Print Friendly and PDF

Adding trim and architectural detail

Here are some ideas If you're restoring an older home to its original condition, or thinking about improving your home by adding architectural details and trim.


Trim usually refers to crown molding (cornice), skirtings, dado and chair rails, or door and window moulding. Crown molding covers the gap between the wall and the ceiling, door and window casing trims the gaps between doors and windows and the surrounding wall, and skirting covers the gap between the floor and the walls and should complement door and window casings.

You can install simple one-piece mouldings, or you can combine various trims for a more substantial look. Paintable moulding is usually made from pine, but suapwood (MDF) and polystyrene are other options.

Remember to select trim and crown molding styles based on the architectural style of your home. There are many profile choices; visit your local Builders Warehouse to see the different types of trim profiles.

Decorative moulding and trimwork is evident in just about every architectural style, but it particularly flourished during the Victorian era. That's because, for the first time, machine-cut wood mouldings were plentiful, affordable, and available in a wide variety of styles. This home exhibits one of the most popular Victorian trim combinations: fluted window trim set off in the corners with rosette plinth blocks.

Decorating a room using picture frame wainscoting (also called wall frames) is a great way to add style. Less costly than installing raised wood panelling, wall frames create a classic look that's appropriate to many traditional architectural styles. Wall frame mouldings are narrower than chair-rail or picture-rail mouldings. Experiment with profiles that comple-ment your home decor. Select the straightest possible pieces to minimize installation headaches.

Trimwork isn't just for walls: One of the largest surfaces in your living room is the ceiling. Don't overlook the opportunity to add emphasis there.





A classic coffered ceiling adds substance and interest to the room. While the beams appear functional, they're actually applied decoration created from hollow, box-like constructions of lightweight dimension lumber supplemented by inexpensive off-the-shelf mouldings.

Typically, trimwork is more decorative than functional, but there are exceptions: Chair rails prevent the backs of chairs from damaging walls, and a picture rail, installed at the top of a wall, offers a surface to hang artwork from. One piece of moulding both protects the wall and creates a gallery-like display space. It's an extra-deep profile chair rail that doubles as a picture ledge, creating a casual gallery space to accommodate arrangements of framed art.