Picture Frame Moldings on a Budget

I know, I know… this craft room makeover has been taking forever. But that’s real life for me. Other things kept getting put on the front burner like our kitchen backsplash and sun room makeover.

But now I’m putting the finishing touches on my craft room, starting with some picture frame moldings and chair rail on a budget.

picture frame moldings how to tutorial

What You’ll Need:

  • paper and pencil to sketch your plan
  • measuring tape
  • level
  • painter’s tape
  • compound miter saw or miter box
  • batten molding
  • chair rail molding
  • glue for moldings (we used Elmer’s ProBond Advanced)
  • brad nailer
  • hammer and nail set
  • wood filler
  • sandpaper
  • paint and primer

To save tons of money, I didn’t use paneling behind my picture frame moldings. It’s just plain white paint in a semi gloss finish. Also, I just used 15/16 inch white foam batten at only $2.47 for an 8ft section. This one wall cost me less than $30 to complete the chair rail and picture frame molding (and I bought an extra piece of batten just in case I screwed up!).

To start off my project I had to do lots of measuring and math to plan out the picture frame sizes. I decided to only do one wall with these moldings, the one with my painted stripes.  I measured the length of the wall (148 inches) and planned out 4 picture frames for the wall. It took some playing around with numbers, but I landed on 31 inches wide x 22.5 inches tall with about 5 inches between each picture frame.

31 inches wide x 4 picture frames = 124 inches
148 inch wall – 124 inches = 24 inches leftover for gaps
24 inches ÷ 5 gaps  = about 5 inches

how to build picture frame moldingsNow for the picture frame molding height… Chair rails are usually placed one-third of the ceiling height so if you have a 8-foot ceiling, they should be installed about 32 inches from the floor. I landed on 4 inches between the chair rail and top of the picture frame moldings, and 4 inches from the bottom of the picture frame moldings to the baseboards. This left my picture frame moldings to be 22.5 inches tall.

We bought all of the moldings and marked them with pencil for all of the pieces. For the 4 picture frame moldings, we needed (8) 22.5 inch pieces and (8) 31 inch pieces. Remember you are cutting these at 45 degree angles to miter together so the measurements are for the long ends of the angled cut.

cut picture frame moldingsOnce all of the pieces are cut, you’re ready for installation. I went ahead and primed the wall before I started the moldings. Personal preference. Once the paint was dried I measured and penciled in the picture frame molding boxes onto the wall.

Then I got my supplies ready: my brad nailer, Elmer’s ProBond glue, and painter’s tape.

picture frame moldings tutorial


I put a little glue on the back of the chair rail molding and placed it just over the penciled line on the wall.

foam picture frame moldingsThen I used my stud finder before I nailed the boards into place.

chair rail tutorialJust to make sure, we checked our moldings with the level to make sure everything was straight. Then just for an extra precaution I used a little painters tape right over the moldings to keep in place and flush against the wall while the glue dried (you can see I stuck it to the wall below so I wasn’t having to rip pieces in a hurry with my hands full).

how to install a chair railI should also mention that when you have to use more than one piece for a chair rail, you’ll get the cleanest line if you miter the two pieces rather than using straight cuts. Plus it’s easy to fill in that gap with wood filler.

chair rail moldingOK, now it’s time for the picture frame moldings. Again, same strategy. First we started with a little glue…

glue picture frame molding…then we placed on the wall just overlapping the pencil marks so they wouldn’t show.

how to do picture frame moldingsWe used three nails in each piece of molding, one on each side and one in the center.

picture frame moldingWe also always started with the top piece, then added the two sides, then finished each picture frame molding with the bottom piece.

picture frame molding tutorialOnce all of the moldings were in place, we used a nailset to tap the heads into the wood.

tutorial for picture frame moldingsThen we filled in all of the holes and the mitered corners so everything looked seamless. Once it dried we sanded everything smooth and painted the chair rail, picture frame moldings, and the wall bright white.

picture frame moldings

And here is the final look for under $30!

pink striped craft room walls

(2) pieces of white casing: $14.94
(6) pieces of 15/16 x 8ft white batten: $14.82

Luckily with a new house we had wood filler, sandpaper and white paint on hand.

And I bet I could have done all 4 walls for under $100. Crazy.

picture frame moldings how to tutorialThis whole project took us only one afternoon to install. The biggest pain was waiting for the coats of paint and wood filler to dry.

craft room picture frame moldingsWhile it’s not professional grade moldings, my craft room is quite happy with the $30 update. And now I have the confidence to do some other rooms in the house. I’m thinking master bedroom next?

white picture frame moldingSo, what do you think?
Not too shabby for moldings on a budget, right?

picture frame molding tutorialThis weekend I’ll spend putting some finishing touches on this space.
Get ready for the final reveal on Monday!

picture frame moldings on a budget

How to Install a Kitchen Backsplash

Yesterday I gave you a tour of our updated kitchen but today I’m giving you a little peek behind the scenes of our white subway tile backsplash. We actually decided to DIY, our first ever tile project. Scary? Yes. Totally worth it? Bigger yes.

white kitchen subway tileOne of the reasons I’m happy we took on this project ourselves (well, with a bunch of help from our friend Nick) was the cost. We don’t have a small kitchen but the entire backsplash cost us about $250, and that includes enough leftovers for our butler’s pantry.

