In today’s post, you’ll learn
– How to Install Shadow Box Trim
It’s been a while since we’ve finished any home improvement projects and although, this latest one is pretty quick and simple, it feels great to wrap up another project nonetheless. Lisa and I had been planning on adding some sort of decor or charm to our front entry for some time now and we settled on shadow box trim since it looks great and won’t break the bank. Between paint and trim (both chair rail and base cap molding), we probably spend around $150.
To make this tutorial even easier, I put together a video for you to help demonstrate the process. Check it out:
(Click here if you don’t see the video to be redirected to YouTube)
Here’s what tools you’ll need for this shadow box molding project:
I wrote a how-to post for eHow.com, which will explain this whole process in written form along with an explanation for the angle cuts on the stairs. As soon as that article goes live, I’ll update this post with that link.
There are a couple things to keep in mind when you are thinking about installing shadow box trim. For starters, when you are trying to plan the layout and figure out how many boxes and how big each one should be, smaller walls should only get one box. Longer walls can get more than one, but try to get an odd number as odd numbers tend to look better, although we weren’t able to squeeze in odd numbers on our walls.
You’re also going to need some sort of top cap like a chair rail molding before you install the shadow box trim. Luckily, we have a post and a video on how to install chair rail, which you can check out first.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me or leave a comment on this post OR on the YouTube video.
If you think my shadow box trim looks good, do me a favor and share this post.
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.
In this video and post, you’ll learn
– How to install chair rail molding
– How to install molding on a stairway
– How to add end caps to your trim work
– How to use two basic tools to figure out what angle to cut your trim pieces to
Happy weekend everybody!
This past week I was able to get some more house work done in the form of chair rail molding. This is the second time we’ve added chair rail to our place. The first time was back a few years ago. You can read about that experience here (photos were pre-DSLR). This time around it went MUCH quicker. Funny how a little bit of experience will do that.
This time around, I snapped a chalk line in the areas where the chair rail was to be installed. I also used my patented* no-tape-measure approach to trim installation, which was more fully explained in my baseboard installation video.
Anyway, why don’t you watch the video and let me know if you have any questions…
(If you don’t see the video, please click here to be redirected to YouTube)
The key takeaways from this video are:
– Use construction adhesive and a chalk line to align your trim
– Use a finish nailer for trim that is thicker than 1/2″ or so. Keep in mind that the nail needs to go through a 1/2″ thick piece of drywall plus the trim. Most brad nailers only shoot nails up to 1-1/4″ long.
– Use a t-bevel and your miter saw to figure out what angle your molding should be cut to.
– If you want an end cap or a “return”, just cut the end of the trim to a 45 degree angle. Then using a piece of scrap trim, cut a 45 degree angle on the opposite side you intend to install it and then just lop it off with a straight cut.
I hope this video helps you with your chair rail installation or any similar type of work.
In this video, you’ll learn:
– How to remove baseboard molding
– How to install new baseboard molding
– How to work without a tape measure
Well, we finally started our latest home improvement project. As we mentioned a few weeks ago, we’re working towards adding some character in our vestibule with taller baseboard molding, additional chair rail trim and shadow boxes.
The first item on this to do list is the baseboard molding. Rather than write a few hundred words on how to rip out short molding and install taller trim, it’s easier and more educational to simply film it and narrate the work.
Here’s a super quick video on how to install baseboard molding. By the way, super quick for me is around 5 minutes!
(If you don’t see the video, you can click this link to be redirected to YouTube)
I hope you find this video helpful. Adding taller trim can give your home a more high end look since shorter trim is very common. The visual effect of the taller baseboards gives the wall a more defined contrast with the wall.
Again, I’d like to emphasize that you don’t always need to work with a tape measure. Sometimes you do, no doubt. However, I find that if I’m able to employ the process I used in this video, I make less mistakes. When I first started out installing molding years ago, I used a tape measure. I can’t tell you how many cuts I messed up. When you use a tape measure, you’re adding potential pitfalls. You measure the wall then you measure the molding. If you make tiny mistakes on each of those steps you can make a noticeable mistake at the miter saw and cut the board too short or too long.
You can see another example of where I was able to avoid using a tape measure when I installed quarter round molding in our family room a couple years ago.
In our next video, I’ll show you how I use a t-bevel to make trim installation on angled walls easier.
Are you in need of new trim in your home? What molding work are you considering?
