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How To Cut Coves With A Mitre Saw 

By  The Saw Guy

There are plenty of DIY jobs that will always need done around the house. Coving is probably one of the hardest to do, and in the main that comes down to cutting the right angles, in the right places. It sounds like an easy thing to do but it is a lot more difficult that you may initially think.

If you are lucky enough to own a mitre saw, this will make the job a great deal easier. If you don't then you can either buy one, rent one, borrow one or buy a cheaper alternative like a mitre box.

As you may know, coving can add a decorative touch to any room. It is important though to match the style of the coving to the style of the room, and to complement the age of the house.

Coving is usually applied where the walls meet the ceilings and coving corners can help tie the coving together in the corners of the room. These are the hardest parts to get right.

Coving is basically glued to the wall and ceiling to hold it in place.

Coving vs Cornice

It is easy to mix up coving and cornices so we have explained below the key differences:

  • Coving - This is a moulding that is uniform in profile. It has a simple design and usually comes in what is called a C-profile. It is cheaper to buy and much easier to fit than cornice.
  • Cornice - This usually has a more intricate design and is a lot more ornate. The profile is not uniform and that alone makes it harder to fit.

List of Tools for Cutting Coving

The other tools you will need are:

  • A standard hand saw normally used for cross cutting. Try to use one with a stiff type of blade.
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Spirit level
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk Line
  • A mitre saw or mitre box (If you are going with a box make sure it is wide enough to handle the size of coving that you have.
  • Sandpaper
  • Coving Adhesive - around 2 tubs will do an average living room
  • Joint cement
  • Caulking gun
  • Filling and trimming knives
  • Cove primer
  • Sealant gun
  • Ladders

Armed with the above you should be able to start on your project. Just do a quick check and make sure that you have all of the above, before making a start. As they say if you are well prepared, then you are in a much better position to do a really good looking and professional job.

Different Types of Coving and Coving Corners

There are a number of different styles of coving available in the market place. Some are a lot easier to work with than others. The standard basic shapes are the easiest to work with, but invariably, those with a more complex design look more ornate, and that is what many people choose.

Coving usually comes in a standard white colour and almost always in packs. A pack of 6 standard coving strips costs on average about £30, so a price point of around £5 per length. 

A typical standard length is 3000 mm or 9.8 feet. They are usually made from Polyurethane, Duropolymer or polystyrene, but you can also get these in what is called plaster coving. This article doesn't cover plaster coving. The good news is there are plenty of design choices.

C-shaped is the most popular choice and termed as the classic choice. S-shaped is popular with some buyers and others go for the more intricate fluted styles.

You can also buy different types of coving for the different rooms in your home. There are particular types of coving for the main rooms such as the living room and bedrooms, whereas other rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom have better water and steam proof options.

Fitting Coving

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Sections of coving are almost always joined in the corners of a room. These are done by making a series of 45 degree mitre cuts. You can use a mitre saw, a mitre box or a mitre coving cutting tool to achieve these cuts.

The mitre cove cutting tool is a very useful tool to have and when used with a standard hand saw, easily makes accurate mitre cuts.

To begin, measure the width of your coving, and then take that measurement and draw a line with that width size around the entire walls of the room. Then do the same thing on the ceiling. Those will be your two guidelines for fitting the coving.

This is explained in the video below.

Before fitting make sure that area is clean, with no dust and no loose plaster. This will make sure that the coving has a good surface to stick to. If it is a new wall that has not been painted, you will need to prime the walls with a PVA adhesive and allow to dry.

Start in a corner and make your first mitre cut. You then apply a line of adhesive to the top and bottom edges of the coving. Align the coving to the wall and ceiling and slowly work your way along, pressing the coving to both the wall and ceiling.

As shown in the video, it is worth tapping in a few panel pins just under the coving to hold it in place until the adhesive has had time to stick fully. When all the coving has been applied fill any gaps to ensure a neat and tidy job.

You should also remove any excess glue that has been squeezed out on the ceiling and walls. A wallpaper scraper or filling knife can be used to do that.

Coving Buying Tips

Avoiding Waste by Properly Measuring

The amount of coving that you will need is of course dependent on the size of the room. Measuring the size is fairly straightforward. All you need to do is measure along the length of the ceiling, and make sure to allow for any parts that sit out such as a chimney breast, or an alcove.

Then add on a little extra for cutting and natural waste. There is not a great deal of waste when cutting coving and it is also pretty inexpensive. I always add on around 10% more than I need and that is a pretty good guide.

You will notice that people selling DIY products always say that this is a simple job. It is simple enough if you do it every day and not many of us do that. If you have never used a chalk line before, then you should as it is a very quick and accurate way to get a nice straight line, and it works like a treat.

It really does take some time and patience to work out each joint, and let me tell you it can get very frustrating indeed, and you can waste a lot of coving. Using the little corner pieces of coving does cover up a multitude of sins.

Hopefully this has helped you out, and you can now go about having a go yourself. If it is possible always start with a smaller room, and ideally with walls that are just flat, and without any external corners. Once you do this a few times, you will quickly work out what type of mitre joint is required

The Saw Guy


We review the different types of powers saws on the UK market. We do a lot of research to make sure we bring you the very latest information and reviews on the full range of mitre, circular, chop, reciprocating and jigsaws.

Enda McLarnon

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