Picture frame moulding has been a hot design trend for a number of years and shows no signs of slowing down. So if you’re thinking about jazzing up your walls with some simple moulding, you’ve come to the right place.
Post One (posted new last Fall) offers tips for designing a layout. And Post Two (new today) walks through cutting and installing the moulding.
How to Cut and Install Picture Frame Moulding
This post contains affiliate links. See full disclosure for details.
In the Beginning
When I first started learning about woodwork for the walls, I went super easy. And by super-easy, I mean there were no miters and no nails. I’m serious! One of my first projects was adding a simple board and batten to the kitchen nook. The pieces of wood are made of really thin pine and were easily cut using a hand saw and miter box. But the most amazing thing is that the entire moulding was assembled and installed using only wood glue. I know! Right?
See? This is proof positive that you don’t have to be an expert woodworker to add some pizzazz to boring walls. If you’d like to see the entire breakdown of this super-easy-cuz-I-glued-it project, please click here.
Then Came the Dining Room
After this success, I had the confidence to tackle the dining room. Now, I will tell you that I did mess around with cutting and installing the picture frame moulding on the lower wall in the dining room before I did the kitchen. The frames turned out ok, but I knew that when I got serious about installing the top part of the moulding in the dining room, I’d not tackle it without an electric miter saw.
Why? Because the moulding is significantly thicker and because I was planning to do several rooms.
Post Number ONE
How to Design Picture Frame Moulding
The first post I wrote goes through the design process. It talks about how to create a grid on your walls and determine the best layout for the moulding. Click here for the first post.
Post Number TWO (you are here)
How to Cut and Install Picture Frame Moulding
Now that you’ve read through how to design the frames for your wall, let’s talk about cutting and installing the wood.
Cut the Moulding
The first step is to measure and cut the wood. And note, since this is Woodworking 101, the only miter cut used for any of the moulding frames shown here is a 45-degree.
To this, please also note:
The length of each piece of moulding is measured along the outside edge from corner to corner.
The flatter part of the moulding goes on the inside part of the frame.
This means that for each piece of moulding, the 45-degree angle is cut in opposite directions on each end. To make sure I lay the moulding in the saw correctly, I mark the angle direction on each end of the moulding with a pencil. Once you cut a few angles and get the hang of it, this may not be necessary.
Once the angle is cut, gently sand any rough edges or splinters, but do not sand so much that it shortens the length or alters the 45 angle.
For this DIY, there are basically two ways to install the moulding.
Option One ~ Assemble the frame, then attach the frame to the wall.
One way is to assemble a picture frame and then attach the frame to the wall. I tried this for the smaller frames below the chair rail and it worked OK. The key is to make sure the walls are super-flat and plumb because the frame is not going to flex and meet the wall.
How to Assemble the Frame
To assemble the frame, simply lay the pieces together on a flat surface, glue the four corners of the frame with construction adhesive and add a finishing nail. Once the adhesive is completely dry, attach the frames to the wall using finishing nails, caulk all the way around (inside and outside the frame), and then paint the frame the color of the wall.
But I will tell ya this. For the larger frames, I found hanging a preassembled frame extremely difficult. This is because my walls are not plumb……like not even close. 🙁 So I had to find the little flex in the moulding where I could and use wood putty and/or caulk where I couldn’t. And because of the lack of “plumbness,” I opted to assemble these frames on the wall.
Option Two ~ Assemble the frame on the wall.
Here’s a peek at frames assembled on the wall in the living room. And right off the bat, you’ll notice three things.
The wall and ceiling colors are the same as in the dining room and foyer.
The actual moulding used is the same.
The frames are different sizes from the dining room and foyer. But if you look back at the dining room posts, the frames that flank left and right in the photo below are almost the same size as the frames in the dining room. And the middle frame is almost the same size as some of the frames in the foyer.
OK. Maybe I’m being too mental, but cohesion is a big thing with me. And an open floor plan demands cohesion from the walls. So I did the best I could with the moulding design to incorporate the living room with the rest of the house.
