Which Way Does Crown Molding Go?

Written by Milan Jara on 14th Jul 2022

Crown Moldings

Are you trying to figure out which way does crown molding go? You aren't alone. We provide tips and advice to help you install it correctly.

Have you ever looked quizzically at crown molding and secretly wondered, “Which way does crown molding go?” While you may feel a little foolish about asking this question, know that you are not alone. When looking at crown molding, depending on the style, it may not appear overtly obvious which way it goes. Sometimes, it looks good both ways, which just adds to the confusion.

Which Way Does Crown Molding Go?

The rules for modern interiors can be flexible, with crown molding being no exception. The good news is that often you can install crown molding any way you like, whether you're using polyurethane crown molding, wood crown molding, or foam crown molding. So, if you feel your decorative molding looks good upside-down, then you aren’t breaking any hard and fast rules. The only rules that apply when installing it are that you enjoy the finished look and that it matches your style.

There is one other thing to consider about decorative molding, though, that involves conventional placement if you want a bit of guidance. Typically, crown molding contains a decorative, detailed side and a plain side. Generally, the plain, less ornate side is placed on the top against the ceiling, with the decorative side going down.

Don’t worry if you are still confused. Some crown molding may have more detail on both sides and can be intricate. In this case, just install it whichever way it looks best.

Tips on Determining the Top Side

These are general guidelines for determining which side of the molding piece touches the ceiling.

  • Cove (concave) side goes downward with the rounded side facing up.
  • Crown molding will extend further down the wall than on the area that touches the ceiling.
  • Deeper grooves go towards the bottom with the shallower on the top.
  • Install crown molding in the opposite way you would install the base molding.
  • Install the detailed side closer to the individual.
  • The simple design element goes to the top.

How to Install Crown Molding

Installing crown molding is quite simple once you get the hang of it. The largest question most homeowners generally have is which side goes up. Once that is determined, placing it on the wall can be effortless.

Required Supplies

  • Crown molding
  • Paintable caulk
  • Tape measure
  • Nails
  • Ladder
  • Hammer
  • Power miter saw
  • Coping saw
  • Safety glasses
  • Caulk gun
  • Stud finder


Before installing it yourself, be sure you order more crown molding than is required, just in case you make an error. Always calculate everything with precision, as you shouldn’t base your measurements on estimations.

1. Plan the Install

Crown Moldings

If you are installing the crown molding yourself, be sure that you know where the pieces are going and plan the installation. Measure and mark where you will place the molding. Use your stud finder to locate all studs, then mark their location using a pencil.

2. Cut Your Molding

Crown Moldings

Set up the miter saw to do 45° angles. Cutting the molding tends to be the most challenging aspect of crown molding installation. You must comprehend how pieces fit together to obtain the best cut. The three different miter cut angles you will be making are as follows:

  • Scarf Joints. These join two pieces of molding to the wall. The angle is done in the direction of both sides.
  • Outside Corner. Each outside corner contains a short bottom edge and a long top. Cuts done on the right are angled left, with cuts done on the left angled right.
  • Inside Corner. An inside corner has a long bottom edge with a short top edge. Cuts on the right angle to the right. Cuts on the left angle to the left.

Users must determine when to use each cut based on their joints. An example is that mitered joints meet at corners using a 90° angle. Coped joints work best when corner pieces are not at a perfect 90° angle. Cut trim molding 1/8" longer than what was measured to help push cope joints closed.

3. Test Your Cut Pieces

Crown Moldings

Once you cut everything, test your crown molding to ensure they fit together before installation. Ensure that everything is done right before making the permanent fixture. It is easy to correct mistakes before crown molding installation. It is also less frustrating.

4. The Installation

Crown Moldings

Glue or nail your molding to the wall, and take the time to properly putty nail holes. Caulk any imperfections you may see. If your molding is unpainted, you can paint it at this time.

Another tip some experts have is priming and painting the crown molding before installation to save on the taping aspects and craning of the neck as you stretch to complete the look. It just makes things a bit easier and cleaner. However, you will still have to caulk and patch, so this may require a bit of extra work.

5. Install the Crown Molding Properly

Crown Moldings

When determining the proper side, the quick rule is that decorative elements are hung to the bottom. Knowing how it should go will make your installation quicker and smoother. If you aren’t sure, and the above tips aren’t coming into play, then the crown molding can be hung however it looks best.

If you cannot detect which side goes up, chances are no one else will, either. As mentioned, there are no absolute rules. In this case, it just boils down to visual appeal.

The best news for homeowners when it comes to which way my crown molding goes is you can install it any way that looks good. Visually, you want it to look great in the room and flow with the design. Crown molding overall should finish a room and hide imperfections. These are the reasons why homeowners install them to begin with.

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