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How to Install Crown Molding Like the Pros

You guys know how some molding chunkiness can make me go weak in the knees, right?

Nothing pretties up a room quite like crown molding. We installed it in almost every room when we bought the house – like here in our dining room:

And, of course, in our recent DIY built-in bookshelves project:

– but we skipped over a couple rooms, including the nursery.

So even though we’re redoing our nursery on a teeny-tiny budget, we still decided to spring for crown molding in this room, especially because I might still want to paint that ceiling a funky color, and I think you kinda need crown to make that look right.

Plus what’s one more project? It’s not like we’re on a deadline here.

Check out the before and after with crown molding installed:

I know the colors are a little off, but go back and appreciate the dreamy crown molding! Huge difference, right?

So here’s how we install crown molding when we want it to look professional:

We call my dad and beg for his help.

True story. He used to do this professionally, so he threw up the crown in this room within about an hour. But I took notes and lots of pics so I can show you all his secrets.

how to install crown molding

Funny side note: I wrote this post based on what I remembered from watching Andy and my dad do the installation, then asked Andy to check it real quick before I posted it. He laughed at me and said I have no idea what I’m talking about and should call my dad for the real deal. So here is the real deal. Apparently there’s more to it than it looks.

We bought our crown by the foot from Home Depot, which made it slightly cheaper than buying it from Lowe’s, where they don’t sell it by the foot. Total cost for this room was under $60 (about $1.14/foot).

1. Measure and cut crown for the 2 short walls.

We’re going to talk about crown installation in a typical four-walled room. Start with the two shorter walls (or pick any two opposite walls if your room is square). Measure those walls, then subtract about 3/16 of an inch from the wall length. This number will be the length of the crown on those walls. (So your crown will be slightly shorter than the wall length.)

Cut your crown with a miter saw using a simple 90-degree cut.

2. Measure and cut crown for the 2 long walls.

This time, add 3/16 of an inch to the wall length, so your crown will be slightly longer than the wall. This will squeeze the corners to give your crown a better fit. Total pro tip.

To cut these pieces of crown, turn your crown upside down on the miter saw and seat it on your miter saw diagonally, like it’ll sit on the wall. (Except upside down.)

Now cut it at a 45-degree angle.

3. Install the crown on two short walls

Just nail that bad boy up right in the center with a nail gun or whatev.

Nail it right in the middle and walk away because who are you to worry about a little sagging at this point? You’re a hardcore crown molding installer. You’re not fazed.

Actually – leaving the outsides loose will allow you to adjust them later. For crown to look right, it has to fit the wall and ceiling correctly. You don’t want it to be too far from the ceiling or have a weird angle, so leaving the ends loose will give you some room to rotate these pieces so it looks right. (This is called “seating” the crown.)

(I didn’t get pics of Andy and my dad seating the crown because I was eating a sandwich. Here’s a picture of a sandwich.)

4. Cope the two long pieces.

These pieces of crown need to fit the other two pieces like a jigsaw puzzle, so you’ll have to use a coping saw to cut away the extra – this is called “coping,” I think because it seems really tough and it makes you get all whiny but you have to cope with it and get it done anyway, whiner.

Essentially you want the ends of the crown to go from looking like the pic on the left to looking like a the pic on the right:

Here are a few pics of my dad doing this step:

But if you really want some great instructions, check out this handy video I found on youtube:

This is the hardest step, but for real you can do this.

5. Nail the coped pieces up to the other two walls

Admire how fantastically they fit together. Don’t forget to do this.

Because these two pieces were (purposely) cut too long for the wall, they bow out in the middle when you nail up the ends, see that?

But when you nail the center, it will all magically lay flat, and the corners will squeeze together to give you a tight fit you can be proud of.

6. Caulk, fill the nail holes and paint!

See? Totally not hard at all. Especially when your part of the job is to watch, eat sandwiches and take pictures.

Thanks Dad!

Anyone else like to add projects to your to-do list when it already looks ridiculously long? Ever tried to DIY crown molding?

how to install crown molding

P.S.: If you like this, make sure you check out all our construction projects here, like how we made our DIY built-in bookshelf wall:

…and our outdoor deck!

