Crown Molding Made Easy

Hello, all! Well, I got a little lazy last week and decided to take the whole week off. It was a spontaneous decision, mostly brought about by Matt’s urging. But I have to admit, he didn’t have to twist my arm very hard to get me to take a week off.  🙂 And I actually did take eight days (from Friday to Friday) away from house-related projects. I finally picked up my tools and got started again this past Saturday.

I’m still making slow but steady progress on my music room, and I’m just about done with all of the wood filling and sanding on the bookcases and ceiling. But I also did the job that I was dreading the most — installing crown molding.

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I’ve been dreading it and putting it off for quite some time now, and finally had to get it done. And I was so surprised at how easy it was this time!! This was only my second time to use my Kreg Crown Pro*, and things went so smoothly that I got all of my cuts right on the first try, and I got all of the crown molding installed by myself in about an hour (not including caulking, of course). In case you’ve never seen a Kreg Crown Pro, here’s what it looks like…

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It’s very simple, and holds the crown molding at just the right angle so that you can cut it with your miter saw. It has a dial on the back side where you set your spring angle (the angle at which the crown molding projects off of the wall). The most common spring angles are 38-degrees, 45-degrees, and 52-degrees, with 38-degrees being the most common. If you don’t know the spring angle of your crown molding, the Kreg Crown Pro comes with an angle finder to help you determine the spring angle. Once you have the spring angle set on the Kreg Crown Pro, you’re ready to go!

The only other information you need (besides the length of the wall where you want to add crown molding) is the type of corner that you need to cut. You have to first determine whether it’s an outside or inside corner, and then whether it’s a left piece or a right piece. You can see all four corner pieces in this one area of my bathroom.

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Once you’ve determined which corner you need, it’s just a matter of setting your saw correctly, and making sure that your crown molding is being fed from the right direction. It’s also important to note that the crown molding sits in the Kreg Crown Pro with the face of the crown molding visible, but it needs to sit upside down. So the bottom edge of the crown molding is actually pointing up.

Here are the settings for the four different corners:

Left Inside Corner:

For a left inside corner, the saw angles to the right at a 45-degree angle, and the jig and crown molding sit to the right of the blade.

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Left Outside Corner:

For a left outside corner, the saw is angled to the left at 45-degrees, and the jig and crown molding sit to the right of the blade.

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Right Inside Corner:

For a right inside corner, the saw angles to the left at 45-degrees, and the jig and crown molding sit to the left of the blade.

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Right Outside Corner:

For a right outside corner, the saw angles to the right at a 45-degree angle, and the jig and crown molding sit to the left of the blade.

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The Kreg Crown Pro* actually has diagrams on the front that shows all of the positions, but the more you use the jig, and the more the crown molding rubs against those stickers, the harder they become to see. I suggest taking pictures like mine above and labeling them, and actually putting them in a very visible and handy spot in your garage or workshop (close to your miter saw) for an easy reference.

This method also makes it very easy to cut the crown to the accurate length. You measure the length of your wall from corner to corner, and then transfer that measurement to the crown molding. And since it’s the bottom edge of the crown molding that sits against the wall, and the crown molding sits in the jig upside down, your pencil marks are easily visible so that you can accurately line up your laser guide with your pencil mark.

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Just remember when you’re marking your measurements on the crown molding that any outside corners (as shown in the picture above) require a few extra inches past the measurement mark. That’s important to keep in mind when you’re buying your crown molding also. Just to be on the safe side, when I’m purchasing crown molding (and cutting the amount I need in the store), I allow about four or five extra inches for any outside corners.

My corners are never perfect, but I’ve found that caulk fills in those imperfections perfectly.

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The reason my corners are never perfect is because I cut all of my crown molding at 45-degree angles, but the corners of my rooms are seldom (or never) perfectly 90 degrees. Most of the time, the corners are just over or just under 90 degrees.

