Trimwork and Molding Guide

Improve the makeup of any room with beautiful, eye-catching details. Learn how to identify, plan, and use trim and molding in your home with this style guide.

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    Planning and Using Trim

    Elevate your home's beauty and character with decorative, functional flourishes. See how to plan and use trim and molding—whether it's wainscoting or crown molding—in your home.

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    Wainscoting: What It Is

    Originally functional as well as decorative, wainscoting covers only part of a wall. High wainscoting covers two-thirds and low wainscoting goes about halfway up the wall or lower, often to chair rail height.

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    Wainscoting: How to Use It

    Typically integrated with baseboard trim, wainscoting can have multiple profiles depending on the style of the house—beaded for a traditional Colonial or flat stock with little flourish for a farmhouse, for example. Here, classically styled wainscoting flanking a doorway blends seamlessly with both baseboard and door trim.

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    Box Beams: What They Are

    A soaring space comes down to earth with trimwork known as box beams. Intricate combinations of wood pieces, box beams can stretch across a ceiling in a parallel manner or create a pattern overhead, such as a series of squares.

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    Box Beams: How to Use Them

    While some box beams are stained, many are painted, either to match the rest of the ceiling or add contrast. Avoid using a hardwood for box beams that are going to be painted; instead, choose a paint-grade wood, such as pine or poplar. In this kitchen, a single box beam provides a visual transition between the work zone and eating zone.

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    Baseboards: What They Are

    Baseboards are perhaps the most common trimwork. They cover gaps and give crisp, clean lines to uneven transitions between walls and floors. But beyond function, baseboards—whether created from a combination of wood pieces or a simple base piece—add warmth and beauty to rooms. Wood, which can be buffed out to eliminate the occasional ding or dent, is a more practical choice for baseboards than medium-density fiberboard (MDF).

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    Baseboards: How to Use Them

    The profile of a base trim should, to some degree, reflect the style of a house: simple and stripped down for a farmhouse and more elaborate for a Georgian Revival home, for example. The finish of baseboards can be painted or stained. The dark hue here grounds the wallpaper.

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    Crown Molding: What It Is

    Crown molding creates balance, visual weight, and definition; it can be the clincher for a room, providing an impressive last detail that ties together patterns or wood pieces from other trimwork in the room. In addition, crown molding supplies a necessary visual break between walls and ceilings.

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    Crown Molding: How to Use It

    Used as decorative caps, crown moldings typically slant from ceiling to wall and can be painted or stained. The composition of crown molding can also be inspiration for other details, such as a fireplace mantel. Sleekly styled rooms will generally have a crown molding with few pieces, while molding in traditional spaces might be more ornate.

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    How to Paint Wood Paneling

    Does your home's wood paneling look dated? Danny Lipford shows how to give it a modern makeover with paint.

  • Next Slideshow How to Paint Wood Paneling

    How to Paint Wood Paneling

    Take your home out of the 1970s by painting your wood paneling. Better Homes and Gardens contributing editor Danny Lipford shows you how.
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