The DIY Wife
Picture of Finished Picture Frame Molding titled DIY Picture Frame Molding- The DIY Wife

DIY Picture Frame Molding


Hi, all! I’m back with a combined project that made a world of difference in my entryway. We are talking about adding DIY wainscoting and trimming my ledge in pine. The amount of joy this project brings me daily is insurmountable. It brightened up the space, and elevated the look of my entryway and dining room. Sure, it’s a pain in the neck to keep clean with two dogs and a baby, but it looks so darn good. It’s seriously hard for me to NOT do it to my entire house! Check it out.


  • Chair Rail Molding
  • Half Round General-Purpose Molding
  • Pine Boards (I used these)
  • Air Compressor
  • Miter Saw
  • Brad Nailer
  • 1.5 inch Brad Nails
  • 1 Gallon of White Satin Latex Paint and Primer 
  • Various Sizes and Styles of Paint Brushes
  • Small Paint Roller
  • Drop Cloths
  • Painters Tape
  • Orbital Sander with 120 grit paper
  • Wood Filler
  • Paintable Latex Caulk
  • Liquid Nails
  • C Clamps
  • Wood Glue
  • Caulk Gun
  • Minwax Polycrylic

Before Pictures

I know, I’m the worst at taking pictures. Please forgive me. The only picture I have is after I already started.DIY Wainscoting & Ledge Trim Before

As you can tell, it was just a plain wall. Nothing special about it.


Researching this project was pretty easy. I already had a picture in mind of what I wanted. I loved the look of the picture frame molding for the dining area, and since I had a ledge between that and my entryway, it just made sense to continue it through to the entry. The ledge was a predetermined height so I had to make the wainscoting 36″ tall to match. Our ledge was built from drywall, and has started sagging over the years. In order to correct some of the sag, and provide some support, I wanted to trim the ledge in pine boards. The only thing left was to decide on was the design of the molding. 

I liked the look of a chair rail molding at the top, half-round molding three inches below that, and then the picture frame molding three inches above my tall baseboards. The picture frame molding needed a three-inch perimeter as well. I would need two pine boards, and half-round trim for the ledge as well.

Make a Detailed Plan

I had to make an individual plan for each wall. To give you the shortened story, I accounted for the width of all of the trim I was using (also used the same chair rail molding for the picture frames) and planned how big the picture frames needed to be to have a three-inch perimeter all around for each wall. The plan gave me an estimate of how many feet of molding I would need. Planning a project in this much detail can be intimidating, but I promise, once you give it a try, it will be easier than you think. 

Here is what the plan for one of my walls looked like:

The picture features a hand drawn plan for the project.

When it was all installed and caulked, I wanted to paint it white. I don’t like the look of white picture frame molding on a colored wall, so I opted to paint from the ledge to the floor white. It was easier to paint the whole thing, than to just paint the frames anyway. 

Tools and Materials

After I had a detailed plan, it was time to inventory my tools and materials. Luckily, I already had a lot of the tools necessary to complete this project. I only needed to purchase molding, paint, pine boards, and caulk. I even had some brad nails left over from when I installed the baseboards.

After calculating how much of each material I needed, I placed a curbside pickup order at a Major Home Improvement. I remember being so excited to get started!

Trimming the Ledge

I started off by trimming out the ledge with two tongue and groove pine boards.

First, I measured, and cut the length for one board. Next, I measured and cut out a rectangle for the support column on the ledge. Then, I had to repeat the process for the other pine board, and shave off the extra groove. To attach it to the ledge, I put wood glue in the center groove, caulked Liquid Nails on the boards and the ledge, and then clamped them together. I let it sit overnight to dry. 

After that, I used wood filler to help cover the seam from the tongue and groove. I also filled in any areas around the column that had a gap. A few hours later, I was able to sand down the wood filler, and move on to the rest of the picture frame molding.

Hanging the Chair Rail Molding

DIY Wainscoting & Ledge Trim Hang Trim. The DIY Wife

Marking the Top of your Chair Rail Molding

First, I measured 36″ and marked it every few feet on the wall. This step, makes the next step easier. Keep your measuring tape and pencil handy, you will use it frequently for this project. If you have never hung trim before, I suggest you check out this article from The Home Depot. In the article, they tell you how to remove measure and cut new baseboards. The process is the same for all molding. 

Keep in mind, I had previously installed taller baseboards when I did the floors. You can read more about that project here. So, I didn’t need to remove anything before I could get started. IF you are replacing the baseboards, you can remove them before starting this step. 


Next, I measured length of chair rail molding I would need for the wall I was starting on. My grandpa always used to say, 

Measure twice and cut once. 

I also tend to error on the side of caution and make the cut a little longer than it needed to be. I would rather have to sand a little off, than to start over with a new piece of molding and mess up my materials estimate. Running to the store for extra materials because I messed up one too many times in the middle of a project, is not my idea of a fun evening!

On a side note; you can always add 10% on to your materials estimate, like I do. That leaves me a little wiggle room, but doesn’t leave me with a bunch of extra materials at the end of the project. Also, if you are ready to start planning your next project, why not head over to my Free DIY Project Planning Template and download a copy to help keep you organized?