Let's connect


  1. Brilliant, I have done some myself before but with those tips it will be so much better. I never new about fitting the two short walls first and then the others, I just worked my way around the room, and fitting the edges before the extra long centre looks really scary (will it fit, won’t it… ooohhh). I’m looking forward to my next room now 🙂

    Oh, one thing my brother in law taught me – he made some moulding look much bigger by putting wider strips of plasterboard all along the wall and ceiling first (ie: the moulding was 4″ deep and he put 6″ of plasterboard up) and then fitted the moulding on top of it – it looks great and gives a more expensive look. (sorry, not sure what you call plasterboard over there?)

  2. The crown molding is fabulous! I love crown molding and trim work in the home! My dad too is a crown molding expert. Nice perk, huh? Just wanted to add to your post that when measuring for how much molding you will need you should always account for “waste”. You have to purchase a little extra. If you cut a long piece of molding for a long wall and there is a small piece left over, that piece is essentially useless and cannot be accounted for in your linear footage. Does that make sense? Just my two sense. 🙂

  3. Ahem, I mean cents. 🙂

  4. i love the touch of the crown molding- so elegant! that is one lucky baby girl!

  5. Like the pros? I’m pretty sure you guys ARE the pros… Looks great!

  6. This is an AMAZING tutorial… Seriously, I wish we’d (aka John had) read this before we (aka John) installed the crown in our bedroom. This makes it look WAY easier.

    It looks amazing in the nursery! Crown makes any room look swankier and you know your little girl needs a swank bedroom, right? So now paint and molding is done, time for the fun part!!!

  7. Thank you, Uncle Carl!! (And Kelly, and Andy, ya know…) Chuck and I were just talking about doing crown molding, and we’ve never done it before. Did I mention that I wish y’all lived closer? 😉

  8. I really loved this post. The tips were awesome and it really made me feel like I could tackle this. But … my favorite part was the picture of the sandwich. I laughed out loud. You are so funny! Missi

  9. wow this is an awesome tutorial! crown molding is not something we have attempted yet, but we plan to in this house :). my favorite is the tiny molding, maybe chair rail?, that was put on the ceiling in your living space. it adds a whole new dimension to the room…really beautiful!

  10. Crown molding makes all the difference and is so worth it. Well, easy for me to say because I’ve never tried it myself…

  11. Holy crap. I don’t believe it. Does your dad do road trips?? Great job, pa!

  12. What an awesome tutorial! I totally pinned this bad boy for the hubby to start working on in our home. Well maybe after we, which means I, scrape all the poopcorn off the ceiling. Love that you were eating a sandwich and missed out on some major tutorial happenings. 😉 the nursery is coming along beautifully!

  13. Why does crown molding have to be so difficult? Thanks to your dad we can now have perfect molding each time : )

  14. Great tutorial. I just did some crown on built ins and the hardest part is the exterior corners. I want to do crown in my master, but there are about 5 exterior corners, not to mention a half dozen interior corners (damn niches!) and I am dreading that. It also is important to have a tall stop on your saw. I had to install a jig in order to have the molding hit at a 45* angle. You would think mitre saw companies would have figured out that we need TALL saws, but I guess not! 😀

    Thanks for the tutorial. I’m definitely going to pin it for reference!

  15. I love the chunky molding too. Your crown looks great. I have always been so intimidated by the installation, but your tips make it look pretty simple.

  16. Wow, that does look great. I spent a couple of days adding crown molding to the top of a bookcase!!!! I’m thinking I will never muster up the courage to add it to a room but if I do I will surely be referring to this tutorial. ps send me your address:)

  17. I can’t even tell you how long I have wanted to try crown. And seriously, after reading this I am going to do it in the very near future. I’m learning my lesson to begin in a room that the general public will not see, so I think I’ll try it in my bedroom. The coping part is freaking me out a little bit, I’ll be honest, and also nailing that sucker up there in the middle. Looks like a two person job. Thanks so much for the deets!
    Also thanks for visiting and your sweet comment, I couldn’t email you back directly but you’ve been on my mind the last few days and I just feel like there will be some big news in the near future, Kelly!!

