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  • Writer's pictureSara Johnson

How to Pick Your Trim

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

Trim Molding with Wainscotting

Trim Molding can be as personal as picking out your clothes because it all depends on what you like and want in your trim. Some people want the modern sleek look while others prefer the fancier ornate molding. While we can’t tell you which molding to go with here are a few tips to help you out?

Consider the Scale of the Room

When thinking about trim you must think about the scale of your room.

Small rooms don’t fare well with big bulky trim nor will they fare well. In general, you want to stick with a 3 ½ inch trim if you have standard 8-foot ceilings, but do not go over 6 inches for your crown molding, and baseboards. For window and door casing you may need to keep it 3 ½ inches or smaller depending on the style and where your light switches are located. Wainscoting and board and batten style trim can go a long way in a smaller room, but again it needs to be kept to height. If you’re only doing one wall as an accent wall then make sure it goes from floor to ceiling, but if you’re just wanting something around the bottom of your all your walls it’s usually best to try to keep it under 4 feet.

High Ceiling rooms, grand staircases, and large rooms can look great with the larger trim moldings. Most of the time you’ll want to go with crown and base molding that is a minimum of 6 inches and scale up depending on height and style you’re wanting. Door and Window Casings should be no smaller than 3 ½ inches. Wainscoting can go to the ceiling in many cases, especially around staircases or if you don’t want to go to the ceiling you can go 2/3 of the way up or stick to the 4 feet mark depending on what you like. Oh, and don’t forget those coffered ceilings.

Trim Material Options

Hardwoods. Hardwoods are dent resistant. They generally don’t warp or crack and look amazing when stained. You can paint them, but really if you’re going to the trouble to purchasing hardwood trim, I beg of you stain them. Please stain them.

Softwoods. Pine or Poplar are the most popular softwoods used for trim work. They are crack resistant and do hold up well for the long term. These options can be stained or painted.

Medium Density Fiberboard. MDF molding is very popular for trim because it’s inexpensive, comes primed, and looks good. It’s also slightly easier to install because it’s more pliable to work with. MDF, however is not dent or crack resistant, however, it’s easy to fill in sand and re-paint it. If saturated or exposed to moistier it will basically need to be replaced.

Fiber Cement Board. Fiber Cement Boards are used for exterior siding; however, they have been recently used for Ship-Lap and other accent walls especially in high moisture areas. They are not the easiest to install and are heavy to carry. They look like wood so you can have them colored to your choice or you can have them painted.

Uniform Trim Style Throughout the Home

Trim looks best in a home when it conforms to a single style. That doesn’t mean that you can’t change it up a little depending on the room. What it does mean is that if you’re going with a craftsman style trim keep the craftsman style throughout the home with perhaps a little change in scale and size depending on the room. Also keep in mind where your trim pieces are meeting. If your wainscoting is meeting to the bottom of your window apron, but they don’t match up in style you may need to re-think your window apron or your wainscoting.

Trim for Your Ceilings

Don’t forget about your ceilings. You can aid wainscoting to your ceiling if it’s low or do a full coffered ceiling if you have higher ceilings. If you want that rustic look adds some beams to the ceiling. Either way consider dressing them up a bit because they add a little personally to your home.

If you would like additional help in figuring out which style is best for you check out our previous blog, should we put Crown Molding on that? or It’s all about that base!

The principles will work just the same for all your molding needs.

We hope you found our blog beneficial. Sharing is caring so please subscribe to our blog for future helpful hints and share with your friends. If you have a question or would like us to give you a free estimate for your home improvement project, please contact us, we’d love to hear from you.


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