Adding crown molding to our boxy room was part of the Great Dining Room Makeover. Love the extra charm and detail! It makes the room look surprisingly bigger and the white against the deep colored wall really pops!! Best of all, it was easy to do. The hardest part was making decisions beforehand. You, too, can install crown molding in three easy steps!
1) Choose a moulding and style. MDF is lightweight and relatively inexpensive. It is pre primed, ready to paint and, in general, handles just like wood. This was the type we chose. This was our first time doing this and I reasoned that if we messed up it would at least be cheaper than wood. (How’s that for confident decision making?!) It went so well, that this material would be first choice again.
Our ceiling is standard 8 foot height and the dining room is not large, so I looked for a simple design. We did want it to be noticed, though, so I chose a style that was about 4 inches wide. Then came the decision about the corners. One limitation was the choice to use a hand saw and mitre box, rather than buying a power saw with miter capabilities. My somewhat reluctant and busy helpers might burn out if the job got too complicated or took too long. So corner blocks it was. I bought four inside corner blocks and four 12 foot lengths of crown molding, which just fit through the ski door in my trunk and reached to the far corner of the windshield! Added a box of finish nails, a tube of caulk and we went to work!
2) Installation begins by painting all moulding pieces your trim color. Then install corner blocks. Be prepared to rasp, sandpaper or cut away any excess material from the corner piece so it fits, although caulk and the crown moulding will cover small discrepancies. Corner blocks come predrilled so you can toenail (nail at an angle to increase holding strength) them easily. Chances of hitting a stud in the corner (the hold up your wall kind, not the movie star type) are good. Because a stud is solid wood, it will hold the nail and the weight of the moulding. About 16 inches out, will be another stud. Use a stud finder or tap on the wall to hear the “solid” thud. When you are certain you have found the stud, mark it; then measure and mark all the way across.
Measure very carefully between two corner blocks. Mark this distance on a piece of crown moulding. Cut long if in doubt. Using corner blocks means these cuts will be straight. Position the crown moulding, with one flat side resting against the ceiling, and the other positioned against the wall. Using your helper to hold one end against a corner block; nail the other end, putting the nail in just far enough to hold the moulding.
Go to the middle stud to fit the moulding snugly into place and, using finish nails, fasten into the wall stud. Nail about the same place on the top of the moulding into the ceiling. You might not hit a joist (big stud lying down on the job) here, but all you need do is keep the moulding in place. Working toward the nail end, continue to fit and fasten about every other stud. If necessary, you can pull out the nail on the end to reposition or shave the moulding. Repeat going toward your helper. By using the 12’ long mouldings, we avoided having to piece any of the runs. Use a nail set to be sure all nails are in place.
3) Caulk. I finally picked up a “nice” caulking gun with a rubber grip and well constructed spring action. What a difference!! Only a few dollars more in cost than the cheap ones I had used before and so worth it! Buy a paintable latex caulk. Trim the end of the applicator at an angle, using as small an opening as you can. You can always cut it deeper, if needed. Too big and you will have a caulk bead that “wanders” all over and a big mess. Fill in any gaps and nailholes. Take your time and use a wet light cloth (tee shirt) wrapped around your finger to smooth as you go.
Done in less than half a day! You’ll have the rest of the day to admire your handiwork!
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