A lot of detail and attention goes into the flooring we walk on as well as the doors, windows, and cabinets we put in our homes. So why are so many trim details left out of homes? Why not add some style to your home with some custom trim, built-ins, paneled walls, coffered ceiling, and crown moulding? These custom details can really enhance a home and add an element of style and function.
A few tips before starting any of the projects below:
- Trim samples are available for you to pick up at local lumber stores
- Before you get started on any project below, be sure to pick up the samples and set them up in your home see if they are what you want
- To save on cost, you can use Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) in place of hardwood, but it will need to be painted
Mouldings can be made of many materials. MDF is an easy material to work with and is good for paint grade mouldings. Larger crown moulding and other moulding are now often made with a dense foam material, which is easy to work with and easy to paint. I always try to be aware of manufactured mouldings and the hazards to indoor air quality so try to find manufactured moulding with low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). Most mouldings can be made out of any type of hardwood or softwood material and can be painted or stained any number of colors. Ideas can be visualized and planned out with the sample moulding. Modern, classical, arts and crafts, craftsman, and other styles can be achieved with the proper use of trim and mouldings.
The base moulding serves the purpose of finishing the floor to wall transition. Most flooring especially wood should have a gap for expansion and contraction of the floor. So the baseboard serves the purpose of covering that gap. Consider your ceiling heights when determining the size of baseboard moulding. An eight-foot wall would look awkward with 12” of base moulding; however, 18-foot walls with 16” baseboards look great. There really isn’t a formula for the ratio of baseboards to wall height, but rather what looks visually pleasing. The contour of the baseboard used also plays a role. To add more detail to the baseboards a shoe moulding or a base cap can be added. The possibilities are endless. Baseboards can be made up of one to four pieces to draw attention to the room. Simple baseboards can get a lot of attention as well. I have finished many homes with a painted MDF 1” x 6” board as the baseboard and the simplicity of this trim can have quite an impact.
Window and Door Casing
Window and door casing can be just as elaborate as baseboards and can remain quite simple. Use straight stock material like a 1” x 3” on the sides of the door or window and a 1” x 4” on the top of the doors to create a simple look. I also like to do jamb extensions out of a hardwood or MDF, while staying away from wrapping windows with sheetrock. The overall cost is almost a wash when the labor for sheetrock installation around the windows is taken into consideration. From simple straight stock trim to using profiled trim, details can be become more elaborate by adding a fillet on top of the side casing, then installing the top casing and a top casing cap. Fillets and casing caps will give the feeling of a craftsman style trim. Rosettes and plinth blocks can be added to casing to accomplish a more classical look. It is necessary to match the style throughout the home whether going for a classical, craftsman, or a simple trim look.
Paneled walls and wainscoting
An easy way to remodel a room or change the look of a room is to add paneled walls or wainscoting. If you add a four-foot high paneled wall to a small powder room it changes the whole feel of the room. Paneled walls can add a classical or craftsman look to a room that sets it apart from other rooms. They can be just four-feet high or they can go all the way to the ceiling. Paneled walls give depth by creating shadows with the raised stiles and rails. Paneled walls are often painted a different color than the remainder of the wall, which adds even more visual interest.
Wainscoting can also set a room apart with a simple bead board capped with chair rail or small crown moulding. Wainscoting gives a similar look to a paneled wall. When planning out wainscoting be aware of the door and window casing and how the panels tie into them. If you do take on one of these projects, be sure to carefully plan out the spacing (especially with paneled walls).
Crown moulding can enhance many details in a home including walls, cabinets, bookcases, and built-in cabinets. When crown moulding is added to a shorter wall, it can make it appear taller and taller walls can look more finished and not so lofty. Crown moulding gives a good transition between wall and ceiling. Crown moulding can be made out of several pieces of mouldings to make a custom crown moulding or can simply be made of a single 1” x 6” placed at the corner of the wall and ceiling.
Ceilings can be treated with trim, mouldings, and beams. Coffered ceilings are created with beams and mouldings in a geometric shape to define an area. Placement of lights in a coffered ceiling is crucial and needs to be planned out ahead of time. Coffered ceilings can define a room to set it apart from other rooms even if there are no walls to define the area. They can give a room a formal look but can also be used in a family room to break up an expansive ceiling. Coffered ceilings can be made out of beams and mouldings of any material.
Tray ceilings are created during the framing stages of a house but can be added later. A tray ceiling added to a room with a low ceiling will give a perception of more height or grandness. Most tray ceilings are created with framing and sheetrock but crown moulding and lighting can also be added.
Ceilings can also be enhanced with the addition of beams. Beams can be added during or after the framing stage of the house. They can be thick and massive or thin and petite. Either way beams can be used to set a room apart from other rooms. The various types of ceilings can be used to hide ducting and other mechanicals of a home.
Greg Stopher has over 16 years of experience in the construction field and earned a degree in Construction Technologies from the University of Alaska – Southeast. His company, Stopher Construction, LLC, is a general contracting company specializing in remodeling, custom finishes, additions and new home construction projects. He can be reached at 907-321-2350.