Frequently Asked Questions: Moulding

1. How much moulding do I need?
2. Which profiles do I need?
3. How do I mitre a moulding?
4. How do I do a return?
5. How do I splice a moulding?
6. Do I need to climatize my mouldings? 7. How do I install a moulding?
8. At what height is chair rail moulding normally installed?
9. What are crown mouldings?
10. How to cut a crown?
11. How to splice a crown?
12. How to cope a crown? 13. How do I apply filler?
14. How do I sand mouldings?
15. When do I apply paint or stain?

1. How much moulding do I need?

Take careful measurements of walls, windows, etc. and round up to the nearest foot. Then add an additional 10% extra for cutting and waste.

2. Which profiles do I need?

For windows and doors use casing, for ceilings use crowns, for floor use baseboards, and for walls use chair rails, panel moulds, etc.

3. How do I mitre a moulding?

Most moulding mitre joints are at a 90 angle and consist of 2 pieces of moulding cut at opposing 45 angles. When fitted together they should form a tight right angle. For tight mitre joints, nail and glue at the joint.

4. How do I do a return?

A return is where the profile of a moulding is carried from the front of the profile around to the wall to give the ends an appealing and finished look. This is commonly done on door and window headers, chair rails, mantels, and handrails. To do a return, measure the overall width of the header etc., then cut both outside edges at 45 angles back toward the header. Then cut your return pieces at opposite 45 and then trim them to the correct thickness to return to the wall. Glue this piece in behind your header to create a pattern that flows from the face of the moulding around to the wall. Note on many patterns, such as chair rails, this piece will be quite small, so use care when cutting.

5. How do I splice a moulding?

To span longer lengths, you may have to splice mouldings. Mitre the joining ends at 45 angles from front to back. One member will overlap the other in a scarf joint, creating a vertical face seam in the finished installation. It is advisable to join moulding pieces over a wall stud for additional strength.

6. Do I need to climatize my mouldings?

It is advisable that you "climatize" you mouldings prior to installation. Mouldings that are made of natural materials including MDF and other manufactured products can absorb moisture from many sources, such as a damp garage floor. The result of this can be that your mouldings can shrink after installation, leaving gaps that need to be dealt with. A good solution to this is to "climatize" your mouldings by stacking them in the room environment which they are going to be installed for at least 48 hours prior to installation. Ideally the mouldings should be separated to allow air to circulate.

7. How do I install a moulding?

Install the moulding piece by piece, working your way around the room, leaving the nail heads exposed to allow for any repositioning. Avoid nailing the last 2 to 3 inches of each piece to avoid splitting. In some cases you may need to predrill your moulding before installation. Nail in the curved or coved part of the moulding to better hide the nail holes. Nail mouldings into wood studs or jambs. When nailing by hand, any good quality finishing nail properly countersunk will work well.

8. At what height is chair rail moulding normally installed?

Chair rail moulding is normally installed at 42" from the floor.

9. What are crown mouldings?

Crowns usually run along the wall at the ceiling, softening the transition from wall to ceiling while adding a distinctive look and charm to most rooms. Crowns bridge the corners by sitting flat against both the wall and ceiling at the same time. Crowns are available in a wide range of profiles and sizes. They can be combined with other profiles such as baseboards to create the look of custom millwork without the cost. Crowns may also be used in the mantel and wall trim build-ups.

10. How to cut a crown?

As described, crowns do not lie flush against the wall. Cutting correct 45 mitres is critical. Clamp two blocks of wood to the mitre box to hold the moulding in place at the angle at which it will be installed. Once blocks are in place, insert moulding prior to cutting, face out and upside down. Then cut your 45 angle with a fine tooth saw. To flat cut crown mouldings with a compound saw refer to the owner's manual that came with your saw.

11. How to splice a crown?

To span longer lengths, you may have to splice your crowns. Set your mouldings in a mitre box or compound mitre saw, as described in question 9. Mitre the joining ends at 45 angles from front to back. One piece will overlap the other in a scarf joint, creating a vertical face seam in the finished installation.

12. How to cope a crown?

Trim the moulding in a mitre box at a 45 angle. The exposed profile serves as a guideline for the coping saw. To establish a cutting line, highlight profile shape by marking along front edge of profile with pencil. Cut along the line at a 45 angle. The adjoining piece of moulding is cut at a 90 angle and butts flush into the corner.

13. How do I apply filler?

To fill nail holes, repair scratches, dents and gouges, simply sand the affected area lightly with a fine or extra fine sandpaper using a sanding block. Always use non-shrink filler. A light weight Spackle or Shur-Patch is best. Follow the manufacturer's directions to achieve the best result. For stainable mouldings use filler that closely matches the wood colour. Once holes have been filled and allowed to dry, lightly sand these areas to remove any rough spots.

14. How do I sand mouldings?

Use a fine grit sanding sponge or at least a 220-grit sandpaper on a sanding block. Always be sure to sand with the grain of the wood. Coarser grits of sandpaper, or going against the grain will tend to leave fine gouges that may be visible through subsequent coats of paint. A very light pass over the nail area will suffice. If you have purchased natural finish mouldings, such as unfinished finger-joint pine, they will require priming before installation. A high quality primer is recommended. Touch sanding with fine grit (220 or higher) sandpaper between each coat is strongly recommended. This light sanding will ensure better bond between the coats, and also give a smoother finish.

15. When do I apply paint or stain?

Staining or painting the moulding before it is installed is recommended. Ensure all areas that have filler are dry and sanded before applying any paint. If you install the moulding and then finish it, protect the area around the moulding by masking it off with tape. Carefully remove the tape immediately after finishing to prevent its drying to the finish. Painting is recommended for moulding surfaces already coated with a primer. In most applications a semi-gloss coat for durability, washability and appearance is recommended. Please ensure that only higher quality paints with high solids content are used. We recommend two finish coats for top quality durability and appearance. Mouldings with a pronounced wood grain are better suited to stain or varnish to enhance the naturally occurring grain. Other mouldings such as hemlock can be stained to virtually any tint, but also provide a high quality surface for paint as well when primed.