[This is part of Our Kitchen Molding Makeover series.]
On This (really long) Page
- How to Scribe the Crown
- Which Wall to Start On?
- How to Cope a Crown
- How to Splice Two Pieces of Crown Together
- How to Wrap Crown Around an Air Vent
You’ve come this far with the installation, and now we’re going to add the final piece that will pull the whole thing together.
Scribe the Crown
It’s easy to nail crown in a slightly wrong position. The problems show up when you try to match the scarf and cope joints with a crown that’s been nailed slightly out of position — the scarf and cope joints are hard to line up.
To achieve a consistent placement of my crown, I like to run around the room one more time making scribe marks. This time I’ll put them at the lower edge of the crown detail. This really helps me position the crown in just the right spot before I shoot brad nails into it.
Glue all Contact Surfaces
Just like I preach when installing any molding, apply glue to the upper and lower contact surfaces of your crown.
Which Wall to Start On?
I’m going to start on one of my short walls. The piece of crown I applied the glue to in the above picture is now installed in the picture below.
Below Next I installed the crown on the opposite short wall.
How to Cope an MDF Crown Molding Corner
Don’t be nervous about cutting a cope joint, because it’s really easy. It’s just one of those things you have to do a few times to develop a feel for how to do it.
Below I like to cut away small sections so that they fall away and leave me room to work my cope saw on more difficult angles.
Below I still get happy when my cope joints turn out this perfect. I want to say something like, dad, dad, look dad, look what I did dad!
Below Repeat the cope process at the far end of the wall. Glue and nail the crown in place.
Now I’m going to install the crown in between the two air vents. It’s a long wall, so I’ll need to splice two pieces of crown together with a scarf joint.
Crown Molding Scarf Joint
After my painstakingly installed crown molding is painted, I don’t want to see the scarf joints staring at me every time I walk in the room. So this is my method for splicing crown molding pieces together.
Above The most important thing is to use a long-ish piece of scrap crown to test fit the joint. If you only use a short piece then you’re not really going to know how the crown is going to behave the length before the joint — it may be full of little inconsistencies that don’t show up when testing with a small piece of crown.
How to Wrap the Crown Around the Air Vents
Air Vent Wrap Step 1
Cut a piece of crown long enough so you can make all of your pieces for each vent from the same piece of molding.
Air Vent Wrap Step 2
Cut inside 45 degree miters at each end of crown.
Air Vent Wrap Step 3
Find a comfortable work surface and cope both ends of the crown.
Air Vent Wrap Step 4
Hold one of the coped ends in place exactly how it will sit when installed and then scribe the back side. Take your time with this step because you have a lot of time invested into coping those ends.
Air Vent Wrap Step 5
Cut an outside miter at the scribe line. It’s better to cut it a hair long rather than short.
After cutting on the miter saw.
Air Vent Wrap Step 6
Take the long piece of crown and put an outside miter on the left side, and then glue the left small piece to it.
Air Vent Wrap Step 7
I hold the piece in place and then scribe where I want my outside miter.
Air Vent Wrap Step 8
I cut an outside miter where I scribed in the previous step.
Air Vent Wrap Step 9
Glue the small piece of mitered crown to the right side.
Air Vent Wrap Step 9
Glue all contact surfaces: top/bottom of crown and the cope joints.
Air Vent Wrap Step 10
Carefully put your crown molding wrap in place and then nail it with a few 23 gauge micro pins.
What initially was an obstacle to installing our kitchen crown has instead become a nice architectural element.
Installing the Very Last Piece of Crown
Installing the last piece of crown in a buildup is where I tend to make small mistakes, because I’m tired or feeling rushed to finish. But this is not the time to cut wrong, it’s the last piece. Here are some things to consider.
Below It’s hard to scribe the exact spot on a scarf joint. I make many trips to the saw as I shave the length down to where I’m almost there. At that point I gauge how much of the crown needs to be shaved and then mark it with a pencil.
Below The saw I’m using is new to me, and so not being that familiar with it I shaved off just a tad too much. For a client I would have started over with a new piece, but I’m going to let this one go.
Below Can you see the scarf joint in the picture? It’s easier and better to fill a slight gap in a cope joint (above) than it is to leave a gap in a scarf joint.
I know that my method of installing three-piece crown moldings is laborious, but my crown moldings never come apart, so it’s worth the effort to me.
The Next Step
The next step is to prepare the crown to be painted. As you may have guessed, I have a process for that too.
I show step by step how I prepped and painted this crown in a guest post for One Project Closer: How to Paint a Three-Piece Crown Molding, or you can go to our How to Paint Moldings page.
