Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to Install Picture Frame Molding

Thanks for all the GREAT comments on the dining room. I'm SO glad you all love it too, I really have been staring it at every chance I get. It was so nice to actually use it last weekend, since we don't formally entertain all that often. And we'll get to use it again this weekend. Most of you thought I should keep the mirror where it, I'm listening. It will stay right there! Moving it would require moving a lot of other things too, so that keeps it simple. For all of you who wanted the details...keep reading.


I’ll try to do this as step by step as I can, but it was hard to grab the camera to get all the details. Putting up the molding was not hard, it was just time consuming and the hardest part was cutting the molding pieces and keeping them the same size. OK, first…you need to figure out how to lay out your moldings. I started with that one small wall right inside my dining room. I had gotten some ideas from other people on how their molding was spaced, so I used this measurement: 4 1/2 inches from the bottom of the chair rail and the same from the baseboard molding up. Then, I used 5” to space them apart, so came in from the doorframe about 5”. I would use that rule of measurement for the rest of the space too. I did take a pencil and draw a line across which would be where I wanted my molding to sit once it was up. That helped visually to keep it measured right and I used the line all the way across, making sure with my tape measure that I was 4 1/2” down at all times.


I measured my longest wall (behind the buffet) and got the measurement in inches. It was right at 145” long, so I knew that I would need to do 4 boxes in that space. I counted 5” for each end from the corners, plus 15” for in between each box for a total of 25”. I then subtracted 25 from 145” , which came to 120. Then I divided 120 by 4 and came out with 30” for my box size. Are you still with me?? I’m NOT a math person, but even I could figure this one out. Just decide about how much space you want between, how many boxes you think will fit, & then do the numbers and it should come out fine. I cut one set of moldings for the long wall, which was going to take 4 frames to fill, so I used that first set as my template, but believe me, it didn’t work completely well, even though I used a pencil and drew on the next piece of molding exactly where to cut. They still end up being off by a fraction here or there, so you may end up having to trim off a hair here and there. I had to do that several times. Someone asked if Peter helped. He did help me by cutting the first 4 squares for me so that’s the wall I started on. The rest, I did by myself. Using the miter box is not hard, just takes a little time to get it going. You can see in that first pic that it’s mounted on a work table I have in the garage. There are holes for screws in these mitre boxes and that was definitely the best thing to do. Mount it to my work table, so it didn’t move all around.


So, with my measurements in place, we cut the molding. My measurements were 30” long and the side pieces were 19”. But, like I said, when you start cutting these on the 45* angle, they do tend to get slightly off here and there. The 45 angle keeps your corners going together well, but if you cut one side a little longer, it can make your rectangle be off in measurement. I ended up being more particular about the top of my molding rather than the bottom. The top is 4 and 1/2” from the bottom of the chair rail and the bottom of the box is slightly less than that from the baseboard, about 4 1/4”. So, that’s what I meant about my measurements not being totally perfect. I don’t think anyone will notice it ever, now that it’s all painted and done. And once all the furniture goes back in place, you don’t even see them all. If you take special care with your first box & get it placed and spaced exactly right, then the rest should fall into place. Get yourself a level. You’ll need that. I placed that level on the top of the box and then as I added the next box, I would place it on top of both pieces to be sure it was all staying level. That’s what I concentrated on the most. The box itself will come together really easily when you get the angles cut, so you don’t really have to worry about that all that much. It will form a box. You’ll end up with 2 long pieces and 2 shorter pieces for the sides. Another thing to be careful of is which way to cut your angles. I screwed that up a couple of times, by having the molding turned the wrong way & cutting the angle the wrong direction. The fat part of the molding is to the outside with the thinner part inside. Once you cut a good set for a template, you should be good to go from there. Just cut them all the same way.


You will need a small box of finish nails. You have to be a little careful with nails as it can split the molding. For the most part, I used liquid nails on the back of the molding to hold it in place with tape added to keep it secure. But, this molding is real wood and it does tend to bow a little, so you might have a corner that wants to stick up and not lay down flat like it’s supposed to. The Liquid Nails will hold it on the wall fine, but you may have to put a nail in there to secure it more. I used a few nails around on mine and drove them all the way in to keep the molding flatter against the wall. You want that to be as flat as possible when it all dries. I decided to wrap this box around the corner since the wall was so short on the right side. I thought it would look strange to just do one box on the bigger wall & nothing on the small one. I’m really happy with how it came out.


