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HOW DO I INSTALL CROWN MOULDING?

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This part of the project is always one of the most fun, whenever you see crown moulding going up you know you are near the end of the project, the open house party is just around the corner and you can start considering your next project. Much of what we learned the last segment about miter cuts and coping saw cuts we will use again today. If this is your first time installing crown moulding, buy a little extra, it’s a little tricky and even veterans miss-cut the material sometimes.

Outside corners are simple, 45` cuts on both pieces of material, and nail in place. Let’s assume we are doing a simple 4 sided room with all crown moulding terminating in an inside corner.

Inside corners are where we see the difference from real trim carpenters and all the wannabes who are out there. The first piece you install is a piece of cake, simply measure corner to corner and cut your material accordingly. No tricky cuts on this first piece, just simple butt cuts on each end. The crown moulding is set against the wall and nailed into the studs with 8d smooth finish nails. Do not at this point concern yourself too much with nailing the moulding to the ceiling. You will probably find that the ceiling drywall seems to roll a bit as it goes across the ceiling joists. With the bottom of the crown moulding nailed you can then get back and look for all of the high spots where the ceiling is pulled away from the top of the moulding. Every place it touches the ceiling is where you will want to nail it. This creates a constant small shadow line at the ceiling and will look much better than if you try to nail the moulding tight against the ceiling causing the moulding to twist and roll along it’s full length. Properly installed the moulding will create a 45` angle between the wall and the ceiling.

This second piece is a littler trickier! An accurate measurement is very critical and can be hard to get. You want to measure from inside corner of the room to the next inside corner of the room, along the line that will be the bottom of the crown moulding. It is hard to get this dimension if you are alone because you have to create something to hook your tape measure to while you climb down the ladder, move to the opposite side of the room, climb back up the ladder and hold the tape tight enough to get a good measurement. It’s a lot easier if you can get an assistant to hold the end of the tape for you. Once you have this measurement, take a piece of moulding that is at least 6″ longer than the measurement to your miter saw. Now holding the material at the back of your saw fence to create the same angle as the moulding will be in when it is installed cut a inside 45` cut. As we discussed last segment this will create a cut where the face grain and end grain of the wood are both visible from the front of the work. Where the two differing grains meet you will take a coping saw and saw right along this line. It’s a little tricky and will require some practice but after a couple of tries a good cut is achievable. Hold the coping saw at an angle to the work so that your cut creates a knife-like edge to the end of the material, this will create a more perfect installed miter. At the opposite end of your moulding simply cut a butt cut at the appropriate length. Now hold your work up in place and look to see how your inside miter looks. Use a sharp utility knife to fine tune the cut as needed. Properly cut and installed this miter should look as if it grew in place with no visible crack anywhere along the joint.

A couple of tips, build yourself a jig to mount on your saw fence to hold the crown moulding in the same position it will be in once installed, i.e. 45` off the wall and ceiling. Start in one of the back rooms of the house, after you do just a couple of rooms you will be amazed how much easier it gets. That way once you get to the front rooms or the living room your work will be worthy of display. For long walls where you need to splice a couple of pieces together in the middle of the wall make sure you use a splayed miter cut and not just sloppy butt cuts. With a little practice and a little sanding of your joints you should now be ready for the painters. All that’s left now is to call and schedule the carpet guy and the caterers!

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