All Hail the Crown
Today we’re installing what’s most likely the nastiest, most ornery, and to say the least, most challenging type of molding found in a home, that being the crown molding.
Why is the crown molding so frustrating a product to install? Essentially, it’s in part due to gremlins, those mischievous, invisible little creatures that find pleasure in hanging off the ends of crown moldings as we attempt to place them in position, and who consistently kink an outstretched tape measure, making an accurate length reading almost impossible. Then of course there are the more visible challenges, like walls that aren’t so square, and ceilings that droop in the middle, making the figuring of a proper miter angle about as likely as calculating the re-entry trajectory of NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Inevitably, there will be gaps, but— that’s what paintable, white caulking is for. Why put yourself through the hassle of installing such an appendage? Because crown moldings can be a room’s most-attractive feature, and will definitely transcend a very average-looking space into something special. More formal or more elegant? Not necessarily, unless you choose it to be that way, having picked a more extravagant model of crown, or have added a series of moldings to help enhance the crown. Minimally, crown moldings make a room better. The four keys to successfully installing crown molding? One, you’ll require a 10-inch miter saw with a new 80-tooth blade. Crown moldings have beveled edges, and attach to the wall and ceiling in a 45-degree manner, pieces must be held on the miter saw in this same 45-degree position. With a cut as intricate as this, while being somewhat risky to the fingers (since they’re inevitably a little closer to the cutting path than usual) you’re going to want a blade that’ll cut through the MDF product like butter. Two, you’ll require an air-powered finishing tool. Nailing MDF moldings in the same manner you would regular pine, just doesn’t work. The MDF product is simply too dense, and will either crack, or the nail will bounce back at you. Pre-drilling? Better, but still not nearly effective as an air gun. Either borrow, rent, or better yet, say that Santa forgot it on his sled, and buy yourself an air finishing nailer. Three, clear the room or area under renovation, lay down a few tarps, seal the room with a roll of clear plastic, and set up shop in the immediate vicinity to where you’re installing the trim. Because crown moldings are installed at ceiling height, where spacing seems unobstructed, the do-it-yourselfer might feel it only necessary to push the room’s furniture towards the centre and cover everything with a tarp, somewhat following the format of a painter. Avoid this strategy. The key to achieving a tight miter joint is to cut the crown miter about a quarter-inch longer than necessary, trimming a bit off the opposite, or square end, until the molding fits snugly with its partnered miter. As a result, every mitered corner is going to incur about three-to-four cuts before you’re satisfied with how the miters match up. If these cuts are being made in the same room as where the crowns are being installed, and your only seconds between test fittings, your stress level will be kept to a minimum. However, if you’ve set up a cutting zone in the garage, or on the back deck, with the logic being to control the dust issue, but in doing so are incurring an extra 20 steps, having to open a door, or slide open a patio-glass panel on every trip back to the miter saw, this going back and forth is going to drive you batty. Four, to ease the installation, first install a baseboard molding (upside down) on the wall, tight up against the ceiling, following the perimeter of the room. The baseboard not only adds to the décor, but provides an effective nailing anchor for the crown. Good building. As published by the Standard-Freeholder