Guide to 4 Types of Wood Trim

Routed strips of trim wood
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Trim is a highly useful building material that's easy for most do-it-yourselfers to install. With just a few bundles and a power nailer, you can quickly add sparkle to a room in a day or two.

Trim has been around for centuries and there are hundreds of types, from popular to obscure. The most useful types of trim found in today's homes are window and door trim, chair rail, crown molding, and baseboards.

What Trim Is

Trim is any kind of decorative piece that covers up gaps and edges areas to give them a cleaner look. Trim is often made of lightweight wood such as pine or hemlock, but it can also be made of plastic, like PVC.

In a purely aesthetic sense, trim is like trimming off the ragged edges of a room. Or it's like outlining certain areas of a picture. It gives the room a nice, crisp, finished look.

Trim is also very functional. Some parts of a house are not covered up; they are left open for certain reasons. One prime example is flooring. Flooring and walls never meet. The purpose of this gap is to let the two move independently of each other. To cover that gap, baseboards are used.

Installing wood trim is either a do-it-yourself project or it can be done by fine carpenters.

Door and Window Trim

Window and door trim frames the perimeter of doors and windows.

Purpose

  • Hide ragged edges of drywall or plaster around doors and windows.
  • Sharpen the look of windows and doors; make them "pop out." White-painted door and window trim looks great against walls painted rich colors.
  • Cover exposed edges of door and window framing.

Features

  • Door and window trim is always essential. All doors and windows need trim (often called casing or molding, too).
  • Door trim and window trim is usually interchangeable.
  • When tightly nailed to the framing and painted, trim almost looks like it's a part of the door or window.
  • Door trim is usually painted a semi-gloss or gloss so that fingerprints are more easily washed off.
  • Door and window trim can be bought as kits or as individual pieces.
Pillows on bed against wall at home
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Chair Rail

Chair rail is a thin horizontal strip of wood trim that circles a room at about waist height. Mostly, chair rail is used in dining rooms.

Purpose

  • Protect walls from chairs bumping into them.
  • Dresses up a room, particularly dining rooms.
  • Reduces the visual scale of large rooms.

Features

  • It can be mounted on top of wainscoting or can be stand-alone.
  • Not a common type of wood trim.
  • Typically found in more traditional-style houses.
  • Not essential, but often a visually pleasing addition to a dining room or large living room.
Empty Room With Wall Plug
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Crown Molding

Crown molding is a horizontal strip of interior wood trim that runs along the very top of walls at the junction of the wall and ceiling. Crown molding is not found in all homes. It can even be used along the tops of kitchen cabinets to hide the upper soffits or to dress up lower-quality cabinets.

Purpose

  • Provide visual division between walls and ceiling.
  • Can cover up poor drywalling or plasterwork at top of walls.
  • More aesthetic benefits than functional: crown molding makes a room look great.

Features

  • Crown trim molding is usually painted the same color as the ceiling, not the wall.
  • It is installed at a 45-degree.
  • Both cope joints and mitered joints are used when installing crown molding.
Ceiling moldings in the interior, detail of intricate corner.
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Baseboards

A home's baseboard is a decorative and functional type of wood trim that runs along the very base of walls, thus the name baseboards or base molding. All homes have some type of baseboards, whether wood, PVC, or flexible plastic.

Purpose

  • Provide a visual division between the floor and the walls.
  • Keep dirt from getting under walls.
  • Prevent vermin/insects from getting into the house.
  • Beautify the ragged bottom edge of the wall.
  • Prevent the bottom edge of the wall from getting broken.

Features

  • Usually in heights of 2 inches to 8 inches, though higher base molding can be found.
  • It can be either built-up (separate pieces) or one-piece.
  • Thinner baseboards are easier to curve to the walls.
  • Thicker baseboards can have deep, attractive profiles (designs).
  • Available in bare wood, primed wood, MDF, and polystyrene.
  • Usually, it requires the addition of a quarter-round at the base of the baseboard to cover up the gap between the baseboard and floor.
Molding in the interior, baseboard corner. Light matte wall with tiles immitating hardwood flooring
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