How to Install Picture Frame Molding (for beginners)
Updated: Sep 29
Last winter I installed picture frame molding in the living room and took the space from this...
It wasn't the easiest project I've done nor was it the hardest and if I could go back there are a few things I would do differently (get a laser level), but I wanted to share our beginner level tutorial of how to install picture frame molding.
- nail gun
- laser level (I didn't have this and 1000% would not start this project without it next time)
- painter's tape (optional, but I loved taping out every line so I could make sure the layout was perfect before starting)
Let's get into it!
The first step was deciding what walls we wanted to add the molding to and then sketching up a layout. My sketches are a bit messy, but you can see I plugged in all of my measurements so I could find out exactly how much molding I was going to need.
I also looked at a ton of inspiration images on Pinterest to hone in and figure out exactly what I wanted. Once I decided on a layout I ordered all of our molding. I needed 31 pieces of the picture frame molding and 4 pieces of the chair rail. I worked with Ekenna Millwork on this project and they were amazingly generous enough to send me all of the molding I needed for the project. I reached out to ask if they wanted to partner knowing that if they said no I would still buy the molding from them. So imagine my excitement when they said yes! I used their classic panel moulding for the picture frame molding
and their claremont profile for the chair rail.
The next part of the process was to make sure my layout was going to be exactly what I wanted. I took painter's tape and placed it everywhere I was planning to add the molding (can you tell we were trying to tackle this project right before Christmas?).
I loved doing this because I could see exactly how the molding was going to look before I started making any cuts (note to self- if you leave the tape up overnight it might start to fall)! I even ran into an issue above the doorway where I had originally planned for the molding to line up with the doorway, but the tape was looking a little awkward.
So I quickly adjusted it to line up with the doorway and it looked so much better!
It was an easy fix that saved me from wasting any of my molding! Once all of my tape was perfectly placed I got started making my cuts. I measured each edge to the longest side and then did a 45° angle cut inward.
Even though the molding has the appearance of being the same size on the wall each "frame" was ever so slightly different. If you're a pro this would be the time where you just jot down all of your measurements, go cut everything, and then hang it. But being a beginner I took my time. I cut all of the pieces for the entire first frame to make sure everything was perfect before attaching it to the wall.
The first box probably took the longest to install because I was double and triple checking everything. I carefully placed each piece exactly where my tape was and nailed it into place using my nail gun.
Once that first one was up I got a bit more confident and was able to knock out the entire lower boxes in just a few hours.
The upper boxes were a bit trickier. The pieces of molding were much longer and partially warped so ensuring they were straight was tricky. This is where the laser level would have come in so handy, but Kris held up the pieces for me on the ladder while I stood back to see if they were straight. My eyeballs are pretty decent at this, but looking back it would have been nice to be 100% certain.
Once all of our pieces were up here's what it looked like!
Even without the caulking and painting it looked amazing! In fact, it looked so amazing that I decided to wait until after Christmas to caulk and paint everything. This turned out to be a huge mistake! Sometimes having that motivation of a deadline is all you need and I should have used our big Christmas family gathering to give that last little push to get this project done. But I didn't. So in what is turning into quite the norm around here (fireplace, I'm looking at you), the molding sat like this for the next six months. I had it on my to-do list so many times to start caulking, but the longer I waited the more I was dreading it. This summer we finally hired someone to come out and finish the project for us.
It took a team of three people about two days to caulk and paint everything so maybe I was right to be dreading it! In the end I'm just so grateful it's done because when they were finished it looked like this!
It feels like the living room is finally coming together and a few weeks later we hung the new chandelier!
I still have several things I want to do to really polish off the living room, but it's come so far.
Disclaimer: All molding was gifted by Ekenna Millwork, I am so grateful to work with amazing partners. All opinions are my own.
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