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installing crown molding

Create Your Crowning Achievement: A DIY Beginners' Guide to Crown Molding

May 16, 2020 by Marc Rapport

Crown molding is an easy way to elevate a space and might be a project worth tackling if you want to refine your space or increase the marketability of your home.

But before you call your contractor, let's break down the steps of installing crown molding yourself.

Style and material matters

First, decide what type of crown molding you want to use. Styles range from very simple with clean lines to very ornate and decorative, such as made-to-order plaster molding (not a DIY project). It's important to think about the type of space you're trying to create.

In addition to choosing a style of crown molding, you'll need to choose the material to use. Options include:

  • Plaster.
  • Solid wood.
  • Medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
  • Polyurethane.
  • PVC.

In considering what material to use, think about its exposure.

For example, if you're planning to install crown molding in your kitchen or bathroom, you may want to consider PVC, which won't rot and may be the best choice for moisture exposure.

Also, consider cost. Plaster and wood crown molding tend to cost the most, but they also have the most ornate options and are both quite long lasting. The cheapest include peel-and-stick options that require no power tools, but those materials are most likely to require replacement faster than the aforementioned.

Tools and related materials

Once you've decided on the type of crown molding to install, it's time to talk tools and related materials.

Specific tools might vary slightly, depending on the type of crown molding you're installing, but in general you will need a nail gun, a stud finder, finish nails, caulk, and a miter saw for making clean corner cuts that match the edges of the walls.

The process

First, measure all the walls of your room, and then purchase the crown molding accordingly. If possible, buy pieces that match the length of your walls in order to limit the difficult process of creating a scarf joint, which is used to conceal where two pieces of crown molding meet.

While buying your crown molding, be sure to closely inspect each piece of molding for damage at the ends and deep gouges that will be difficult to sand out or fill in.

While there are options for prefinished, ready-to-hang crown molding, if you need to paint your molding, you'll want to do that before you hang it. It's important to paint all edges and sides on your molding to seal it to help ensure its longevity.


You can find lots of tutorials and videos online for installing crown molding, and it may be a good idea to spend some time watching and reading before you dive in.

Advice on where to begin installation varies, with some sites suggesting beginning on the longest wall of your room while others suggest starting on the most noticeable wall. However you proceed, you'll be nailing your crown molding directly to the wall unless you use the stick-on variety.

To finish the project, caulk in any gaps where the crown molding doesn't sit on the wall or ceiling perfectly. Then you'll be ready to use some touch-up paint to paint your caulk and hit any other spots that might need it.

An attractive ending

Are you looking for a fast way to update your space or a relatively small DIY project that will make a major impact? If so, then installing crown molding might be the project for you.

While crown molding certainly isn't a necessary feature for any home, it can elevate a space and create a more elegant feel throughout your home. That's a nice selling point, too.

And even if you're not prepared to tackle this endeavor yourself, HomeAdvisor (NASDAQ: ANGI) says that installation begins around $4 per foot. That can work for a wide range of budgets.

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Marc Rapport has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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