Moulding Installation Guide

What tools do I need to install moulding?

  • Miter Box, Miter Saw or Compound Miter Saw
  • Finishing Nails, Nail Set, and a Hammer or Brad Nailer
  • Tape Measure
  • Framing Square
  • Protractor
  • Pen and Paper
  • Utility Knife
  • Wood Glue or Filler
  • Ladder
  • Safety Glasses
  • Level
  • Clamps

How much moulding do I need?
To determine the amount of moulding needed for your project, follow these easy steps:
1.  Draw a floor plan of your room.
2. Measure each wall and note on your plan.
3. Also on your floor plan, note the placement and size of any doors, windows or openings in the room.
4. Add all the lengths together to get the amount of moulding you need to purchase. Add 15% more for cutting mistakes and waste.
What type of moulding do I need?
For windows and doors you can use casing, for ceilings use crown, for floors use base, and for walls use chair rail or panel mould. You can choose from a wide variety of options to suit any style and every budget. For more tips, read about how to Add Character to Your Home with Moulding.
What are the basic cuts for moulding?
The most basic cut for moulding is a miter cut. Most moulding is installed with miter joints that form a 90-degree angle. The first piece of moulding is cut at a 45-degree angle, the second piece is also cut at a 45-degree angle forming a tight 90-degree angle. In vertical applications (typically casing) the angles are cut on the face of the moulding. In horizontal applications (typically base, crown and chair rail) the angles are cut against the face of the moulding.
What is coping?
A cope is an inside corner where one piece of the moulding is cut square and butts tight into the corner. The opposite side is first cut like an inside miter. Then using a coping saw remove the material from the moulding leaving the profile. The cope joint will then fit over the square cut moulding on the wall. Coping can be a time consuming process but easily accommodates corners that not 90-degrees and is very resistant to shrinkage.
How do I end moulding without a corner?
If you need to end moulding without turning a corner or running into a wall, you will need to create a return. Cut the moulding to length finishing the piece with a miter angle. A return can be created by taking a scrap piece of moulding and cutting a miter on the end of the scrap piece. Then cut straight down from the face of the moulding. Attach the piece with wood glue and secure the piece until the glue dries with tape.
How do I handle long walls?
Sometimes it is necessary to span longer lengths than what is available in your local store, when this happens you will have to splice two lengths of moulding together. This type of joint is called a scarf/splice joint. A scarf/splice joint will allow one piece to overlap the other section of moulding creating a longer piece of moulding. The scarf/splice joint creates a vertical seam in the finished installation. It is recommended that you place the scarf/splice seam over a wall stud for additional strength.
How do I install moulding?
Install moulding piece by piece working around the room, installing the largest piece first. Avoid nailing within two to three inches of the end to avoid splitting. Some hardwood moulding will require pre-drilling before nailing. If you are hand nailing, be sure to use a nail set to sink the nail heads slightly below the face of the moulding.
Handy Tips:

  • Using a compound miter saw and pneumatic nail gun will not only make the installation process easier, it will also speed up the time required for installation.
  • To fix slight gaps, fill the gaps with wood glue and rub the gap with the side of a utility knife. This will crush the wood fibers to fill the gap.
  • If you are right handed, it is easier to install moulding counter-clockwise. This way you can support the moulding with you unfavored hand and drive fasteners with your dominant hand.