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Installing Crown Moulding

Almost everyone has a room in their home that they feel is in need of some attention. Whether you are concerned with adding a touch of style or camouflaging imperfections, installing crown moulding- strips of decorative wood where the ceiling meets the wall- may be just the answer for you.

The addition of crown moulding can transform an ordinary room into an elegant, more inviting space. Not only does it fashion a new design element, moulding also creates an illusion of height and length to any room. Reece Van Den Elzen of Reece’s Fine Woodworking in Newmarket explains, “Crown moulding defines the top of the walls and helps to tie the look of a room together, as it is associated with other aspects of the room. Whether stained or painted, crown moulding provides a traditional, and historical base to a room; an element from a time when its use was functionally sealing the area between the walls and the ceiling.”

Let’s get to work. There are a few tools you will require to install the moulding, but nothing that involves too much power or investment. To complete my own moulding installation project, my tools of choice were: a drill, a handsaw, a plastic miter box, a hammer, finishing nails, a nail punch, filling compound, and 120 grit sandpaper. I chose 8-foot pre-primed MDF lengths and pre-formed corners, which I painted prior to installation. For the sake of convenience, aesthetics and your sanity, I would highly recommend purchasing pre-formed corners. They add a bit more expense to your project, but are well worth it.

Visit your local hardware or home improvement store for both the products you require and the questions you need answered. Brad Gerrits of Royal Wood Shop in Aurora can help you with all kinds of queries, including how to cut your crown moulding. “Make sure you have a precise, thin, and sharp miter box blade for cutting. As you cut, make your strokes smooth and your cuts straight as possible for best results.”

After you have measured the lengths of all walls in the room (add 10 percent for safety) and purchased your materials, you are ready to begin. You will want to pre-drill holes in the moulding to prevent splitting the wood. A small, but effective trick I learned from my cabinetmaker Dad is to use the nail you’ll be using as your drill bit. This produces the perfect size pilot hole.

Ensure that the pre-formed corners fit to the corners of your room before you start nailing, as they are not always square- finesse the fit until it is perfect. Begin by installing your first corner and work outward on either side with the lengths of moulding. This can be tricky, so remember to measure more than once, dry-fit and mark the top and bottom of your pieces before you begin cutting- always measure twice before you cut once! Proceed by mounting the next corner and then work your way back to the first corner you installed. Are you still with me? As you work your way around the room, your ability and confidence in the project will grow.

Once you have secured the moulding with nails placed every 12 inches, put filling compound over nail holes and spaces using your fingertip. Wait to dry, then sand down and clean the areas where the compound was placed. Finally, touch up the moulding with the paint or stain of your choice.

Congratulations, you have successfully installed your own crown moulding! Pat yourself on the back, and bask in the beauty of your new room.

By Joanne Dullard
March 2004