CROWN MOLDING-103 Installation Series
1. How to Install CROWN MOLDING-103 for About $3.00/ft
2. Crown Molding Limiting Factors
3. Kitchen Crown Molding: Materials from Lowes $211.75
4. Building a Crown Molding Model
5. Preparing the Cornice Molding
6. My Crown Molding Layout Techniques
7. How to Install the Crown Molding Lower Detail
8. How to Install the Crown Molding Cornice
9. How to Install the Last Piece of Crown Molding
Looks great! I have been lurking your blog for a bit, figured it was about time I left some feedback. We just purchased our first home and we are very excited about putting our fingerprint on it. Your blog spawns many ideas and much inspiration.
That’s great, Ryan, we’re so happy our blog is helping inspire! Keep us posted on your progress and don’t hesitate to ask questions — we’ll be happy to answer them if we can.
Love your crown molding step-by-step! I’ve put up build up crown before but am dragging my feet this time since my ceilings aren’t level. My home is from the 30’s and has 9 ft ceilings with a twist! I have just built and installed new cabinets that go to the ceiling, so I will have lots of in and outward corners. I have 5 3/4″ above the cabinet doors to make a build up crown to the celing like the one in your demo. But one corner of the ceiling rises 5/8″ from the next corner, then drops back down again. What is the best way to compensate for this that looks the best? Need to keep the miters at 45 deg or it will be a nightmare to fit all the ins and outs!
Some typical ways of dealing with problem ceilings like yours are:
1. Shave material off of the crown so it fits under the bow. You can only shave so much off though before it looks odd.
2. Fix the ceiling. That’s very time consuming.
3. Flex the crown over the bulge. This only works if the bulge is not too bad.
4. Use a combination of all of these to minimize the downside of each.
5. I’m loath to say this, but if it’s really bad then don’t install any crown, put your efforts in someplace else.
All of these techniques have their pros and cons. You just have to decide which con you’re willing to live with. The last thing you want to do is walk in your kitchen every day and think to yourself, “Why did I do it that way?”
Good luck. Keep us posted on your progress!
Thank you for the quick response! My dad is coming tomorrow to help me hold things up and do some coping, etc, so I’d better have a plan!
Rather than bulges I have “lifts” in the ceiling in the corners above the cabinets.. the entire 18′ wall has a little slope from the corners down to the other end of the room….hard to explain well…as if the walls are taller there, raising the ceiling level above “level”…5/8″ in one corner, 1/2” in the other. As if you twisted a picture frame from opposite corners…was never noticable until the cabinets went up)….I had advice to add shims to the top edge of the crown, and make a custom tapered filler strip to compensate on the ceiling edge and keep all the trim level with top of cabinet doors. Have you ever tried this? If I had to do this, would it go between the crown and cornice or between the cornice and the ceiling? Or omit the cornice? A friend had twisted his crown to get narrower in the lower areas but I’m dealing with mostly straight runs following the ceiling line….no actual bulges anywhere.
My kitchen would be so much less appealing without crown…It really needs it to tie in all the other changes in doors and hutch and range mantle with corbels….My dream space with a old European flavor…an 18’x24′ rectangle w table in one end of the space…..Have had a plain box for 25 years 🙁
Oh yes, shims between the cornice and the ceiling, I forgot that one. I think that’s the best idea of all! Don’t forget you can use joint compound to sculpt any gaps you can’t get perfect with the shim. In fact, now that I think of it, I always set my shims back about 1/8″ so that I can fill and sand the front perfectly with joint compound.
1. Take a about a 4′ scrap piece of crown, cut 45 degree inside miters at both ends, and then cope both ends. These are your test copes.
Now you have a “known” template to start from when you make your final copes. Hold the test piece up to test the fit and go from there.
In fact, if you’re like me and don’t mind coping a few times to get a perfect fit, then keep re-coping your test piece until it drops right in. Now you can cut your final piece of crown to the perfect angle, cut your final cope, and then just drop that little fella right in there.
The point is to make your mistakes on the test piece. But you must use a pretty long piece, like the 4′ I mentioned, so that the test crown behaves like the final piece as much as possible.
Take some fun pictures of your installation and we’ll post ’em up!
I’ll send pics! I take step by step pics for memory”s sake….How do I send them to you?
You can attach them to an email and send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org. That would be great. Can’t wait to see how it all comes out!
Thank you so much. Your wonderful details may have just pushed me over the procrastination edge.
That’s really nice to hear, Shannon! Will you start a project over the holidays?
Brian, without hesitation I recommend two coats of Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo (and don’t forget to add some Penetrol). That’s what’s on nearly every molding on our site.