So, here it all is on the wall and drying. Most of the corners will go together pretty well, but you’ll see little gaps too and that is what the white paintable caulk is for. CAULK IS YOUR BEST FRIEND IN THIS PROJECT! I can't emphasize that enough. Buy a big tube of caulk and a caulk gun, you will need it. Once everything is dry and you take all the tape off, you’ll go back and caulk all the seams and the corners.


This is the corner I’m most proud of where I turned the corner. I don’t have the tools for an angle like this, but I kept messing with the molding til I had the edges notched enough that they would fit somewhat together. You have to play with that & use the mitre saw at an angle from the top. This was the hardest cut to figure out and it’s not perfect, but all I could come up with. There was a huge gap once I put it in place, so I used wood putty to fill in the gap. Once that dried and I sanded it slightly, it was fine. The white paint covers most of it up, but remember the smoother your surface and walls, the better it will look. I used white semi-gloss trim paint on this and it took 3 coats to even it all out. Our walls were not in the best shape anyway and the trim paint wasn’t an expert job either from before we moved in here, so when I painted the walls, there are blemishes and little specks on it. I did a little sanding on the walls and the edges of the molding, but not a lot. Sanding after you caulk can keep those little specks out of your paint too. Some of that will show up after the paint is put on. But, like I said, after it’s all done, you won’t be looking at it that closely. At least I don’t! But, if you're a perfectionist, sand your walls and the trim a bit before you start painting.


I only ran into one little problem with my electrical outlets. You can see in the above pic, there is one outlet right there on the far left. I had to scoot my first box over about 1/2” from where it was supposed to be to make sure I could put the cover back on. I didn’t stress out about it, just kept going from there with 5” in between and so that far end down there is probably 1/2” to 1” off from where it should be. Do I care? No way! The other outlets fell inside the boxes on all the rest, thank goodness.


See all those little gaps on the corners? That’s where the caulking really covers up. It will make a huge difference in how it turns out. Caulking everything is a must. Be sure to caulk the outsides all the way around and inside the box too. That really makes the paint look so much smoother and you won't see those little gaps. On the wall above, straight ahead, I used the same 30” measurement for those boxes (on either side of the window). When I turned the corner (on the wall behind the china cabinet), that wall was not long enough for 2 boxes at 30” each, so I used my math skills again, still figuring 5” from the corner, 5” in between only 2 boxes and another 5” at the end, subtracted that number from the total length of the wall & came up with a number. Divided that by 2 (boxes) and that’s how long these 2 boxes are. I think they measure 28” instead of 30”, so you’ll have to keep that in mind for any short walls. There’s no exact science to this, you just have to go by what looks good visually and what works for your walls.


Here’s a corner after caulking is done. You’ll also want to countersink the finish nails (which means to sink them below the surface of the wood) and then caulk those too. Sometimes it’s hard to get those little nails countersunk and mine aren’t perfect either, but after caulking and painting, who knows?


Some of my corners had a little notch out of them from cutting too close with the saw, so I used wood putty on those too. If there are any carpenters looking at my pics right now, they are probably cringing. The caulking gives it a seamless look, so that's why it's so important.


This is what the side will look like before caulking…..


And after. If you can, get those little specks off before you start painting, cause it will show up in the paint. You just wipe off the excess caulk as you’re going along with a damp rag.

I primed over the red first, then added the moldings. Then I did 3 coats of semi-gloss trim paint over ALL of it, wall and new trim. To answer a question, that is to mimic real wood paneling and that's how lots of builders do it. The semi-gloss paint will show up all the imperfections on your wall, so a good sanding is a great idea before you start painting.


That’s how I did it! This is probably NOT the correct or professional method at all, but it worked for me. I hope some of you will try this too. I am certainly not an expert on any of this, but I’m not afraid to try something new either. Don’t be scared, what’s the worse that can happen? You mess up a piece of $6 molding. That’s not the end of the world. My hubby just isn’t that handy, so I just do it myself. He’s very proud and loves that I don’t mind trying new things.

I’ve got other things I want to do too, so I’ll just jump in there and give it a go. This project was very inexpensive too. I think I bought about 10 pieces of 8’ molding at around $6 each, plus caulk and Liquid Nails, so really about $65 to do this. Can you beat that price? I don’t think so!

What you'll need:

Molding - the # on the back of what I used is #EC-163 from Lowes & it was about $5.81 each (8' long)


Mitre Box (These cost less than $10 at the home stores)

Finish nails (1 1/2" is what I used)


Liquid Nails (get the big one & use a gun)

Caulk - white paintable (get a big tube & use the gun)

Maybe a little sandpaper

I really hope I’ve inspired you to try it yourself too. You can do it!