Our supply list:

  • Lots of white subway tiles ($163.80 for all tile including butler’s pantry)
  • White unsanded grout ($11.78 per bag, needed 1 bag)
  • Grout boost ($39.98 per jug, needed 1 jug)
  • Porcelain tile mortar ($13.98 per back, needed 1 bag)
  • Grouting sponge ($2.97)
  • Metal tile trim ($11.97 per 8ft)
  • Ceramic tile trowel ($3.98)
  • Grout haze remover (optional, we ended up not using it)
  • Wet saw

kitchen backsplash suppliesTo start take off all electric outlet covers. Then you’ll want to measure the space in between your countertops and the bottom of the cabinets. We measured all of the spaces on the wall and marked it with permanent marker (it will be covered up by tile in the end). Then you’ll need to trim your metal edging with a pair of strong scissors to fit the height.

Note: we decided to use metal edging instead of a tile edging for a few reasons. As novices, it gave us a nice clean finished edge to work with. Also even though it’s barely noticeable in the end, the slight bit of metal goes nicely with our stainless steel appliances.

kitchen backsplash how toNext it was time to get the mortar ready. We just followed the instructions on the bag for measurements. We used a large mixer and bucket to mix. Just make sure you don’t make too much mortar at a time. It will start to dry as soon as it’s mixed!

kitchen backsplash mortarWe used a trowel at a 45 degree angle to spread the mortar on the wall.

kitchen backsplash mortar trowelOnce you get a small section with mortar, go ahead and place your metal trim and press into place. Then you can start laying your first set of tile flush with the top of your countertop and flush right with the metal trim.

kitchen backsplash DIY tutorialThen it was time to cut the pieces to fill in the gaps. We held up a single piece of white subway tile in place and marked the cut mark with a marker.

Now it was time to start cutting. We had the wet saw set up outside for this. I have never used a wet saw before but it seemed to go quite easily if you’ve used a normal table saw before (just wetter, right?). My biggest piece of advice is take it slow. Also you’ll need some extra tiles, trust me. Some will chip or your cuts will just be off. Not a big deal, just plan for it.

diy kitchen backsplashWe placed the filler pieces in the gaps and held in place with spacers. These will be your best friends. Trust me. Buy lots of them.

kitchen backsplash DIY tutorialOnce we got the hang of these steps we really started to move and groove. The biggest pain in the tush was working around outlets and the corner windows. We also had to cut every single tile for the top row directly under the cabinets since a full piece of tile didn’t quite fit.

kitchen backsplash tutorialBehind the stove we also used the metal trim. This kept the tile from slipping down once it was set in place. In our last house we used a piece of wood for this instead. Either one works perfectly.

how to tile a backsplashOnce all of the tile was in place we had to wait 24 hours for the mortar to set before we could grout.

Now as mentioned we used Grout Boost instead of water to mix the grout. The reason we decided to spend the extra $40? With Grout Boost you don’t have to seal your backsplash every year. Totally worth it in my book. I’m not the type of girl that remembers to seal my grout every year.

Once you’ve mixed the unsanded grout with Grout Boost or water, let the mixture stand for 5-10 minutes, then re-mix it. Also remember to periodically re-mix the grout to keep it from drying out.

grout white subway tile backsplashApply the grout mixture with a grout float at a 45 degree angle. Work diagonally. Wipe off any excess grout. This part will not look pretty. Have no fear. It will get there.

white subway tile backsplash tutorialThen you’ll want to wipe away the excess grout with a damp sponge. Periodically clean out your sponge. Repeat this process several times, but start to limit the amount of water you use in the sponge. Let it dry for a couple hours then wipe away again with a slightly damp sponge to remove any haze.

We waited about 24 hours before we caulked. You’ll want to hit where your new backsplash meets your countertops and where it meets the bottom of the cabinets. I have a little trick on this to get super smooth lines, but I’ll wait until tomorrow to share. For now, let’s just take a look at the finished backsplash…

caulk white subway tile backsplash tutorial

white subway tile kitchen backsplash

white subway tile backsplashAnd here’s some detailed photos of the finished edging.

white tile backsplash

kitchen white subway tile backsplash

white subway tile edgingI’m loving the look of the new backsplash and so happy we conquered this project ourselves (with a lot of help from our friend Nick!).

$248.46 plus tax
(does not include the wet saw).

white kitchen subway tile

A couple of things:

  • I’m still not confident enough to use a wet saw myself. If we didn’t have to work around our corner windows, it might have been a different story. I just don’t want to give you too much confidence though that this is a great beginner DIY project.
  • Caulking changes everything! There were a couple areas where I was nervous how it would look in the end, but caulk hid pretty much all imperfections.
  • I’m glad we used the metal edging. It gives a nice, clean finish and kept our edges level and straight.

So would I do this project ourselves again?
YES, in a heartbeat.
I’m already thinking of my next tile project.

kitchen backsplash STEP BY STEP tutorial