We just had our kitchen cabinets installed and while we are waiting for Lowe’s quartz countertops to arrive and get installed I’m going to add crown molding to the entire room.
Have you tried to install crown molding and had trouble making the correct cuts? It is easier if you know a few tricks. The biggest key is to do everything upside down, and when I say everything, I mean cutting. That is the biggest secret. Treat the back of the miter saw as the wall and the base as the ceiling. I’ll explain more as I show how I install crown molding.
I start by figuring out how much wood I need. Measure the perimeter of the room and then add a few feet for waste and the extra length needed for outside corners. Try to get long enough lengths so there are no scarfed joints. (A scarf joint is necessary when two pieces are joined on the same surface by cutting 45° on each piece so the joint is hidden better.) After getting the wood, I map out the order of the crown molding installation. Since I was installing alone on this project, I started with the longest wall. This way I could hold up the piece of molding without worrying about fitting it into another existing crown molding. The other consideration, when determining the install order, is which piece will be installed last. I like to finish installing the crown molding on an outside corner. If the crown molding ends on an inside corner on both ends, then both of the ends need to be coped. Coping both ends and getting it to fit nicely is not easy to do. Wondering what coping is? There is more on coping crown molding later.
So, to begin, I measured the length of the longest wall and then cut a piece of molding to fit. I placed the crown molding upside down on the miter saw and used a clamp to hold the crown molding as it would be angled against the wall and ceiling. By cutting the crown molding at this same angle, I can use the angles of the walls that I measure with my angle finder to make the correct cuts. This trick is very useful on outside corners as I will get into more detail later. Most compound miter saws come with a conversion chart so you can cut the crown molding laying flat. I find it easier to cut the crown molding in the same orientation as it is installed.
Here is another trick: cut a small piece of crown molding and use it to draw lines along the ceiling and wall. Depending on how straight the walls and ceiling are and the style of crown molding, getting the crown molding to fit correctly against the wall and ceiling is not always easy. I use a small sample piece of crown molding and run it along the ceiling and wall making sure it is fitting correctly as I mark the edges with a pencil. I use those pencil marks to make sure the crown molding is fit perfectly against the wall and ceiling. I also like to use glue and nails to secure the crown molding. I apply the adhesive to the back of the crown molding and nail it in place on the studs. I know where the studs are since the wall and ceiling are unpainted, but I could have used a stud finder otherwise.
Now that I have one piece of crown molding installed, I need to cope the end of the next piece so it fits seamlessly over the existing piece. Coping an edge is back cutting the molding along the profile. Check out the picture for an illustration. By coping the edge of the crown molding, it will fit like a puzzle piece against the profile of the existing crown molding. If the corner was mitered, the seam would be visible out towards the middle of room and would open up as the wood shrinks due to climate changes. In order to cope an edge, the crown molding must be cut at a 45° angle as for an inside corner. I then mark the profile of the crown molding with a pencil to highlight the cut line for the coping saw. The next step is to back cut the crown molding along the profile with a coping saw. A back cut is necessary to remove the unseen chunk of the crown molding that would otherwise butt up against the existing crown molding and not allow the coped edge to fit nicely.
I continue around the room, coping the next inside corner. But before I install it, I need to measure the next corner since it is an outside corner. I like to cut and test fit all outside corners before I install either piece of crown molding. That way I can make sure I get the cut just right. The same angle needs to be cut on both pieces, so if I measure the angle incorrectly, both pieces need to be cut again. I measure the angle with my angle finder and then divide by 2. I sometimes cut the outside corners a little larger than I measure because I can always cut it for a smaller angle without altering the length of the crown molding. I can’t cut it for a larger angle without shortening the piece.
I finish up the rest of the crown molding following the same techniques. To complete the install, I fill all the nail holes with spackle and caulk all the seams in the corners. I then caulk the joint between the ceiling and crown molding and the joint between the wall and crown molding. Caulking the seams makes for an easier paint job and creates a much better looking finished product.