The last couple months have been super busy. In case you couldn’t tell by my complete lack of posting, I haven’t done a whole lot of home improvement work lately. Life with three little kids is much more time consuming than it was with two and my free time is just about gone nowadays. I have maybe two hours every evening after work to either blog, do house projects or other online projects that I’ve started. It’s a challenge to say the least.
I’m expecting to get back in the swing of things this week with our latest home improvement adventure: shadow boxes.
We’re going to dress up our vestibule with some simple trim work to give the home some more character. Over the years, I’ve installed a lot of trim, but this will be my first crack at shadow boxes and I’m looking forward to the challenge. We’ll also be taking the opportunity to upgrade the baseboard trim.
Here’s a shot from our vestibule now.
You can see in the photo that we have chair rail molding already in place. We installed that back in 2011. Here’s a link to that tutorial. The baseboard molding looks pretty puny, so we’re going to pop that off and install the taller stuff. When we built the house, we were under the impression that the baseboards would be the taller variety. It was one of the few minor disappointments we had during our walk-thru.
When we renovated our home office, we took advantage of the opportunity and installed the bigger baseboards in there first. The goal is to have the bigger molding throughout the first floor. We’ll continue that work with the vestibule and then maybe the living room at a later point. It’s unlikely that we’ll change the baseboards upstairs.
Here’s a reminder of what those taller baseboards look like.
Pretty nice if you ask me. Definitely worth the effort to rip out the short stuff.
Now that you know what we’re up to, here’s what you can expect to see and learn during this small project. I’ll film and explain the essential parts of the work like the sizing, cutting and installation of both the shadow boxes and the baseboard molding. Even if you aren’t planning on performing this same kind of project in your home, understanding the process should be helpful.
Make sure you stop by later this week. I’ll be releasing my next set of free woodworking plans. This time it will be the table saw station.
Have a great week!
I’m relieved to finally tell you that all of the crown molding has been installed in our home office. It was a bear. Granted, I still have to putty all the nail holes, caulk the joints and paint them. I’ll save that work for the weekend. That’s not the end of the molding in the office either. Once the built-ins are completed and installed, I still have to install a final piece of wall trim and all the baseboard molding. However, that type of trim work should be considerably easier to handle.
In today’s post, I’m sharing a video tutorial I made (with Lisa as camera lady) as well as some additional info below where I discuss some of the techniques I used to get better crown molding results.
Tips for Better Crown Molding Results
1. Pre-paint your Molding. While not hugely important, getting at least one good coat of paint on the molding BEFORE you install it will allow you to only have to paint it one more time after it’s installed. That’s less time on the ladder.
2. Use Backer Blocks. In the video, I use some simple plywood backer blocks. These little blocks can be cut from scrap wood and provide the crown molding a solid surface to lay against. It makes installation SO MUCH EASIER. After this list, I’ve shared a quick tutorial on making your own backer blocks.
3. Make a Cut Guide. Before measuring and cutting any intersecting crown molding pieces, make a cut guide with a piece of scrap crown molding. The guide can have a 45 degree cut on both ends and can be used to determine if any adjustments need to be made before the actual piece is cut. You’d rather find out that your molding needs a slight adjustment before you cut through it.
4. Use a Crown Molding Jig. While I do recommend using the Bench Dog Crown Molding Jig (affiliate link), you can just as easily make your own using some scrap lumber and a couple of clamps.
5. Be Strategic with your Boards. When you walk by the office or look inside, all of the crown molding pieces that face you don’t have any miter cuts. They all are straight pieces. That’s intentional. All of the cut boards are on the sides of the boxes. That way, even if the joints aren’t perfect, almost no one will notice if they stick their head in the room. Getting the joints done right is important, but any minor mistakes will be less visible this way.
How to Make Backer Blocks for Crown Molding
1. You’ll need a carpenter’s square, a small piece of the crown molding, a paper, and a pen.
2. Arrange the crown molding inside the carpenter’s square so that both the top and bottom flats of the molding are flat against the square. This is how the crown molding will look when installed.
3. Using a pen or a pencil, trace the inside triangle made by the molding and the square.
4. You can remove the square and the molding.
5. Measure the length of the top and the length of the side, marked here as “A” and “B,” respectively.
6. Now for some math. Using a scientific calculator or an online calculator take the inverse tangent (tan raised to the -1) of A over B (A/B). If you do that math, you get 38.7 degrees or roughly 39 degrees. Now you can set your table saw angle to that value. All you need to do now is make sure you cut the board to the length of “A,” which in this case is 1″.
