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post #1 of 14 Old 04-14-2015, 12:49 PM Thread Starter
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Question Crown molding restoration

Hey everyone, I came across this forum in search of a good woodworking site that I can bounce and gather ideas for future renovations in my home.

Back in August I purchased a house built in 1957. The house has gone through light renovations over the years but still showed the age easily with the plaster walls and the poorly painted-over crown moldings.

As I performed the initial home inspection, I noticed that the crown moldings in the living and dining room were almost a part of the ceiling and wall. It seems that over the years the previous owners kept painting over them. They looked ugly and in poor condition.

Picture is rather large, so click on the link:


As I was getting the electrical upgraded I decided it was best to remove the moldings and restore them.

I pried them off the wall which took some effort. About 2-3 mm of paint started to crack off them and I was able to get them off in one piece.

As I removed the moldings, you can see the poor condition of the corner by the wall and ceiling. I decided to use drywall compound and fill in the corners to even out the area where the moldings sat in.


Over the weeks, I stripped them down to bare wood, sanded them, primed them and just recently did a second layer of gloss white Benjamin Moore paint.


Now as I am approaching the completion of the moldings, I want to get them installed once the paint hardens a bit. This is where I am a bit worried.

I have access to a small air compressor with a nailed that I've been using for baseboards. It is not an angle nailer.

I am worried that the age of this wood (I think oak) and the air compressor can cause the crown molding to crack as I am installing them.

Plans are to rent a angle nailer but I am not sure where on the wood I should be aiming to get molding to install properly and with least damage to the wood.

I have read about installing a corner, triangular piece of wood behind the molding, but I am pretty certain that it may present a challenge of it own due to the age of the wood and plaster walls.


Thank you :-)
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post #2 of 14 Old 04-14-2015, 01:07 PM
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You don't have to have a angle nailer. I don't have one and I've put up a bunch of crown molding. What I would recommend is getting an stud finder and place the nails in the studs so you can keep the nails to a minimum. Also it's best if possible to not put a nail within 3" of the end of the trim. This is where it's most vulnerable.
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post #3 of 14 Old 04-14-2015, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Steve.

Here is my problem with your first suggestion...the house has plaster walls and I haven't been successful with using a stud finder. The plaster walls are IIRC 1/2" or 3/4" thick. I've tried to use it in the washroom and wasn't able to locate anything. Anytime the finder gave me a reading, it was false.
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post #4 of 14 Old 04-14-2015, 02:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrrhtuner View Post
Thank you Steve.

Here is my problem with your first suggestion...the house has plaster walls and I haven't been successful with using a stud finder. The plaster walls are IIRC 1/2" or 3/4" thick. I've tried to use it in the washroom and wasn't able to locate anything. Anytime the finder gave me a reading, it was false.
Ok, I see, you don't have sheetrock. You have plaster and lath. This might be better for your trim. You could shoot a nail most anyplace and hit wood.
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post #5 of 14 Old 04-14-2015, 02:25 PM
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Just curious, but are you sure your walls are lath and plaster? 1957 would be a bit late for that method. Could be rock lath. Unless you've cut into it and learned otherwise of course.

either way. It was common practice to paint crown molding the same color as the walls, the idea of cutting in is relatively new. or so Im told. However, I wonder if that molding is original... For all that labor, I might have just replaced it, and upsized it, so that the new larger molding would cover the remnants left by the old. But you've gone through the hard part.

Angled nailers *always* use 1 gauge larger nail then their straight counterpart. as far as likeliness to split the wood, a larger nail will always win that fight. So a straight 16g nail gun would be my choice. Dont go too close to the bottom edge and you should not have any issues.
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post #6 of 14 Old 04-14-2015, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
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Bauerbach, thanks for the reply.

I'm new to this, as it is my first house purchase but I'm not new to working with my hands. I refer to the walls as plaster but when the walls were filled with holes that I had to fix/patch from the electrical upgrade...the rock/plaster was about 1/2"-3/4" thick (I can't remember) and behind it there was no wood. It was a thick cardboard paper type material. When I was trimming the holes, the rock/plaster was hard to cut but behind it was maybe 1/2" of brown cardboard paper like material. Not wood as I was expecting. Behind that paper like material were my vertical studs.

