Installing crown molding is an easy way to add elegance and style to any room. When working with ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets, you’ll need to take some special considerations when installing crown molding to ensure it fits properly. Follow these steps to beautifully finish your RTA kitchen or bathroom cabinets with crown molding.

Planning Your Molding

Before starting any work, you’ll want to plan out your crown molding project. Here are some important factors to keep in mind:

  • Measure carefully – Take accurate measurements of your cabinet run and ceiling height. Many RTA cabinets have uneven ceilings, so measure at multiple points. This allows you to calculate the angled cuts.
  • Choose your molding style – Classic ogee and dentil moldings work well for a traditional look. For contemporary styling, try streamlined profiles like square or flat panels.
  • Pick a height – Crown molding is typically installed anywhere from 1 to 3 inches down from the ceiling. Lower heights are better for low ceilings.
  • Buy extra material – Purchase 10-15% more lineal footage than calculated to allow for mistakes and irregular ceilings.

Prepping RTA Cabinets for Installation

RTA cabinets require some minor modifications before installing crown molding:

  • Remove cabinet doors and drawers to allow easy access during installation.
  • Check for clearance between the cabinet tops and ceiling. Crown molding needs about 1/4 inch of space.
  • Install filler strips if there is a gap between the wall and cabinet. This provides an even surface for mounting.
  • Attach ledger boards to give supporting edges for installing the molding.

Cutting Crown Molding Miters

The key to proper installation is accurately cutting crown molding miters:

  • Mark the angle between the cabinet tops and ceiling on scrap wood. This will be the miter saw guide.
  • Set your miter saw to the ceiling angle and make test cuts on scraps. Adjust the angle slightly until you achieve clean miters.
  • Use a compound miter saw to make the bevel cuts at each cabinet end for perfect fit.
  • For inside corners, cut the molding ends at 45 degrees to create a clean joint.
  • Cut crown molding oversized by 1-2 inches to allow for adjustment during installation.

Installing the Molding

Follow these steps for flawless molding installation:

  • Apply adhesive caulk to the top of the cabinets and ledger boards. This helps hold the molding in place.
  • Position the cut molding pieces on the cabinet tops and ceiling. Then attach with finishing nails every 16 inches.
  • Use scrap pieces, wood putty, and touch-up paint to cover nail holes and gaps for a seamless look.
  • For inside corners, use painter’s caulk between the two mitered ends. Smooth with a wet finger for a professional finish.
  • Consider using decorative rope lighting above the molding to add accent lighting. This creates a stunning look, especially with dentil trim.

Finishing Touches

The final details complete your crown molding project:

  • Reinstall cabinet doors and drawers once the molding is completely installed and caulk dried.
  • Add extra trim details like rosettes in corners or decorative corbels for an ornate appearance.
  • Finish with a fresh coat of paint on the molding and cabinets for a cohesive built-in look.

Installing crown molding on RTA cabinets allows you to affordably transform the look of your kitchen or bath. With some careful planning and precise cutting, you can create a high-end custom look. Just take your time and don’t be afraid to make adjustments as you install for the perfect fit.

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing Crown Molding on RTA Cabinets

What type of crown molding works best with RTA cabinets?

Polyurethane foam moldings are ideal for RTA cabinets. The lightweight material is easy to cut and install. It also gives a seamless look, as joining miters can be glued for an invisible finish.

Should I install the uppers before adding crown molding?

It’s best to install upper cabinets first, particularly for wider spans. The cabinets provide support for spanning long distances. However, molding can be installed first for shorter runs if needed.

Can I use stock molding lengths rather than cutting custom miters?

Pre-cut molding lengths will not properly fit the corners on most installations. The angles and ceilings are usually uneven. Custom cutting and fitting each piece is required.

Should I caulk the seams between crown molding pieces?

Yes, use caulk to fill any small gaps for a seamless look. Painter’s caulk blends well and allows smoothing with a wet finger before drying. Avoid silicone caulks which are shiny and harder to work.

How do I ensure the miter cuts are accurate?

Check the angles with test cuts on scrap pieces first. Make minor adjustments until the corners fit flush. Use a compound miter saw and align the molding carefully for clean bevel cuts.


Installing crown molding on RTA cabinets is an affordable way to add high-end style, even for the DIYer. With careful planning to address the unique angles of RTA cabinetry, you can cut and mount molding for a flawless finish. Preparation is key – remove doors and ledger boards, measure precisely, and practice your miters. Finishing touches like trim, lighting, and fresh paint complete the built-in, custom look. With some patience and precision, it is possible for anyone to Install Crown Molding on RTA Cabinets and dramatically enhance their space.