A Plan for Molding Installation

This story shows you how to plan for molding installation in any room in your house using the floor plan.

When you survey a room prior to molding installation, look for a logical starting point. The floor plan of a typical room shows that the baseboard installation consists of eight pieces. Note that the job splits into two sections: pieces 1-3, and pieces 4-8.

In theory, you could start the installation at the edge of any doorway casing, offering four potential starting points. But the piece marked No. 1 is the preferred starting place for most workers for two good reasons. First, the sequence shown enables a right-handed worker to cut all right-hand copes in the room. Second, Piece 2 is the longest strip of molding in the installation. If you make a mistake in cutting it, you can still use the strip elsewhere in the room.

As a general rule, right-handers will find it more convenient to cut and install moldings in a counterclockwise direction around a room, and that's what the drawing shows. If you're left-handed and prefer cutting left copes, the installation sequence would be: 3, 2, 1 and then a countdown starting at 8 and ending at 4. A lefty also should modify the cuts to turn the copes left-handed. For example, Piece 3 would have two butt ends, the cope and butt would shift ends on Piece 2, the end of Piece 1 in the corner would be a cope, and its other end would butt against the door casing.

Right and Left Copes

The photo shows the coping strategy most right-handers prefer -- cutting the delicate top of the molding first. Here's why: If you start from the bottom, the thin top could break off just as you're completing the cut. Left-handers also prefer to start at the top edge but with the miter cut on the end of the molding.

Three Prime Cuts

You need only three types of end cuts to install moldings around a room: the butt, the cope, and the outside miter. The inside miter cut (not shown) is rarely used because the cope is superior at producing a tight joint, even when corners are slightly more or less than a perfect right angle. The cope also will remain tight even as a house settles and shifts.


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