Updated January 2020
Do your kitchen cabinets feel a little bit unfinished? Or maybe don’t quite reach your ceiling, leaving a weird gap? Well, today we’re gonna show you how we installed crown molding to give our upper cabinets a simple DIY upgrade. It’s one of my favorite, easy kitchen projects – and we completed it in just 3 hours!
Why We Added Molding To Our Upper Cabinets
When we finished our kitchen reno last year we decided to forgo any crown molding on the top of our upper wall cabinets because we decided we liked the clean, modern look of the square edge. Plus we had never installed crown molding before, so I think we were subconsciously too intimidated to try.
Steps For Adding Cabinet Crown Molding
This is a surprisingly easy project with only 4 steps, so it’s something you can easily complete in a day. And as you can see above, it makes a big difference! Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll be doing:
- Attach scrap wood to nail into
- Measure and cut your crown molding
- Nail in the crown
- Caulk and paint
Tools & Materials Needed
To add crown molding or other trim to the top of your cabinets like we did, there are a few tools you’ll need on hand to make things go faster and more smoothly.
- Crown molding
- Measuring tape
- Nail gun (we currently use this one that doesn’t require an air compressor)
- Wood glue
- Kreg Crown Pro
- Miter Saw
- 1 x 2″ white wood or pine (scrap wood works too)
- Paintable caulk
- Short handle paint brush
- Painter’s Tape
*If your cabinets are wood, you’ll want to source crown molding in a stain color and wood grain that coordinates with your existing cabinets. Check with your cabinet manufacturer because they typically set an assortment of matching trims.
Step 1: Measure Your Cabinets
Before you even purchase your crown molding, carefully measure the top edge of your cabinets to determine how much you will need. Just be sure to buy more than the length of your cabinets. Since crown molding is cut at an angle, your cut piece will actually need to be longer than the top of your cabinets.
Step 2: Attach Scrap Wood Around The Top
We started off by attaching some scrap 1 x 2″ (leftover from the fireplace build) to the tops of the cabinets with our old nail gun and some wood glue, like so. This extra height provided more surface for the crown to rest against since our cabinet doors leave little space above them. Plus, we didn’t want to cover up any more of the cabinet box than necessary because it would only make them look shorter, not taller.
All of this will be hidden by the crown molding itself, so it doesn’t have to be particularly pretty (hence the use of scrap wood). Just be sure to add it along the entire perimter of your upper cabinetry.
Step 3: Cut & Install Your Crown Molding
If you’ve installed crown molding on your wall before, then this is part follows the same process (and if you haven’t – check out our detailed how to install crown molding tutorial). The gist is:
- Measure (preferably twice!)
- Cut your molding
- Nail it into place
We make our cuts using our miter saw and love using a Kreg Crown Pro to help hold the wood in place as we cut. It makes this sort of process sooooo much easier because it holds your molding at the correct 45-degree angle while you cut. You can see it in action in the video below:
Like we show in the video above, after the pieces are cut we used our nail gun to attach the molding to the scrap wood that we added to the tops of each upper cabinet. Just a small nail every few inches should do.
TIP: Tape & Glue Your Outside Corners
The only tricky part was that we didn’t have a ceiling to nail into in this case, so some of our outside corners weren’t holding together as tightly. So after a little bit of brainstorming, we just decided to squeeze a bit of wood glue in there and tape them together while it dried. A few hours later we removed the tape and it worked like a charm. Whew.
Alternatively you could also try clamping a small piece of scrap wood behind the corner and nailing both pieces of crown into it. Just be careful because the thing corners of crown molding can splinter with the force of a nail gun if you’re not careful.
Step 4: Caulk & Paint Your Crown Molding
Once the crown molding was installed around the whole room, we broke out the ol’ caulk gun to fill in some of the seams and nail holes. We like to use the Alex Plus Fast Dry caulk because it is ready to paint within an hour.
We waited about 45 minutes later and applied a coat of paint in the same color as the cabinets (Benjamin Moore’s Cloud Cover). Since the crown molding was already primed white, it only took one coat, but if you’re doing a darker color you may need two coats.
Once your paint is dry, you’re done! Woo hoo!
How Much Did It Cost?
In addition to this project being pretty easy – it was pretty darn cheap too. Our only expense was the three pieces of 8ft crown that we bought, so the grand total was about $35 for this entire project. Not bad, right?
It’s definitely one of those projects that Sherry and I are kicking ourselves for not doing sooner, but they do say better late than never, so we’re happy we eventually climbed aboard the S. S. Molding. Ahoy.
The crown molding has been a great way to help transition our kitchen from a modern space to a more traditional one, and we think the result is quite stately looking!
More Crown Molding & Kitchen Cabinetry Projects
Looking for some other ways to update your kitchen cabinets? Want to see more crown molding applications? Check out some other do-it-yourself fixes we’ve tackled.
DIY Molding Projects
- Cheap & easy DIY board and batten
- Installing crown molding around built-in bookshelves
- How to add “chunky” crown molding using baseboard
- Making base cabinets look built-in with trim
- Adding traditional trim framing to our bathroom
- A colorful planked accent wall
DIY Kitchen Cabinetry Projects
- The proper way to paint wood cabinets
- Installing hidden hinges on old cabinets
- How to remove upper cabinets for a more open look
- Staining wood cabinets darker without sanding
- How to paint Ikea kitchen cabinets
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