How to Install Crown Molding on Cabinets

Installing crown molding is an easy way to add elegance and style to boring kitchen cabinets. With carefully mitered corners and beautiful detail, crown molding can transform the look of your kitchen. Learning how to install crown molding on cabinets is a worthwhile DIY project that can save you money compared to hiring a professional. This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the steps for installing crown molding on kitchen cabinets, from choosing the right materials and tools to cutting precise miters and coping inside corners. With these tips, you’ll gain the skills to crown your cabinets like a pro.

An Introduction to Crown Molding

Crown molding is a decorative trim piece that is installed where a wall meets the ceiling. It is triangular in cross-section and is used to cover the uneven gap where walls and ceilings meet. Crown molding adds an elegant finishing touch to a room.

There are several benefits to installing crown molding on kitchen cabinets:

  • It raises the eye upward, making the ceiling appear higher. This makes a room feel more open and spacious.
  • It adds architectural interest and beautiful detail to otherwise boring cabinets. The extra trim brings a furniture-like elegance.
  • It camouflages the gap between the top of the cabinets and ceiling. Crown molding gives the cabinets a built-in, custom look.
  • Choosing a detailed, ornamental crown molding style adds lovely visual appeal and character to a kitchen.
  • Crown molding frames cabinets nicely and defines the kitchen space.

With some simple tools, materials, and good technique, you can add crown molding to your kitchen cabinets as a DIY project. The results will be stunning!

Getting Started with Crown Molding Installation

Before you start installing crown molding, there are a few key steps to take to ensure success:

Choose the Right Molding

  • Select a crown molding profile that fits your style. More ornate, decorative profiles add a touch of elegance, while simple, clean-lined molding lends a more contemporary feel.
  • Consider the height of your cabinets and ceilings. You want the molding to fit proportionately. Moldings are sold by height from 3 1⁄2” up to 9”.
  • Buy extra. It’s always better to purchase a little extra than to run short halfway through the job.

Gather the Right Tools

You’ll need some basic tools:

  • Miter saw for cutting angles
  • Finish nails and nail gun or hammer
  • Wood filler
  • Caulk
  • Stud finder
  • Laser level or chalk line
  • Protective equipment like goggles, mask, and ear protection

Prepare the Space

  • Clear the area above and around the cabinets to give yourself room to work.
  • Remove anything from the walls like artwork or decor.
  • Clean cabinets thoroughly so molding adheres well.

How to Measure for Crown Molding

Proper measuring and calculating are crucial to cutting crown molding correctly. Here is how to measure and figure quantities:

  • Measure the linear footage around the top perimeter of your cabinets. Multiply this number by 1.15 to account for inside and outside corners and wastage. This will tell you how many linear feet of molding you need to purchase.
  • For inside and outside corners, measure the height from the cabinet top to the ceiling. Add 12-18 inches to this number – this extra will be cut off later to create the mitered corners.
  • Use a stud finder to locate framing inside the cabinet tops and mark the stud locations. You will secure the molding to the studs.
  • Make sure you purchase matching inside corner blocks and flexible corner caps to marry the crown molding at the corners.

How to Cut Crown Molding for Cabinets

Cutting crown molding properly is key to getting perfect seams and tight corners. Here’s a step-by-step guide to cutting the pieces:

Cut End Caps

The end caps attach to the cabinet ends facing out into the room.

  1. Measure the width of the cabinet end and add 1” to allow for overhang.
  2. Cut a piece of molding to this length with the bottom of the molding against the fence of your miter saw. The blade will be at a 45° angle to the fence.
  3. Repeat for the end cap on other side.

Cut Inside Corners

Inside corners are where two cabinet runs meet at 90°.

  1. Place a piece of scrap molding upside down and oriented like it will sit on the wall. Mark 45° angles on each end.
  2. With molding right-side up on miter saw, cut one end at 45°.
  3. Flip molding upside down, with just cut point against fence. Cut other end at 45°.
  4. Test fit, trimming more if needed for precise fit.

Cut Outside Corners

Outside corners are where cabinet runs meet at 270°.

  1. Place piece of scrap molding upside down on table. Mark angles at 135° and 45°.
  2. With molding right-side up on miter saw, cut one end at 135°.
  3. Flip molding upside down, with angled end against fence. Cut other end at 45°.
  4. Test fit and adjust as needed.

