↑ Return to Articles

Print this Page

Selecting Trim Styles & Materials

Houses built in a certain architectural era have distinct trim style patterns, your house can tell you a lot especially if you plan to remodel or add-on existing trim may suggest you match the new with the old however there are many design options if you’re not set on matching the existing look or feel. Some ideas to consider will be to use formal or informal trim.

Formal trim consist of ornate, complex profiles and is often painted to put emphasis on its form and details.

Informal trim consists of a much more simplified profile, often has a clear finish to show the grain of the wood as well as the grain pattern and direction.

Once the decision has been made about the style of trim, next is to size it properly. Sizing trim to its surroundings such as ceiling height and width is important the size if the space dictates the size of the components (commonly known as scaling). If trim is not sized properly it can often look to small or large depending on the heights and widths of a room. Proper sizing of trim in relation to doors and windows is a must, example would be tiny windows in a large wall area would look funny and out of place if trimmed out with moldings sized to the windows rather than to the scale of the room. Usually if you use smaller trim use larger more distinctive windows, and smaller windows use larger more distinctive trim, the same principle will apply for doors. Another example would be to add wainscoting or chair-rail to break-up a room if tall monolithic walls exist this will create a more comfortable feel.

Styles are as followed:

1) Arts & Crafts

2) Victorian

3) Federal

4) Craftsman

5) Colonial


Most lumberyards and home centers carry a wide variety of moldings currently being used today. Always plan, design and obtain them before installing, sometimes moldings may have to be specially made or ordered which can add to your projects time and cost. Also certain situations may arise where you may need to custom mill the trim to match your existing trim (note this process can take several weeks especially if the mill shop has to create a cutting knife relative to your trim profile. Basic profiles are readily available from the mill shop, another option is built-up or stacked on edge; this is where multiple styles and profiles are installed together to create a specific look or design if you plan to choose a built up profile add 2-3 weeks to the projects time and cost, you must have a well thought design and plan for this.

Router bits can shape profiles or be combined to create a specific look with an infinite number of custom moldings, usually this is done by a determined and skilled person as it requires much time.

Custom moldings are also available if you want the molding to go around a curved wall. Flexible moldings are made from a type of urethane plastic this simplifies installation in certain areas where trim would not go, most styles of trim are available in flexible moldings.

Permanent link to this article: http://911handyman.com/new-construction/articles-2/selecting-trim-styles-materials/