To make things easier on you, you can also lay that drawing on your miter saw and use the miter saw’s gauge to determine the angle of the molding. OR you can just use a protractor.
For our home office, the larger molding had a block with an angle of 36 degrees and as mentioned above, the smaller molding was 39 degrees.
I hope you found this post helpful. Even if you’re not planning any crown molding work, keep this project in mind for when you do.
Now I’d like to hear from you. Do you have any crown molding installation tips or tricks?
Hey all! Hope everyone is doing well. Had another productive weekend around here. We got a huge jump on our Pinterest Challenge project. Stay tuned for that! We posted a couple hint photos on our Instagram account.
Last week, we wrapped up our sitting room built-in. I also promised a quick post on how to add trim to cabinets to make them look more “built-in” and less free standing cabinet. The process is pretty simple and can be used on any type of cabinet. There are a number of blog posts out there about turning ikea bookshelves or stock kitchen cabinets into built-ins. Adding trim can really add some depth to their look.
Here’s how to add trim to cabinets..
We start with the baseboard molding. When I installed the cabinets, I removed the baseboard molding on the wall where the cabinet was being installed. Made things easier.
Before I add the new piece though, I’m going to add a couple thin strips of wood to the side of the cabinet. The cabinet front overhangs the sides by about 1/4″ and if I try to install the baseboard molding without a shim, it won’t look right. Adding a strip to the top and bottom help keep the molding solid against the cabinet.
The molding on the wall is cut square on the cabinet side and just butts up into the cabinet. The molding that goes on the cabinet has a coped joint on the left side and a miter joint where it meets the front. After it was installed, I caulked and painted the molding. To make this job easier, it helps to pre-paint all the trim then all you need to do is some touch-ups after it’s installed. Last thing you want to be doing is painting that close to carpet.
Now for the crown molding..
There are a couple ways to approach crown molding on cabinets. You could do option A, like John and Sherry did in their kitchen, which is to add a strip of wood on top of your cabinets. This method is perfect for already existing cabinets that don’t have a lot of width up top to accommodate the 1/2″ or so of crown molding that will need to make contact with wood.
Option B, let’s call it, is to skip the extra piece of wood and nail the crown molding right into the face frame of the cabinet. This option works if you DO have a lot of space near the top of the cabinet. In the case of our built-in, we’re going with option B. Actually, I designed the top cabinet to have that extra 1/2″ space.. another benefit of building your own stuff.
To get started, I measured about 1/2″ down from the top of the cabinet and made some pencil marks. I’m also adding a shim up here as well. Oh and if you look closely at the next picture, you can see some splintering at the edge of the plywood. That’s from using a saw blade that wasn’t as sharp as it should have been. It’s okay though, because it’s getting hidden by a shim and crown molding.
Now, how to cut crown molding… It helps if you use a special crown molding jig, which you can pick up from Amazon or Lowes. The jig keeps the molding at the right angle for cutting. What’s the right angle? Well, crown molding has two flat surfaces that are 90 degrees from one another. Both of those surfaces need to be 90 degrees on the miter saw when you cut them. Crown molding jigs help to lock the molding in that position.
You also need to cut them upside down. That can be tricky. It helps if you think about the molding and the piece you are installing it on as being upside down too. For real, find some crown molding that already installed somewhere and look at it if you were standing on the ceiling. It would look just like normal baseboard molding if you look at it from that perspective. The challenge is thinking about it like that when you are standing in front of your miter saw. It’s tricky. I’ve installed a lot of it and it still throws me for a loop. I had to buy 3 pieces of crown molding for this project because I messed up the cuts twice. It happens. Crown molding takes practice.
I’ll probably do a more intensive how-to video or a dedicated post on it as some point, but for this post I just wanted to show you the basics of adding trim to cabinets. Crown molding on walls is roughly the same, but requires a little extra work.
But seriously though, think about it upside down.
When marking the crown molding for the cuts, I like to leave the first piece long and mark it for length right on the cabinet instead of measuring it with a measuring tape. Just make a mark where it meets the front edge. Your crown molding should just touch the 1/2″ marks you made earlier, which will ensure that your molding is level… as long as your cabinet is level that is. I used a brad nailer with a 3/4″ nail for all of this work and I skipped the glue.
