One Weekend Project Idea: Crown Molding

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Installing crown molding in your home is a great way to add aesthetic appeal and make rooms a bit more formal. It's a nice addition to older homes to boost the historical character, and it works in any room of the house. Best of all, this home improvement project can be completed in just one weekend - but the results will last a lifetime.

Here's everything you need to know for DIY crown molding installation.

Materials List

  • Tape measure
  • Crown molding (measure each wall and round up to the nearest foot to purchase one piece per wall)
  • Stud finder
  • Ladder or stepstool
  • Pencil
  • Miter saw
  • Pneumatic nailer loaded with 2-inch finish nails
  • Compressor
  • Coping saw
  • Rasp and/or sand paper
  • Spackle or Wood filler
  • Caulk
  • Wood stain or primer and paint

Step 1

Measuring Wall

For the first piece, measure from wall to wall near the ceiling where you will place the crown molding. Use this measurement to cut a length of crown molding with the miter saw set at a standard 90 degrees.

Step 2

Marking The Wall

Use a scrap piece of molding as a template to mark a guideline with your pencil where the bottom of the molding hits the wall. Do this in the corners and at the studs (use a stud finder to locate them if you're not sure). This will help to make sure the molding doesn't get twisted or racked as you install it.

Step 3

Nailing The Molding

Dry fit the crown molding against the ceiling and the wall, checking your guidelines as you go. It helps to have a partner hold long boards in place. Use the pneumatic nailer to secure into studs, adding one nail near the bottom of the molding through the wall and another at the top of the molding through the ceiling. Start in one corner and repeat nailing at each stud, ending at the opposite corner.

Step 4

Cutting The Molding

For the next wall, measure from wall to wall at the bottom of the crown molding you've already installed. Orient the molding on the saw so that the saw bed is the ceiling and the saw fence is the "wall" (this will look upside down). Measure along the portion of the crown molding that touches the saw fence (the top, as it sits on the saw) and set the angle to 45 degrees. Check your work: The longer part of the molding is at the top of the saw, while the shorter part is at the saw bed. For beginners, it can help to stand around the back of the saw to look at the piece, pretending that the saw bed is the ceiling. The piece you cut will be the one that touches the molding you already installed; the remaining straight edge will touch the opposite wall. 

Step 5

Coping Sawing

Use your coping saw to remove excess wood along the angled cut. To do this, follow the curved line where the decorative face of the molding meets the raw wood of the angled cut. You want to trim away the wood by back cutting so that the decorative face of the molding is longer than the back of the wood that will be hidden against the wall. Very rough edges can be smoothed with a rasp or sandpaper, but only if bumps interfere with fitting the molding pieces together. 

Step 6

Fitting The Molding

Fit the new piece of molding in place as described in Step 3, taking care to nestle the angled edge into the corner, where it should fit snugly against the molding you already installed. 

Step 7

Marking The Wall

Repeat Steps 2 to 6 for the third wall.

Step 8

Cutting The Molding

For the fourth wall, you will need to make two angled cuts because both adjacent walls now have crown molding. One side will be cut exactly as you did the second and third pieces, but the final cut must be angled in the opposite direction. To do this, swing your miter saw around to the other 45-degree mark and cut. Once again, the portion of the molding against the saw fence should be longer than the portion against the saw bed.

Step 9

Coping Sawing

Use the coping saw to back cut excess material in the same way you did before, this time making sure to do both ends of the molding.

Step 10

Nailing The Molding

Fit and nail the final piece of molding in place as before, making sure that each corner is snug.

Step 11

Caulking The Molding

Apply a bead of caulk to fill the gap between the molding and the ceiling and again between the molding and the wall. You can also apply caulk to smooth over any gaps in the joints at the corners. Smooth with your finger.

Fill nail holes with spackle (for painted pieces) or wood filler (for stained pieces).


Step 12

Finished Molding Scene

When caulk and spackle is dry, your crown molding can be finished with the primer and paint or stain of your choice. 

About The Author

Elizabeth T. is a professional writer with experience writing online catalog copy, trade magazine articles, landing pages for home decor and construction company websites, and how-to articles on dozens of fresh DIY topics. Elizabeth has renovated two homes and has extensive experience in DIY carpentry, soft goods and home decor projects. She has also worked as a designer and organizational consultant for individuals and schools.