For those of you wondering about my Blog links that were on my sidebar, if you click on the button that says Blog Candy (see it's right there where it always was, left sidebar) it will take you to my 2nd blog, which now has all the blog links listed. It was time for me to purge my blog list which had gotten WAY too long. Now my list comprises those blogs that link to me or follow me for the most part. If you'd like to exchange links with me, please email me and I'll be happy to add your blog to my list. My blog is going to be revamped in a few days with a whole new layout, so please be patient while it goes through a few, but needed good changes. I think you'll like it!

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Kelley said...

That turned out beautifully. You are great at tutorials! You totally made this seem "do-able"!
Love it!

Free Art Printables said...

Rhoda, I am having a room, furniture and trash to treasure make over party today! Stop by and join in! Jen

Picket said...

Morning girl...ohhh I am so happy you posted this this morning...I was in Lowe's last night with Bill and i was talking about you...was your ears burning!!!! lol

I was telling him what you did on the molding and he knows I have wanted to try this for a long time...I have alwasy loved that last night I bought my creamy white paint and today I start painted below the chair rails...The scarey part for me will be doing the first gotta make sure I can live with that much white in a room..

oh and you know how I told you a while back I don't molding around some of my doors going from ro to room..well I had seen on another bog where she had the same situation and she did the white below the rails and frames just like you and painted the inside of the doorways the same creamy white and it gives the illusion of molding in the doorway!!!! It was I gotta try that! Don't be surprise if I don't come back with the wall measurements for you to give me my bos sizes! lol lol Great teaching post girl....I love how it turned out...wish me luck!

Picket said...

oops!! sorry...that make that 'box' sizes! lol lol

Wendy said...

I I so need a mitre box. I think I will be off to get one today!!!!! My DH always messes this up and boy this looks like it could be a easy fix.

Kasey said...

lovely hands on project. thanks for the tips!!

The Country Nest said...

What an inspiration you are! I have wallpaper under a chairrail in my dining I want boxes! What a beautiful job you did and it makes the room look elegant. Thanks for sharing. I will be in Lowes this afternoon,lol~

Lisa~A Cottage To Me said...

Wow Rhoda! I am impressed! I leave that stuff for my hubby. It is a beautiful room. And I just love Somethings Gotta Give....perfect in your home! Wow!

Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

Fabulous tutorial, and your dining room turned out so gorgeous. I love the look of the molding, and what character it did add to the room. Hugs, Marty

Sandy McTier Designs said...

Hi Rhoda,
Thanks for that fabulous tutorial on molding! I have it in my dining room and love it! Finally had a day to come by and really catch up and visit my favorite bloggers!
You sure have been super busy!
Hope you have a wonderful day.

Dreams and Decor said...

Awesome tutorial! I love the fact that you're never scared to try anything yourself! My sister-in-laws are like that. They hang light fixtures themselves (like you!) and do all kinds of projects like this. I haven't been that brave yet, but you are really tempting me to try some things myself! Maybe in the not too distant future! Thanks for all the info! Patti

Lazy Mom Leslie said...

I am SO impressed! I thought I was reading a post from Remodling Guy over here! Great job!

"Blossom" said...

On your chairail how far up from the bottom to the rail. It looks like you also put the trim underneath the rail or is it the chair rail you used? thanks,

"Blossom" said...

I forgot to ask; did you paint the whole botton portions of your wall with white gloss? Or Just the trim pieces. All the new homes here are painting the bottom portion all white gloss to make it look like all trim. thanks,
You did a wonderful job by the way!

Lori said...

Great instructions. It looks fabulous.

Amongst The Oaks said...

Rhoda, you rock! I am so impressed that you did all that by yourself. My husband and I have done projects like that and it's not easy. Thanks for sharing with everyone. And you are completely right about caulk, it is your best friend when doing mouldings.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Blossom, the chair rail was already there & it is 36" up from the floor. I simply added the picture molding boxes inside that and painted it all semi-gloss white, the same as my trimwork. And yes, that is to mimic real painted woodwork, that's how they do it!

Sarah said...

I have wanted do to this for years! I might just find the place to do it finally and give it a shot! You did a fabulous job, thanks for sharing your how-tos! :)

Kristi said...

Beautiful results - and great tutorial!

Erica said...

I love the picture frame moulding under chair rail, yours looks excellent! Thanks for the instructions, I have a room I would love to do this too someday, thanks for the inspiration!

Joanna said...

Awesome tutorial!

Debra from Bungalow said...