Cutting and Hanging the Chair Rail Molding

Back to the project at hand- Next, I cut the chair rail molding using a miter saw (using the proper PPE) and hung it with the air compressor and brad nailer. To make it seem less scary, I started on the wall that would be mostly covered by my china cabinet. At least I could hide any mistakes behind the cabinet…right? Who am I kidding? It is just molding. I would definitely pry it off and do it again.

After making a few cuts, you will get into a rhythm and it will go much faster. I installed all of the chair rail molding so that the top of it was just touching the 36′ marks that I made in the last step. 

Installing the Half-Round Molding

After installing all of the chair rail molding, I used the tape measure again to mark three inches below the bottom of the molding. This line would be where I want the top of the half round to go. I measured and marked every few feet along the wall to keep me on track. Then I cut and installed the half-round trim. It is the same process as the chair rail molding. 

I started getting nervously excited after this step. It was starting to look like I wanted it too, but at the same time, I was really worried about the picture frames. Were they going to look like a kindergartener nailed them up? Would I even be able to cut them evenly? Was this part going to take me three years to finish? I just needed to dive in head first and get started.

Measuring, Cutting and Hanging the Picture Frame Molding

EEK!!! My nerves were on edge. This was the make-or-break part of the project. It turns out, that with a little practice, it is super easy! First, measure, measure, measure. I referenced my plan extremely closely during this step. I chose to start on the same, pseudo-hidden wall.

The first thing I did was measure and mark the perimeter for the first box. I left off the inside mark, because I referred to my plan to for the width. I checked my plan against my measurement, and then decided to try my first frame. After a bit, I figured out how to make the process easier on myself. I started to cut the parallel sides, of the picture frame, at the same time back-to-back. I would clamp them together before cutting them. This made it a million times easier to hang them because they made perfect frames, plus it was less time cutting.  

My first wall would have three picture frames, so I hung each side before hanging the middle picture frame. If you were a little off in your calculating, it will be easier to adjust if you work from the outside in. By a little off, I mean less than an inch. If you are significantly off, you need to decide for yourself if you can live with the finished product the way it is. Is it going to drive you crazy? If it is, you might as well fix it while you have the tools and materials out. If you wait and decide to do it later, it will take much more effort. 

Caulk the Molding

DIY Wainscoting & Ledge Trim Caulk. The DIY Wife

Once all of your trim is hung, you are ready to caulk it. Caulking helps fill in the gaps around the trim. I used a paintable latex caulk. After caulking, make sure you check over your work again. It is really easy to miss a side. When I was painting, I missed a side. It stuck out like a sore thumb! I definitely went back and caulked it. 

When caulking, it was helpful for me to keep a glass of water, roll of paper towels, and trash bag with me. I found it best to use fresh calk for this process. Cut the tip off at an angle, and don’t cut off too much at first. You will have to try out the size of the bead of caulk and see if it provides enough coverage. If you want more caulk, you can always cut off more of the tip. 

When putting on the caulk, I squeezed the trigger with even pressure, and moved with fluid movements. Make sure you don’t wait too long after applying to smooth it down with a wet finger, or it will start to harden. This step gets pretty messy (hints the paper towels and trash bag). 

Prep for Painting

After waiting the recommended time for the caulk to dry (check the label), you can paint. To save some time, I started prepping while the caulk was drying.  The amount of prep you do will depend on your painting experience and comfort level. I have a lot of experience painting, so I don’t prep as much as you might want to. 

I taped around the perimeter of the area I was going to paint. You might want to also lay down drop cloths to protect the floor. I am more likely to trip on the rug and faceplant into the paint, than to drip it on the floor, so I forgo the drop cloths. 


DIY Wainscoting & Ledge Trim Paint. The DIY Wife

I painted the picture frame molding like I would paint the wall. I worked in sections and used the brush to paint the trim and cut in,  first. Then, I used the small roller on the wall. I took my time and made sure to apply the paint evenly. You might want to check your work frequently. It is easy to leave drips when painting molding. If you can catch a drip early, it will wipe right off. If not, you have to sand it down and paint over it.

After three coats of paint, I was ready to be DONE. But, I needed to protect the paint on my ledge from all of the objects that end up there. I have used Minwax Polycrylic before, and loved it. It is a water-based protective finish, so it is easy to clean up any spills. Plus, it doesn’t yellow over time like polyurethane does. I have used the same quart on several projects, and have a ton left. You can get it from most home improvement stores, or here.

Make sure you are adhering to the drying times and temperature ranges for each product. It stinks when you mess up a project because you didn’t follow the directions and painted another coat too soon! Yeah, I have done it a time or two. 😉

Clean Up

After everything is dry, you can clean up. Make sure you get all of the tape off. I also had a few pencil marks above the chair rail molding that I discovered after removing the tape. They were easy enough to erase, but be on the lookout. 

Final Thoughts

Let me say that this project looked harder than it turned out to be. I was super intimidated to start it. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to line up the picture frame molding correctly and it would look uneven. Well, it was so much easier than I thought it would be and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. 

  Not too shabby…eh?

DIY Wainscoting & Ledge Trim Finished. The DIY Wife



-Happy DIY-ing!

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