Crown Moulding Orientation: Which Side is Up?

May 26, 2021

By: The Finished Space

Have you ever looked at crown moulding and wondered to yourself, “Wait a minute, which way does crown moulding go?” If so, you’re not alone. It’s not always immediately obvious which side goes up on crown moulding. In fact, it can look good both ways making it more challenging to make sure you’re hanging yours the right way.

Let’s look at how you can tell which side of crown moulding is the top and which orientation you should place it in.

The Best Practices for Determining Crown Moulding Orientation 

Interior design is known for its flexible rules, and crown moulding orientation is no exception. In fact, most moulding can be installed however you want it to be installed. In other words, upside-down is acceptable with crown moulding. If you like how it looks, then you aren’t breaking any rules. The only absolute rule with interior design is that you love the finished look.

However, there is a short and fast rule in conventional placement if you’re looking for a bit of guidance. Crown moulding typically has a decorative side with a lot of detail and a side with a little less decoration. Generally speaking, the side with less detail goes on the top, and the side with more decorative elements goes below.

Sometimes it’s tough to tell which side has more detail because some crown moulding can be incredibly intricate in design.

Here are a few tips for determining which side is up:

  • The simpler part is always the top.

  • The more detailed side is always closer to you (on the bottom).

  • Crown moulding is installed in the reverse fashion of base moulding.

  • The deeper grooves go on the bottom, and shallower grooves belong on the top.

  • Generally, crown moulding extends further down the wall than on the ceiling.

  • The concave (cove) side goes down, and the convex (rounded) side goes up.

Now you know how to tell which way is up with crown moulding. Another tip is to take some time looking at rooms with crown moulding. The more you familiarize yourself with traditional placement, the easier it is to determine which side goes up!

Now that you know the best practice for determining which way to hang crown moulding, how do you install it once you know the correct orientation?

Step-By-Step Instructions for Installing Crown Moulding

When in doubt, always hire a carpenter or professional to ensure your crown moulding installation goes smoothly. However, if you’re feeling adventurous and you want to DIY – here are the steps for installing your crown moulding.

Before you get started, you’ll need all of the necessary supplies, including:

  • Crown Moulding

  • Caulk (make sure it’s paintable)

  • Nails

  • Tape Measure

  • Ladder

  • Power Miter Saw

  • Hammer

  • Coping Saw

  • Caulk Gun

  • Safety Glasses

  • Stud Finder  

If you’re going to DIY, be sure to watch some tutorials and video walkthroughs as well. Always order more moulding than you need in case you make a mistake. Be precise and calculate everything. Crown moulding installation can’t be based on guesswork.

Step 1

Plan the installation and decide how and where you’re placing your pieces. Then measure and mark where your crown moulding will lay. Use a stud finder to find the studs and mark them with a pencil.  

Step 2

Set up your miter saw to cut at a 45-degree angle. Cutting your moulding will be the most challenging part of the job. You must understand how the pieces fit together in order to cut it correctly.

There are three different types of cuts you’ll have to make:

  • Inside corner cuts – They have a short top edge and long bottom edges. The cut on the right will angle to the right. The cut on the left will angle to the left.

  • Outside corner cuts – they have a long top and a short bottom edge. The cuts on the right will angle left, and the cuts on the left will angle right.

  • Scarf cuts – These cuts are used to join two crown moulding pieces on the wall. The angle of the cut will be in the direction of both sides.   

You’ll have to determine when to make each type of cut based on the joints. For example, mitered joints meet in the corners at perfect 90-degree angles. On the other hand, coped joints work when the corner isn’t at a perfect 90-degree angle.

Be sure to cut the moulding 1/8 inch longer than what you measured to help push the cope joints closed.

Step 3 

Once you have all the pieces cut, you’ll need to test that everything fits before installing.

Step 4

Nail or glue the moulding to the wall. Take the time to putty up nail holes and caulk any imperfections. Paint your crown moulding (if it’s not pre-painted).

Hanging Crown Moulding Correctly 

Now you know how to tell which side of crown moulding goes up. The quick rule of thumb is that the more decorative side goes on the bottom. Knowing the correct orientation will make installation a much smoother process.

If you can’t decide which type of crown moulding to use, take our Option {M} quiz today. It helps match people with their design aesthetic and finishing touches for every type of design.