Installing Crown Molding in Your Bath

Take Your Decor to the Next Level

Crown molding in our bathrooms? And why not, we have molding around our doors, windows and floors, so why then do so many homeowners hesitate to put crown molding on their bath ceilings. Perhaps it’s because they think that you have to be a master carpenter to install crown molding in their bathing facility.

Contrary to that belief, you don’t have to be a master of all things wood. What you do have to know is the trade secret of how to actually cut your crown molding to add classic charm and finesse to your bath ceiling. One of the first things that you must realize is that while molding on your doors and windows is flat, crown molding on your ceiling actually bridges the gap between your wall and ceiling at a 45-degree angle.

This means that the angled edges of your crown molding that butts up against your wall and ceiling are actually at 90-degree angles to each other, so the back of the molding doesn’t even touch the wall; only the angled edges touch the wall and ceiling creating a hollow spot behind the molding.

Overcoming Obstacles

The most complicated thing about installing crown molding in your bathroom is cutting the joints. This is mainly due to the fact that your ceiling molding is installed at an angle; therefore it can’t be cut lying flat in a conventional miter box.

When you purchase this type of trim work, make sure it is perfectly straight with no bends or twist as this makes it very difficult to install. The best grade of molding is called stain grade because it doesn’t have any knots or defects in the wood and is suitable for clear finishing.

You can even get molding that is already primed and painted, so you don’t have to. Another important thing to do is let the molding sit for a day or so at room temperature so the wood can adjust to the humidity in your home. It’s best to prime and seal the wood with a coat of paint so that less work will be involved after you install it on your ceiling.

Create Professional Looking Trim

You can actually determine how far out from the wall and ceiling your trim work will fall by placing the molding inside a framing square to find its measurement. You then mark the distance on the ceiling along several points along the length of your bathroom wall to maintain a straight line when installing your crown molding.

As a special note, if your bathroom wall runs parallel to the ceiling joist, you can’t use the framing members to nail the molding to the ceiling. In that case attach some triangular nailing blocks so you can use as a base to attach to the wall studs. Just try to leave at least a quarter of an inch space between the crown molding and the block to give you some play.

Using a miter saw, an easy way to cut crown molding is to turn it upside down and backward, exactly the way it would hang on your bath wall. This way you can easily butt it up against the saw plate and backing (fence) to make an accurate cut. Set the molding in the fence, making sure the top bevel is flat with the bottom of the saw table.

Adjusting the Saw to Create the Right Angles

When making the inside cut for a cope cut, adjust the saw to cut the molding at a 45 degree angle. Basically, an inside corner requires two different types of cuts. First is a butt cut (or square cut) and second is an inside miter cut. For the corner when you have two square cuts, the two pieces of molding don’t fit properly. So what has to be done is you have to create a coping cut, so the joint fits nicely together, and this is done with a flexible handheld coping saw.

In order for the two pieces of molding to fit in the inside corner, you have to remove the wood at the back of the leading edge of one piece of the molding corner, this is called a cope cut. To better follow the edge of the molding when you undercut it, you should darken the edge with a pencil so the edge will be easier to see. Then take your coping saw, cut under and along the edge to remove the excess wood at the back of the molding’s edge.

Using the Proper Tools to Help You Make the Cut

The great thing about a coping saw is because it is so thin; it can easily bend to cut along the curved bevel edges of the crown molding. Once this is done smooth the edges with sanding paper for a smoother fit.

Now its time to install the crown molding in your bathroom; its best to start with the wall opposite your bath door. Begin by cutting the crown molding to length with square cuts on both ends of the first piece. Holding the molding in place, nail it to the wall studs and ceiling joist. When you get to the corner, one piece of molding will be cut square, and you need to cope cut the other piece for a good fit.

As mentioned above start with an inside miter cut. Just remember that if the cope is on the left end of the crown molding piece, then the cut will be on the right. A good common practice is to test the cut against a scrap piece of molding to fine tune the edge. Once you have mastered that, continue along your bath walls. Make square cuts on one end of your crown molding and coped cuts on the other end.

Reducing Signs of Splicing

To finish up, cope both ends of the last piece. As a final note, when creating outside miter cuts, you are primarily doing the opposite. The molding is still held in the miter saw upside down and backwards, the only difference is that the cut is angled in the opposite direction than above.

To minimize and reduce the signs of splicing your molding pieces together, decorative boxes can be put over the places where adjoining pieces of molding come together. Such places like at the inside and outside of corners (because few rooms are totally square) and midway along long stretches of washroom wall where you have no choice but to splice two pieces of molding together.

If you don’t want to use decorative boxes to hide the joints, you can add small drops of wood glue or wood filler in the cracks, when it is dry sand or file the excess down and paint over to hide the joint.


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