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Installing Beautiful Three Piece Crown Molding: DIY Steps and Video

This Three Piece Crown Molding is absolutely the most beautiful crown molding I’ve installed so far! I LOVE this look. Here’s the DIY steps!

DIY Three Piece Crown Molding

Originally, this room already had a 4 1/4″ crown molding installed. BUT, this large room, with it’s 10-foot high walls, needed something bigger!

After a few months of going back and forth on a few crown and even ceiling design options, I finally decided on what I wanted to do to accent the 10′ high ceilings in this room.

Image of a room with three piece crown molding made with baseboard. Text says "DIY 3 Piece Crown".
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I realized that a 3-piece crown molding would be the PERFECT way to top off the home office built ins and all of the gorgeous trim and molding in this room.

OK, let’s get to those install steps!

Materials Needed for 3-Piece Stacked Crown Molding

Image of a room with three piece crown molding made with baseboard. Text says "DIY 3 Piece Crown".

How Do You Make a 3-Piece Crown Molding

DIY Note: These install instructions assume that you have relatively smooth, square, and level walls and ceilings.

If you have an older, settled home or plaster walls, you might need to do extra work to get the best look with any type of trim and molding install.

Use a Scarf Joint, When Needed

AND, DON’T FORGET to use a “scarf joint” whenever 2 boards will be butted up against each other on one wall. A scarf joint uses a 45-degree angle cut to overlap the 2 pieces of trim.

Scarf joints are used because they look better and the caulk you use in that line will look better overtime than caulk used in between to 90-degree cuts.

Image shows a scarf joint on 3 piece stacked crown molding.
Scarf joints are cut at a 45 on a Miter Saw.

Step One – Install Baseboard On Ceiling

With this stacked crown molding, you start by installing the baseboard on the ceiling. You can install the back edge of that baseboard right up against the wall.

I used 1 1/4″ brad nails to install all 3 pieces of this crown molding look. I recommend slightly angling your Brad Nailer so that the nails go in at a slight angle.

That angle will help support the weight of the baseboard, so that it doesn’t droop off the ceiling under it’s own weight.

Be sure to use Brad nails every 12″ or so, at the back and towards the middle of the baseboard. You can see what I mean in the picture below.

Optional: You can use construction adhesive to attach the baseboard to the ceiling, if necessary.

Image shows people installing three piece crown molding on a ceiling.
Here’s a look at how I hold the Brad Nailer at an angle.
Image shows a side view of 3-piece crown molding after installing.
You can see in this picture how I make sure the front and back nails on the baseboard stays under the crown molding.

Step Two – Install Baseboard On Wall With 1/2″ Gap

After installing the ceiling baseboard across the whole room, you can install the baseboard on the walls. Leave a 1/2″ gap between the ceiling baseboard and the wall baseboard.

A little scrap 1/2″ plywood is a great spacer for this job.

Again, you’ll use 1 1/4″ brad nails at a slight angle, with the same nail placement and spacing as with the ceiling.

Image shows do it yourself stacked crown molding being installed.
I installed our wall baseboard butted up against the ceiling, but that was a mistake. Watch the video below to hear why I recommend a 1/2″ gap now.
Side cut out view of how to install stacked crown molding.
You can see the 1/2″ plywood I used as an example for this sample three piece crown molding.

Step Three – Install Crown Molding

Once all of the wall baseboard has been installed, it’s time to install the crown molding. Install the crown for this three piece crown molding look just like any other crown molding install.

If you need basic crown molding cutting and installation tips, check out this post from Home Depot.

Be sure to use Brad Nails about every 12″ along the top and bottom edges of the crown molding. Again, a slight angle on those brad nails will help to keep that crown held tightly against that baseboard.

That angle also helps to reduce the big caulk cracks that can form during the winter, when the cold weather causes the trim to contract.

Step Four – Use Spackle and Caulk Everywhere

Once you’ve finished installing all 3-pieces of this crown molding look, it’s time to finish it off with spackle and caulk.

I start by filling all of the holes and any damaged spots with spackle. Let that dry fully, then sand it smooth with 150-grit sandpaper.

After you’ve finished with spackle, dust off the molding, then apply caulk to all cracks. You’ll need caulk where any 2-pieces of trim meet each other AND where the trim meets the wall.

Be sure to wipe off excess caulk as you go, it needs to be smooth and perfect before it starts to dry.

If you need it, you can see a walkthrough of how to use spackle and caulk in a previous post. There’s a video guide on that post too.

Image shows 3-piece crown molding sample with brad nail holes.
Keep the brad nails for the crown near the edges, so that they aren’t just hitting air behind them.

Step Five – Paint

After the caulk has dried, you’re ready to paint! I used Eggshell Sheen on the trim, walls, and ceiling in this room. You can see more examples of Eggshell Sheen on my ceilings in a previous post.

Eggshell Sheen is great for reflecting light in a room, but not so glossy that it accentuates every imperfection.

Short Install Video

If any of the steps above are confusing, watch this video. Seeing something done can sometimes help.

Easy DIY Three Piece Crown Molding - Get this beautiful layered crown molding look!

Does Crown Molding Add Value?

Crown Molding adds a custom look and beautiful detail to any room in a home. That extra detail absolutely adds value, in most cases.

But, if your trim and molding hasn’t been installed properly OR caulked and painted properly, that can have a negative effect on home value.

Bad trim work or trim work that needs repainting, caulking, and patching will be seen as just more work for a perspective buyer.

So, if possible, freshen up your trim and crown molding spackle and caulk and a fresh coat of paint before listing.

Image shows beautiful wood built ins in a home office with three piece crown molding.
This room turned out SO GOOD and a big part of that is this beautiful crown molding.

Does Crown Molding Make Ceilings Look Higher?

Crown molding helps to define the line between your walls and ceiling. If done right, that crown molding can make your ceilings look higher.

To make your ceilings look higher with crown molding, stick with white or light paint colors on the ceiling and walls. Then go for a nice Eggshell or Satin Sheen on the trim.

And, if your walls are 8′ high or shorter, stick with simple 1-piece crown molding or a stacked crown molding look that only goes about 5″ down the wall.

To make a ceiling look higher, I also like to use an Eggshell Sheen on ceilings. That light-reflecting sheen brightens the whole room and draws the eye up. I paint every ceiling in my home with eggshell now.

Image of a room with three piece crown molding made with baseboard. Text says "DIY 3 Piece Crown".
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That’s it for everything you need to know about How To Install Three Piece Crown Molding. Check out this post about the Beautiful Two Piece Crown Molding for another crown molding tutorial.

See more of my Popular DIY Trim Molding Posts

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