How to Install Ceiling Trim

Ceiling trim, whether it's intricate crown molding or simple quarter round, adds a finished touch to a room.

Install Ceiling TrimInstall Ceiling Trim
Installation is a matter of measuring molding correctly, making the right cuts and using a light touch with a hammer. It can be a simple, inexpensive way to update a room if you select lower-end moldings and do the job yourself. Elaborate moldings are also easy to install and create a more elegant atmosphere.

Measure the room to determine how much molding you need. Add about 10% to your measurement to allow for waste.

Paint or stain the molding before you install it if you haven't purchased pre-painted pieces. Save some stain or paint for touch-up when you've finished installation.

Mark the wall studs with a pencil near the ceiling. Electrical outlets are usually attached to a wall stud. If you don't have a stud finder, measure 16" outward from the outlet to locate studs, or check where baseboards were nailed. They should have been nailed into a stud.

Cut a piece of molding to fit between two corners. Leave the ends square. Create a cope cut on subsequent pieces so that they fit into the space at the end of the square end. Coped cuts are made by cutting the end at a 45 degree angle with the short side toward the front and cutting out the back edge of the molding with a coping saw.

Drill small holes in the molding the same distance apart as the wall studs. Nail the molding into place with 6d finish nails. Complete the rest of the installation.

Join pieces that aren't long enough by mitering the ends of two pieces, gluing them together and then nailing through the glued ends into a stud.

Use the reserved paint or stain to touch up the molding. Spread a small dab of putty on nail holes and smooth it with your finger.

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Molding
  • Paint or stain
  • Pencil
  • Saw
  • Miter box
  • Drill
  • Nails
  • Putty


  • Wide moldings will make a room look smaller. Use narrow moldings in small rooms. Begin finishing the molding with paint or stain with the first piece you install so you don't have to wait as long for the finish to dry. Don't use a hammer to pound the nails all the way in. Use a nail set to finish the job to avoid damaging the molding. Use caulk to fill any gaps between the molding and the ceiling.

About the Author

Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.