Thursday, March 18, 2010

Never Attempt Crown Moulding on an Empty Stomach

As the title states, I made this dire mistake about 2 weeks ago when starting the crown moulding in the bathroom. I figured I'd finish everything I could before laying the floor tile (still procrastinating) since that's the last big thing and I'd have to avoid walking on it for at least a few days to let the mortar set. It was a Sunday. Wino and I ran errands in the morning, which really is early afternoon for us. I had bought the moulding a few days before and painted the pieces so it would only need touch up once it's in. We started work on the bathroom around 4pm. Wino was continuing with the grout and I started the CM. I have installed CM before but it's been a really long time. I'm more prone to install quickie crown moulding which is just window or shallow base moulding turned upside down (see basement CM). So wanting to get it done, I jumped right in. I made a simple jig to help place the CM to cut it with the compound miter saw. I cut one long piece for the longest wall (it was not the full length though) and a scrap piece for the marrying corner, just to see how it would look. Without going into details, that session ended with me throwing down the little piece, dropping the long piece, and falling backwards off the 3-step ladder while emitting a guttural yell that embodied frustration to it's core. Then I realized my patience was worn thin by my lack of feeding it, I hadn't eaten since breakfast. Wino is sadly used to these outbursts, his usual comment being "have you eaten lately?". He's almost always on the money and off I go to the kitchen to forage. So while feeding my patience, I took the opportunity to research installing CM on the internet. I should have led with this move but, I was in a bit of a hurry to see it done. There are some really good videos out there and a few different methods for cutting the compound angles. I chose the easiest, I think. This video was good save for the cardboard host, and he gets a little crazy with the left-flip-right-flip-left. I just visualize where its going and draw a light pencil mark showing the angle to cut. One useful tip when installing crown moulding, don't expect it to be perfect or you will make yourself crazy. That's what caulking is for. So I used some scrap wood to make another, more useful jig (see pic) and it really worked better. I also held a smaller piece of moulding in place on the wall and traced the bottom edge, matching the corners so I'd have something to follow once ready to nail them in. Since walls are never straight or perfectly square, I had to re-cut some of the ends when installing, adjusting the angle on the saw. I always cut the first time a little big, exactly for this reason. If the angle is right, the overlap or gap will be uniform. If not, it's an easy indication of where to cut. Being winter and very dry in the house (25% rel. humidity), I let the moulding acclimate for a few days before the install, and I didn't worry about little gaps at the corners. I caulked the corners because come summer, the wood will swell and the caulk will adjust, whereas, with wood fill, it'd end up pushing the fill and then when the humidity comes back down, you'll see cracks in the corners again.

It took less than two hours once the jig was made and the lines drawn to have all of the moulding up. Then came patching the nail holes, caulking the top and bottom edge and corners. Taking a break to eat then painting the CM, but I still need to touch up the wall paint.
I used a pneumatic nail gun which really makes things move quick, no matter what the project. And using that, I could install all of the pieces without assistance, since Wino was at work. It would have taken forever if nailing up the boards the old fashioned way!

One last thing, as prep for the CM, I used expanding foam to seal the wall to ceiling corners, then cut off any that was in the way. I did this because I could feel a cold draft coming from the gap at the ceiling to wall. I don't know why or where it was coming from (attic, wall?) but sealing it took care of it.

1 comment:

  1. Looks great- how about helping me put up CM in my bedroom?