Over the past few years, I’ve thought a lot about what my favorite type of DIY is. I always come back to one thing: trim. Whether it’s window or door trim, or decorative trim like picture frame moulding, it’s just such a quick and simple DIY that makes such an impact!
Why Add Picture Frame Moulding?
About a year and a half ago, I installed picture frame moulding in my living room. It was my first time installing an accent wall, and I went back and forth on different types of accent trim throughout the process. I ultimately decided on picture frame moulding, and it’s actually one of my favorite (if not my favorite) projects I’ve done in my house!
Now, the trim I did here was a bit more detailed because of the angles and it took me quite a while to get everything perfect. Plus working on a staircase was a bit tricky. I even had a pretty bad black and blue mark from a nasty fall I took to prove it! But, it was so worth it, and I catch myself just staring at it from time to time because I love it so much! I have big plans to add this to other parts of my house in the future, but first, I wanted to add it to this big blank wall in my kitchen!
What You’ll Need
- Moulding (yes, she looks like a pregnant lady from the side!)
- Brad nails
- Wood filler (this is by far the best out there- it doesn’t require sanding!!)
- Paint of your choice (you can paint them an accent color if you choose, but I went with the same color as my walls: Sherwin Williams Eider White)
- Scrap wood to make a spacer
- Miter saw (you can also use these shears. I haven’t personally used them, but they seem great if you don’t have a saw!)
- Nail gun
- Measuring tape and/or laser measuring tool
- Nail set
How to Install Picture Frame Moulding
Step 1: Measure and Plan Your Cuts
There are lots of different ways you can install picture moulding! In my living room, the “main” part of the wall has three boxes, but the middle one is larger than the sides. This is because we had a TV that I thought would be better framed. For my kitchen, I decided to do three equal size boxes.
I also like to add a chair rail, but you can also ditch this completely! There are also fun ways to add corners, and you can even do double boxes if you prefer.
Once you decide on the style, you’ll want to determine your measurements. This will include how big your gaps are. For me, I decided to do 6” from the sides and 3” between all the trim (including the crown and baseboards).
I had a couple of things to work around when it came to what I considered the sides. First on the left-hand side is my pantry. So did I want the distance to be measured from the wall (up top), or from the trim? On the right, I have an arch. Did I want my distance to go from the edge of the wall or from where the arch is? Ultimately, I decided that it would probably look cleanest if I measured 6” in from the top corners.
Was this the “right” decision? Who knows, but it makes sense to me and I’m happy with it!
Step 2: Cut and Install Chair Rail
Since I used a chair rail, I decided to install this first since it would basically act as my guide. If you aren’t using this, you can skip ahead!
The trim comes in 8’ pieces, but my walls were JUST slightly longer. So, the first thing I did was bevel the far left side of a piece of trim. I wanted my seam to be on the far left since it’d be less noticeable over there. When I go to install the shorter piece, having a bevel cut will hide the seam better than a straight cut.
Next, I wanted to have a return on the far outside where the trim meets the corner. This gives it a much more professional look. You’ll bevel this corner again, then grab a scrap piece that you can again bevel to match it up so that it looks like the moulding is “returning” into the wall.
Once you have the piece cut and set, just grab some glue and secure them! I love this glue for this type of project because it dries super quickly. Just add a couple of small dots, and hold it in place for about 15 seconds and you’re good.
Standard chair rails measure at 36” in height, so that’s what I decided for mine. I measured 36” from the floor and made marks along the wall. Then, I grabbed my trim and matched up the middle with my line, and added a nail in! The trim is flexible so there’s no possible way to get it straight when you’re installing such a large piece. This first nail is really just to get it secured.
Then, you’ll grab your level, and start adding nails down to the edges until it’s all secured.
Once I had the 8’ piece in, I grabbed my small piece to go on the end and secured that in place too.
Step 3: Batch Cut Horizontal Pieces & Install
My measurements worked out pretty well so that each box width was going to be 25”. This made getting accurate cuts a bit easier!
At this point, I decided to batch cut all my horizontal pieces. With three upper boxes and three lower boxes, this was 12 pieces, all at 25”, with inside mitered corners.
Once I had everything cut, it was time to install!
First, I created two spacers. One was 6” and the other was 3”. I started on the top because I knew this would be the most difficult because I’d have to be on a ladder, plus, this is where I decided my 6” space was going to be! I used my spacer to give me a 6” gap on the side where the wall is, and 3” gap from the crown moulding. Then, I installed my first piece!
When I was installing these, I only put one nail in the middle for now. At this point, I was just worried about placement. If you nail them in too much here, you may have trouble getting tight corners when you go to do the vertical pieces, especially if your walls aren’t perfectly straight (they rarely are!).
After I installed my first piece, I moved to the middle and used my spacer to give me a 3” gap between the two new trim pieces, and the crown moulding. Then, I moved to the far side, and again, made sure I had a 3” gap between the trim, and 6” between the wall.
After I had this first row, we just need to make sure the next rows below it match up. To do this, I used my large level and drew a line from the top corner. This told me where to line up my next row, and I again just followed the same protocol. This time, however, we only need to worry about the 3” gap.
Step 4: Batch Cut Vertical Pieces & Install
Once your horizontal pieces are in, you can move on to your vertical pieces! I waited until this point to measure because I wanted to ensure they were going to be exact! I used my laser measuring tool to get an exact measurement for the heights. Then, I started with the taller boxes and cut six pieces to size.
For these, the key is to get the pieces lined up with the corners, make a really tight seam, and then nail into the corners. Again, don’t fully nail everything in yet. You want some flexibility to accommodate for any bowing walls. Once you get all four of your corners nice and tight, take your level to make sure everything is sitting correctly, and then you can add additional nails to get everything nice and secured!
Step 5: Finishing Touches
Once everything is installed, it’s time for those final finishing touches to really clean it up!
If any of your nails didn’t go all the way in, you’ll want to use a nail set to help punch them through. Then, you can start filling your holes. This is by far my favorite filler. It doesn’t require sanding! Just wait until it’s dry, and take a baby wipe to remove the excess. So. Much. Better.
Then, you can start caulking. You’ll want to caulk around the outside boxes and inside boxes, as well as the top/bottom of the chair rail. To get clean lines, my biggest tips are:
- Keep the hole small! You don’t need a ton of caulk here.
- Have a wet finger as you smooth out the caulk after applying.
- Use a baby wipe to go over it after you’ve smoothed it out to get any excess caulk cleaned up.
I know that a lot of people don’t like caulking, and I get it. But I honestly really enjoy it because it makes SUCH an impact. To do this whole wall took me roughly 30 minutes, so it was DEFINITELY worth it. Also, this is my favorite caulk, by far. There is definitely a difference between products.
(Before and after caulk!)
And finally, time to paint! You can choose to do an accent color different than your walls, or even a different finish. But, just be prepared that it will take a bit longer! I choose to do the same color and finish as the rest of my kitchen.
When it comes to painting detailed trim, especially PVC, I highly recommend doing multiple light coats. The paint tends to settle in corners, especially on slick surfaces like PVC. Your first coat is going to look very splotchy, but the second coat will stick much better. I ended up doing three light coats, which I think was perfect!
So what do you think? Think this is a weekend project you’d try? I love this style and can’t wait to continue adding it to other areas of my home in the future!