And honestly, I had a heck of a time laying out this grid. The two walls are sort of 12-feet wide, but so out of plumb, it’d make your head spin. Then I had two pieces of vintage artwork that I really wanted to use. So I did the whole masking tape thing (remember in Post Number One) over and over….until I got the frames working for the artwork as well as cohesive with the other rooms.
How to Install Frames in Pieces
I always start frame assembly on the wall with the bottom horizontal. There’s no rule that the first piece installed should be at the bottom, but I find assembly much easier if I start with this piece.
Once the moulding is cut to size, including the 45 angles, go to the wall.
Step One ~ Find the center.
For the long horizontal piece, first find the center of the wall frame AND the center of the moulding that has been cut to size. Mark each center with a pencil. This way, when you go to attach, the marks will line up at center and avoid a big “how-in-the-world-did-this-get-off-center” moment.
Step Two ~ Find level across the wall.
Next, hold a level against the wall and draw a horizontal line across the wall. NOTE: Always draw the line so that the outside edge of the moulding sits on the line.
Step Three ~ If working alone, add extra hands.
Here’s a trick I use for installing moulding all by myself. Hammer large nails just under the line so that the moulding can rest on the nails. And yes, once the nails are hammered….check level. Always double and triple check level.
Step Four ~ Attach the moulding.
Lay the moulding to rest on the nails and check level again. Yes, check level like your life depends on it because the eye cannot always be trusted. When the piece is centered and level, attach it to the walls using brads. Then remove the support nails and plug the small holes with caulk.
Step Five ~ Continue the same process vertically and around the room.
Once the first piece is attached, the rest is all about good measuring, cutting, and keeping level on the wall. But it’s easy because the process is the same for every piece. As you can see, I draw all over these primed walls. I’ve never had any trouble covering a carpenter’s pencil or a No. 2 pencil with paint, so go for it.
And that’s all there is to it. Simple tools and a simple process. But WOW….what an impact.
If you’d like to come back to this post, please…
Tools and products used for these posts (affiliate links):
- Hand saw with miter box ~ Stanley 20-600 Clamping Mitre Box with Saw
- Electric miter saw ~ RYOBI TSS102L Sliding Miter Saw with Laser 15-Amp 10 in.
- Hand level (similar) ~ Stanley 42-324 24-Inch I-Beam 180 Level
- Masking tape (similar) ~ It comes in different widths. For better accuracy, suggest to use tape the width of your moulding. ~ Scotch Masking Tape for General Painting
- Construction adhesive ~ No odor! No kidding! ~ Gorilla 8020001 Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive, 2.5 oz., White
- Construction glue ~ Elmer’s E7290 Carpenter’s Wood Glue Max, 4 Ounces
- Wood putty ~ Elmer’s E848D12 Carpenter’s Wood Filler 1/2-Pint
- Caulk cartridge ~ DAP 18275 Dynaflex 230 White Sealant, 10.1-Ounce Cartridge
- Caulk cradle (similar) ~ Newborn 930-GTD Drip-Free Smooth Hex Rod Cradle Caulking Gun with Gator Trigger Comfort Grip, 1/10 Gallon Cartridge, 10:1 Thrust Ratio
- Hammer (similar) ~ I didn’t buy an electric nailer #bigregret ~ Stanley 51-163 16-Ounce FatMax Xtreme AntiVibe Rip Claw Nailing Hammer
- Multi-tacker electric nailer ~ I’m looking at this product, but haven’t purchased it yet. ~ DEWALT 5-in-1 Multi-tacker and Brad Nailer
Posts related to the Living Room Makeover:
- Week 1 – The Plan (click here)
- Week 2 – You are here
- Week 3 – How to Make Faux Flowers Look Real (click here)
- Week 4 – How to Save a Bundle Using Remnants (click here)
- Week 5 – DIY Slipcover Basics (click here)
- Week 6 – Living Room Reveal (click here)
- Serpentine Chest Makeover (click here)
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Thanks so much for stopping by! I do hope you’ll continue to follow the progress of my little room.