Installing Reglet Trim
This unique way to finish window and door openings without wood trim is a modern upgrade to a basic flush drywall return.
Synopsis: Reglet trim can be made of metal or vinyl and is used in place of traditional casing and base trim for a modern, clean look. The secret to a successful installation is ensuring the pieces don’t move, which can lead to cracks in the joint compound. In this article, builder Joe Milicia details the process of installing metal Fry Reglet trim with a series of detailed photographs and illustrations.
My company has focused on high-end finish carpentry for 25 years. Recently, a general contractor and regular customer approached us after he was unable to find a drywaller to install Fry Reglet trim in a modern home. It’s not surprising that our customer couldn’t find a drywaller—it’s fussy work, and I’ve heard other contractors complain of callbacks related to cracks around doors and windows. Reglet trim challenges the traditional construction sequence because unlike normal trim, it’s installed before the drywall is finished. It’s also a much more finicky process than most drywall contractors want to get involved in, and requires tools they’re not used to.
As you can see in the photos, a reglet detail often eliminates the casing around doors and windows. On this house, it’s also used as a transition above the baseboard, recessing the 3⁄4-in.-thick boards so they are just slightly proud of the wall. The biggest problem when you use reglet trim in a residential setting is cracked joint compound, especially around interior doors. To prevent cracks, you have to control the movement of the trim pieces and ensure that door and window jambs are rock solid. Any flexing of the jambs will show up as cracks in the compound.
Get the right pieces
Reglet trim requires a layout that minimizes splices and inconspicuously overlaps the horizontal and vertical pieces at corners and transitions. Make sure the trims selected by the designer match the drywall thickness. There are dozens of commonly used sizes and it’s easy to get them confused. For this project, we ordered the trims in 8-ft. and 10-ft. pieces to minimize splices. We followed the same principles of a good crown layout—never have a crown splice in a visible area, and always add blocking behind the joint.
An important difference from wood casing is that reglet trim is strictly decorative. So unlike casing, the trim doesn’t provide any structural support for the door. On this particular job, the 13⁄4-in.-thick solid-MDF interior doors were extremely heavy, so we convinced the contractor to use 1-in.-thick solid-stock jambs to handle the doors’ weight.
More on interior house trim:
Create Sleek Lines with Reglet Trim – This modern design element is tough to pull off, but the clean lines make it so worth it.
Tighten Up Your Trimwork – Though it doesn’t have a cord or battery, a block plane is a powerful finish-carpentry tool.
Ten Tips for Fast Trim – Improve the speed and quality of your next trim job with better layout, assembly, and installation.
Painting Trim the Right Way – A pro shares 8 steps from prep to final coat.
From Fine Homebuilding #285
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