I love touring friend’s homes. A lot are proud of their efforts to install finish carpentry in their rooms. Ceiling molding, window casings, baseboards and more are cut and installed with precision.
Unfortunately, some of my friends choose the wrong size trims for the rooms or project. Twelve-inch high baseboard and 12″ wide ceiling molding makes a room with 7-foot ceilings look even smaller. Conversely, tiny trims in a large room appear nearly invisible.
How do you choose the right size trims for your projects? This was a question posed to me by a friend who just bought his first home- a little two-bedroom fixer.
I’d like to share the answer with you.
The size of the crown molding depends on the height of the room. Here is a general rule of thumb:
- · Up to 8-feet – three inch wide to 5 ¼” wide
- · From 9-feet to 10-feet – 5 ¼” wide to 7″ wide
- · From 10-feet and higher, use a build-up
These are general measurements. Between eight and nine feet, try samples of trims in place and select the one you like best.
Build-ups are made using two or more pieces of trim. You can install a channel, L-shaped piece of wood and install moldings over each other until you have a custom look. There really is no rule about how ornate or plain it should look. Study pictures of houses with similar architecture. The moldings will be different from house to house as they were all custom made, but the style will stand out.
Again, there is a general rule of thumb, but nothing is carved in stone. Rooms up to eight feet high should have a baseboard no higher than six inches. Taller rooms can have taller baseboards.
You can make a build-up on any size baseboard. Use a 1-by-6 cut to five inches and install rope molding on the top and on the front of the bottom.
The baseboard covers the gap between the wall and the floor. It gives a finished look to the room.
Window trim has no set size or width. Installing it takes several steps to give the project a finished and professional appearance.
I would generally choose the same width of trim as for the door. If the room has a single, large picture window that will become the focal point, I’ll trim it with build-ups. I’ll make the width no larger than the room’s baseboard or crown molding.
Most window casing trim offered at DIY stores are the same size. If the window is small, trim it until it looks balanced in the room. If it appears too small on a large window, make a build-up or use wider trim.
Again, most door casings are a standard width. If your home’s architecture calls for Empire molding, go large and ornate. You get the idea.
You can install build-ups, use plain wood or any combination to trim a door. Exterior and interior doors can be trimmed to suit each room.
By following a few steps, you can have a professional look.
The general rule of thumb for chair rails and wainscoting is around 30″ to 36″ off the floor. Depending on the size of the room, you may want to go higher.
Use a chair rail without bead board. Use straight and curved moldings to create picture areas on the walls. This was popular in Europe and in many fine Victorian homes. It made the room look ornate without costing a fortune.
Instead of bead board, you could use lincrusta or anaglypta wall coverings.
- · If wood trim is too expensive, consider composite or PVC trim. It cuts with hand tools and mistakes are easily covered by epoxy, spackling or other fillers. It is also much lighter to lift.
- · Let your home’s architecture and your personal style be your guide. If you want large trim, go for it. If you are planning to sell the house, it would be better to size your trim according to the general rules.
With these hints, your house will have a professional appearance. Your home will appear much more expensive than it really is. Of course, now that you’ve trimmed the rooms, that carpet really looks old, doesn’t it. Those curtains look out of place next to new trim. I hear projects coming up!
Source: Tim Layton, “Selecting Crown Molding- Sizes, Profiles, Options,” Remodeling Guy website, no date given
Source: Hallie Hammack, “Selecting Baseboard Molding,” Home and Garden Ideas website, 14 February 2011
Source: Staff Article, “Wainscotting, Chair Rails And Paint For a Quick and Cheap New Look,” Trimguide.com website, no date given
Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse forms of DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and more.