Installing Crown Molding On Full Overlay Cabinets: Quick Way

Kitchen cabinet crown molding adds a finishing touch to your interior, giving the kitchen a classy, more opulent appearance. Installing crown molding yourself on full overlay cabinets is one of those projects that require a bit of skill but is still totally doable. 

Full overlay cabinet doors leave no space for you to install crown molding directly to the cabinet frame. You’ll have to install a nailing block on the top of the cabinet first. The crown molding will be nailed to this block, hiding it for a streamlined finish.

4 Popular Types Of Crown Molding For Kitchen Cabinets

Crown molding comes in many styles, but not all are suitable to install on kitchen cabinets. Here are four of the most popular types you should focus on.

Traditional Cabinet Crown Molding 

Often considered the industry standard as far as kitchen cabinet molding is concerned, traditional crown molding is a perfect choice for standard-height kitchens with a ceiling situated at about eight feet above the floor level.

This molding type comes in various thicknesses, generally between three and six inches. Thus, you can find the perfect model regardless of your kitchen cabinets’ height.

Stacked Crown Molding

If you live in a home with high ceilings, stacked crown molding could be a better option. Stacked crown molding is composed of two or more layers stacked on top of each other. The starter or raiser layer can have a straight design or feature decorative elements and can be composed of one or more pieces of molding that offer a uniform look.

The actual crown molding is attached to the starter or raiser, connecting the cabinets with the ceiling. 

The best part about stacked crown molding is that it can be as thick or thin as you need it. For this reason, it is a perfect solution for homes with very high or irregular height ceilings. 

Interior Crown Molding 

Similar to the traditional cabinet crown molding, interior crown molding gives you the possibility to create a streamlined appearance.

This crown molding is the same you install around your kitchen’s perimeter, ensuring continuity between the bare walls and those with upper cabinets on them. Depending on the ceiling height, interior crown molding can be installed directly on the cabinets or combined with a raiser to create a stacked design above the cabinets.

Stepped Crown Molding 

In more sophisticated kitchens, designers install the upper cabinets at different heights to enhance the visual appeal. In these kitchens, the molding follows the same stepped appearance, and you can use a similar technique to give your kitchen a stepped look even if all cabinets have the same height.

The secret is in playing with traditional and stacked moldings to achieve the stepped design. Pulling off this look is fairly complicated because the placement of each molding has to be thoroughly calculated. You must also consider any differences in the ceiling height.

The best thing to do if you want to install stepped crown molding on your kitchen cabinets is to hire a professional.

What Are Full Overlay Cabinets?

Full overlay is a contemporary kitchen cabinetry style where the cabinet doors and drawers have extra-large fronts. The cabinet frame and hinges are completely hidden from view. Thanks to this design. Full overlay cabinets offer your kitchen a streamlined look.

Another advantage of full overlay cabinets is the greater storage space compared to all other cabinet styles. Because the doors are mounted on the frame exterior rather than inside it, this style provides more room to store large items like pots and pans.

Lastly, full overlay cabinets are often less expensive to install than other cabinet styles – but not necessarily cheaper to buy. 

How To Choose Correct Crown Molding Size For Kitchen Cabinets

Choosing the right crown molding size is paramount. A thin crown molding would look ridiculous installed on opulent cabinets or in kitchens with tall ceilings. Likewise, thick molding may look out of place in smaller kitchens with standard height ceilings. Here are a few factors to consider to choose the right crown molding size.

Kitchen Ceiling Height

Your ceiling height should be the first thing to consider when choosing crown molding for kitchen cabinets. Most crown moldings vary in size between two and six inches. Taller moldings, with a total height of five or six inches, work best in kitchens with high ceilings (over eight feet tall). 

In standard homes with 8-foot ceilings, you can still use 6-inch crown molding with 36-inch high upper cabinets. This combination allows you to reach the ceiling so that there is no space between the ceiling and the molding. 

If you don’t want the cabinet crown molding to touch the ceiling, you should opt for a molding model with a shorter total height or use 6-inch molding in combination with 30-inch high wall cabinets.

If you have higher ceilings and don’t want to leave any empty spaces between the cabinets and the ceiling, consider installing stacked crown molding.

Kitchen Cabinets Height 

As explained above, you should determine the right crown molding size based on the total height of your upper cabinets. If you wish to leave some space between the top of the crown molding and the ceiling, calculate the max molding height that you can use.

Otherwise, determine how high the crown molding should be to completely close the gap between the cabinets and the ceiling.

Kitchen Cabinets Style 

The cabinet style will also influence the crown molding size. Classic cabinets work well with all traditional crown moldings. The same goes for rustic or country-chic designs. If your kitchen furniture is inspired by these styles, you can use molding of any height – the molding doesn’t have to close the gap between the ceiling and cabinets completely.

