Monday, January 3, 2011

Crown molding installation tutorial

Hey all! It’s a new year, and that means some fun new projects up in here. In between the decluttering (I’m attacking the excess Christmas decor) I finished up a project I’ve wanted to do for YEARS.
I told you way back when in this post that I didn’t know how to cope or cut crown molding – so I’ve always used the corner pieces like these when installing crown:
And I really love them – they add a little extra architectural interest. And they fit right into the corners and make the installation of crown SO much easier. You just cut straight cuts and butt the crown up against it.
The only issue is the cost – they aren’t cheap. Easy, yes – cheap, no.  (Um, this post is taking a very wrong turn.)
Anyway, I’ve been determined for years to figure out how to cut crown so I wouldn’t need the corner pieces.
When I mentioned this on Twitter and Facebook (because I was so excited!), I said I had figured out how to cope crown, which is the wrong terminology. Coping is actually a process of cutting out the shape of the molding so it fits snug into the other piece:

I did not do this. :) That’s still way over my head. But I did figure out how to cut the crown on my miter saw, which has eluded me for years! Yessss.
It was SO stinking easy. Seriously, I can’t believe it took me this long to figure it out. There are a few tricks to doing it right that I figured out along the way.
First of all, I used my compound miter saw. You do NOT have to have one – a miter box (like I used for years for my molding projects) will do just fine. It will just take more strength and endurance. :)
Because crown is installed at an angle, it changes things a bit. First of all, you need to place the crown at an angle on the saw when cutting it.
Here’s some pictures to help explain – for an inside cut, you to make sure the front is facing into the saw. This molding set up for a cut that will be on an inside left corner:

The front is facing into the saw, top on top, bottom on bottom.
Here’s what it will look like on the saw:

For a standard (inside) corner, you’ll want it set to a 45 degree angle:

You do the same thing for the right side of the molding:

You’ll notice the left of the molding on the saw is really the right side, and vice versa (because the back is facing you).
That’s it. Seriously, I waited how many years to figure this out? Here’s how your molding will look for an inside corner:

Notice you can see the edges of the wood? You want to see that, so when they go together up in the corner, they’ll meet up like this:

That’s the only tricky part, getting that angle right as you’re working around the room. You do want the back of the molding to be the longer edge, not the front:

Does that make sense? That part is huge! For an inside corner, it just won’t meet up the other way.
Installation is EASY – you’ll just need someone to help you hold up the pieces as you nail them in (thanks Dad!!).
I used our nail gun and nails that were just over an inch long:

I put nails in the bottom of the molding every 18 inches or so, and you’ll want to get them into a few studs along the way. I don’t worry about that too much – crown isn’t too heavy (typically), so as long as  you get nails in a few studs you’ll be good. I also put some through the top (into the ceiling) as well, just to secure it a bit more.
Something to think about as you have the molding on the saw is to watch how it rests. If you have it at this angle for one cut:

Make sure it’s not lower like this:

Or this:

For the other cuts. It will change how the molding meets in the corners.
If you do it (fairly) right, you’ll end up with this:
inside corner with crown
Don’t worry about it being perfect!! More on that in a bit!
One thing that’s held me back from figuring this out in the office was the weird angles at the doorway:

But we quickly figured out it was the exact same cuts, just at a 22.5 degree angle:

So, overall, this was WAY easier than I thought it would be. But, as always, I ran into issues I figure you all will too. So I want to mention them. So you don’t hate on me when you try it. :)
I’ve mentioned before that when you pick out molding, you’ll want to make sure it lays flat against the floor. Any pieces that are slightly bent or wackadoodle will give you issues when you install them.
I knew one of mine was slightly off and used it anyway, and wish I wouldn’t have. Because it was bowing, it looked like this when I got it up:

See the eleventy billion holes? Yeah. That’s me trying to get it to go flush against the wall. It wasn’t. :) There was no stud at the point where there was an issue, the nails just weren’t grabbing anything. So I was left with a spot that didn’t match up perfectly.
I could have just taken it all down, cut a new piece and reinstalled everything. But I don’t roll like that. I hide, hide, HIDE all the imperfections I can. :)
Also, if you don’t have a piece long enough for a whole wall, you’ll need to meet up two – which is why I cut the crown at an angle above. Supposedly an angled cut hides more than a straight one – that’s what I’ve heard anyway. I’ve done it both ways, and over time, both need to be touched up as things settle.
So basically, do what you want. :)
That brings me to my next point – caulk is your BFF. Don’t fret if it looks like patoot after you install everything. Caulk and putty cover a multitude of sins. Here’s that same spot with caulk covering the nail holes and the crack:

When I paint, it will cover it up even more. Most people will never notice it. MOST. :)
You can see how the bowed piece didn’t meet up with the wall perfectly on the bottom:
gaps in crown
Can you see the gap? I’ll caulk it so you won’t even notice it. Or maybe I won’t. :) It doesn’t bother me too much, but that’s me.
Finally, I was thisclose to done with the room, when I finished up the last corner – and the two corners didn’t match up. You need to make sure the angles of the crown (how it fits on the wall) are exactly the same as you go around. Does that make sense? If you are slightly off in the way you hold it up and install it, it won’t match up perfectly at the corners, no matter how well you miter those corners.
Again…CAULK IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. Serious. Remember, crown is up high. Way above your head. People can’t see the itty bitty imperfections. Only YOU do. Trust me. :)
So, for now, it’s done. My plan was to install a skinny trim an inch or two down from the crown, then paint it all out white (this gives the illusion of chunkier molding), but I’m going to wait to see how it looks with all of the board and batten before I do that.
By the way, doing that would hide even more imperfections. :)
Here’s the end result!:
installing crown molding
OH my, what a difference!! Isn’t that crazy?
Goodness, I LOVE MOLDING!! :)
So here’s my before and after for the month – the office before crown:

And after!

(Don’t worry – the cord will be hidden by the beautiful drapery fabric.)
I hope my pictures and instructions help and don’t make you more confused! Keep in mind, I only had to do inside corners. I haven’t had to attempt the outside versions yet. :)
And YES, you can do this with an $8 miter box and a hand saw, and YES, you can install crown with regular nails and a hammer. (I’ve done both in our dining room.)
It will just take you a bit longer to get to the finished product. :)
I can’t wait to see your before and afters for the new year! Remember, be sure to link up to your post, not your blog! And you’re welcome to add this purdy little button to your post:
Thank so much! Link it up Squeezays!!


  1. Beautiful! I've always wanted to know how to do crown!

  2. You make that look really easy. And it isn't! Good job!

  3. Looks great girl! Whenever I do crown or any chair rails or whatever, mine always bow because our walls are crooked (the studs stick out) and it's highly irritating. But still looks good. :)

    Congrats on mitering your crown!!

  4. The room is looking great! And major props to you for tackling crown molding. I make my engineer hubby do all the cuts when we put it up.

    I am currently enjoy a Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate thanks to you! Thanks again for the gift card!!!

  5. You so seriously rock! I love crown molding, and I love that you did it yourself!! I so need to get over my fear of power tools and saws! Great job - it looks amazing!

    Thanks so much for hosting!

  6. I love love love this! My husband and I are wanting to do crown moulding in our master--this will be so much help when that time comes! Thanks for the tips! I love your beautiful home and your blog!

  7. Wow! What an amazing difference! I have always wanted to try that, but haven't had the nerve! Thanks for the tips! Happy week!...hugs...Debbie

  8. Thank you so much for posting about this. No, I'm not about to install crown on a wall, but I AM about to miter with a miter box and add moulding to something else - for the first time! Yikes! I'm a little nervous (I am ANAL when it comes to this kind of stuff), but you've given me some confidence. Thank you! And your office is looking SO great!! LOVE it! Thanks for the Before and After Party!! I always look forward to it. :)

  9. Looks awesome! I however, would never be able to do that because I am terrified of using a saw! Must overcome my fear of tools! Also, didn't realize until now, that the ceiling in your office is painted blue. It looked white in the last pics you posted! Anyhow, its GORGEOUS! Love the contrast of the molding with the two different colors!