If you’re more of a perfectionist than I am, and can’t bear the thought of fixing gaps with caulk like I do, you can use the angle finder that comes with the Kreg Crown Pro to find the exact angle of your walls, and then set your miter saw to exactly half of that measurement. So if your corner is actually 88 degrees rather than 90 degrees, you would set your miter saw to 44 degrees instead of 45 degrees to cut both pieces for that corner. And of course, if you have any non-standard corners in your home (e.g., around bay windows), you would need to use the angle finder for those areas as well.

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It’s getting there! 🙂

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  1. I am so happy that you took time off to spend with your hubby and family. You needed this! The music room is really changing from that square box. I am excited to see it painted! Happy Holidays!

  2. So glad you took some time for you and Marr. The room looks like it is really coming along and I am so excited to learn of the Kreg tool,. Have a beautiful productive blessed week 🙂

  3. It’s nice to have you back. I am loving your ceiling! The crown molding will give the room a completed look. Great work!

  4. We missed you last week Kristi….but you deserved that break and time with Matt…..then how quickly you pick up working on your music room, is amazing. The crown molding looks really great and it certainly ‘finishes’ the look.
    Can’t wait to see further progress. It’s really coming together now!!! Great job.

  5. Well done Kristi! It’s always nice to get an arduous task out of the way and hopefully now you have some more fun parts of your renovating to do.

  6. So proud of you. My husband and I need the Kreg crown molding jig. We worked over half a day trying to put crown molding on a wall shelf we built. You should have heard the silly laughter after we used up a whole piece of crown molding cutting it in wrong directions. We could never get the compound miter right, so we finally ended up with a simple, flat mitered crown molding.

  7. I bought a miter saw on Black Friday and also threw the Kreg Crown Pro in the basket as an afterthought since it was sitting next to the saws. Nice surprise to see your post and now I want to get started. Haven’t so much as cut a piece of trim in my life, nor used any kind of saw. You seriously do not know how much you inspire people like me. Your blog makes it seem like with a little determination we can make our homes unique and beautiful. I would never dream of paying a carpenter to install crown, too many other projects that are needed in this old home. So if this doesn’t work, worst case is I’ll have a cool (cheap) saw sitting in the garage!

  8. Kristi, I am so proud of you!!! That ceiling looks so beautiful! So very creative, classy, artsy, wow!! While I did miss reading your blog this week as well, I am always glad when you are take days off working on the house whenever you feel the need. God bless you and Matt during the holidays!!!

  9. The music room is looking great! Thanks so much for the detailed instructions on using the Kreg tool for crown moulding. I want to buy one soon and this will be so helpful. Will you tell me what the width of the crown moulding is and the piece you put on the ceiling? I love that extra ceiling piece and your getting the size figured out already would be very helpful.

  10. Awesome post! I’m in the middle of a extensive reno — but when it comes time for mouldings I’ll have these tutorials for instruction.
    Many thanks.

  11. Love how your music room is coming along! I’m glad you took some time off, everyone needs to relax a bit!

    After seeing the mess that my dad and I made of some mitered chair rail, a carpenter told me his trick………….the first piece of the molding he took all the way into the corner(no miter is cut, just a flat cut so the molding sits in the corner)……..the second piece of molding is then miter cut. I seem to remember that he said you had to “shave away” a bit of molding in the backside of the second piece so that it fit snugly.

    I have no idea if this would work for crown molding or not. I have never tried it.

    1. You’re correct Jane. The inside corner cuts on any molding (crown, baseboard, shoe, etc.) use a straight cut to the wall as the first piece. The second piece of molding that butts up against the straight cut uses the regular inside cut method Kristy described but you cope out the “profile” of the molding. It’s very simple and easy to do with a small coping saw on either composite moldings or solid wood like pine or oak. The benefits of one straight piece and one coped piece is a tighter and gap free joint regardless if your inside corners are exactly 90 degrees. In addition, the inside joint is less impacted as your wood or composite molding expands and contracts over time because you can now nail the 2nd inside corner piece directly into the first piece with the straight edge that butts up against the wall. This makes a stronger corner joint and prevents the pieces from pulling apart. If you cut both inside corner pieces of crown using a compound miter cut, then you will most likely end up with your caulked or puttied corner cracking or pulling away over time – particularly if you have extreme hot/humid summer weather that goes to cold dry winter weather. A good flexible caulk can help eliminate some of this vs using wood putty or spackle in the corner.

