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How to Cut and Install Picture Frame Moulding

Picture frame moulding is easily designed and installed on walls | #pictureframemoulding #pictureframemolding #oneroomchallenge #orc #housebeautiful | www.thechelseaproject.com

Hello Friends,

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? 

These wall mouldings were easily added without using miters or nails | #pictureframemoulding #pictureframemolding #oneroomchallenge #orc #housebeautiful | www.thechelseaproject.com

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.

A set of three picture frame mouldings perfectly balance the wall area and artwork | #pictureframemoulding #pictureframemolding #oneroomchallenge #orc #housebeautiful | www.thechelseaproject.com

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:

  1. The length of each piece of moulding is measured along the outside edge from corner to corner.

  2. The flatter part of the moulding goes on the inside part of the frame.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Mitered corners are easy to cut using a hand saw/miter box combo or electric miter saw | #pictureframemoulding #pictureframemolding #oneroomchallenge #orc #housebeautiful | www.thechelseaproject.com

Installation Options

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. 

Picture frame moulding can be made into a frame and then attached to the wall | #pictureframemoulding #pictureframemolding #oneroomchallenge #orc #housebeautiful | www.thechelseaproject.com

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.

Picture fram mouldings are easily designed and installed with a few simple pointers | #pictureframemoulding #pictureframemolding #oneroomchallenge #orc #housebeautiful | www.thechelseaproject.com

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.

  1. The wall and ceiling colors are the same as in the dining room and foyer. 

  2. The actual moulding used is the same.

  3. 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.

Picture frame mouldings can be easily designed to fit any wall | #pictureframemoulding #pictureframemolding #oneroomchallenge #orc #housebeautiful | www.thechelseaproject.com

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.

Picture frame mouldings that are marked to match make the job easier and more accurate | #pictureframemoulding #pictureframemolding #oneroomchallenge #orc #housebeautiful | www.thechelseaproject.com

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. 

Picture frame mouldings are easily installed but must be made level | #pictureframemoulding #pictureframemolding #oneroomchallenge #orc #housebeautiful | www.thechelseaproject.com

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.

Picture frame mouldings can be installed by one person using this simple hands-free trick | #pictureframemoulding #pictureframemolding #oneroomchallenge #orc #housebeautiful | www.thechelseaproject.com

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.

Always check each piece of picture frame moulding for center and level before attaching to the wall | #pictureframemoulding #pictureframemolding #oneroomchallenge #orc #housebeautiful | www.thechelseaproject.com

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.

Picture frame moulding remains level around the room by marking on the wall | #pictureframemoulding #pictureframemolding #oneroomchallenge #orc #housebeautiful | www.thechelseaproject.com

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…

Picture frame moulding for walls is easily designed and installed with these easy tips | #pictureframemoulding #pictureframemolding #orc #oneroomchallenge #housebeautiful | www.thechelseaproject.com


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Thanks so much for stopping by! I do hope you’ll continue to follow the progress of my little room. 






  • Reply Marie April 11, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    Oh my goodness, Suzie my head hurts thinking about all those measurements! Like I said in your previous room makeovers, kudos to you for taking this picture frame moulding on yourself. I love your tip for keeping it all level when doing on your own – smart thinking! It looks awesome and looking forward to seeing the progression of this room makeover.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 11, 2018 at 3:25 pm

      Hi Marie and thanks! You know I’m always working solo…so I had to make myself a partner. LOL… And it’s hard to believe, but I think I’m finally done with the picture frame moulding…..unless…the catwalk. LOL…

  • Reply salvagesista April 11, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    I need to do this in a room stat!! And love that clock!!!!!!!!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 11, 2018 at 3:26 pm

      Thanks girl!! And yes, you do! Go for it.

  • Reply Tee April 11, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    You’re so brave to tackle mouldings all by yourself. Most walls aren’t flush and I can see myself going nuts seeing the imperfections. Yours have turned out out! Neat idea about adding extra hands with those nails!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 11, 2018 at 5:43 pm

      Thanks Tee! As of right now, I finally have all of the picture frame moulding done. So relieved. LOL.

  • Reply Mila April 11, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    Moulding makes such a big difference in a room! I love using it. Looks great here.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 11, 2018 at 8:36 pm

      Hi Mila! Thanks so much!

  • Reply Sarah April 11, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    It turned out so pretty!! Loved the tutorial. Our panel moulding made a huge difference in our house- excited to see your take on it. xox

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 11, 2018 at 8:38 pm

      Thanks Sarah. I was quite shocked at the difference molding makes. Seriously. It’s so worth he investment.

  • Reply Carol@BlueskyatHome April 11, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    Susie, I’ve had framed molding in a previous home and it is such a classic. I our current home, all our doors have framed molding. You provided a great tutorial and I’m sure it will be great inspiration.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 11, 2018 at 10:17 pm

      Thanks so much, Carol!