However, modern and contemporary cabinets require you to either close the gap completely or give up crown molding. 

A shorter molding that doesn’t reach all the way up would look awkward on these styles, considering that most modern and contemporary cabinets have straight lines and few decorations (thus, the crown molding should have the same linear style).

DIY: How To Install Crown Molding On Full Overlay Cabinets (5 Easy Steps)

Once you’ve decided what crown molding size you need, it’s time to find out how to install it. As mentioned above, full overlay cabinets require you to install a nailing block first. No need to worry, though – the molding will completely hide this block and provide a streamlined look. Here’s how to do it.

Things You Will Need

  • 5/4-inch pine panels 
  • Wood screws
  • Wood glue
  • Brad nails 
  • Nailer 
  • Drill driver
  • Superglue 
  • Wood putty 
  • Caulk 
  • Fast-drying spray paint (optional) 
  • Miter saw
  • Caulk gun
  • 220-grit sandpaper 
  • Wood or latex paint
  • Paintbrush 

Step 1 – Cut the nailing blocks

The streamlined design of full overlay cabinets comes with a major downside – no exposed frame to install the molding. That’s why you have to install nailing blocks first. 

Nailing blocks are long and narrow strips of wood that will serve as support for the molding. Any 1″ by 1″ stick you happen to have in your home could work, but if you want the installation to last, consider cutting strips of wood from a 5/4-inch pine panel.

Use the miter saw and cut 1-2 inches wide strips. Cut sufficient pieces to cover the length of your upper cabinets.

Step 2 – Prepare the nailing blocks (optional)

While the nailing blocks only serve as support and won’t be visible once you install the molding, you might want to paint them in the color of your cabinets. 

If that’s the case, prepare an outdoor work area and cover it with a drop cloth. Place the wood strips you just cut on saw horses and use fast-drying spray paint to paint them in the desired color.

Step 3 – Install the nailing blocks 

Once you’ve cut and prepared sufficient strips, grab some wood screws and your drill driver. Start from one side and install the first strip by screwing it to the cabinet frame, right above the door. Align the strips with the frame of your cabinet – the crown molding will add the extra width necessary for a flush installation with the doors.

If you want to install longer pieces (so that you can reduce the number of cuts you have to make), use super glue or wood glue to fix the blocks in position until you fasten them with wood screws. Mount the nailing blocks on the sides and front of your upper cabinets.

Step 4 – Install the molding

Use the miter saw to cut sufficient lengths of crown molding. Measure the sides and lengths of each cabinet, and cut each piece to dimension for a streamlined look. 

Start from one side and install the first crown molding piece using brad nails. Nail the molding to the nailing block you’ve just installed, ensuring that the molding base is flush with the top of the doors but doesn’t hinder their movement. 

Continue installing the other pieces of molding on the front of your cabinets, then finish by installing the last piece on the other side of your kitchen cabinets. 

Step 5 – Finish the look 

After you’ve installed all pieces of molding, finish the look by filling all joints with caulk. Let it dry, then sand the entire surface to achieve a smooth look.

Crown molding is generally white in color and matches white kitchen cabinets. However, if your cabinets have another color, paint the molding in a matching tone.

Use wood paint if you’ve installed wood molding. Latex paint – the same you use on interior walls – works well on polyurethane foam or extruded polystyrene molding. If you wish to install PVC molding, you can typically buy it in a matching color, or you could use plastic paint.

Apply two coats of paint (leaving the first coat to dry before applying the second) to complete your project.

Related Queries

Cabinet crown molding gives your kitchen a stylish appearance, but does it add resale value? How much does it cost to install it professionally? Find out the answers below.

Does crown molding add value to a house?

Cabinet crown molding is a design element that will never go out of style. With little investment, you can drive up your home’s resale value or ROI by adding visual appeal to your kitchen. However, not all crown molding will add value to a house.

To increase the value, you should use molding in a style that matches your cabinets. You should also pay attention to the height. Ceiling-high molding is generally more desirable than shorter molding.

How much is the labor cost to install crown molding?

On average, crown molding costs about $4 – $15 per linear foot, including labor and material. Exotic wood molding is the most expensive, with prices going up to $45 per linear foot for materials alone. Most installations run between $3 and $8 per linear foot for installation alone.

If the molding needs painting, you should add another $1 to $3.50 per linear foot. The final costs vary depending on where you live, the size of your kitchen, and the actual work required. On average, though, you can expect to pay between $210 and $570 for the whole project.


Crown molding gives a sophisticated touch to full overlay cabinets. Installing it requires a bit more skill than your average home improvement project, but once you get the grip of it, you should find it easy. Otherwise, you can always hire a professional.

Have you ever installed crown molding on kitchen cabinets? Do you have any tips or questions? Leave us a comment.

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