  10. Love this!! I actually figured out how to do this with the planter boxes I did this summer. I have to hold up my first cut next to my second and make sure I am ACTUALLY cutting the right angle!! My poor little dyslexic brain gets all switched around easily! You did a GREAT job! And you are right - you CAN do with just a miter box!!!

  11. Wow! I love your crown moulding!! You did a wonderful job and I thank you for sharing the how-to with us. Also, thanks for hosting the great linky party! Happy 2011!

  12. I'm so glad you posted this today! I have been obsessing about this in my mind for weeks now. Thanks for posting how to do it, so I don't have to figure it out on my own now.

  13. What is the blue-ish color on the ceiling? I LOVE IT!
    BTW...I'll be using this blog post for when I do my moulding!
    I LOVE your blog!

  14. You are amazing! I am still scared of the crown, although I have done a few molding projects using my miter saw. I figure it saves money going to the gym ;)

  15. That looks great! We just did our crown the same way in our dining room which gave me a new love for caulk. Forget coping, it's all about the caulking in our house :)

  16. You're telling me you wanted to be cheap AND easy? Ha. :)

    It looks great! More importantly, I've been wracking my brain trying to remember who DIY'd a hanging light and I just saw your office and remembered it was YOU!

    Off to do the same for my sewing room now...

  17. Thanks for hosting a great party - love to see all the before & afters (who doesn't!)

  18. I love how the crown molding highlights your blue ceiling. You are well on your way to a beautiful finished project!

  19. I love crown molding, it's not just for ceilings. It helps to dress up the window cabinets I make.
    thanks for hosting!
    I hope you have a great 2011!

  20. So awesome! Caulk is the best thing ever invented. I will never forget the first time we did crown in our first place. So many cuts!!!!! But we have learned much and caulked even more. Your space is flippin awesome so far. Love the chandy. Where is it from { I am in chandelier limbo right now and afraid to pull the trigger}

  21. This tutorial was very well written! Thank for sharing and all the details. Can't wait to try it in our master bedroom (wait, that didn't sound right.)


  22. Kudos! Kudos! Kudos! I have done molding before in my past three home flips and you did a fantastic job. I am lucky that the home I am in now does not need it since I left my saw with my ex :-o

  23. Lady. Why is this so hard for 99% of people to figure out? My head just couldnt wrap around it until I saw your this, not this picture. Ha ha ha

    Love your guts

  24. I LOVE crown molding! It looks gorgeous!

  25. It's gorgeous! I love the wall and ceiling colors too.

  26. Fantastic post! I am such a visual learner and the photos we great. LOVE the space with the moulding :)

    ~ Emily N. from "too Blessed to Stress"

  27. Hi, Awesome blog! Truely love everything about it. I'm not ready to link up this Monday so I will catch you next month!

    See you soon!
    Nancy with

  28. I just wanna say, I wanna be YOU when I grow up!!

  29. I love this post! So informative :)
    Thanks for all the tips!
    You always have SUCH great posts.
    Thanks for all your hard work!
    ~Shelley Smith

  30. I agree that you make it look really easy. My dad helps with most home improvement and I know he'd do it, but we still went with the corner pieces for my daughter's room (the only one with the style of crown we want!). However, we did do the unfortunate thing of liking trim corner pieces for our upstairs remodel. Those suckers get expensive when you need almost 20. Yes! TWENTY! Crazy room with a ton of corners... oh well, it'll look good.

  31. Looks AMAZING!! I love the colors!! I think what you did is actually HARDER than using a coping saw, a coping saw at home depot is right around $10 I think and it's very fine, all you do is hollow out the shape of the molding on the end so it fits right on top of the other piece, it's really easy!! It seems intimidating until you try, but you should try! You'll learn another new thing in the new year :)

  32. Hey Sarah! I have a tip for you for the next time you do crown molding! :) Instead of trying to make sure you have the crown set at the correct angle on the saw each time, clamp down a piece of scrap wood in front of the first piece of crown molding after you get the correct angle. All you have to do after that, is put your other pieces of crown against the little piece of wood you have clamped down and it gives you the exact same angle as the first piece. :)
    You did a great is a lot of work!~ Your rocked it out girlfriend! :)

  33. Looks fantastic. Love love love crown molding! And love the contrast of the wall color against it. When we moved into this house ALL the walls were white. The ENTIRE house has crown molding, but you couldn't even see it. Painting it made me giddy. Now it pops! <3

  34. Love the molding it makes so much of a difference..I am redoing my kitchen..should be done by end day tomorrow...yeah can't wait..thanks for the inspiration..

  35. This looks fantastic! I received a 10" miter saw for Christmas, but am considering trading up for a 12". What size did you use for this project?

  36. The crown molding looks great. We really want to do it in our house also. What a difference it makes.

  37. I just found your blog through my daughter ... LOVE it. I also really love crown molding and love when someone ELSE does it for me.... kudos to you for not only attempting it but doing it so successfully. It looks great. And you are so right about caulk. Great job!

  38. Oh it looks spectacular! I think crown really finishes a room and it highlights the lovely non-white ceiling too!

  39. That looks awesome!! And I love the ceiling color!

  40. Your blog is one of my all time favorites! Thanks for all the wonderful ideas. I hope you will visit mine, if you ever have a minute.

  41. I want crown moulding in a big, bad way. But we have popcorn ceilings. I know it can be done, and I know I'll have to scrap off just enough popcorn to make the fit snug on the ceiling. Anyone out there put up crown moulding on popcorn ceilings?

  42. I really like this post. Now I have some new ideas for the next project. It seems like every time I have done crown in the past, it has required double the amount needed :D

  43. I love crown molding. We have crown molding in every room of our home. We also have the same corner pieces in the photo with the green wall [the photo on the left]. For us the cost was free since they were in there before we moved in [the previous owner was one of those lovers for woodwork lol].

    One of the other downsides is when you paint... it can get a little annoying trying to paint around the corner pieces. I usually have to dig out a small paint brush [like a canvas type brush] and paint along the edges of the piece.

    Love how your molding turned out!

  44. I want to come sit in that room, like right now! I know you haven't recovered the chair yet but in that picture you can hardly tell. I'm so excited about this room!!

  45. So cute! We just installed crown into our living and dining room, but used the corner pieces like you have in your green room pic above. Seriously looks the exact same and I know how expensive it is! Which is why we only did 2 rooms so far, lol. Still need to caulk and paint it though.

  46. So cute! We just installed crown into our living and dining room, but used the corner pieces like you have in your green room pic above. Seriously looks the exact same and I know how expensive it is! Which is why we only did 2 rooms so far, lol. Still need to caulk and paint it though.

  47. This looks fabulous! Crown really does add so much to a room - we put it up in our dining room and just love it. And yes, it IS important to remind yourself that you're on the floor and the molding is up high - or at least, I know I had to remind my husband at least a half dozen times!

  48. Great tutorial! Thanks! I've been wanting to do this at our house and this tutorial will be great for my hubby!

  49. WOW! You are awesome!! When we buy our home one day I will definitely be putting up some crown! I've always loved gives the room so much character. You did a fantastic job!!

  50. Pretty! So smart to paint your wall first too!

  51. Thank you! I am so excited to get to Menards and buy some molding! Your blog is amazing... I enjoy reading it. Thank you!

  52. Awesome!


    ...that made me LOL at work. Caulk is *definitely* my BFF. Caulk and wood filler putty. :D

  53. that looks SO great! i wish i could get the boyfriend on board with the fact that we NEED crown!

  54. I know this post is about the molding, but I have to say that I *love* your hanging lamp and your SO creative way of hiding the cord. Lovely! Thanks for the inspiration :)

  55. Congratulations! It looks incredible - what a difference! I've heard of people using foam crown molding, have you ever worked with anything like that before? Happy New Year, and thanks for sharing great information with your blog!

