Trim Shortcuts for DIY’ers
Molding and trim often provide the details that give a home its character and distinction.
By Matt Weber
New installations and upgrades have become favorite projects for do-it-yourselfers who want to put a personal stamp on the interior décor. Here are a few handy tips to help simplify the job and ensure home-improvement success.
Make Crown Corner Templates. Crown molding can dramatically impact the décor of a room. Cutting crown molding can be a brain-bender, however, even for construction pros. The traditional method involves cutting the molding strips “upside-down and backward” on a miter saw, where the saw’s base represents the house ceiling and the saw’s fence represents the wall. Anyone can get confused when thinking backward while trying to keep the cuts straight. To help visualize the cuts you need, make corner templates of the crown molding. Make templates for right-hand and left-hand cuts for both inside and outside miters, and label them clearly. Then, before cutting a molding strip, check the blade orientation of the miter saw to make sure you’re going to produce the right angle.
Use Mitered Returns at Pinch Points. Sometimes the design of the house leaves no room to complete a straight run of molding. This is a common problem above arched windows and doors. The arch might be so close to the ceiling that it would physically interfere with the molding, or maybe just give it a cramped, unsightly appearance. To give the crown molding some visual “breathing room,” the solution is to end the surrounding runs with 45-degree inside miters located at an aesthetically pleasing distance from the obstacle. Then, cut a 45-degree corner strip for each and clip it square just short enough to complete the 90-degree turn so it terminates into the wall. These mitered returns give the end of the molding strips a sleek, finished appearance.
Fasten Securely. Do it right so you don’t do it twice. For outside corners on crown and base molding, help the miters stay closed by applying a bead of wood glue to the joint and securing the pieces together with finish nails. You can then smooth the seam by running the rounded edge of a nail set over it to press the fibers closed. For thick, heavy moldings or problem gaps, drill pilot holes at the top and bottom of the joint, and drive 4d finish nails perpendicular through one molding into the end of the other.
Use Corner Blocks. Miter cuts require very precise cuts and careful installation. And, even when they’re successfully joined, they can open over time as humidity affects the building materials. Square, 90-degree cuts (whenever possible) are easier to measure, make and fasten, and they tend to conceal the gaps created from contraction a little better than angled miters. For this reason, consider using square corner blocks to butt against square-cut lengths of casing around doors and windows.