Introduction

finished three-piece crown molding
Photo: Wendell T. Webber
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A common decorative flourish for traditional homes, crown molding enriches a space by forming an eye-catching transition between the walls and ceiling. But if your ceilings are high or your room has generous moldings around windows and doorways, a single strip of crown molding might get lost overhead. To get the right effect, you could opt to use a large-profile molding, says This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers. "But you'll pay a hefty price for large profiles," he says. To lower the cost without sacrificing aesthetics, Mark came up with a way to install a simple L-shaped half beam first, then attach crown moldings to the fascia and soffit for a handsome, built-up appearance. Recruit a buddy to help you make cuts and lift the bulky pieces into place, and in just a couple of days, you'll have pulled off a room transformation that will draw all eyes upward.

Upper crown molding: Classical Craftsman Collection Crown, WOCM005.
Fascia board: Classical Colonial Collection Crown WOCM002. Both from WindsorONE.
Lower crown molding: AB405 3-inch crown; Ring's End
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    Tools List

    • studfinder
      stud finder
    • chalk line
      chalk line
    • miter saw
      miter saw
    • coping saw
      coping saw
    • drill
      drill/driver
    • brad nailer
      nail gun
    • hot glue gun
      hot-glue gun
    • hand clamps
      spring clamps
    • caulk gun
      caulk gun
    • sandpaper
      fine-grit sanding sponge
    • chisel-tip paintbrush
      paintbrush

    Shopping List

    Primed crown molding. Select a larger profile for the upper run and a smaller one for the lower run. To calculate how much to buy, round the length of each wall to the nearest foot and add the lengths together. Get tips on sizing crown molding to suit your space

    Primed fascia board with a decorative profile on one edge.

    Primed 1x6 soffit board

    2x2 for cleats on the walls and ceiling, to which the half beams will be attached.1x1 for the nailing strip that will help you join the soffit and fascia boards.

    2x4 to rip at an angle for making backing blocks for the gable ends of the room.

    Painter's tape

    1¼-inch and 3-inch screws

    1¼-inch and 2-inch finishing nails

    Toggle anchors

    Paintable caulk

    Semigloss paint