    Betsey at

  56. Good gosh woman... this is so over my junkified head. I have the compound miter saw but I have yet to do all those fancy cuts! Thanks for the how-to and inspiration. One day I'll have to stop staring at rust and actually TRY this. :)


  57. It looks great! I love molding. We added the skinny piece an inch or two under all our downstairs crown. This may help, we used a lego piece to measure the gap between the original crown and the skinny addition. It was easier than a ruler or chalk line for us. And we also put in a 'textured wallpaper' border below the crown before putting up the skinny piece in our foyer. Looks like our crown has carved leaves!! Love your blog. I add to my project list weekly.

  58. Looks wonderful! Can't wait to see when it's all finished.

    PS The Before and After Party is my favorite post every month! I love seeing what everyone transforms. Just wish I had something to contribute this time around.

  59. I actually just ordered my very own compound miter saw yesterday so I can do crown molding in our hall bath. I've already done bead board and a chair rail in the bathroom, I've just got to finish the crown molding. Thanks for the tips! I'll probably be looking at your post as I work - especially if I hit any snags! You can check out my bathroom, so far on my blog, if you want.

  60. Your office is looking beautiful! I love the soft colors, the drum shade and the farm table. Just gorgeous!

  61. This couldn't have come at a better time. We just bought a compound miter saw and are getting ready to install our own crown moulding. Wish us luck!

  62. looks great! Great job! I'm terrified of the miter saw. I've cut a lot of molding on a miter box (inside and outside corners) but that saw scares the heck out of me. :) Love how your room is looking!

  63. Your crown molding looks awesome! I love it! I am trying to add some crown molding to our kitchen cabs ourselves. Your tips on mitering and coping will defninitely come in handy!

  64. The room is looking great! It looks incredible.

  65. The molding is great, and with your great tutorial on how to do it, you've given me the courage (gulp!) to take that still-new-in-the-box compound miter saw and do it myself. I've been waiting for dh to install the crown in the kitchen for a year now.

    Thank you!!

  66. LOVE IT!! My husband just put up new crown in our living room - and wow - gorgeous - YES caulk is your best friend!!

  67. Awesome! I love, love, love your blog. I am such a novice at this it's almost embarrassing to offer any advice, but I helped my dad do some molding once and it is correct that angled cuts hide better than straight ones, but the cuts we did were different than yours...Try cutting your molding at a 45 degree angle from the FRONT of the molding to the BACK of the molding rather than from the TOP to the BOTTOM. Obviously, the adjacent cut will be opposite (if that makes any sense at all!). The joint is MUCH better hidden. Wish I had pictures to show, it really is a nice way to make joints! :)

  68. Beautiful!
    Is there any chance you can send me the names of your paint colors? I've been looking all over and I can't find them!
    Thanks! (or just post a reply...I'll check back)

  69. I've included this how-to in a round up on Craft Gossip today Thanks for sharing it! :)

    If you would like a "featured by" button, you can grab one here!

  70. love it! speaking of molding, is this also similar to making a window trim. when we got our house, all the windows have no trim at all and would to add one by myself but i cant see any tutorial online that i can follow easily.

  71. I am a professional painter and you did as well or better than the professional installers. And yes, caulk is your BBF.
    Caulk is magical.

  72. can you tell me what color you painted the ceiling, that blue is lovely!

  73. Im going to try this with my builders mirrors in the bathroom. I dont even know what a mitt saw is but the guys at the hardware store will be bombarded with questions :-). Thanks

  74. I've done molding several times (as a carpenter) and you are spot on with your instructions. Most carpenters cannot match up each corner perfect because of imperfections in the walls. Caulk is the true BFF!! I, like you keep the gaps where the walls bow, and I blame the sheet rockers!! Very well done, and you did as good as pro.

  75. You mention cutting at an angle to hide the cut better when you don't have a long enough piece for an entire wall. The angle "They" are referring to is similar to the type of cut you're talking about making in the corners. In other words, the cut on the front of the molding when the two pieces come together will be vertical not at an angle. The molding should be in a vertical position with its back against the saw fence when you're cutting the 45 degree angle not lying on its back.


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