Hi friends! Today I’m excited to walk you through how I added easy DIY picture frame molding (also known as box trim) in our living room. This was my first time installing wall molding, and first time using a brad nailer. If I can do it, you can too! This project can be completed without a miter saw which makes it more accessible for new DIYers. I’ll do my best to include all of the details in this post, but if you have any questions, please leave me a comment below or message me on Instagram! Let’s get started.

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Picture Frame Molding Supplies

Here are the supplies and tools you will need to complete this project:

  1. PVC composite ply cap molding
  2. Miter shears (or box saw)
  3. 18-gauge brad nailer and brad nails
  4. Tape measure
  5. Painters tape
  6. Laser level and tripod (or a basic level)
  7. Caulk and caulking gun
  8. Angle brush and wall paint

Easy DIY Picture Frame Molding Installation

Now let’s get into the step by step process for installing picture frame molding / box trim.

1. Plan and Measure Wall Molding Layout

installing easy diy picture frame molding in living room, diy home project

This step may seem intimidating, but I promise it is easier than it seems! In terms of design, there are so many styles and designs for picture frame molding. For example, the boxes do not need to be the same widths, and you can stack as many boxes as you would like vertically. I would say the only “rule” is to use consistent spacing. Since this was my first time installing wall trim, I decided to keep it simple with three boxes following these rules:

  • Vertical spacing: 3 inches between picture frame molding and crown molding / baseboard / top of media console
  • Horizontal spacing: 4 inches between picture frame molding boxes and from the wall

In order to decide how wide to make each box, I taped out rectangles on the wall with painter’s tape to help visualize my design. I ultimately decided to make the center box the exact width of the media console, and the others would simply be based off of that following my rules listed above. I would recommend drawing a basic plan of your molding design and labeling it with the following measurements:

  • The full length and height of your wall (excluding baseboard / crown molding)
  • The vertical and horizontal spacing between trim pieces
  • The outer length of each trim piece*

*It is important to measure the outer lengths for your trim pieces. Remember that you will be cutting the corners at a 45 degree angle. The measurements of the outside of the box (the outer corners) are the ones to use. Double check your measurements based on the length and height of your wall, and you are ready to go!

2. Trim the Molding with Miter Shears

miter shears for cutting wall molding without a saw

This handy tool made this project so much more accessible for me. Miter shears can be used to cut molding at a variety of angles–no miter saw required! I decided to use PVC molding which is very easy to cut with miter shears. Alternatively, you can use wooden molding and a box saw.

Trimming the molding to size is simple:

  • Mark the predetermined outer length of each piece of molding
  • Adjust the miter shears to 45 degrees
  • Line up the molding and cut slowly

3. Level and Tape Molding to the Wall

installing easy diy picture frame molding in living room

Once your molding is cut to size, it is time to level. You can use a basic level, but I decided to use a laser level and tripod in order to make things a bit easier.

  • Use a measuring tape and pencil to mark where the outer corners of your boxes should be
  • Align the laser level so that it is easy to place the molding
  • Tape molding to the wall

4. Secure Molding With Brad Nailer

I’m not going to give specific instructions on using a brad nailer as this will depend on the tool that you have. Always read the warnings and follow all safety precautions when using power tools!

Here are some tips for wall molding installation using a brad nailer:

  • Start near the end of the piece of molding (for vertical pieces, start at the top)
  • If you cannot hit a stud, slightly angle your brad nails in alternating directions
  • Do not nail the corners until you ensure that they line up
  • Rely on the laser level so that the molding does not become bent or misaligned

5. Caulk and Paint

The final step! Put on your favorite audiobook or podcast and start caulking around the molding. This was my first time using a caulking gun and it was easier than I expected.

  • Create a line of caulk along the edge of the molding
  • Using a finger or a baby wipe, wipe off the excess
  • Also caulk the corners of the boxes and any obvious nail holes

After your caulk has dried, use an angled paintbrush to paint the wall molding to match your wall. The trim almost perfectly matched my wall color to begin with, but I finished it with two light coats of paint. Our living room is Behr Marquee Cameo White (eggshell finish). And with that, this project is finished!

Easy DIY Picture Frame Molding in Our Living Room

easy diy picture frame molding in living room, diy wall trim, pvc trim wainscotting, large faux cherry blossom tree
easy diy picture frame molding in living room, diy wall trim, pvc trim wainscotting, large arched mirror, wood frame accent chairs
easy diy picture frame molding in living room, diy wall trim, pvc trim wainscotting, faux cherry blossom tree, large rattan lamp, organic modern decor

I could not be happier with how our living room has come together slowly but surely. From the very beginning of this refresh last fall, to updating the furniture this spring, to the completed space with the wall molding, this space has come a long way. And it truly has been a labor of love! I hope you found this post helpful if you would like to add picture frame molding to your home, and please feel free to ask any questions you may have below!

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14 Comments

  1. Emily Mowrey says:

    The living room is stunning! Loved the DIY tutorial. Which bamboo window blinds are you using?

  2. Hi Kaitlyn, I love the paint color. Would you share please what color have you used?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Alicia! This is Polar Bear by Behr Paint 🙂

  3. Hi Caitlin, I loved your picture frame molding and I’m planning to do the same on my living/TV room. I’m also impressed the look of the mirror and wondering if you could point me where could I get it. It look even amazing inside the frame.

  4. Hi! This looks absolutely lovely. I have a similar shaped room as far as size and window placement go and would like to do the same thing but I’m not sure if I should do it on all the walls. Did you continue the picture frame molding on the wall with the windows? Thank you!

    1. Hi Phoebe! Thank you so much! For this space I only installed the picture frame molding on one wall. There is very little space on the other walls due to doors and windows. So, I just did an accent wall to make my life easier!

      However, in our bathroom I installed molding on all of the walls. So it really depends on your space and preference! You could always try an accent wall and add more later if you aren’t sure 🙂

  5. Looks beautiful! And thank you for the guidance with spacing. I’m wanting to do this in my dining room on all walls but I’m perplexed with what to do on the 12” wall spaces besides windows and 10” wall space surrounding the large room opening. Advice? 4” spacing wouldn’t allow for a box. Would you leave it alone?

    1. Hi Tiff! So glad you found it helpful. I think in this case, I would leave those spaces alone and see what you think. You can always add molding later if you live with it for a while and feel like it is missing something! But check out my Primary Bathroom Makeover on a Budget to see an example of smaller boxes. In that space I broke the pattern and just put boxes where it felt right! It really depends on your preference 🙂 Hope that helps!

  6. Hi Caitlin! I love the tree in the top picture of the post. It looks like cherry blossoms (not the fig tree). Would you be able to share where you got it? Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much! Here is the link to the cherry blossom tree, I have size 102 inches and our ceilings are 9 feet for reference! 🙂

  7. Hi. how thick is the panel molding you picked?

    1. Hi Chris! The thickness (depth) of the molding is 11/16 inch. Hope that helps!

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