Crown molding looks great when it is installed in a house. But many people struggle with installing crown molding due to lack of experience or training. And even once they learn how to cut it, which is technically speaking the hard part, they continue installing it in a way that leaves something to be desired.
When you are installing crown molding, conventional wisdom says leave one end square and cope the other. That way you can cope the same end on each board and get more proficient at it as the job goes on. An alternative, that can prove to be faster and provide better corner joints, is to install opposite walls with square cuts on both ends and cope both ends of the two pieces of crown that go in between them. Place one end in place and nail it in place. Then bow the middle away from the wall and place the other end and tack it with a single nail. Force the middle of the crown back to the wall and start nailing from the middle toward both ends. This method forces both ends of the coped crown into the adjoining pieces and forms a super tight joint.
Snap a chalk line along the wall where the bottom of the crown molding will go and install the crown without deviating from this line. Instead of letting the top of the crown butt the ceiling and follow it's contour, keep the top of the crown straight by using shims between the top of the crown and the ceiling to maintain the straight line. Any gaps between the crown and ceiling can be caulked.
This method works because the crown and the ceiling tend to be painted similar colors, whereas the wall color is typically a completely different color, so the eye will notice crown molding whose bottom edge isn't straight much faster than it will notice a top edge that isn't straight. By shimming the top edge as needed, you not only keep it straight, but you keep the body of the crown straight. Although this method takes a little more time, the end result is worth it.
For outside corners, use a miter gauge to determine the angle of the corner. Few outside corners are a true 90 degrees. By finding the angle you can adjust the cuts on the crown and get a joint that fits properly.
If you install the crown and the outside corner is slightly open, squeeze in some glue and take two nail sets and run them down the corner of the crown at the same time, sort of like scissors. This will crush the end of the crown the slightest bit and close up the joint.
For sections of crown that involve small pieces or along the tops of wing walls, measure and cut everything first, test it to make sure it fits then glue and nail it together on the ground. This allows brad nails to be driven in from the back of the crown molding to provide extra stability, something which is impossible to do with crown being installed directly on the ceiling. Once the glue cures, lift the assembly up and nail it in place.
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