Gluing On Cabinet Trim

Tips on fastener-free techniques to attach mouldings to cabinets. January 22, 2006

I've installed a couple of kitchens for a kitchen designer and things have been going well. The designer is now asking if I could start gluing trim pieces such as light shield, base shoe and crown. His theory is that filling of nail holes can be unsightly. I do a pretty good job filling and matching the color. He wants me to use a polyurethane type glue gun. Has anyone ever glued your trim?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor S:
We always glue trim on instead of filling fasteners. We are a small shop and don't offer a "lines" of cabinetry so the techniques we use depend on the type of trim. The most difficult trim to put on with glue seems to be crown that scribes to the ceiling. Whenever possible we glue miters with Titebond II before it gets installed. We use the Titebond Hi-Performer glue gun to attach the trim to the cases. The bond is very strong but the glue is pretty thick so it is tricky to use on a miter and that's why we use regular glue for miters. We have also used small pieces of 3M double sided tape with PL glue in-between the pieces of tape. The tape will hold the pieces while the glue cures.

Whenever possible we try to pre-assemble pieces before installing them. If we can use screws to attach the trim from the back we prefer to do it that way, but if we can't the Polyurethane glue gun works well.

From contributor D:
I have done a fair number of trim jobs with no visible fasteners. I would use the Hot Melt polyurethane to hold the trim in place but it's very expensive and in many cases I wouldn't rely on it. I use Hot Melt in conjunction with PL200 of PL premium construction adhesive. I use miter bond or yellow glue for the joints.

Make sure you have material for bracing or jiffy poles and lots of fiber tape and masking tape. You really have to stretch your imagination sometimes but you can always find some way to clamp trim. One retailer that I trim for does 10000 SF stores full of woodwork all glued and no visible fasteners. That's base and shoe, crown, doors and archways, wainscotting and chair in white lacquer and no visible fasteners.

From contributor V:

We use the Senco Micro Pinner for all our trim. The holes are so small when you fill them that you usually can't see them.

From contributor S:
We also occasionally use a Micro Pinner in conjunction with glue on open grained woods but not on closed grain.

From contributor J:
The use of masking tape on a potentially still soft finish makes me cringe its asking for finish problems if the tape pulls the coating off. Id suggest using kickers to keep trim/crown in place until the panel adhesive dries.

From contributor D:
To contributor J: Installing trim onsite without mechanical fasteners can offer some very challenging clamping situations. Sometimes there are adjacent surfaces to brace to, sometimes you are a hundred feet from the nearest adjacent surface. In some situations, like outside miters and mitered returns masking tape or filament tape are the primary clamp of choice, especially if you pre assemble your miters before gluing them to the wall.

In most cases these days I use miter bond for this purpose eliminating the need for tape but I am in the minority. I find the green easy releasing masking tape is easy on even fresh lacquer. In the event you do some damage you have to consider that even with no fasteners we have to touch up each joint so a little bit of damage done by tape isn't that big a deal to fix.

From contributor J:
I agree Contributor D. The use of blocks fastened into the ground eliminates the problem for footing but what a pain to have all the kickers in place on a jobsite.

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Comment from contributor I:
I install a fair bit of trim on kitchen cabinets and I use a pin nailer and glue. After the glue has set, fill the hole with a color matched wax stick. Its impossible to see where you nailed it.