    2. The method you describe is the one that most (probably all) contractors use to install crown molding. It requires a coping saw and lots of practice. This Kreg Crown Pro jig is made for DIYers in an effort to reduce the frustration and intimidation that so many people feel when trying to figure out how to cut crown molding. You’d probably never catch a contractor using a Kreg Crown Pro. 🙂 I will say that even though I miter all of my corners and then caulk them, I’ve never had any of the joints separate with the expansion and contraction of the wood. I think if you use a quality latex caulk that stays really flexible, that’s less of an issue.

      1. Yes, I’m pretty sure all carpenters cope their inside corner joints for all types of molding installation. As for the amount of practice required, it’s actually very easy and DIY’ers can still use their Kreg gig since you still need it for the 2nd cut if you can’t remember or visualize the cuts and positioning. I actually learned about the method on tv watching Norm Abrams on This Old House years ago. I immediately went out and got a coping saw – I’m pretty sure it was less than $10. At the time I was installing pre-primed pine baseboard molding in my dining room and found it to be very easy to do with pretty much no learning curve. I then tried it out on pre-primed composite crown and that was even easier since it’s softer and takes less time to cut. I also smooth out the edges with sand paper on most moldings or those with more intricate profiles (Norm didn’t do this on tv) to get perfect joints where I almost don’t need any caulk as it meets up perfectly and paint would be sufficient (I still do a fine bead of caulk and wipe with wet finger!). I’d have to say this method has saved me $ and time over the years of not having to excessively caulk corner joints (1952 house) and it’s one less compound miter cut to make or figure out for every inside corner in a room or project (a life saver when I did my coffered ceilings!!!!). To this day, all my earlier work pre-coping irks me to no end, but I just don’t have the time or energy to re-do it. I think it’s a great trick for DIY’ers to learn as most of us are working with older homes, imperfect corners, or for those that do a lot of molding work.

  12. Thanks for the tutorial Kristi. Now I will have to try to use my miter saw. What kind of caulk do you use? Latex? Would silicone be too squishy?

    1. On trim and molding, I use Dap Alex Fast Dry caulk exclusively. It’s a latex caulk. I wouldn’t ever use silicone on something like trim simply because it requires mineral spirit cleanup, and it’s just much harder to work with. I prefer latex caulk whenever I can use it because it’s so easy to use and easy to cleanup with water.

      1. Thanks Kristi. That’s interesting. Would you even use latex around a bathtub instead of silicone just for the reasons you listed (easier to work with and clean) or just for trim and related stuff like that?

        1. When it comes to areas that are outside or around water, I do honestly prefer silicone, but I hate, hate, HATE working with it. The good news is that there are some really great latex caulks made for kitchens and bathrooms these days. You just have to be VERY sure to get one that is actually labeled for use around tubs and sinks. So the Alex Fast Dry that I use (that’s labeled for trim and molding) wouldn’t be appropriate for use around tubs and sinks.

  13. Kristi, glad you’re back! The music room is going to be beautiful! I can’t wait to see the walls! Enjoy this time of year!

  14. I love that table, UNDER the mitre saw. I’m just almost positive you painted it, or fabricated it, in some way… Do you have a link to it? Argyle makes me squeeeee with delight!

  15. Thank you SO so much for sharing your tips. I was able to track down a Kreg crown pro locally for my husband for Christmas. Yes even here in St. John’s Newfoundland (an island) Canada. He’s going to love it! I got him to read your post. He said it’s the best explanation he’s read and he immediately wanted one! 😀 It’ll make it SO much easier for him to put it in our bathroom and bedroom. LOVE the bead board ceiling by the way. Those were often used in homes here years ago and ppl hauled them out and put up tile. Then they went stucco. Now the trend is plain. Personally I love the wood. I like that it’s an added layer of insulation in an older home!

  16. So much good information on your blog! Am so thankful I’ve found it. You really explain things enough to where I might dare to try some of this!