Although adding crown molding is a relatively minor job that gives a room major impact, the dreaded miter joints scare off many DIYers. Miters are a challenge to measure, cut and install — even for professionals. But Style Solutions offers a way to get around the corners without miter cuts, and with perfect results. With advice from Club member Bruce Rosenthal of Roswell, Georgia, we’ll show how simple this molding is to install.
High-density urethane millwork has been available for a few decades and has boomed in popularity during the last 10 years. Like wood trim, it dresses up a room, comes in a variety of profiles and is durable, paintable and easy to cut and install. Unlike wood, it requires no sanding or priming, resists rot, decay and splintering and is lighter in weight. But the best part about the Miterless Crown Molding System is that it wraps around corners without miter joints.
Crown molding will add character to a plainJane modern house. And with all the design choices offered by Style Solutions, you can find one that complements the architectural style of an older home. In an old house, you’ll want to check the room’s corners with a small carpenter's square to be sure they are straight and at least close to square. (If they are not, the 90-degree miterless sections will not fit tightly around the corners.)
If you have ceilings with sprayed (popcorn) texture, it’s best — for aesthetic and installation considerations — to remove the textured surface. Although urethane is more forgiving than wood trim, the seam along the ceiling would be difficult to hide on a textured surface. (And the adhesive residue would be a mess to remove.) In any case, you’ll want to give the ceiling a fresh coat of paint before you give it a new crown.
You’ll need the same basic tools as for wood-molding installation: a tape measure, a saw (manual or power), a hammer and a nail countersink or a pneumatic nailer, coated finish nails or screws, polyurethane construction adhesive, caulk, sandpaper, a pencil and safety glasses.
Installation is straightforward: First, cover the inside and outside corners of the room with the 90-degree preformed corner sections ($18 each). Then add the matching divider blocks ($9 each) that act as transitions to lineal strips ($3.50 to $15 a linear foot), which fill the spaces between corners. All the joints are made with straight 90degree cuts. Simply butt the pieces together and touch up the joints with filler or caulk for a seamless look.
Begin by measuring each wall section; then sketch a floor plan to show placement of corners, divider blocks and strips. Take an inventory of the components you will need, and plan where the seams will fall in any wall section that is longer than the lineal molding strips. (The
strips come in 8, 12-or 16-ft. lengths, depending on the profile you choose.) As a decorative option, additional divider blocks can be inserted at shorter distances along the length of the wall.
Urethane components expand and contract with temperature changes. Do not store them in extreme heat, and be sure to acclimate the material to room temperature (which can take as long as 10 hours) before installation.
The Style Solutions system comes with a white finish, which can be left as is, or you can apply paint, stain or a faux finish without priming. For neater, faster results, the manufacturer recommends applying finish (choose oil or latex) before installing the trim. After the crown is in place, countersink and fill any holes. Then caulk joints and gaps along the wall and ceiling edges as needed, sand and touch up with paint.
Step 1: Begin with the corner sections, applying a bead of premium millwork polyurethane adhesive to the back surfaces. Press each piece snugly into the corner, checking that all edges fit well against the walls and ceiling.
Step 2: Secure the corners with a power nailer or a hammer and 4d or 6d finish nails driven into recessed areas of the molding. You don’t need to find studs; the adhesive does most of the work. Immediately wipe away any excess adhesive with a rag and follow with a damp sponge.
Step 3: Install all outside and inside corners, following the same procedure. Don’t worry about minor gaps along the top or bottom edges of the trim — you can fill them with caulk later.
Step 4: The divider blocks are next. Apply adhesive to the back and the side that will fit against the corner. Set the blocks tightly (one against each end of the corner units) and fasten. If you are dividing the wall into sections with blocks, split the space evenly and install the dividers where joints will be.
Step 5: Accurately measure the space between divider blocks to determine the length of each molding strip. For longer spans, add 1/8 in. to the measurement for every 5 ft. of length (1/4 in. for 10 ft.). This ensures that the pieces will remain tight in the event of contraction due to temperature changes.
Step 6: You can make the 90-degree cuts in the molding strips with any accurate saw, from a hacksaw to a compound miter saw, as long as it has a sharp, clean blade. The manufacturer recommends cutting into the back of the material first to prevent marring the face.
Step 7: Dry-fit each molding strip to check the cut. Apply adhesive to the ends of the strip and to the back areas that will touch the wall and ceiling. After driving nails or screws, be sure to immediately wipe away any excess adhesive.
Step 8: Remember that the longer strips have been given some extra length for a tight fit, so they will bow slightly until you apply fasteners. Attach the ends first and work toward the center, driving nails or screws every 16 in.