extra security.
If you’ve damaged a piece of molding by accident, say with a hammer or by accidentally scraping some rough item across it, apply wood filler to quickly and easily fill the hole. To ensure that the filler sticks to the finished molding, use a one-sixteenth drill bit to create some shallow holes that will serve as an anchor. You can then put the filler across the nick or dent, and touch it back up with your chosen molding stain.
If you’ve accidentally damaged a piece of angled molding when cutting a piece to fit, fix it by making a clean cut on the inside of the damaged area. This is where that extra molding you ordered comes in handy, because once you have the right angle, you can then cut the molding again to make sure it fits – by cutting at the opposite end.
When installing Crown Molding, the most difficult part of your task will be fitting and molding your corners. You will want to cope the inside corners rather than miter them.
First, you will need to determine the outside corner angle. When you are finished with the outside corner angle, you will cut the miter. It is best to thoroughly understand the difference between Cope and Miter before beginning the cutting of your Crown Molding corners.
When installing Crown Molding, you should place all joins in areas that are the least visible to the naked eye. You will need to determine the location of all studs in the wall before tackling your project. A great tip is to mark the location of all studs with blue painter’s tape.
You will want to nail the Crown Molding at about every other wall stud. Some woods will split if you use nails, so the type of Crown Molding you use will determine how you attach the Crown Molding to the wall.
Always use the utmost care when hammering or nailing the Crown Molding to the wall. Whether you drill or hammer the nails, you will need to finish them with a nail set.
Use a light hand and caulk the gaps between joins. You should stain and finish your Crown Molding before installing it. It will be much easier to touch up any nail or hammer marks on a molding that is finished, then trying to finish and paint your crown molding that is already attached to your ceiling.
Image by Patrick Fitzgerald