Securing Crown Moulding

Installers discuss methods for attaching crown moulding to a substrate of steel studs and painted drywall. October 8, 2005

I am going to install a 3 5/8" crown moulding in a small dining room. The ceiling is thinly textured, poured-in-place concrete. The outside wall is wooden furred, while the other three are sheetrock over metal studs. What approach should I use to attach the moulding to the various substrates? I'm considering using Titebond moulding glue in conjunction with ringshank finish nails through the sheet rock (to hold the trim in place until the glue sets)and glue alone against the concrete ceiling. (The ceiling is already painted - will the glue bond?) Are there any other suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor F:
Most spring moldings can be fastened just to the wall. Someone here might know of a fastener suitable for moldings and metal studs. If not, you could screw cleats to the walls that have metal studs (with sheet metal screws). The cleats would have to be sized to fit in the triangular hollow behind the crown molding. Might sound crazy, but you could also cut a strip of sheetrock out at the top of the walls that have metal studs and replace it with cleats that are the same thickness as the sheet rock to have something to nail into. By the way, is there really a Tightbond molding glue?

From contributor E:
Contributor F has the right idea with the cleats. We've utilized both the nail and glue and the cleat in our commercial work. The glue always seems to be a hassle with the squeeze out, but it works well once it sets. We used PL urethane adhesive.

Where did you find ringshank finish nails? I was looking for some for the same application. All the manufacturers of nails, such as Paslode and Senco, seem to offer smooth shank, and those do not hold into light steel studs.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I found the Titebond glue after a Google search - Titebond Moulding Glue. I can't find it locally (SW FL), so I guess I'll order it online if I decide to give it a shot. But maybe the PL mastic would bond quicker? A thin bead on each contact surface should work. The PL skins over pretty quick, if I remember. Will I have time to fasten a 12' run of the crown moulding and still get good enough bonding?

The ring shank finish nails I referred to are ordinary paneling nails - they come in assorted sizes and I would think they'd hold long enough in the sheet rock for the glue to set. I can also predrill with countersink and use #6 stainless screws in the metal studs, I think. Because of textured (skip troweled) ceiling and walls, I'll also have to caulk both edges, which I think will add some holding power.

From contributor F:
If I were doing your install, I would just install cleats and hang the molding from the finish nails. Glue sounds like a messy hassle. Cornice molding is installed at the tops of cabinets and furniture and supported by the bottom only. If you really think your molding is too heavy to be supported by the wall cleat alone, you can glue and nail an "L" shaped cleat together that fits into the triangular hollow behind the molding or even a solid triangular cleat. Then you can finish nail the bottom and top of the crown.

From contributor J:
That Titebond molding glue is available here (NJ) at both Depot and Lowes. Really good stuff - a thicker, run-free Titebond. I use it on all moulding joints, but it is not good for biscuits.

From the original questioner:
Does the Titebond Moulding Glue bond the bare wood of the moulding to painted surfaces well? Will the stuff stick and stay?

From contributor P:
Use the cleats. Whether or not the glue will stick to the painted surface is immaterial, since you have no control over the paint's grip on the substrate. Might get a great grab on the paint film, only to have the paint come loose from the sheetrock! Mo' better to have some mechanical fastening too, unless you like lying awake at 2 a.m. worrying about trim falling on a personal-injury lawyer.

From contributor H:
I am in SE Florida and several months ago installed 7" crown on sheetrock over metal studs (one wall was furring on block. I treated myself to a Paslode angle nailer. I shot in two 1 1/2" brads, forming an X, both top and bottom, about every 9" or so. When you shoot the brads in opposite directions to form the X, the crown is incredibly locked in. No glue, no mess, very easy... a lot of holes to be filled, but it looks great.

From contributor J:
I am a firm believer in Polyseamseal (smells like bananas) and pin nailing (on the angle). Pick some up at your local HD for $2.97 for your caulking gun.

From contributor D:
Cleat secured to the wall is probably the fastest approach. Also, I have used crossed nails to hold the top of the mold or where I needed to pin in the crown due to a bow. I've found numerous times that it works very well in just sheetrock. Probably works way better in metal studs. If it is paint grade crown, they are going to caulk it anyway, which in itself will hold even MDF crowns to the wall with the lightest nailing.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
Figure out the space behind the crown once it is attached. This depends on the spring angle. If it's like most crown you can do this: take a 2x4 and rip it down so it's a 1/4" smaller than behind the crown. Then, just cut triangles (45 degrees) the size of the wood you just ripped. Take those and space them out every 16" or so, fastening them to the wall with PL glue and nails. Take blue tape, and mark below where the crown will go on the walls. Once the glue is dry, just pop the crown up there and nail where you see the tape! It saves wood, and you can make a bunch of triangles with one 2x4.