So that’s crown molding and baseboards on cabinets. Not too hard and it makes a world of difference.
Later this week I have a final exam and then I’m done grad school for the summer! That means a summer blog theme face lift and more outdoor projects! Only one more course in the fall too. Can’t wait.
Finally. We’re done the dining room wainscoting project. Yep. All done. Well, except for some minor paint touch ups and a little bit of caulking. BUT, it’s on a 6″ section of doorway baseboard molding, so.. technically, it’s not really IN the dining room. So, like I said. We’re done. High five.
I don’t want to seem like we’re spiking the football here. We posted last week when we finished up the painting and we got a lot of very kind comments. I almost feel guilty posting about it again. Almost.
We started the planning for this project back in February with an intro post. We started the demolition and electrical work in March and April. The actual trim carpentry started on May 15. So, it took us about 6 months from planning to final brush stroke. Yikes. It was worth it. Here’s a more thorough wrap-up of the work that went into the dining room.
Our Dining Room Wainscoting Project, the Cliff’s Notes.
A year ago, the room was completely unpainted. We still have quite a few rooms in this builder boring state at the moment.
We started the upgrade process by adding some molding beneath the crown and painting it all semi-gloss white. Then we painted the room accessible beige by Sherwin Williams.
Then the rest of the process went like this…
– Removing the existing chair rail molding
– Adding a new outlet behind the buffet
– Planning the options, look and layout of the wainscoting
– Installing the poplar frame (1, 2, 3, 4)
– Adding the MDF panels
– Adding the bolection molding and capping
And now we’re all done…
You know you’re getting old when wainscoting is considered eye candy.
Couple things to note. See if you caught this. The dining room table is missing a chair. It was in another room when I was taking the pictures. Oops. Lisa noticed. I didn’t. Also, we’re going to be adding some additional decor items at some point and eventually replacing the cellular window shades. For now though, this is fine.
Any items you’re dying to remove from your to-do list?
I was originally thinking about skipping all the posts on our dining room wainscoting until we were completely finished with it. Staged and all. However, it may be another week until it’s all buttoned back up, so I think I’ll just get on with it and show everyone where we’re at.
The last couple weeks we’ve been painting. A lot. We finally finished painting the wainscoting and this past weekend we finished painting the walls. We had hoped to avoid repainting all the accessible beige, but the touch ups were pretty visible, so we ended up repainting ALL of it.
One tip I learned from painting the large panels of the wainscoting is definitely worth sharing. I was getting some major streaking or flashing with the semi-gloss on some panels. You can see the brush strokes. For some reason it just wasn’t going on evenly. It was driving me mad.
To remedy this problem, I just used a small roller and applied a nice even coat just to the MDF panels and then used a dry brush to flatten it out. Worked like a charm.
Yesterday, I started adding the outlets. Since they are situated in the MDF panel part of the wall, the boxes need to be extended by 3/4.”
I was able to find outlet extenders at Home Depot. They come in varying sizes (1/4″, 1/2″, etc) and can be screwed right onto the existing boxes.
When installed, it brings the receptacle flush to the wall.
Here’s some shots of the room. We still have to finish up a few more outlets and add the oak quarter rounds to tie the walls to the floors. Then we’ll need to clean up and bring everything back in.
Can’t wait to be done with this already!! Late last week we were in DC for a couple days, which is why we skipped out on posting. We’ll be sharing some of our experiences with that trip later this week.
Do any painting this weekend? What are you looking forward to finishing?
Hope everyone had a great weekend! Lisa and I were upstate in NEPA on Friday for an annual golf tournament that’s held in memory of my father. It’s usually a great time and the proceeds are donated to a local charity. This was the fifth year we’ve had it. The tournament is organized and run by a committee of people that knew and worked with my father and they do a masterful job making it happen every year. It’s a lot of work on their part and our family is deeply grateful for their efforts. I especially enjoy seeing all those folks that knew him very well. It’s nice to be reminded he was well liked and is still missed.
Even though golf is supposed to be a leisurely sport, it’s a long day on the course and it was pretty hot out. We didn’t get back home until late and Saturday I was pretty sore all day (I golf like once a year). Consequently, this weekend wasn’t that productive in terms of home projects.
We don’t have a lot of work left to do on our dining room wainscoting project. We were able to squeeze in some time this weekend to get some painting done and if you’re following me on Instagram (john_ohfs), you were able to catch a sneak peek of the current progress. We still have to do some touch up painting, wire the outlets and add the shoe molding (which we’ll be staining ourselves to save money).