  18. I am impressed – you all certainly know what you are doing! That piece of equipment that cuts the molding is scary! It all looks great when installed – great idea to add some.

  19. Great tips! They make it look so easy!! I’m pinning this.

  20. Omg… I have a ton of projects on my list, and still adding. It’s ridiculous, actually. Only two of our dining room chairs are done. (There are only two of us anyway, right?) Why spend valuable DIY time finishing the other two when I could be doing another project?

  21. The room is really coming together! Not too long now! Hey, can you send your dad up to install some for us? It will take me at least 6 hours, even with your awesome instructions haha! Really, though, it looks great and now I’m looking around to see all the places I can install some for myself. XOXO!

  22. This is a GREAT post! Already pinned it for the tutorial, but I’ve got to give you props for the writing, especially the sandwich part. Love me some moulding too, and my husband is planning to add some to our living room soon. How high are your ceilings? Can’t wait to see the nursery when it’s all put together – it’s coming along great! Thanks for linking up.

  23. Awesome to read but…what do you do when your wall is longer than the available molding? How do you put two or more pieces together?

    • We admittedly skipped over the more complicated crown stuff – like joining two pieces and handling outside corners – and may return to it again later. But the easiest way to describe how you would do that is that you’d cut the two pieces at opposing 45-degree angles, so they overlap each other, then you’d just caulk and paint it. It’s almost impossible to avoid seeing any kind of seam, but that helps disguise it a little more. Here’s a pic (not mine) that might help show it:

      • Hey there, great tips here! I install crown almost every day…even when it’s 100 degrees like today. The seams are a bit tricky, but we make them invisible. You have to get the two pieces really close to perfect when you overlap them. Make sure you glue them together with a good wood glue so they don’t come apart in the future. Use a wood filler for the joint. Then, sand the seam with 80 grit sandpaper until you run your hand over it and it feels smooth. Before you paint, use a light sandpaper over the seam again, 220 works great. Now it will be smooth and seamless when you paint it.

  24. Your tutorial gives me hope! What is it about crown molding that just makes it so. darn. difficult? My husband has already gone through one of our boards “practicing”, but I’m hoping we might be able to do this! We did it in our old house around our bookcases and fireplace, and it was maddening! This time will be better, right? 😉

  25. You make installing crown look so easy – I’m going to try it! One question, do you cope the longer pieces before you do the initial “center” nail, or put it up first to make sure it’s ok, take it back down, cope, and reinstall????

    • We didn’t put it up to check it first, but if you’re not sure it’s the right length, you could do that. The thing is, it doesn’t really “look” right until the very, very end. 🙂

  26. Definitely pinning, but still not sure I’m ready for this project. Do these same concepts apply to installing baseboards too?

  27. Very quickly this web page will be famous among all blogging and site-building users, due to it’s good content

  28. Jane Blacksmith says:

    I thoroughly enjoy your sense of humor (i.e., the sandwich and coping), I like your writing, you did a great job with your website (I like the clean, uncluttered look and handwriting font), and I like your crown-moulding-installation tips.

    Thank you, Kelly.

  29. I love your house, and think it’s fantastic that you’ve paid it off. Great job! I have a question about the crown molding in your dining room. There is a piece that comes out onto the ceiling from the wall so that it makes it look almost like a cove ceiling. How did you manage that? It looks amazing!

    • Thanks! That’s just a piece of trim called clover mold that we nailed right onto the ceiling, and we painted that piece and the ceiling next to it in the same trim paint, so it looks like one huge piece.

  30. I just stumbled upon your blog and am in love with and entranced by your mad-make-over skills! The way you write about the trials and tribulations as well as the successes and super-ideas is entertaining and educational, thank you!

    One question about crown-molding for rooms with rounded corners. Almost all of the rooms in our house have rounded corners (the living room has a hallway coming off of it and the corners are round) and we have yet to find a way to get the crown-molding to go in a round shape. Any suggestions?

    Keep up the great work and I look forward to learning more and finding nuggets of decorating gold for my own home.

  31. This tutorial is the ONLY reason I now have Crown molding in my Livingroom/Diningroom. Very useful, straightforward information. The magical ‘corners’ coping video is great!! Thanks a lot.


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