Cut Wall Segments

For straight sections along the wall:

  1. Measure length of cabinet run.
  2. Cut molding to length with 45° angles on each end.
  3. Repeat for each section.

Preparing Cabinets for Crown Molding

Proper prep ensures the molding mounts flush and strong.

  • Remove any dust, grease or debris so the molding adheres well.
  • Attach wood blocking strips if needed to build out framing.
  • Caulk any gaps between cabinets and walls.
  • Determine height and use a laser level or chalk snap line as a guide.

How to Install Crown Molding on Cabinets

Once molding is cut and cabinets prepped, you’re ready for installation:

Mount the End Caps

  1. Apply adhesive to the back side of one end cap.
  2. Press end cap into place with bottom edge aligned with your height line.
  3. Nail into place through top nailing channel with 4-5 finish nails.
  4. Repeat on opposite end.

Add Inside Corners

  1. Run a bead of adhesive along length of the inside corner piece.
  2. Align bottom with guide line and press into place where cabinets meet.
  3. Nail through top nailing strip.

Install Outside Corners

  1. Apply adhesive to back side of outside corner piece.
  2. Press into corner, aligned with height guide.
  3. Nail in place through nailing channel.

Attach Wall Segments

  1. Run a bead of adhesive along the wall piece.
  2. Press molding to wall between cabinets, bottom aligned with guide.
  3. Nail in place, working from one end to the other.
  4. Use filler to patch any nail holes.

Finish the Job

  • Caulk along top and bottom edges for a seamless look.
  • Fill any gaps with wood filler and touch up with paint.
  • Add trim details like rosettes at corners or ceiling medallions.
  • Sit back and enjoy your newly transformed space!

Tips for Installing Crown Molding on Cabinets

Follow these tips and tricks for the best results:

  • Use a miter saw with a sharp blade for clean, precise cuts.
  • Keep the crown molding oriented properly when measuring, marking, and cutting.
  • Allow for slight overhang on the end caps.
  • Apply painter’s tape to cabinets for alignment and to prevent adhesive drips.
  • Use a pneumatic finish nailer and nails for the easiest, quickest installation.
  • Pre-drill molding to prevent splitting if using a hammer.
  • Fill gaps with paintable caulk for seamless transitions.
  • Touch up nail holes and imperfections with wood filler before painting.
  • Consider adding lighting above cabinets to highlight the new molding.

Common Questions about Installing Crown Molding on Cabinets

What type of crown molding looks best on cabinets?

Simple, versatile shapes like classic half-round or minimal cove style molding pair well with most cabinetry. Stay away from highly ornamental or very tall moldings which can overwhelm cabinets.

Should I install crown molding before or after new cabinets?

It’s best to install after. New cabinets rarely sit flush to the walls, so molding installed before them would leave unsightly gaps.

How do I measure for cabinet crown molding?

Run a tape measure along the wall over the top of the cabinets from one end to the other. Add about 1″ extra on each end for overhang.

What’s the best way to cut crown molding?

Use a miter saw set at the proper angles based on whether you’re cutting an inside or outside corner. Ensure molding is oriented correctly on saw.

How do I attach crown molding to metal cabinets?

Use self-adhesive Velcro strips on back of molding instead of nails. Apply to clean cabinets, peel off backing and press molding into place.

Should crown molding match or contrast cabinet color?

Either way can work beautifully. Matching provides a streamlined built-in look. Contrasting offers a great pop of color.

How do I prep cabinets to install crown molding?

Clean thoroughly, caulk gaps, add blocking if needed, determine desired height and use a level line as a guide.

What tools do I need to install crown molding?

You’ll need a miter saw, finish nails and nail gun or hammer, wood filler, caulk, a stud finder, laser level or chalk line, and safety equipment.

How do I get perfect seams with crown molding?

Carefully measuring and cutting precision angles is key. Apply caulk along the top and bottom edges for seamless transitions.


Installing crown molding on top of kitchen or bathroom cabinets is an easy weekend project that makes a big impact. With some careful planning upfront to allow for proper measurements, gathering the right tools and materials, methodically cutting the molding pieces, and securely mounting the molding to the cabinets, you can enjoy your new high-end built-in look. Taking your time to measure precisely, keep the molding properly oriented, and cut angles accurately will ensure tight seams and a flawless finish. Just remember to prep the cabinets thoroughly, use adhesive and nails for solid adhesion, fill any nail holes and gaps, and finish with caulk and touch up paint. Follow the techniques outlined here for professional-looking results, and transform your space with stylish new crown molding on your cabinets.