I'm guessing the moldings were installed maybe 20-30 years ago possibly, I doubt they are from 1957 as they are still a common design that can be found at specialty shops.

I'll do some more reading on installing the molding and I may give it a shot soon. I will look for a good spot to hit the ceiling and the wall then I will use Alex plus silicon and seal the gaps.
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post #7 of 14 Old 04-14-2015, 03:06 PM
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sounds like you may have rock lath. they are alot like sheets of drywall, about 2'x2'. I guess they didnt figure out how to make larger sheets at first, and it was easier to plaster over them than to finish so many joints. its lots of fun. It should hold a nail quite well though.

I dont think you'll have any problems nailing the molding up.

goog image of rock lathe, you can see the 2 "layers" of material.

Last edited by bauerbach; 04-14-2015 at 03:18 PM.
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post #8 of 14 Old 04-14-2015, 09:37 PM
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My parent's house, (Cape Cod ranch) was built in 61 and they had blueboard and plaster.

Mrrhtuner,
I have and been using a Zircon 5.5 scanner for over 20 yrs. It searches metal, elect and has a standard and deep scan. It finds the brads holding the lath in place and finds studs and old gas pipe under old style tile walls.

I suggest you also locate the ceiling joists; they may not be lined up with the stud wall. If the wall you're working on isn't bearing then the joists run parallel, The top plate likely has a nailer in place to catch strapping if it was used, if not then it's there to catch the drywall or lath. Most times it's only 1 1/2 to 2" beyond the top plate though which would require a longer fin nail set lower on the trim than norm.

You can poke as many holes in the ceiling you want to locate strapping, nailer or joist as long as it's behind the crown line.

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post #9 of 14 Old 04-14-2015, 11:46 PM
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Cool trick i found to locate studs in thick walls:

Find yourself a good, strong magnet. If you can, yank one out of an old hard drive. Fasten to the end of a string. Run the magnet on the string across the wall. Wherever it sticks, even a little, theres likely a nail. Where theres a nail, theres usually a stud

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post #10 of 14 Old 04-15-2015, 08:14 AM
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Your electrical boxes will be nailed to a stud and not all but most electricians are right handed and will nail the box on the right side of the stud.It gives you a starting point.then check every 16"s.
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post #11 of 14 Old 04-15-2015, 11:12 AM
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That molding is actually bed mold, no bigger than it is, you will hit wood anywhere you nail because the top plate is 3 inches then there is a nailer for the ceiling so you should hit solid wood, unless the house has some strange framing.

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post #12 of 14 Old 07-21-2015, 10:33 AM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb

Hello everyone, sorry for the long delay but I've had a bunch of events over the past few weeks/months that put most things on the backburner.

So tonight is the night.

I want to install the old crown moldings.

So far from what I understand, use 16g nails and to not nail anything less than 3" from the edge of the molding.


I do have of course a few small concerns.

1 - What length should I consider? would 2" seem fine for the install?

2 - How should I nail in the moldings? Does this look like it would be a good idea, see image below:



3 - Lastly, when I removed all the moldings back in October 2014, the initial installers cut a corner short so they added a small 2-3" piece.

I am not sure how to install such a small piece. I am guessing since it's so small, nailing it would not be an option?


Thank you : -)

Last edited by mrrhtuner; 07-21-2015 at 11:30 AM.
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post #13 of 14 Old 07-21-2015, 10:39 AM Thread Starter
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I think I solved my 3 inquiry:

Tack small pieces with glue

Hot-melt glue has always been handy for temporary holding tasks, but industrial-strength polyurethane hot-melt adhesive is strong enough to make permanent connections. It’s especially handy for those small pieces of molding that are sure to break if you try to nail them. It’s also good for hard-to-attach items like handrail returns.

We bought a kit from a woodworking supply store that contained a glue gun and three sticks of hot-melt glue. Search online for “polyurethane hot melt glue” to find more information and a buying source.

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post #14 of 14 Old 07-22-2015, 09:07 PM
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Often, the nails must be driven straight into plaster---if shot on an angle, the nail may bend as it hit the plaster on an angle.
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