Hey Crew! Let’s talk some more about trim! Today is the second post in this series which aims to dig deep into the ins, outs, ups, and downs of all sorts of interior trim. We’ll start at the ground level and focus on baseboards today. Take a look at a couple of pictures that show how much interest trim can add to a space:
Quite a few parts make up this whole. The funny thing is that everything here can be done in the smallest house or room, or as seen here, it can make a large space seem more comfortable. Trim is all about details!
I used this room in the intro to this series and I said that there are ten kinds of trim. Abbie @ Sunshine and Shadows said she could only pick out five of them and asked me to list them, so here goes:
- Base Cap
- Shoe Molding
- Stair Skirt
- Cove Molding
- Plinth Blocks
- Door Casing
- Door Stop
- Panel Molding
- Crown Molding
- among others….
I wonder sometimes if this vast expanse of details causes people to freeze? I had one reader ask me once early on how to navigate the trim department at Home Depot or Lowe’s or your local supplier.
This post is the beginning of my response to that. I’ll start on the ground floor…the baseboards!
Bigger is Better
For most homes a larger baseboard is a real improvement! The only time this might not apply would be in a more modern, contemporary type design where clean lines and minimalist style rule the day. But for the average home I think taller and thicker baseboards look great!
Here are a couple of great choices:
I don’t know if I can floor you with any huge words of insight here! (Ha..get it?) Bottom line is, this is the most versatile upgraded base there is. It’s a 5.25″ primed base with an integrated “base cap” like profile milled into the top. This is available at any home center in all of the standard material offerings. Here is another similar choice:
This “base” is the same size as the first picture, but has a different profile on the top. This is really just a matter of taste, I personally prefer the top one because it invokes the look of an old-fashioned baseboard which was often done with a simple 1-by with a piece of Base Cap placed above it. Like this photo here, which also shows Base Shoe:
This last option really looks great, but it does add some cost and complexity to the job. I like the first one because it gives a similar look a little more affordably and simply.
This option is thicker too. Thickness looks nice, but could cause problems around your door casings if you’re not replacing them too. Things get a little tricky if your baseboard is thicker than the outside edge of your door casing. The top two options would almost never cause that issue.
What Materials are Best?
There used to be two main grades of trim for general use: Stain Grade, and Paint Grade. That still applies, but there are some new players.
If the trim is to be finished in such a way as to show the wood grain, either with a totally clear finish or with a stain, you generally want to use lengths of solid wood. This minimizes seams and keeps the color uniform.
You can generally buy the more basic grades of Stain Grade trim at a Home Center, but you might need to go to a specialty supplier if you want exotic or high-end material such as Oak, Maple, Poplar, etc.
Stain grade material is generally considerably more costly so if you plan to paint, you don’t need solid wood.
Paint grade used to mean “finger jointed”. If you’ve ever seen a piece of trim broken and seen those little “teeth” looking grooves where it broke, that is a finger joint. The process allows manufacturers to use shorter lengths of lumber to make long pieces of trim.
A few years back, most paint grade trim became available already primed. The additional cost is usually negligible and it’s well worth the effort for two reasons:
- You save some work on the painting time.
- For the average DIY Crew, the job may not get done all at once. If the material is primed, it looks decent in the interim.
There is a relatively new player on the block. MDF – Medium Density Fiberboard is often used for trim because of how well it can be milled with intricate profiles. Manufacturer’s can offer trim details that used to cost much more, now for an “entry level” price.
MDF is generally fine, but it does have some drawbacks, especially for baseboard. That major one is that MDF and water don’t mix! MDF is very readily damaged if it gets wet.
Being on the floor, baseboard is more likely than other trim to get wet, so keep that in mind. The other drawback to MDF is that it is a little bit harder to work with. Simple fixes of goofs such as a little sanding or a little putty or caulking, don’t seem to do as well on MDF.
The bottom line is that while MDF is great, I would suggest that you buy real wood if it’s available in the profile you want to use.
What is Shoe Molding?
Shoe Molding is the small piece of trim at the junction between baseboard and floor. Not all homes have it and it’s often not used where carpet is the floor covering.
Shoe Molding is great for covering gaps between hard surface floors and the baseboard. These gaps are often a necessary evil in flooring installation and the shoe molding covers them. It’s also useful for protecting the baseboard from damage, by, you guessed it, shoes.
Many carpenters go out and buy 3/4″ by 3/4″ Quarter Round for shoe molding. While this works, I like the actual “Base Shoe” better because it has greater height than width and we all know that’s a good thing!
I hope the lowdown on the boards down low has been helpful.
Sometime before next week’s post on Chair Rail and Wainscot, I’ll get some installation techniques posted for you. You’ll need some tools and if you want to see some that I picked out, go to the intro to this series. I have some tools from Amazon.com that you can buy right there. (I’ve bought many tools through Amazon…it’s all good so far)
Tomorrow, I will announce the winner of the Pink Toolbelt giveaway. I plan to do the drawing at 9:00pm EST on Tuesday the 3rd. If you haven’t entered and would like to, just sign up for the Newsletter before then.
As for the Newsletter…it’s coming very soon. Sorry for the short delay. Due to my regular work schedule, I might not finish it until the weekend.
If you have a food related post you want to include in our blog party, it’s Tasty Tuesday at Forever…Wherever!!!