Installing Crown molding is a very popular finishing touch for any cabinet line, but most people get confused about how to actually install it. DISCLAIMER: When installing crown, we are talking in general terms, which is why we do not reference height from ceiling, etc. Each cabinet line and each manufacturer will most likely have different styles of crown molding, but the installation will be the same (so don’t worry if your crown molding doesn’t match the images in the pictures)
There are several different ways you can install crown moulding on top of your cabinets and it comes down to the look you are going for and the type of overlay on the cabinets. For half overlay and even some ¾ overlay cabinets, there is still enough room on the face frame to secure crown moulding to. For full overlay cabinets, you would have to secure it to the top of the cabinets.
So how do you secure it to the top of the cabinets?
In most cases you will need a nailing block behind the crown to secure it to. This can be a thin piece of 1” x 1” material that secures to the top of the face frame and acts as support. You should secure the nailing blocks to the cabinet, then the crown molding to the nailing blocks as shown in the diagram.
Some people prefer to have the crown molding set back. In this case, you can use the nailing block, but secure it to back of the face frame before installing your cabinets (as shown in the diagram). This would be my preferred method of installation, since it gives you something to secure the crown molding to and something for the crown molding to rest on.
For half overlay cabinets (such as your basic Oak, Sunset, and Ginger Maple) you have multiple options of how to install the crown moulding. You can use one of the options mentioned above, or you can secure it directly to the face frame. This is a straight forward installation but will also be affected by how level your ceilings are.
And lastly, an increasingly popular option, which will also help you hide any imperfections on your ceiling, and also make the crown molding look larger, is to add a toe kick behind it. I really like this look when installing crown molding on walls, but it also looks great on cabinets. You would take the same approach of adding a nailing block to the cabinets, you would then secure the toe kick to the nailing block and finally, secure the crown to the nailing block. If you are going straight to the ceiling with this, I would also recommend that you add additional support at the ceiling. You may need to scribe the toe kick to the profile of your ceiling as well.
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Here is a handy infographic that summarizes everything from this article: