Cove Molding Installation

Lead Image for Cove Molding Installation
  • 8-16 hours
  • Advanced
  • 200-700
What You'll Need
Table or skill saw
Miter box and saw (optional but recommended)
Caulking gun
Silicone caulking
Small finish nails
Wood putty
Nail gun (optional)
Air compressor (optional)
Tape measure
Cove molding
Paint or varnish
Mineral spirits

Cove molding can personalize your home without overpowering its furnishings or overall décor. You can choose from literally hundreds of designs to add beauty, quiet elegance, and charm to any room in your home.

Cove molding comes in many styles and several materials. Vinyl is the choice for quick and easy installation as a baseboard material in the laundry, bath, and utility rooms. For a greater decorating effect, you might choose wooden moldings made of oak, mahogany, walnut, cherry, birch, or plain pine. Polyurethane moldings are inexpensive, light, and easy to install; and they will wear longer than wood because polyurethane does not shrink or expand as does wood.

Measure the Installation Area

Begin by accurately and carefully measuring and recording all measurements for each application of cove molding. Use paper and pencil and make rough drawings with carefully marked inches and feet for each piece of molding you need. Also, indicate, on your paper where you intend to place each piece of cove molding so that you don't get them confused later on. Attempt to use the longest pieces possible, but if you do need to make splices, try and make them as inconspicuous, near the end of the pieces if at all possible.

Cut the Cove Molding

Although using a table or skill saw is quick and easy for cutting cove molding, using a miter box and a sharp handsaw will prevent splitting as well as provide neat, clean, and accurate cuts. You can also use this technique to cut scarf joints when you join two pieces of cove molding together. They will fit tightly with barely any glue to hold them together.

Install the Molding

Locate your wall studs, which are located approximately every 16 inches in most homes, and nail the cove molding pieces directly into the studs to ensure a solid installation. You should not use glue for installing cove moldings. Gluing will cause problems if you need to replace sections of your cove molding at a future date.

Use a hammer and nails to attach moldings and a nail set to drive the nails deeper into the wood. Cover all nail holes with wood putty. If you use a nail gun and compressor, these nails will hardly be noticed, but you can also cover them with wood putty.

Apply Optional Finish

You will apply a finish appropriate to the material of the cove moldings you chose. Vinyl usually comes pre-finished as does polyurethane, but you can paint both to match a room’s décor and color scheme. You can also paint wooden cove molding, but you can retain the natural look of hardwoods if you stain and varnish instead.

Before you apply a finish, should you choose to do so, you should roughen cove moldings with 100-grit sandpaper to smooth out wood putty used to cover holes. After you sand and wipe away dust, you may apply paint or varnish.