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Installing Bathroom Moldings

One of the best decorative elements you can install in the bathroom is custom molding. While this is not the easiest DIY project, it is well within the capabilities of a handy homeowner.

Selection is the first hurdle to overcome. That can be ultra-easy, maybe too easy. Some might just pick anything and slap it on. But the results will be disappointing. Take some time to explore the available choices. Envision the final result and how it integrates with the overall design scheme.

A classic Greek look, for example, will fit well with a marble floor and brass water fixtures. But it will be out of place in a Colonial setting. A dark English gentleman’s club-style molding will clash with a bathroom decorated in pastels and perfume bottles.

Once you have the right style, the project is straightforward. It just requires patience and careful workmanship.

Molding can be ordered pre-cut to the proper length, complete with corner cuts. But rarely will the results be sufficiently exact. The reason is that the cuts will be made well to fit the pieces together at, say, 45∞ angles.

But few bathrooms are constructed so precisely. The molding will either be flat against the wall and have a gap at the joint, or the joint will be perfect, but the pieces will shift away from the wall. To get them right for your bathroom some on-the-spot cutting is usually needed. But it’s easier to make one cut on a flat piece than shave a pre-cut piece, especially if the pre-cut is already stained.

Measure carefully the corners of your bathroom wherever you plan to place molding. Not all are exactly 90∞. Don’t assume that the walls come together at the same angle at the floor as at the ceiling. It will be close, but not exact.

Corners can be cut precisely to your needs with a compound miter saw. If you don’t own one, you can mark the pieces to your exact specifications, then take them to the local Home Depot and have them cut. It’s always better to cut too little rather than too much. You can shave or sand small amounts during installation.

Allow also for the fact that walls are not always perfectly flat. Some adjustments will be needed for walls that bow or scoop slightly. That can be handled by carefully shaving the back of the molding. But it’s easier to use somewhat flexible material and use glue or a series of small nails to press the molding into the exact right position along the wall.

Once everything is cut and shaped just right, the rest is easy. Nail the molding into place using small finishing nails long enough to penetrate the molding and about 1/4 inch of the wall. In some spots, you may want to use some wood putty or Liquid Nail-type glue to get an exact fit.

Then paint or stain to match your desired look. It is possible to pre-paint or stain, but hammering and shaving will often present the need for some touch-up. On the other hand, staining or painting in place requires great care. Which is preferable depends on your skills with brush and hammer.