Installing Window Casing | Installing Window Casing – molding

Installing Window Casing

A How-To Guide to Install Window Casing

Installing window Casing can be a real pain. It is the most visible part of your window trim and any imperfections in the joints are very apparent to anyone looking for them. It does take some patience to do the first time around, but like anything else, with a little practice it will be a breeze.

Step 1: Mark the Reveals

Prior to installing window casing, if you’ve checked to make sure the window jamb is flush with the surface of the wall and made any necessary corrections, you are ready to mark out the reveals on the edge of the jamb. You will need to pay attention especially to the corners, because any variance is most visible there.

In case you don’t know, a reveal is a slight offset between the inside face of the jamb and the inside edge of the casing. It is much easier to achieve an aesthetically pleasing look if you do not have to match up the casing perfectly flush with the face of the jamb. A small shadow line is created. The result is visually pleasing.

To mark the reveals, use a combination square. Set the blade to the size of the reveal and mark the corners as well as every couple feet along the length. You can also make and use a “reveal gauge” if you are installing a lot of trim. These are simple to make and will greatly speed up the process.

Step 2: Mark the Head Window Casing

Hold a length of casing up at jamb head and transfer the reveal marks on the jamb sides to your casing. Alternatively, if you know that the reveals are for example 1/4 inch wide, and you know you have two side pieces with that reveal, you can just measure the inside of the jamb and add 1/2 inch to the measurement. It is safer in the beginning, however, to make your marks directly on the window casing. If you do that you will not have an opportunity to cut your casing miter the wrong way like I did early on!

Step 3: Cutting the Head Window Casing

Cut a 45 degree angle on each end of the window casing where you made your marks. Make sure your saw blade is cutting the correct side of the line or your head casing could be two blade widths short! If you can still see a little of the pencil mark when it’s done you know you did it right. Tack it up on the window jamb, lined up with your reveal marks

Step 4: Marking the Side Window Casing

If your window has a stool and apron, your side window casing will have a 45 degree angle on one side and a square cut on the other. If this is the case, you will measure from the tip of the head casing to the stool and transfer the measurement to your side casing to be cut. Make sure to measure and cut both sides independently. It is rare for them to be exactly the same measurement.

If your window has a picture frame casing you will need to repeat the steps taken for the head window casing to make and install the foot casing. Once the foot casing is tacked in place you can measure from the tip of the head casing to the tip of the foot casing and cut you side casing to those lengths.

Step 5: Cutting the Side Window Casing

When you make your cuts, make them a little long. This will make getting a tight fit much easier. Test fit them and shave if necessary before final attachment. Once everything fits nice you nail of the woodwork completely. Be careful not to nail too close to the ends of the window casing , as you may split the wood.

Step 6: Getting Strong Window Casing Corners

You can add wood glue to the corners of your window casing and use pinch clamps to pull the miters tight until it sets. You can also toe nail the corners, if you are using a softwood like pine. Don’t try to toenail if the material is MDF or a hardwood like maple or oak, it will just split. A third way to strengthen a corner is to pre-drill and use trim-head screws.

Some Tricks for Installing Window Casing:

Adjusting the Miter

Sometimes things just don’t work as planned. Walls aren’t plumb; your jamb isn’t square… When this happens you will need to adjust your miter cuts to make it work. Here is how:

  • Wedging when re-cutting.

  • You can change your saw setting, but it is sometimes easier and faster to just shim the casing away from the fence.

  • Shimming for a compound miter.

  • You can also lift one side of the window casing off the saw surface to effectively make a compound miter, which will take care of problems that occur do to a jamb that is not flush with the wall.

  • Wedging behind the miter.

  • If the miters still don’t line up after you re-cut them, you will probably be able to fix the problem by sliding a shim behind the miter to make your adjustment.

So there you have it. A basic primer on installing window casing.

Go from Installing Window Casing back to Window and Door Installation

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