How To Install Molding

How to install molding, details on how to cut molding and the different types of molding that are popular in the market carpentry trade today. Molding unites floors, ceilings, and walls and gives doorways and win­dows a decorative highlight.

How To Install Molding

How To Install Molding 


Molding also hides the ragged junctions of a wall with the floor and the ceiling. Installing molding to finish a room can be a simple job if you master the art of making various kinds of simple miter cuts to assure a tight fit.

For general use. you will find softwood molding in a great variety of shapes. as well as oak baseboard molding to match oak floors. To trim paneling, you can purchase molding with a finish that matches the pan­eling. 

Molding is designed for spe­cific locations and uses: Baseboard molding and base shoe molding are used in conjunction to trim a wall at the floor: cove molding is used along the wall at the ceiling: casing is used around doors and windows: cap molding is used to cap wainscoting; and corner molding for both inside and outside corners hides seams and softens corners.

Molding is available in standard lengths from 6 to 14 feet in 2-foot increments. Try to get lengths that will span walls from corner to corner, but if a wall is too long, you can splice pieces together. 

When meas­uring for a job remember to take into account the extra few inches you may need for mitering to meet an adjoining piece at a corner. To cut miters in molding you need a good miter box and a saw with enough teeth per inch to make fine cuts with­out splintering the molding.

This is just the beginning on how to install molding.Putting on the molding is usually the last job in building or renovating a room. It is ordinarily painted, or fin­ished in some other way, with a differ­ent color than the walls. This should be done and the walls should be painted before the molding is attached. 

A common exception to this rule occurs when baseboard molding is painted the same color as the room and the base shoe is stained a different color. Then the baseboard is painted with the wall.


Molding is milled in dozens of differ­ent shapes, so check a lumber dealer with a large supply when you plan your job. Because techniques for milling molding are not perfectly standardized. it is better to buy all pieces from the same milling lot if you can. to avoid fractional differ­ences in size. Best of all. check the molding piece by piece when you can buy it from stock.

How To Install Molding: Cutting Miters

Using a miter box is quite simple. but you must take care to make the cuts in the right direction or you may be left with a piece too short to recut. For baseboard molding, mark the point at which it is to be cut at the top and put the molding in the miter box right side up with its back against the back of the box. 

When cutting an inside corner, set the saw guide so that the back of the molding (the wall side) will be longer than the front side: when cutting an outside corner. the saw should be set so that the front side will be longer than the back.

In basic carpentry we double check the orientation of the molding in the miter box and the position of the saw before cut­ting. To protect the face of the mold­ing from splintering, you can apply a piece of masking tape down the cut. 

Test fit the molding before attaching it. You can adjust the angle by shav­ing down any face that causes a gap in the joint—but do this cautiously because it shortens the molding.

The procedure for cutting cove mold­ing (for ceilings) is essentially the same as that for baseboard. except that the molding should be set in the box upside down, as shown so it can be seated firmly against the bottom and the back. As with baseboard, the wall side is the long side for inside corners, the short side for outside corners.

Butting Molding At Right Angles

When butting molding with a figured face at a right angle to other molding already in place, you must shape one piece to fit the contours of the other by making two cuts. First measure. mark. and cut the piece as if you were mitering it to fit into the corner.

Mark a second cutting line along the edge of the cut on the face and cut this, following the curves, with a cop­ing saw held vertically. The second cut shapes the piece to fit over the face of the molding it abuts.

Nailing Molding

Depending on the size of the mold­ing. use 6- or 8-penny finishing nails to attach baseboard. ceiling molding and casing: use 4-penny finishing nails for base shoe molding and drive them into the flooring. Nail into studs and top and bottom plates to assure that the molding won't pull away from the wall. Sink nail heads with a nail set and cover. Tighten corners with two 4-penny nails into the wall on either side as shown. one nail for base shoe molding.

Lapped joint for molding: If you must join pieces of molding along a wall, miter both pieces to make a smooth joint that can be tied together with a single nail as shown.

Trimming a window: Windows without sills can be framed like pictures with four pieces of cas­ing mitered at all corners. Windows with sills are trimmed on the sides and top with casing and on the bot­tom with a piece of window stool (the technical name for the sill) and an apron. Window jambs must be built out before molding can be attached, when a new surface has been put on a wall.

Base molding at doors: At doors where a baseboard butts against the door jamb but the base shoe protrudes. set it in position and mark it for beveling the end.

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