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Old 01-08-2008, 12:41 PM   #1
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Installing Crown Molding in Plaster

I recently bought an older house and it has plaster walls. One of the previous owners had tried to put up crown molding, but the job was unfinished and looked bad so I pulled it down. There were lots of holes, chips and cracks in the plaster where they had nailed the molding in the plaster. I repaired the plaster and have painted the walls and now want to put new crown molding up. I am thinking about doing it myself, but have also called several others about doing the job. My concern is over how the molding should be attached to the wall. I have always heard that nails are not good in plaster, and after fixing all the damage the previous nails did, I understand why. As I mentioned, I have spoke to a few people and both have said that they would use a nail gun. I have looked some things up on the web, and I am not convinced of this practice, as it still may damage the plaster. I know that I may not see the damage, but I would like it to be done right. I was thinking that if I did it that I would use liquid nail, or maybe put some kind of backer against the wall to screw, glue or nail the molding to. Anyway, I am confused on what to do and any and all advice and/or recommendations would be great.


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Old 01-08-2008, 11:17 PM   #2
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As has been suggested, I think a nail gun would do less damage than a hammer and nails....It will also be much easier and faster. What I do is use latex painter's caulk as an adhesive. I put a bead on the back side of the crown top and bottom where it touches the wall and ceiling. Then I just shoot nails into the plaster or drywall. I don't go out of my way to locate studs...they are usually difficult to find in plaster anyway. The nails will hold plenty tight until the caulking dries. The caulking adheres very well when it dries. Keep a damp rag handy as you install to wipe away excess caulk that oozes out. I usually paint the molding first, then install it, then go back and fill nail holes and caulk gaps at wall and apply a coat of paint to the face of the crown. This system eliminates the need to cut in the paint on the thin edges of the molding where it meets the wall.

(Note: I have always painted the molding pure white. If the molding is a different color, the caulking won't match it, so you will need to cut in anyway)


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Old 01-09-2008, 06:55 AM   #3
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As S.I.A. stated, the best method is always going to be adhesives and nails. Anythime you install anything on any walls, there will be "damage"...period (it's a fact of installation). The only way that you will be able to keep your walls undamaged is not to put anything on them.

Repairing chips in plaster is simple, you can use spackle to do it too.

Good luck.
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Old 01-11-2008, 09:15 PM   #4
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You are worried about damaging the plaster with a few nails? Well what do you think is going to happen when you GLUE crown moulding to the wall? Do you imagine that the glue will peel off cleanly someday and not damage the plaster?!?

Actually, the glue will permanently bond to the plaster and if you ever removed it, you'll likely rip a ginormous gash in your plaster. Don't overthink this. Nails are best, and if a little glue is needed (such as when there is no backing to nail to) just apply it in penny-sized dots every 16" or so.
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Old 01-19-2008, 11:24 PM   #5
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I second the Nail Gun approach. I would of course use backing (A ripped piece of 2X4) as well which should be screwed into the studs as a solid base for nailing and so you don't have to hunt for studs whilst your on a ladder.

Good luck.
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Old 05-05-2008, 03:19 PM   #6
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Plaster Moulding

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Old 05-24-2008, 10:39 AM   #7
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Can I apply moling over existing molding? The walls are plaster and the existing molding is about 3in
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Old 05-24-2008, 11:52 PM   #8
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I've seen crown moulding installed on plaster, and the moulding itself was actually made of plaster. A blade was ground to the profile of the moulding, and was drawn across layers of stiff wet plaster to build the shape. The blade followed the ceiling as well as the wall, so it was always in position. It took several applications of plaster, allowing each layer to dry thoroughly.

Personally, I'd go for the nail gun.
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Old 05-25-2008, 07:11 AM   #9
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I agree with the above.Painters cauld on top and bottom and nail gun. If I install anything over 3" I back it up with a cant strip ripped on the table saw. good luck Bob


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