How To Fit Coving

Let our tutorial guide you through the process of fitting coving yourself with photos of each step.
Written By: David White | Updated:
How To Fit Coving
David White/DIY Works

Whether you are using coving to hide settlement cracks between the wall and ceiling or simply fitting it to give a room a bit more character, it’s a great finishing touch.

The coving is available in various styles and sizes as well as three different materials, including plaster, duropolymer and polystyrene.

Plaster coving is the most popular due to its durability, but it weighs quite a bit more than the alternatives, so it requires additional effort to install.

Duropolymer coving is similar to the plaster alternative but is lighter and easier to install. However, this type of coving does come at a premium cost for the added benefits.

Finally, polystyrene coving is the cheapest and lightest, but it has the drawback of being less durable and requiring additional decorating.

In this tutorial on how to fit coving, we use the traditional plaster coving, as shown below.

What You’ll Need

  • Plaster coving
  • Cove adhesive
  • Pencil/marker
  • Mitre box
  • Masonry pins
  • Hammer
  • Spirit level
  • Panel saw
  • Utility knife
  • Sander/sandpaper
  • Filler

How To Fit Coving


1. Check The Fit Against The Wall & Ceiling

To begin fitting coving, we always recommend checking the fit against the wall and ceiling beforehand. You’ll need to take note of any lumps or bumps, and it’s also a good time to decide if you actually like the coving. For example, we initially tested a 2-inch coving on the wall and ceiling, but after checking the fit, we decided to go with a 3-inch coving instead.

2. Mark Out Where The Edges

Once you are happy with the coving you’ve bought, you can begin to mark out where the edges of the coving need to be when it’s fixed. You’ll need to follow the manufacturer’s guidance in terms of the markings because not all coving is the same. As you can see in the photo below, we used a pencil to make markings on both the wall and ceiling.

how to put up coving

David White/DIY Works

3. Prepare The Area Before Fitting

After you’ve marked the area, you’ll need to check for any dust, dirt or grease because this can affect how the coving adheres to the surface. If you notice that it isn’t particularly clean, you will need to clean it before fitting the coving.

As you can see in the image above, we painted the fresh plaster before installing the coving. Therefore, to avoid any adhesion issues, we sanded down the area and also scored the wall for a better key for the adhesive.

how to fit plaster coving

David White/DIY Works

4. Cut Any Internal or External Coving Angles

With all the preparation work completed, you can now concentrate on the coving. To begin, you’ll need to cut the ends ready to form the joints at the corner, and the room’s shape will determine this.

The easiest way to cut your coving accurately is with the use of a mitre box. Depending upon whether you are cutting an external or internal corner on the right or left-hand side will determine the direction of the cut that’s required.

Once you have marked out the length and angle to cut the coving, you can use a panel saw to cut through it. If you are cutting a long length of coving, make sure that the other side is supported because this prevents it from snapping. We also strongly recommend having a few practice runs of cutting the coving so that you’re happy when it comes to the real thing.

After you have cut the coving to length, you’ll need to check the fit upon the wall and ceiling. If you aren’t happy, place the coving back into the mitre box and make the adjustment. However, if only a small amount of adjustment is required, you can use a utility knife to make the cut instead.

how to cut coving

David White/DIY Works

5. Mix Up Adhesive & Apply To Coving

When it comes to sticking the coving on, you’ll have a choice of products to use. Personally, we prefer to use a dedicated cove adhesive, but other people have their own preferences, such as dot and dab.

In terms of mixing up the cove adhesive, it varies between all the different types. For example, the adhesive we used required 5 litres of water per 12.5 KG bag. However, before mixing the adhesive, take note of the workable time once it has been mixed up. Most vary between 30 to 45 minutes, which means that you’ll want to ensure you have all the coving ready to make the most of the workable time. Alternatively, you can mix smaller portions of the adhesive rather than the whole bag.

With the coving adhesive mixed and ready to use, you can begin to spread it onto both sides of the coving. You will need to apply enough adhesive so that it squeezes out from the edges when the coving is pushed into position.

Cove Adhesive

David White/DIY Works

6. Position Coving & Push In Position

With the back of the coving covered in adhesive on both sides, use the marking lines to position the coving ready to be stuck on. Once you are happy it’s in position, you can move along its length, pushing it into place. When it comes to joining two lengths of coving, make sure you add plenty of adhesive to the mitre joint so it sticks in position.

how to put coving up

David White/DIY Works

7. Fill Gaps Using The Adhesive

After pushing the coving into position, if you spot any gaps, simply fill them using the coving adhesive. Afterwards, use a slightly damp cloth to wipe down any adhesive left on the surface so that it’s ready for decorating.

8. Pin The Coving In Position

Although not always necessary, you can pin the coving in place for added security whilst the adhesive sets. Ideally, you should hammer a masonry pin at every 60 cm interval along the coving. However, so that they can be removed, avoid hammering the pins in too far because this will make the removal a lot harder than it needs to be.

9. Remove Pins & Check Coving

Once you are happy that the adhesive has completely set (as per the manufacturer’s guidelines), you can begin to remove the pins. To do this, use the back of a hammer to pull each pin out.

10. Start Decorating

After successfully fitting the coving, it’s advised that you allow at least 24 hours before you start decorating. Prior to painting, you may want to use a decorator’s filler to fill in the areas where pins were inserted into the coving. When it comes to painting the coving, use a suitable primer and then paint using emulsion for the best finish.

What To Avoid

  • Fitting coving to an unprepared surface (i.e. painted walls/ceilings or uneven surfaces)
  • Using a blunt saw to make cuts
  • Decorating before allowing the adhesive to set
  • Mixing the adhesive before measuring and cutting the coving
  • Using an incorrectly mixed or expired adhesive

Conclusion

Fitting coving isn’t the most straightforward of tasks due to the cuts needed, but as long as you use a mitre box, it’s fairly straightforward to do. Hopefully, our guide on how to fit coving enables you to give it a go yourself. However, if you feel you need extra guidance, you can get in touch, and we will provide our assistance where possible.

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