Hi Rhoda, fabulous tutorial and job as always. You are fearless! My island redo is going slowly, that's the usual for me.
You're redesigning your blog!......I was loving the look of it now.....on to bigger and better things! My blog is in desperate need of a makeover. Hugs and congrats on your success. DebraK

Rue said...

Good morning Rhoda :)

I am really impressed that you did this by yourself! The dining room looks incredible!!! I really am just taken aback by how beautiful it is. Wonderful job :)


Unknown said...

You make it look so easy. The finished product is very impressive! You always have something inspiring going on here!

Okay, on to read your next post...

Hugs, KJ

Unknown said...

Good job on the dining room. It is awesome. I have been seriously contemplating doing this in my bedroom. Thanks for the instructions.


Sandy said...

You're not only a designer, but you're a carpenter! I love it!

Thanks for all the fun yesterday! xo

Anonymous said...



Do your walls have much "texture" to them? My walls have a bumpy texture that I am afraid will really show up with gloss paint and thus do away with the look of paneling. I don't want it to look too fake but I cannot see sanding that all down - it is a LOT.

Thanks for your blog! LOVE it!

Rachel Lundy said...

Wow, impressive!

Hideaway Girl said...

My husband needs to read this post!!! Looks wonderful!

Runner Mom said...

Quite impressive, my friend!

I have you higlighted on my post today--with my decorating dilemma for the day! I'm referencing your darling office nook again!! My study is slowly getting there!!


Beth at Aunties said...

I loved this post! You are so wonderful at tutorials! This transforms a room and makes everything POP! You did a wonderful job. *WOW* is what is on my mind. This and your framed mirror have really given me new ideas.
Did you know your blog is one of the reasons I started to blog, even though I am not so creative and full of energy as you? LOL
Well done!


Mary said...

Rhoda, Your dining room came out drop dead gorgeous!! You are the sweetest thing to post such explicit instructions. You have given me the confidence to try this!
Enjoy lots of great meals in your "new Dining room"!!

Anonymous said...

It looks wonderful!!! Thanks for the instructions-makes me want to try this. I am also wondering about the texture on my walls-not a lot of texture, but some. Did you sand your walls?
I admire the fact that you just dive in and do stuff!!
Would you mind sharing where you got the large cloche on your dining table?

The Texas Woman said...

Sure looks like a more expensive project than what you have into it! Very nice!

The Texas Woman

Sandi McBride said...

Oh well done Rhoda! I think I have it, by George...I think I have it!

Linda said...

Rhoda, thank you so much for taking the time to talk us through this process. It's been something I've wanted done in my house for a long time now but I've been afraid to do it myself. You've now given me the inspiration and confidence to give it a try. Mine will be a little more work in that my living room is a step down that adjoins my dining room. I'm thinking that the living room will need to be done as well to make it all flow together. I'd welcome your opinion on this if you have time.

Thanks again for all of the effort you put into this post. It's really appreciated!

Lori said...

It looks very professional to me! I have always loved picture frame moldings!

Anonymous said...

What an inspiration, and what makes it perfect is the fact that there are a few imperfections. No one would know. It looks beautiful! Thanks for the tutorial.

Elizabeth H

Unknown said...

How fun that I stumbled onto this post. My hubby and I are doing wainscotting in our home. I'm going to have to show him this for sure! Looks beautiful!

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Hi, girls, I'm so happy this is inspiring some of you to give it a try. I promise that YOU can do it too! I'm not a genius, just a hard worker.

A couple of you asked about textured walls. We do NOT have textured walls, so I have no idea how it would work with those orange peel type walls that are out there. I know there seems to be some areas of the country where this is prevalent, but here in the South, it is not (thank goodness). I think it would probably not look as good on textured walls, but you could certainly give it a try. One thing you might do is put up a smooth piece of thin luan first and then to the molding on top of that. That could work! They have some of it that is very thin.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Beth, the large cloche was found at TJ Maxx a couple years ago. It had a tiny little chip on one side & I got it for $7! Just for asking..I love deals like that.

Unknown said...

What a fabulous job! Thanks for taking the time to get all of that down, I know it was a lot of work. I am so glad it turned out so well for you -- of course, you are the queen of fabulous!

Unknown said...

Fabulous directions, you should have been a teacher! :)
Now all I need is the NERVE to try this.

Blondie's Journal said...


Thank you so much for the tutorial~it is interesting to see how you completed your project.

I look forward to all your upcoming changes!!



You are so awesome.I wish I had the money to pay you to come up to Pulaski,Tn and just take over my house and do whatever you wanted.YOU ROCK!

