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Crowning Beauty

In Nyack, N.Y., 30 miles above New York City, Jeff Carson wants to add crown moulding to the ceiling of his house. He says he has installed moulding around doors, but never around ceilings, so he was a little concerned about damaging the plaster walls and getting the project level and even.

The Saturday Early Show's Rent-a-Husband Kaile Warren says adding the moulding will not be a problem.

He says adding crown moulding into Carson's house will not be difficult, because the walls look straight and the ceilings look level.

"Ideally crown moulding should compliment your existing trim and not overpower it," Warren says. "The first thing we need to do is remove all the wall hangings so they don't come down when we're nailing the trim. Then what I'd like to do is take all the furniture and move it to the center of the room."

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Warren says the next step is to locate the studs - the interior framing of the wall - in the room. To do that, Warren uses a device called a stud finder.

"To use a stud finder is actually quite simple," Warren says. "Just set it against the wall and turn the button on and slide [it] against the wall."

Once the studs are found, Warren suggests putting tape where all the studs would be. He recommends using painter's tape to mark the stud locations instead of a pencil. This not only makes the stud easier to spot, but it eliminates the need to erase or paint over all the pencil marks when you're finished.

Now that the studs are located, you're ready to put the moulding up. "I recommend painting the moulding before it's cut and nailed in place to avoid a more difficult and often messy task later," says Warren. "If you're leaving the wood natural, apply your polyeurathane in advance as well."

The next step is to get a measurement for the first seam. Because Carson's wall is 21 feet long and the stock that was purchased is 16 feet long, the crew needs a seam near the end of it. Warren uses a tape to measure to the nearest stud just shy of 16 feet. He makes sure to hold the tape as straight as possible because a little sag can throw the joint off.

"By cutting a scarf joint or angled joint, you avoid the seam of two pieces of wood butted together on your wall," says Warren. "To allow for an adequate amount of overlap, I recommend setting the mitre saw at 33-and-a-half degrees."

You want to make sure you hold the moulding as tight to the ceiling as possible. So, spread your hand out a little bit and drive the nail in.

To ensure a proper fit around this ceiling vent, Warren marks the moulding after it has been cut to fit the wall. Then he recommends trimming away the excess wood with a saw. Warren suggests leaving a little space in case you ever want to remove the grate from the ceiling vent.

Finally, the project is ready for coping. Warren recommends that inexperience workers cut a block of the moulding and practice with that first.

"If this was conventional crown moulding we would cut it different, you set it in a saw and make a backwards cut, but because it's 90 degree stock we're going to cut it [differently]," says Warren. "I set it at a 45 degree angle."

With a coping saw, you would cope the wood at a backwards angle and follow the shape of the wood - basically cutting out the shape or outline of the wood. You should cope at a backwards angle so there's no extra wood behind it and that will slide into the grooves of the adjacent piece.

Afterwards, nail the moulding into place.

Once all the moulding is nailed, use a nail set to counter sink the nails into the wood. Then fill the holes with putty, allow to dry and paint. Any spaces along the ceiling and walls around can be filled with caulk.

Warren says the finish product gives the room some character — and it looks great.

Note: The angles on the moulding were cut with the use of a Mitre (mite er) saw, which can be rented at most home improvement stores. A coping saw, which was used to trim the moulding can be purchased for about $5.

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