  • Reply Jeweled Interiors April 12, 2018 at 7:10 am

    Thanks for the tips. I’m going to need this in my next house.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 12, 2018 at 8:01 am

      Hi Jewel. Yay! So happy this post will go with you. XO

  • Reply Lisa April 12, 2018 at 7:44 am

    Susie your picture frame moulding adds so much character to your walls!! I love it and this is such a great tutorial! Great idea with the nails to rest the moulding on. My trick for hanging that one long piece of trim level is to nail it in the dead center, then attach one side and then the other, lining them up on the pencil line. Can’t wait to see more of this room next week!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 12, 2018 at 8:08 am

      Hi Lisa and thanks so much! Love your trick for hanging that first piece in place. Thanks for sharing. If I ever do any more moulding on the walls, I’ll be sure to give it a try.

  • Reply Susanne April 12, 2018 at 8:24 am

    Great tutorial Susie and your walls are AAAAaamazing!! That tip for using nails really works, it made my board and batten wall go up so much easier thanks for sharing it with me!! I can’t wait to see how the rest of the room progresses 🙂

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 12, 2018 at 8:33 am

      Thanks Susanne! My little tip is proud to serve. LOL…

  • Reply Toni |Small Home Soul April 12, 2018 at 10:26 am

    Your walls look amazing! If I hadn’t already installed shelves in my living room I’dbe doing this instead. Your tips for installing the molding are so helpful especially for people who want to try and do it themselves.
    And you’re not alone with the out of plumb walls… I’m installing my L shaped desk and hoping that my two pieces meet up nicely without a gap. There are already randoms spots along the edge that don’t meet the wall. But once I fill that desk up no one will ever see it

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 12, 2018 at 1:43 pm

      Hi Toni and thanks so much! Good luck with that desk!!! Fingers crossed for plumb walls.

  • Reply Apri R - Uncookie Cutter April 12, 2018 at 11:10 am

    AH, it’s looking so good! Nice work on the trim, can’t wait to see it all come together!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 12, 2018 at 1:44 pm

      Hi April and thanks a million.

  • Reply Dannyelle April 13, 2018 at 10:32 am

    Wow what a big project, great work. Your tutorial is great. Well done.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 13, 2018 at 12:48 pm

      Hi Dannnyelle and thanks so much!

  • Reply Kate Smith April 13, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    wow- that molding looks amazing! I’m so impressed!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 13, 2018 at 10:23 pm

      Thanks Kate! Appreciate….

  • Reply Ruthie Tabone April 15, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    The moulding looks great!! I love how much moulding adds to a room!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 15, 2018 at 8:20 pm

      Hi Ruthie! Thanks a million.

  • Reply Debrashoppeno5 April 15, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    I think this looks great and everyone’s walls are out of plumb. This is a fantastic tutorial. Now I am looking around the house wondering where I can install this kind of moulding.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 16, 2018 at 5:37 pm

      Hi Debra and thanks a bunch! So glad the tutorial is a keeper. Send photos when you get your moulding installed. XO

  • Reply Lindi April 16, 2018 at 12:24 am

    Those mouldings add so much character to a room! I love how yours looks so far!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 16, 2018 at 5:40 pm

      Hi Lindi and thanks!

  • Reply Emy April 16, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    I love this tutorial. My living room and dining room have picture molding, but it’s so wimpy. Like they’re only under the windows and I would love to add more. Your great instructions give me the confidence to tackle it!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 16, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      Hi Emy and thanks! Looking so forward to seeing your new moulding. It’s going to look great. XO

  • Reply Joy April 17, 2018 at 9:45 am

    You make me want to jump in and take on thicker moulding! The tip on using the screws to hold the moulding in place is brilliant! Thanks for the tutorial!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 17, 2018 at 11:20 am

      Hi Joy and thanks! Three words back at ‘cha. Jump, girl! Jump.

  • Reply Monica Benavidez April 18, 2018 at 9:10 am

    Love the moldings! And your tutorial is detailed and great- thanks for sharing.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 18, 2018 at 9:33 am

      Thanks so much, Monica!

  • Reply craftedpassion April 18, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    Love the molding!! Totally worth the headache to figure out all those measurements and cuts.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 18, 2018 at 7:26 pm

      Amen to that! And thanks so much!

  • Reply Kim Young -KnockitOffKim April 18, 2018 at 9:56 pm

    So much work but SUCH a beautiful result! I love how this is looking and can’t wait to see the finished result!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 18, 2018 at 10:14 pm

      Thanks so much, Kim! I’m so thrilled to have the walls done. Finally. LOL…

  • Reply Jessica | Petal + Ply April 18, 2018 at 10:54 pm

    Your moulding is beautiful! Great job lady & thanks for the thorough tutorial.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 18, 2018 at 11:03 pm

      Thanks so much, Jessica! XO

  • Reply Melissa Nowicki January 1, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    Where’s the information on what exact products you used for this? More importantly, where is the information on the spacing measurements between each frame?

    • Reply theChelseaProject January 2, 2020 at 7:56 am

      Hi Melissa,
      A list of products from Amazon is on the post, but the simple tools used for this project are available at your local home improvement store. If you check with one of their on-site experts, they can help you find what you need. As for the measurements, there is no exact measurement. Just find the design you like, measure the space you have and decide what spacing works best. I have a post that covers laying out the pattern in mnore detail here.


      Good luck.

      And Happy New Year

    Thanks so much for your comment!

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