Lindsay @ Makely said...

This is great, Rhoda!

I love you for saying that caulk is your best friend. LOL My DH startd calling himself the Spackle King after putting up our crown moulding. :)

Katrina said...

Oh that looks amazing! Good job. I don't think I would be game enough to give it a go because I am far too impatient LOL.

KM Studios said...

Great moulding Class Rhoda!!

I can see the value of your home going straight up!
Thanks for sharing this!
I wouldnt know exactly how to do this in my home, only because our moulding is natural wood.
For some reason , this just looks so great in the white paint & we dont have that in our home!
Maybe Ill try to find some examples of it in a natural look.

Cant wait to see the new blog layout! -knowing you it will certainly have style!

Anonymous said...

A great tutorial.
My husband and I bought a 1909 home for our retirement and spent 2 years remodeling.Caulk was our best friend in crown molding,baseboard trim and window trim.
I love your blog, laundry room and computer space.
After seeing your laundry room I knew I had to do something with mine.
Keep up the good work!I get inspiration from you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Rhoda so much for such great step by step directions. We are going to give this a try this summer and I can't wait. I am saving this page as it will come in so handy. It was so nice of you to share your project with all of us. It turned out just like I want my dining room walls to look. Your dining room is such an inspiration. RJ

Jenna said...

Thank you for sharing your directions - I am inspired to do this one myself. My husband frequently (always) does the home improvement projects but I know that I can handle this one with your great directions!!! I'll share pictures when I do it - just might take me a few months because of other projects currently brewing.

Picket said...

Me again girl...I just wanted you to know that as of right living room..dining room & foyer have two fresh coats of creamy white paint on them and tomorrow the kitchen and yellow bedroom will get their new coat! lol

I posted about it and mentioned you and your great inspiration...I have wanted this look for years but was to afraid to try it..not knowing if I could live with that much white and certainly not knowing how to do the frames but I just had to try after seeing yours..thanks so much for the 'push' girl....I am loving what I am seeing so far! lol

Julie said...

I did some moulding work in my old house. It was simple and made a huge difference

Chris said...

Rhoda, I don't know where to begin. I just printed out both of your posts on this room, and I AM inspired to do it. I've been wanting trim in my hall/dining room for years, and I'm going to tackle it either at spring break or over the summer. THANK YOU for being so brave and more importantly, for giving sooooo much detail in how you did it! It's just gorgeous!

Kimba said...

Oh my gosh! You are amazing! What a fantastic tutorial...not to mention result!

It looks perfect!


Jill -Forever and Ever House said...

Thank you sooooo much for taking the time to share this with us. I showed your post to my husband because after our kitchen is done, we want to add moulding to our living room!!

Anonymous said...

Rhoda - Your dining room looks terrific. Thanks for the instructions for the molding.

I hope you don't mind, but I borrowed one of your pictures of your framed bathroom mirrors - I put a couple links to your blog. I'm planning to do my bathroom mirrors too and wanted to show what they hopefully will look like. You did a great job with them. The post is here.

Kitty Scraps said...

Good Morning Miz Rhoda,
Loving the new look of your blog! And what a fantastic tutorial.. you have a lot of patience to go thru the process with us not to mention generosity to care enough to share! The caulking trick my husband learned talking to some men on a job site as he was having difficulty geting corner blocks to fit nicely, so I guess that means the pro's do it that way too. Which makes you doubly-clever for figuring it out on your own *smiles* I think you have the patience of a saint to accomplish your project and it truly looks amazing, top notch job!

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

I love how this came out!! I would love to do this in our "billiard room" (the dining room that has been furnished with a pool table. :-) You've certainly given me a great blueprint to work with...I wonder if I can convince the man of the house to work on this year with me...hmmm....Can you post a tutorial on that?! LOL!

Tera said...

Woah... This is my first time commenting (I think...hee hee) and I have to say that I am utterly impressed with this project! You did an amazing job!! God bless.

Thrifty Decor Chick said...

Ohhh I never saw this till now! Congrats on a job well done!! You are going to do this everywhere now, you might as well go buy the nail gun girl!! :)

Unknown said...

Thank you! I am a designer on HGTV/TLC/BRAVO constantly telling my clients and viewers how easy this is to do...caulking is YOUR FRIEND!! :) nicely done

Natalie said...

I'm going to start this weekend on this project ~ FINALLY! I will keep you posted on how it turns out. What color paint did you do in the dining room? It looks like a light wheat/tan color. I think I would like that for my bedroom.