Paint-Grade Interior Trim
Choosing molding that looks good and finishes well takes more thought than it used to.
Synopsis:Shopping for interior trim can be an overwhelming chore. The array of products made of different materials can leave even experienced builders scratching their heads. FHB associate editor Chris Ermides takes a look at today’s world of interior trim, including finger-jointed, medium-density-fiberboard, and synthetic trim products. Each style is profiled and includes a list of pros and cons. This article includes a sidebar about flexible moldings, which can be useful on curved walls or arched openings.
Magazine extra: Take a tour inside The New England Woodworking Company’s millwork shop, and learn how custom and replacement-molding profiles are shaped on their computer-aided cutting equipment.
If you’re reading this website, you probably love wood. Like it or not, though, when it comes to painted trim, the alternatives to solid wood can make more sense. Finger-jointed, medium-density-fiberboard (MDF), and synthetic trim come with primer coats applied at the factory, which saves you a load of time and trouble. But choosing among these three materials isn’t easy.
Finger-jointed trim is knot-free, but it can be pricey. MDF is inexpensive, but it can’t get wet. Synthetics come in complex profiles, but they require special adhesives. The look you’re after and the specific application (baseboard, casing, crown, or chair rail, for example) will figure in your selection, along with cost, workability, durability, and dimensional stability.
Moldings have a purpose
According to Brent Hull, a historic-moldings expert, interior moldings do two things. First, they define the major shapes and spaces in a room, like doorways, windows, and floor-to-wall and ceiling-to-wall connections.
The second thing moldings do gets at the heart of how to tell good-quality from poor-quality trim. When trim is on a wall, it refines a room architecturally. Profile design, detailing, and scale create the architectural style and tone…