Crown molding can make a big impact in any room, especially in rooms that have a different shape or ceiling height. Installing crown molding with a multilayered profile can add elegance and bring a room into harmony. The project might sound difficult, but it’s not much more difficult than installing baseboards. If you feel you can tackle that, read on to learn how to select the right molding, install it, and how to cope it correctly.
The first consideration should be the molding. Crown molding will change the way the room looks and will actually appear to change the shape of the room. For instance, a tall room can be given the appearance of becoming wider just by adding the right crown molding. To make sure you don’t get a crown that ends up being too tall or too short, which will look out of place, the height of the molding should be around a 1/2” for every foot of height to reach the ceiling from the floor. A 10’ ceiling should have molding about 5”.
Choosing the material type of the molding is mostly a matter of preference. Still, the popular choice these days is medium density fiberboard or MDF because it’s affordable and is available in long lengths. The paint grade moldings that are commonly made from pine or poplar are good for those that want detail or intricate designs. The issue with paint grade molding lies with the ability to find them in long lengths of 12’ or more. They do come larger, but are normally finger joined.
If you’re trying to match molding in a certain area or are trying to restore a historical home, you should try to find molding from local shops. Local suppliers that specialize in that type of work in your area are much more likely to have the type of materials and design you’re looking for.
Once you’ve found the molding that you want to use, it’s time to install it. This method of installation is a multilayered approach and is accomplished by taking two sets of the same baseboard and the crown molding you’ve chosen to create a unique design. Using all three components makes the project manageable by breaking it into steps and it also makes it easier to work around spots that can be irregular. Using the baseboards as a backing for your crown molding also ends up making the most difficult part of putting up sprung crown molding relatively easy.
Before you actually start attaching anything to the ceiling or walls, build a template of the finished molding and backing out of scrap cuts and use it to make reference lines. After the reference lines have been marked at each corner of the room at both the ceiling and the wall, you will need to snap chalk lines directly through the reference marks. Try to use blue chalk because it is much easier to clean off the wall than red chalk is.
Now that reference marks and lines are in place, you need to make sure the corners will join properly. To check the corners, take lengths of scrap that have been cut and place them in each corner to see if they fit tight. If they don’t you will need to find what adjustments must be made on the actual pieces before installation. The main point of focus will be the miters in the front. Get those to fit tight because the sprung crown will help hide the back part for you.
Once the adjustments have been made, it’s time to attach the molding. You’ll need to start with the baseboards being attached to the ceiling first. Position the baseboards so that the front of them line up with your chalk lines. If you run into a problem because the wall bulges and you can’t align the board properly, use a jigsaw to trim the board so that it follows the contour to the bulge. Once aligned, attach the board to the ceiling by using screws that will go into the ceiling joists by at least an inch. If you can’t hit the ceiling joists, particular for the boards that are running parallel with the joists, use toggle bolts. They will need to be positioned about every 16” on the boards where a ceiling joist can’t be drilled into. All bolts and screws should be spaced close to 16” apart.
After the ceiling layer is done, it’s time to attach the next layer to the wall. This layer is put on similar to installing baseboards upside down. For this layer, you will need to cope all of the inside corners. All of the outside corners will require mitering. If you don’t know how to cope, there will be directions on how to cope after the installation, which you can skip to now if needed.
All the molding, which are baseboards, will need to be attached to the wall by driving 2”, 16 gauge finish nails into the wall studs.
It’s time to cut the miters in the sprung crown, which is done by turning them over so that they are upside down in the jig. You can skip using the jig if you are completely comfortable with the compound miter saw. Make the simple cuts by moving the base of the saw left or right.
The sprung crown will need to be coped on the inside corners just as the molding attached to the wall was. If you feel that you have a good fit, trim the crown by 1/8” long and the piece should snap right into place. Then just nail the sprung crown directly to the other two layers.
To finish up, clean the outside corners up with sandpaper, If you’re using paint grade molding, you should squeeze caulk inside the corners and gaps, basically anywhere between the molding and the drywall where there is a gap. Do not fill nail holes with caulk because it shrinks. Use drywall compound or some type of lightweight spackle.
Time to learn how to cope. Coping tends to be more forgiving when the corners you’re working with don’t end up being perfectly square. That’s why many carpenters prefer to cope rather than trying to match up miters. Coping involves attaching one piece at the normal length and then cutting another piece too fit that corner and join the two. The back cutting involved in coping allows the piece to fit well even if the corner isn’t square.
First you will need to cut a piece of the molding that will be the length of the wall and it will need to be attached so that the edge of the piece abuts the adjoining wall. Basically, just cut the piece to the length of the wall and attach it in place.
Before you actually cope the piece that first against it, you should take the second piece and cut an inside miter at 45°. This will expose the profile of the molding. To cut a miter in sprung crown molding, you will need to build a jig and the sprung crown will need to be held upside down in it. It should also mimic the junction where it will be attached at the wall and the ceiling.
Using either a coping saw, a jigsaw, or an oscillating tool that has been fitted with a spiral blade, which will help cut close to edges without breaking the wood, you will need to cut right along the edge on the front of the miter. The blade must be tilted back by a few degrees perpendicular to the front side of the molding.
Now it’s time to test the fit. Position the sprung crown in place to see if it fits. If it doesn’t, use sandpaper or a utility knife to shave off some of the wood to make it fit.
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