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Trim Time – Aug/Sep2016

Trim Time - Aug/Sep2016

Photography: Courtesy of Brenlo Custom Wood Products

From the floor to the ceiling, trim undoubtedly enhances the look of a home

After drywall, trim is probably the most under-appreciated building material in a home. Most of it just sits there at the base of our walls, going largely unnoticed. But trim serves a dual purpose: it protects the walls from damage (imagine what unprotected drywall would look like after a few rounds with the vacuum cleaner) and it can add a nice, low-cost design element to a room’s decor.


The current trend in baseboard trim is minimalist to go with the bright, open designs most people are choosing. That means simple lines, usually painted in a shade of white. If you’re going with this approach, you can save some money by using MDF trim. But if your style is more traditional, there are countless profiles to choose from in a variety of plain to ornate designs, in a variety of stainable woods.

People often ask me if it’s okay to paint the old trim in their house. I say, yes. Why live with a look that you don’t like just on the chance that the person you sell your house to years down the road might like a natural- wood finish? If you do sell and the new owners really want wood, they can strip it themselves.


Of course, trim isn’t limited to baseboards. Walls can be adorned with wainscotting, chair rail, plate rail, or a combination of all three.

There are a number of different companies making DIY-wainscotting kits. Or you simply add moulding pieces directly to the wall that will make it look like you’ve installed recessed panels.

Note that when you’re installing tongue-and-groove pieces, you’ll want to leave a slight gap between them to allow for expansion and contraction. If you install everything nice and snug on a dry winter day, once the summer humidity rolls around, your walls will start buckling.

In fact, you should allow all your trim to have some time to acclimatize to your home environment by leaving it in the room it will be installed in for a couple of days before you install it.


If you’re painting the room yourself (see “Colour Your World“), you can save yourself a lot of time and aggravation by painting the trim before you install it. For best results, give it a light sanding before you lay down the first coat, and then sand between every layer of paint you add. The paint will level out better and you’ll have a nicer overall finish.

Don’t forget to look up. Plate rail lining the walls just below the ceiling is both a decorative touch, and a handy storage solution or spot to house your knickknacks if space was tight.


Adding ceiling medallions around light fixtures is another easy task for a DIY that enhances the look of a room.

There’s also a wide array of choices for creating coffered ceilings with a grid pattern made from wood, drywall or MDF.

For another low-budget option, there are faux-timber beams on the market that are made of lightweight polyurethane.

Paint and trim are among the last stages of any renovation project, but they’re also the finishing touches that wrap it up, so make sure you give the colours and styles you choose as much care and planning as you did to the rest of the job.

Jim Caruk – Renovation Editor

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