Installing Crown Molding

Learn about installing crown molding by understanding a couple of key techniques; how to cut crown molding, and how to use a coping saw to cope the inside joints.

The tools that are required for installing crown molding are:

  • Miter Saw (or Miter Box)
  • Coping Saw
  • Trim Hammer
  • Tape Measure
  • Nail Set
  • Finish Nails

You can use a pneumatic trim nailer to nail up the crown molding if you have one, but it isn't required. Alternatively, you can use a trim hammer to drive in the finish nails and then use a nail set to counter sink the nail heads.

Miter Saw
Miter Saw
Coping Saw
Coping Saw

How to Cut Crown Molding

To cut crown molding, position the molding upside down on your miter saw (or miter box). With the molding positioned upside down, you have both surfaces of the crown molding secured against two faces of the saw; one surface resting on the saw's table, and the other surface resting against the saw's fence. This gives you better control of the molding so that you can make an accurate cut.

Note: If you have a couple of pieces of scrap crown molding to use for testing purposes, it might save you some material while you are learning the techniques.

Cutting Crown Molding
Place the simple crown molding on your miter saw as shown above

The best way to cut inside joints on crown molding is to cope them with a coping saw. Simply cutting two 45 degree angles on inside crown molding joints usually results in an unwanted gap between the two pieces of molding. Coping the inside joints solves this problem.

View this video, about installing crown molding, to learn more about how to cut and cope crown molding, or read the detailed explanation below.

Installing Crown Molding - How to Cope Joints

Note: This section assumes you are working with 90 degree corners.

Coping only works on inside joints. A finished coped joint looks as if 45 degree angles were cut on the two pieces of molding, but without the unwanted gap. Cutting the first piece of crown molding is the easiest. Simply cut a straight 90 degree angle on one end. This piece will butt up against the corner of the two walls and the ceiling. Before nailing it in place, cut and cope the second piece of molding.

On the second piece of crown molding, flip the crown molding upside down - this is the exact opposite position of how it would be placed against the ceiling and upper wall. Make a 45 degree inside cut with a miter saw (or miter box).

Making a Miter Cut
45 Degree Angle Cut on the Second Piece of Crown Molding

Using a coping saw, cut along the line that separates the face of the crown molding and the 45 degree cut face. While making the cut, angle the coping saw towards the back of the crown mold to remove any wood that might be in the way of the coped joint. (see below)

Coping a Miter Joint
Coping saw angled towards the back of the molding

In the diagram below, compare the 45 degree miter cut (top), to the coped miter cut (bottom). Once the miter cut has been coped, the coped section should fit tightly against the first piece of molding.

Coped and Non-Coped cuts
Mitered cut (top) vs. Coped cut (bottom)

Before nailing either piece, hold them in place, up against the wall and ceiling, shifting them around, until both pieces fit perfectly together. Hold the 90 degree piece in place and nail it. Then hold the coped piece up tight against the first piece and nail it. When you look at the finished joint, it should look just like it would have if you had cut a 45 degree angle on both pieces.

Coped Joint - Crown Molding
Finished Coped Joint

Painting and Crown Molding

If you are painting the room where you are planning to install crown mold, paint the room first. If the ceiling and the walls are two different colors, you don't have to be too precise when cutting in the edge of the ceiling with a paint brush. The crown mold will cover it up.

You can also paint the crown mold before you install it, then nail it in place, set the nails, putty the nail-holes, and perform any necessary touch-up afterwards. If you have any questions about how to install crown molding, please Contact Us.

Just a quick thought about miter saws. I installed my 2 1/2" crown molding using the 10" model shown in the pictures, but when I buy my next miter saw, I will get a larger one (similar to the one shown in the link below), because I want to be able to cut 1x6s and 4x4s, etc.. It all depends on what you plan to use it for. My advice? Plan ahead.

DEWALT DW715 15-Amp 12-Inch Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw

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