A lot of DIY homeowners get their cabinets installed and then run up against the question of how to attach crown moulding to the cabinetry. I deal with crown mouldings every day, when I’m designing cabinets for kitchens, baths and other rooms for a local custom cabinet shop.
The best time to think about crown moulding is during the planning phase of your project, since there are several considerations to take into account.
A "crown" can be anything from a simple 3/4" board capping off the the cabinets, to elaborate stacked crown mouldings that seem to defy gravity.
Crown moulding has both vertical (rise) and horizontal (projection) aspects to consider. These vary widely depending on the scale and the profile chosen. We tend to think that the rise and projection are the same, but the projection is typically a bit less than the rise.
Plan for Mouldings
Unless it’s a continuation of a room perimeter ceiling crown, cabinet crown moulding needs somewhere to end or "die" as we say. This is accomplished in one of two ways:
- It butts into another surface (wall or cabinetry) – usually at 90 or 45 degrees
- It wraps back to the wall with a mitre joint at the end of the cabinet run.
Keep your crown projection in mind when determining how close to bring cabinets to door and window casings, especially if the casings are higher than the cabinets. This also applies to wall ends that extend to the ceiling, which is more common in today’s open concept homes.
Ideally, cabinet runs should end about 3" from the casings or wall end in these situations, to leave space for a typical crown to wrap the end of the cabinet and die cleanly into the wall.
Make Your Own Crown Moulding
It’s actually pretty easy to make your own small-scale custom crown mouldings. These can be built up from several pieces of smaller mouldings available at your local building centre or you can route your own profiles.
I made these similar style crowns, shown in the pictures, in longish lengths and mitred the corners to fit the cabinetry. Use glue and clamps to fasten the pieces and resist using brads to tack them together unless you keep track of EXACTLY where they are. Cutting through nails with your mitre saw is hard on the blade and potentially dangerous to you. Go easy on the glue to prevent squeeze out.
Attaching Crown Mouldings to Cabinetry
In both of my built-up crowns, the moulding is attached to a 2 -3" wide strip of plywood, which was fastened to the top of cabinet with screws. This allowed for precise positioning, and secure attachment.
You can use a similar method to attach a conventional crown moulding to cabinets. Attach 1/2" strip of solid wood to the front edge of the plywood to cover the raw plys. Fasten the plywood strip to the cabinet first and nail the crown moulding to the edge with a brad nailer.
Let the front edge project 1/16 or 1/8" proud of the cabinet face (which means doors on frameless cabinets). A slight reveal is more forgiving than trying get everything flush.
Oh yeah, there’s more….
There’s a whole lot more to get into on this subject, which I’ll explore in future articles including:
- Crowns on framed and frameless cabinetry
- Installing fascias with a crown
- Dealing with different height cabinets
- How different depth cabinets help when changing heights
- Dealing with uneven ceilings
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