When it comes time to make repairs, update a room, or tackle a renovation project that you had been putting off, it's necessary to take the time to educate yourself on the tools, parts, and materials. Many home renovation projects involve millwork, but most people can only give a vague description of what millwork actually is, despite working with it regularly. In short, millwork is broadly defined as any pieces that were produced in a sawmill, which traditionally only included materials made from raw lumber, though this limitation no longer applies.
Millwork now includes products made from pine, oak, fir, poplar, hickory, and maple, but also some products that are made with MDF, aluminum, and steel. In order to source the best millwork material for your ideal finish, it's important to learn more about millwork, where it's used around the home, and the costs associated with purchasing millwork for your next project.
What Is Millwork?
The term millwork is used by professionals to refer to any material that was made in a sawmill and built into the home, like trim. However, it should be noted that flooring is not considered to be millwork. Millwork is typically more decorative than it is structural.
What Is Millwork?
The definition of millwork is broad, so in order to better understand what millwork is, it's a good idea to consider some examples of millwork and the materials that are primarily used to make millwork. As stated above, millwork is essentially any decorative construction material that is built into a home and that was originally produced in a sawmill. This typically includes products that are made of common woods, like pine and oak, or uncommon woods, like fir, poplar, hickory, or maple. However, millwork can also be made with MDF, finger-jointed wood, composite materials, particleboard, or fiberglass.
Other millwork products, like doors, windows, and stairs, will incorporate steel, aluminum, and even glass, so the term 'millwork' no longer just applies to products made with raw lumber. These products are designed to be installed with very little modification, with most material available in a ready-to-use format. The pre-fabricated construction makes them easier to install using nails, screws, or adhesives to secure common millwork pieces, like wall paneling, molding, trim, or doors.
Where to Find Millwork Around the Home
If the definition of millwork seems confusing, or you are just having some trouble understanding exactly what millwork looks like, you are in luck. Millwork is very common indoors and outdoors, so you can find several examples of millwork simply by walking through your home.
Doors and doorframes are a great example of easy-to-spot millwork. Similarly, windows and window frames, as well as most closet doors, qualify as millwork. Indoors, you can also see millwork when you look at the individual pieces of stairs, molding, trim, and even wall paneling or a mantelpiece is typically referred to as millwork. There are just as many examples outdoors, including crown molding, louvers, door surround trim, sidelights, and transoms.
While many of these pieces are mass-produced, you can find custom-made millwork if you are looking to add a unique flare to your home design. Something simple, like a custom mantelpiece or unique door surround trim, can help your home stand out.
Millwork vs. Casework
Not all products made in a sawmill qualify as millwork. For instance, flooring is typically separated from other millwork products. Casework is another category of construction material that is distinct from millwork, despite having a number of similarities. While millwork is broadly defined as any product manufactured in a sawmill as a decorative construction material to be built into a home, casework is a term that only refers to boxed pieces, like bookcases, cabinets, drawers, or racks.
Casework is typically mass produced in standard dimensions, which helps to lower the overall cost of the materials and makes it easier to plan for the installation of these products. Though, you can find some manufacturers that will make custom cabinetry and other casework pieces.
Due to the wide variety of products that qualify as millwork, it's difficult to put together a clear cost assessment. For instance, even if you limit your scope to one type of millwork product, like a door, the price can still range widely from just $50 to over $2,000. Then you begin to look at different products, and need to compare inexpensive pieces, like trim and baseboards, to more expensive items, like mantelpieces, transoms, or crown molding.
So, the general cost of millwork as a construction material category cannot be accurately stated. However, to get a rough estimate of the cost, you can find basic price ranges for many common millwork projects below, like doors, windows, trim, transoms, and mantelpieces.