How to Install Picture Frame Moulding: Part One

Installing picture frame moulding in our entryway was the first real project we started in our new house and I had it on my list from day one.  The only thing I wasn't sure about was whether I wanted to do picture frame moulding  or board and batten.  In the end we decided on picture frame moulding and I love the results (it didn't require removing the baseboards which was a huge plus)!  This first tutorial will show you the measurements we used to install picture farm moulding on the first floor of the entryway.  Later this week, I'll show you the angles and cuts we used to complete the stairwell.

The tools we used are:
     Construction adhesive - I used this stuff
     Paintable White caulk
     Measuring tape
     Miter saw
     White paint (I used Valspar Ultra White in gloss)
     Paint Brush

We used three different types of moulding:

     Chair Rail Moulding (top)
     Colonial Moulding (just beneath the chair rail - this is the very thin strip of wood)
     Colonial Moulding (for the picture frames - this wood is slightly wider)


First, we put up the chair rail at 36"above the floor (36" from floor to bottom of moulding).  Measure your wall and cut the moulding to size.  We used 45 degree cuts for the inside and outside corners.  Since we were going to paint it, I didn't worry about small gaps because they could be filled with caulk later.

To adhere the wood to the wall, simply use construction adhesive and painter's tape to hold it in place.  Be sure to use a level when placing it on the wall, otherwise your moulding could slowly start to slope and won't be even when you make your way back around the room to your starting point.

Next measure, cut and install the thin colonial moulding below your chair rail.  I used a 1x2 as a spacer to determine how far below the chair rail moulding this should go.

Placing this molding helped me determine where the picture frame boxes should go.

Our picture frames are 24" high in the entryway and are placed 2.5" above the baseboards.   For our picture frame boxes, I wanted them to be fairly evenly spaced regardless of how wide the wall was.  Depending on how wide the wall was, the width of the boxes would fluctuate.  Here's an example of how I did the math to determine how big the boxes on a wall would be:

I wanted each of the boxes to be somewhere between 4" - 4.5" apart from each other.  For the wall below I used the following math.

First, I measured the width of the wall.  This wall is 71" wide.  I approximated that I could fit about 3 boxes on this wall.  So, I took 4.5 and multiplied by 4 and got 18".  Then subtract that from the total width of the wall (you get 53").  Divide that number by 3 and you get approx 17.5".  That means that each box is 17.5" wide.  I wanted all of my boxes to be relatively close in size.  The boxes on the wall adjacent to this one are 12" wide.  I'll show you the math for that one as well.

The wall adjacent is 36" wide.  Let's say that I started out assuming that I would space these boxes at 4.5" as well.  Then my math would be:

box width = 36 - (3x4.5) = 22.5/2 = 11.25"

I thought that boxes that are 11.25" wide were a little too small, so I decided to see how wide the boxes would be if they were 4" apart from each other.

box width = 36 - (3x4) = 24/2 = 12"

This result was 12" and was much better.  For this second wall, I cut the picture frame boxes to 12" wide.  There really isn't any rule that says how wide your boxes need to be or how far apart they should be spaced.  Use your judgement and see what looks good in your space.  This is what worked for us.

For these boxes, the wood can just be cut at 45 degree angles and then glued to the wall with construction adhesive.

Don't worry about small gaps between your wood.  Once the glue dries, you can remove the painters tape and then use white caulk around all of the edges.  This will help cover up an imperfections.  To caulk around the wood, I simply placed dana  small bead around ll of the edges and then went back with a damp paper towel to remove any excess caulk.

After the caulk had dried, I applied two coats of ultra white paint in gloss from Valspar.  I used a brush for everything, but I'm sure you could use a small roller if you wanted to.  Painting the moulding and the wall the same color will also help cover up any mistakes you may have made.  You could also paint the moulding an accent color, but this might draw attention to any imperfections you may have.

As you can see, adding picture frame moulding is a simple way to add interest to your entryway (or any other room in your house).  Check back later this week on how to measure and install this same moulding up a stairwell.


  1. Great job! It looks so good! We are doing that in our entryway and stairway this weekend! I love how yours looks, I'm blogging about it today and want to use your post if that's ok?

  2. Forgot to add, I would include the link to your blog, including the disclaimer that they need to follow the link and pin from your post not mine.

    1. Sure! Thanks for visiting! I'd love to see how your entryway turns out! :)

  3. Thanks for the measurement walk through, I have installed the shadow box wainscotting and will take on the picture frame wall molding soon.


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