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  • Writer's pictureSara Johnson

What is Finish Carpentry?

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

What do you think of when you hear the term finish carpentry? Do pictures of people installing carpet come to your mind? Or do people putting all the pretty finishing touches on your home come to mind? Well if your mind pictured people installing crown moulding or installing doors then you are correct. Don’t worry if you didn’t get it, many people get confused when they hear the term finish carpentry. So, let’s clear up a few misconceptions.

What is Carpentry?

There are two types of carpentry. Rough Carpentry and Finish Carpentry.

A rough carpenter isn’t a person who is rough, but a skilled professional that installs the structural components of a home. For example, the frame of your home is assembled and built by a rough carpenter. If you want to modify the structure of your home, for example, add a doorway into a wall where one didn’t previously exist, you will likely need someone with a license in rough carpentry. (General contractors can also do this for you too.) See the California License Board C-5 License for more information.

California Code of Regulations Title 16, Division 8, Article 3. Classifications
A framing and rough carpentry contractor performs any form work, framing or rough carpentry necessary to construct framed structures; installs or repairs individual components of framing systems and performs any rough carpentry or associated work, including but not limited to the construction or installation of: sub-flooring, siding, exterior staircases and railings, overhead doors, roof decking, truss members, and sheathing.
Authority cited: Sections 7008 and 7059, Reference: Sections 7058 and 7059 (Business and Professions Code)

Shiplap wall in Stair Well of home

A finish carpenter is a skilled professional that essentially finishes the job. They come in last to any project and install the materials that make the surfaces of your home functional and aesthetically pleasing. For example, if you’re looking to install new cabinets, doors, or trim work you would call a finish carpenter. Finish Carpenters can work with both interior and exterior non-structural projects, however in California, the State License Board has separated some of the exterior work and assigned it to the rough carpenters.

California Code of Regulations Title 16, Division 8, Article 3. Classifications
A cabinet, millwork and finish carpentry contractor makes cabinets, cases, sashes, doors, trims, nonbearing partitions and other items of "finish carpentry" by cutting, surfacing, joining, gluing and fabricating wood or other products to provide a functional surface. This contractor also places, erects, and finishes such cabinets and millwork in structures.
Authority cited: Sections 7008 and 7059, Reference: Sections 7058 and 7059 (Business and Professions Code)

Trim (Millwork) Installation

Baseboard installation Around Bullnose Corner

Trim installation comprises all moulding and facias from the ceiling to the walls and all the way down to the floor. Having houses with all the ‘trimmings’ is what comprises the most time of many finish carpenters. While some trim work installation can be easy and simple to complete even by a novice, others require the skill and knowledge of a craftsman to get it just right.

Door and Window Installation

French Door Installation - Entry Door Installation

While installing pre-hung doors into a new home can be relatively easy, retrofitting doors and windows into older homes can be a lot more complex than many people think. It’s true that pre-hung doors are easier than slab doors, but a finish carpenter will have the skill to be able to finesse a door into the proper place. After all who wants a door that looks pretty, but can’t be opened.

Interior Staircase Installation

Staircase with banister

Finish carpenters cannot install exterior staircasing in California so we will focus more on the interior ones. Staircases can provide two things. It provides the function of a person to be able to access the upper floors of a structure with relative ease. It also can also act as a focal point in a room or entry way that draw a person’s eye to the upper floors. Hence the need for the finish work on the staircases which includes fancy railings that can make the staircase grand. It is the job of the finish carpenter to provide these esthetically pleasing finishes to the staircase.

Cabinet Refurbishing and Installation

Kitchen Cabinet installation - RTA cabinets

Cabinets are not just a functional place to store your things. They are artwork all to their own. In fact, the state of your kitchen and bath cabinets can affect the sale of your home. Some finish carpenters build and install their own cabinets while others use RTA or Pre-Fabricated cabinets that can be purchased from another cabinet shop.

What we do at Integrity Woodworking, Inc?

Danny with Integrity Woodworking Installing Wainscotting

We specialize in Interior and Exterior Door and Trim installations within the residential community. If you want to install that accent wall you saw on HGTV we can do it for you. If you want to sail your home away in shiplap, we can make it happen. If you want that really cool beveled glass French door your neighbor has, we can get it for you. Want that rustic beam fireplace mantle, we’ve got you covered. While we do provide other services, such as Cabinet Installations, we try to mainly focus om trim and door installations because – well - we like it.

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 come to your home to give you a free estimate, please contact us, we would love to hear from you.


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