Right before we added the cap and started painting, I made a new window sill since the old one was too small with the paneling on the wall. When I told Lisa that I needed to make a new sill, she asked me if we could just buy one at Lowe’s. If you didn’t know, you can’t really buy window sills. You may be able to find some online, but the best way to get a window sill is to make them. I’ll show you how we made ours and you’ll see it’s not terribly difficult. It took me all of about 30 minutes to make ours.
Here’s how to make a window sill.
Once the paneling was completed under the window, I put this old sill back in. I kept it and didn’t throw it out because I wanted to use it as a template for the new one.
You can see that the old one is too short on the back edge. No problem. I’ll just measure from the front of the old window sill to the window. That’s how wide the new window sill will need to be. For material, I bought some poplar. The piece was a 1x6x8′ and cost around $20. I almost always use poplar for painting projects. It’s the same wood that’s all over the wainscoting. It’s only slightly more expensive than first select pine, but it’s a hardwood, whereas pine is a softwood. Does that make a difference? I think so. Over time, pine will be more prone to showing dings and dents and poplar may not.
To begin the replacement, I used my window sill router bit and routed a window sill profile on the entire front edge of that new poplar 1×6 I bought. It’s better to put the sill profile on the entire board first before cutting out the shape of the sill. You can cut the board first and then route it, but if you make a small mistake while routing it, you pretty much need to buy a new board. If you make the mistake early, you can flip the board over and route the other side.
Once the profile was on the new board, I laid the old window sill over the new board.
I lined up the edges of the old sill with the edges of the new board and traced out the profile of the old sill onto the new board. To make sure the new board would be the right size, I added some additional width to the back of the poplar piece.
Then I just cut along the lines I drew. I used my table saw for the long straight cut along the back and my hand held jigsaw for the shorter cuts. Once it was cut out, it installed with some shims, construction glue and finish nails.
I made sure to shoot at least one nail through each shim. To remove the unused portion of the shim, I scored it with a box cutter and then cracked them off.
The gaps against the window will be resealed with painter’s caulk. This new one actually sits a little lower than the old one. You can tell by looking at the old caulk marks on the window. Not sure why. Don’t really care.
We’ll show you it painted along with the rest of the room very soon.
Ever install a window sill? Do you need to replace any? Get anything done this weekend?
I think this is going to be the last progress post I write on the wainscoting until we’re finished. I’ll probably do one more post on how we replaced the window sill, but that will be it. We’re that close. Over the weekend we were finally able to prime the panels. Instead of brushing on all the required coats of paint, I thought we’d get a better result if we sprayed on the first two coats, which are the primer coats.
There, that should do it.
Now, if you paint unfinished wood like this wainscoting, you typically need to apply several coats of paint to hide the darkness of the wood and to achieve your desired finish. Painting unfinished wood with a brush for all of those coats can end up giving you a goopy look with a lot of visible brush marks. After four coats of latex paint, it tends to do that. To avoid that look, you can spray paint the primer AND the paint or just spray on the primer and then brush on two coats of the finish paint. Get it? By reducing the amount of brushed on coats, you can get a smoother, more professional looking result. Why would you even bother to brush on any coats if you can spray them all? It’s useful if you want to match some existing paint in your home like trim or crown molding. It’s a perfect approach for built-ins.
For larger projects like our wainscoting, it’s a little impractical to use cans of spray paint. Not sure how many cans it would take, but I’m pretty sure it’d be a lot. Instead, we’re using an HVLP (high volume, low pressure) paint gun. You’ll also need an air source. You can use a large compressor, smaller pancake compressors don’t provide enough air. We’re using a turbine system, which provides air like a large compressor, but it’s very compact. They’re available used on ebay or craigslist for reasonable prices and they may be worth it if you’re planning on doing a LOT of spray painting. We picked our’s up when we built our first home’s kitchen cabinets. The paint guns are fairly inexpensive and there are a ton of used guns available.
We still have to do some light sanding after this primer coat and then we can actually apply the finish paint coats.
We’re hoping we can finally get this done soon!
What’s been keeping you busy lately? Any projects dragging on?
Hey! Thanks for stopping by. We're Lisa and John and this is our DIY and Home Improvement blog. Feel free to browse our DIY project gallery or our latest posts. You can read more here.
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