The Stairs: Picture Frame Moulding

I wanted to do a separate post just about the picture moulding, because it’s kind of technical so it deserves to be talked about on its own. :)

When you are trying to do wainscoting up a staircase, you are going to have odd angles and cuts.  But this new little gadget my Dad introduced me to is so cool.  You just set it on your angle, say for instance our staircase banister, and it tells you exactly what angle it’s sitting at.

Pretty neat right?  Oh, and those are my Dad’s hands.  I don’t have man-hands and hairy wrists.

The angle of my staircase is 37 degrees, so the cuts were all made to compliment that.

For the moulding, I chose to use the foam stuff again.  Just a simple design.  One reason being because it was on sale at Lowe’s and half the price of the other pieces.  And I needed a LOT of pieces.  The pieces I bought were 7ft in length and cost $2.38 for each piece.  I ended up buying 27 pieces.  So that is $64.26 just for the moulding for the stair boxes.  All of the other moulding to choose from was anywhere from $4.50 to $6 for 1 7ft piece, so I really saved a bundle.

First thing we did was cut all of the pieces for all 21 boxes.

We wrote on each piece with a pencil if it was for the left or right wall, and if it was a horizontal piece or vertical piece.

And I promise I did get to partake in a little of the cutting process.


Then my Dad just whipped up this template thing so we could glue each piece together at the right angle, and on a flat surface.  I know, sounds confusing.

We glued 2 pieces at a time with hot glue, and let them cool.

Some pieces cooling…

And then we would glue a box together.

And eventually got all of these.

And then we temporarily placed them on the wall using some double sided tape so we could get the placement right.

Once we did that, we ran into a little problem with the left side of the stair wall…it was higher than the right side because of the banister, so the boxes looked kind of small on that side.

It’s hard to tell in that picture, but they weren’t tall enough.

So what did hero do?

He took all of the frames that were to go on the left wall and cut them on each side, then added an “extender” piece of molding.  So now the frames on that side are balanced with the wall.  Gosh are you still reading?  I know this is all pretty technical and I’m sorry.  But just letting you know that if you run into problems, they probably can be fixed!

And silly ole me, I fought him about the idea of gluing all the pieces together and making the boxes first.  I was intending to just nail up each individual piece as I went.  So who do you think was smart here?  Yes, hero was of course.

I hope this post didn’t bore you to tears.  Zzzzzzzzzzz.  This is good stuff to know though if you intend on trying this out! :)

If you have any questions about anything or just want to tell me not to bore you anymore, go right ahead and leave it in the comments. :)  And if it’s something technical and scientific, I’ll let my Dad answer those questions. :)

I’ll show you all next week the end result!

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  1. Very cool! Not boring at all!

  2. I have been dying to do this ever since you first posted about it. My staircase isn’t very long, so I think I’d need a lot less boxes. I’ve thought about trying it out myself, but I may end up asking my Dad too! That’s what Dads are for! It looks great!

  3. Wowza — that is SERIOUS DIY!!! You did a great job…and you look good at the saw! :)

    Thank goodness I’m in a single story house…I don’t think I have that kind of project in me!

  4. What a good pop! Lookin’ good!

  5. Awesome job! Looks great.

  6. Amazing DIY project. OMG on that handly little angle reader. That puppy would have saved us some major cursing during some of our framing projects. MUST GET!!!!

  7. Wow! It looks like it’s coming along great!

  8. First off, I LOVE your site!!! I just love all your ideas and creativity!! My question, and it could be answered in another post, is regarding the boxes you use for the faux molding (the ones in your hallway and office…although your stairway project is lovely…I think it might be a little out of my league)…..what exact material do you use and how exactly do you put them together???? I am great at following direction, and REALLY want to try this in our new house, but I didn’t see it completely spelled out anywhere like with your playroom, where you even took pictures of the exact products.
    Thanks so much you are very inspiring!!

    • Hey Kyla, thank you! I put the link in my post towards the bottom to see the how-to of the boxes. Just click that link and it will take you to that post. :)

  9. Love this! I want to copy cat this so bad… but just learning to use my saw.
    My stairway is exactly 37 degrees too… Do you know what the angles were for the boxes? I’m lucky to cut the square boxes :)

  10. I’m about to tackle our stairs soon after successfully getting up some boxes in our hallway. I find it interesting that you put these boxes together first with glue and then nailed everything up. I would have done them the same way I did my hallway which was one piece at a time. Did you say you just used a regular old glue gun to do that? I think this idea would make things much easier!

  11. Alina Moro says:

    I am about to start this project but the boxes for the wainscotting are going in a hallway on a textured wall. I see you used very simple moulding, which I like more than the beveled ones that I think look nice in a very formal dining room. I am sure the simpler the molding the less the cost ( another advantage:) What I would like to know is what width the molding is or should be. At stores, they can in varying widths. I want it to look ptoportional, not so small it gets lost, but not so large it overpowers. Would appreciate your input. Your staircase looks incredible. If my upstairs hall looks good, I will be attempting the staircase.

  12. Hi , How did you find the cut angle for the box ? I know the one angle was 37 what is and how did you get the other angle I’m thinking of doing my stairs…….Please get back to me Thanks……………Paul

    • After you determine the first angle, just add 90….in this case, that would be 127. Your actual cut angle will be half that, 63 1/2 degrees. In other words, to turn 90 degrees, the cut angle is 45. To turn 37, the cut angle is 18 1/2.

      Most saws won’t cut more than a 45, so you have to use something square to rotate the work 90 degrees. Doing this lets would let you cut at 16 1/2 degrees.

  13. Pardon me, 26 1/2, not 16 1/2.

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  1. […] To see how the design of the staircase came about, you can read about that here.  To see the how-to of the moulding boxes you can read that here. […]

  2. […] Staircase Wainscoting: See this post for details and this post for the how-to. […]