Installing Wall Frame Molding

Learn how to build and install decorative wall frames to add architectural interest to a home of any style.

Making and Installing Wall Frames

Wall frames are a traditional design element commonly found in Georgian and neoclassical settings. However, they can be right at home in virtually any style -- even a house that's decidedly modern.

The frames are a purely decorative element that breaks up expanses of wall and add architectural interest. Popular locations include an entry, a hallway, a stairway, a living room, or a dining room.

You can give the area inside a frame a distinctive treatment by choosing a different paint color from the rest of the wall and even choosing a third shade for the frame itself. If you do this, save yourself a lot of work by painting the walls before installing the frames. Prepaint the frames, too. Wallpaper or stenciled motifs are other possible treatments for the field inside the frame.

Checklist

Time
About 1 hour for a single wall frame; time per frame decreases when you're making and installing a batch

Tools
Miter saw, 2-foot level, hammer, nail set

Skills
Mitering, driving and countersinking nails, checking for level

Prep
Plan the size of the frames

Materials
Molding for frames, 3/4-inch plywood for assembly jig and gauge block, glue, #6x1-1/4-inch flathead screws for construction of jig, construction adhesive, finishing nails, painter's caulk

Step 1

Cut the miter joints for your wall frames, using a stopblock setup to ensure uniform lengths. Some saws have an accessory for this purpose, but you can get accurate results by bolting your saw to a sturdy table and adjusting its distance from a wall.

Step 2

Create a corner assembly jig by screwing a square of plywood to a plywood baseboard large enough to fully support your frames. Check the accuracy of the corner with a framing square. Clamp this setup to your worktable, and assemble the frames with glue and countersunk finishing nails. Place each frame on a flat surface until the glue dries.

Step 3

Squeeze a tiny bead of panel adhesive onto the rear face of the frame. Make this bead as small as possible so you don't have to clean up messy squeezeout. If you know your walls are relatively flat, you may substitute dots of adhesive, placing one near each corner and no farther than 12 inches apart around the perimeter of the frame.

Step 4

With the help of a plywood gauge block resting on the floor, position the frame on the wall. After you check the frame for level, nail it into position. Nails into studs offer the most security, but even nails driven at an angle into drywall will hold the frame until the adhesive takes over. A pneumatic brad nailer makes nailing easier and minimizes the risk of splitting moldings.

Step 5

Fill any gaps between the wall and the edges of the frame with painter's caulk. If you cut the nozzle at a taper, you'll have better control and an accurate bead. If necessary, touch up the paint.


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