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Moulding Preparation Prior to Installation
Proper preparation is key to any home improvement project that you undertake. Planning is the first and most difficult phase of a remodeling project. Major things to prepare for a moulding installation is have the materials cut, sanded and finished as well as having the surfaces that you wish to attach the moulding to prepared (dry and smooth).
You will need several tools for the preparation of your moulding which you can buy or rent. You will need a mitre box, coping saw, clamps, 1/2" finishing nails, sand papers and other finishing materials.
You can either use a mitre box and coping saw to cut the angled corners on the moulding or you can use a powered mitre box. You will in most cases need to make simple 45 degree cuts for joining the moulding in the corners.
Before cutting your moulding follow the old adage; measure twice, cut once. You should add a small amount to the actual measurements to allow for the loss of material from cutting. You can always make the pieces shorter if they are too long so be generous.
You can use several techniques for picture perfect joins at corners. You can use corner pieces to cover the joint; these are usually rounded. You can also make the pieces as close to the exact size needed, fill in the corner with wood putty and carefully sand the joint. Allow for a small gap to handle movements in the building. Note that this is more important on newer buildings that have not yet settled.
When joining pieces of moulding you can either use an adhesive or finishing nails. When you're using nails be sure to pound them in at slightly different levels to avoid cracking the trim. You can minimize the risk of cracking the trim by firmly pressing on the trim with a block of wood, causing the nail to compress the wood internally.
Nothing makes a moulding job look installed by an amateur more than gouges, incorrect angles, bent nails protruding from the wood, or gaps. Stains and paint can't cover up serious mistakes to cut with care and be patient when assembling your pieces. You can also use a hand coping saw to make freehand modifications to the pieces.
For some types of moulding you may need to sand the pieces before finishing them. Ask the person at the home improvement center if the materials that you buy require sanding. When sanding work your way from lowest grit to highest sanding with the grain of the wood. Periodically wipe off the wood using a damp cloth to remove dust.
It's best to finish the wood prior to install it which will ensure that any nicks and blemishes have been repaired with putty. Once you cover the blemishes with putty let it dry and sand carefully until the surface is even. Once you are happy with the sanding wipe the moulding to remove excess dust and then let dry completely. Once it's dry you can finish using stain, varnish or paint depending on your tastes and the look you are trying to achieve for your room. Also, you should match your finish to the wood; the container will generally state what woods it works best with. If you are using paint it's best to prime and then apply the coat of paint in the color you desire.
You should plan your work around the weather as glues and finishes dry better when there's a low level of humidity and the temperatures are mild. For safety be sure to allow for adequate ventilation of the area that you are working in.