Installing Three-Piece Crown Moulding Solo

Slick tips and tricks for hanging three-piece crown moulding without a helper. February 11, 2010

I am about to install a three piece crown (base/crown/base) on a ten foot ceiling. I am working alone. I'll make a few of those crown hooks which will help me with the wall base and crown but do any of you guys have a trick to hold the ceiling base? The longest lengths are 13 and 15 feet. The rest are under ten feet. I'm using primed MDF mouldings.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor D:
Make some shelves you can temporarily screw to the wall to rest it on.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. What a simple solution! I have a few of those metal shelf brackets hanging around which will do the trick.

From contributor J:
I've used the ledge method with success, but what's faster for me is to get a couple zip wall poles to hold the other end. Just twist the handle, and it holds the crown tight to the ceiling. I also get a lightweight stick that's cut to 100 inches, butt it into the corners, and measure the remainder of the run.

From contributor Z:
You can also take eight or ten penny finish and tack them into the studs or plate and let them act as a "shelf". As far as measuring what I do is nail a finish nail into the plate 10" out from the corner then hook my tape onto it, measure to the other corner and add 10. Use whatever number that is easiest to remember. If you are doing "base" both flat on ceiling and on wall then nail wall first, leave space to slide the ceiling piece on top of the wall piece and it will support it while you nail it. Pre mark all the stud locations. If you cut the crown a heavy 1/16 too long then you pull center out put the corners in and "snap the center in and it holds itself a whole bunch better.

From contributor A:
I've always used 10 penny finish nails. Most often one is needed at the far end. More importantly are good stepladders or a staging cart.

From contributor O:
I like ice picks instead of nails. They pull out without a hammer, and the handle helps keep the trim from sliding off as I scoot it along. Same size hole in the wall, and if you push it in just a tick above the final location of the lower edge, no patching needed.

From the original questioner:
I am curious. What are ice picks and where can I see a picture? Another name for an awl? Thanks to all of you for your great responses.

From contributor O:
Not so terribly long ago, ice picks were a standard kitchen tool. I get them at flea markets and estate sales for one or two bucks. They differ from an awl in that the steel spike is slim and the point tapers back gradually. An awl is thicker steel with a short tapered point and meant for use of the tip only as a marking tool. Awls are lousy for wall penetration. I carry an ice pick in my installation pouch at all times. It is invaluable to me. I can't count the uses I have for it all day long.

From Gary Katz, forum technical advisor:
Fast Cap's Third Hand works well for that kind of thing - pushing stuff against the ceiling. Adjust the Third Hand so it within a few squeezes of the ceiling, set your ladder in the center of the span, lean the Third Hand against your ladder, climb up and push the base to the ceiling, tighten the clamp under it, then work the ends. You can tug on the molding quite a bit without a major catastrophe.

From the original questioner:
Here is a picture of what I used to hold the ceiling base. The L-bracket is simply a metal shelf bracket. It worked in a pinch.

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I also bent a Simpson strap to hold the wall base. I cut a key hole in the strap so it could be removed.

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From Gary Katz, forum technical advisor:

From contributor S:
Don't forget one of these to align the crown to the proper spring angle.

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