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Installing Wall Molding

 Me and my fabulous hubby tackled our first ever molding project, and learned there is a definite RIGHT and WRONG way to install molding! This post may get a little technical, but we wanted to pass along everything we learned from our experience to you.

With our newly finished stair half walls up, and our living room already a construction zone, it was the perfect opportunity to jump into another serious upgrade for this room. Our vaulted ceilings paired with too dark walls have always bugged me (more about my tan on tan on tan mistake here). The dark brown two story walls pretty much hit you over the head when you enter this room. I needed a design solution that would make the walls seem less imposing, and less matchy matchy with my couch and floor.

I was watching Design Star Season 6 when I saw this from finalist Karl Sonholtz and I literally spazzed out.

I love everything about this room!! But the best part was the white molding with a lighter color below and darker color above. I was like, ahhh, I am so copying this in my room :).

We painted the lower half of the walls Brown Bread by Behr. We left the rest of the wall the original brown color (a custom no name shade). The change was immediate, so much more light in here!

Then it was time to figure out the molding part. Here's how we did it.

Step 1. Buy Enough Molding
There's a lot of freedom when choosing molding. Turns out it doesn't have to be flat just because it's going on the middle of the wall. We chose a 2 1/2 in. wide molding with an angle to it for $0.61 a foot. We spent about $50 for all of it.

Molding usually comes in 17 ft. lengths. We calculated how many boards we needed based on the most whole pieces, not just by the footage. Why? Because we didn't want to end up on the last wall with a bunch of small leftover pieces. You want the longest boards possible on the wall, even if that means buying extra footage. (Home Depot told me they will refund any unused pieces.) We had to buy ours in 10 ft. sections, so it would fit in our car, lol.

Step 2. Decide on the height.
I decided on 8 feet for our height. It was pretty arbitrary. I marked the height with blue tape all around the room just to be sure I liked it. There are a lot of different ceiling lines in this room, and it turns out that 8 feet was the perfect height to just clear all of them (no fussing with making lengthwise cuts in the molding).

Step 3. Mark the height.
Measure 8 feet (or however high) from the floor and mark with a pencil. Using a level, continue marking the line in pencil all the way around the space.
My smart husband thought to mark an inch above 8 ft. so we could paint right up to the line from above and below and place molding over top without having to do any cutting in with the paint. Nice, Baby :).

Step 4. Seek Out Studs
Using a stud finder (wish I had one of those in my single days :), mark each stud in pencil several inches above the molding line (you don't want the molding to cover the marks). Studs are generally placed every 16 inches on center, and are 1 1/2 in. thick. Turn on the stud finder and drag it across the wall until it indicates an edge. Mark this spot. Then drag the stud finder from the opposite direction until it indicates the other edge and mark it. You want to nail the molding into the studs whenever possible.

Step 5. Like Dad Said, Measure Twice, Cut Once
 Measure the first wall. If you need to cut the molding, figure on cutting it 1/16th of an inch shorter than the wall to allow for wiggle room. We bought a Stanley 20-112 Clamping Mitre Box for the cutting. They cost about $15, including the saw. When putting molding on the end of a wall, that edge should be flat.

To add boards in a corner, make 45 degree cuts in both boards, one slanting to the left, one to the right.
 When joining two boards in the middle of a wall, cut both boards with 45 degree angles slanting to the left, like so.

Step 6. On the Level
 I held the molding while Jason used the level and gave directions like, "up a little, down a little..." until the board was perfectly level. Then he nailed in every 10 in. or so, making sure to hit studs along the way. A note on Nails: they must be long enough to go through the molding and the drywall, into the studs.  Check out the thickness of your molding and add 1/2 in. for drywall. The finish nails must be longer than that. On our first attempt we used 1 1/2 in. finish nails, but they didn't make it through to the stud. We had to make another trip to the store to pick up 1 3/4 in. nails.
Don't hammer the nails all the way into the molding, that's what the nail set is for.

Step 7. It's Baby Hammer Time!
Or as it's actually called, a Nail Set, to drive the nails just below the surface of the molding for a smooth finish.

Step 8. Seal and Spack
Caulking will hide any gaps between the molding and the walls. Pipe a bead on the lower edge, seams, and corners. Smooth it out with a finger, then wipe with a wet rag to remove excess caulking. Caulking the top edge is optional. Since ours can be seen from the 2nd story, we needed to it as well.

Apply spackle over nail holes, and smooth with a finger.

Step 9. Sand and Wipe
Once spackle and caulking is dry, go over any rough spots with 120 grit sand paper and wipe off the dust with a rag. This will make for super smooth painting later on!

 We decided not to pre paint the molding, and good thing too, because it got full of smudges and caulking residue along the way.

Now we are the proud owner of gorgeous molding in the living room!

Now comes the very glamorous part of painting, painting, and more painting to touch up every surface. Bleh. Well, what do you think so far? Have you had experiences with tall walls? Any other creative solutions you've come up with?

<3 Alyssa

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