Interior Trim - What to Look For in Your New Home
by Raleigh Custom Home Builder Stanton Homes
A house built by a custom builder usually stands out because of the craftsmanship involved. Some of the most visible details are in the interior trim work. There are many different ways that decorative pieces of wood can be attached to walls.
Knowing some of the terms and definitions can help home buyers determine what to ask about when purchasing a home or having one built - or what they can do to change and improve an existing home. Interior trim, or molding (sometimes referred to as moulding) can help define a room and give it personality.
This is the simplest and most commonly found trim work. Installed at the bottom of the wall against the flooring, baseboards cover natural gaps between flooring and walls, especially in areas with hard flooring such as vinyl, hardwood or tile.
Baseboards can be as short as 1" or as high as 7". The top of the baseboard can be slightly rounded, or can be shaped to varying degrees. A production builder may commonly use 3" baseboard. Custom builders often use 5" or 7", depending on the price point of the home.
There can also be a secondary piece of trim called "base shoe" (which looks like a long pole split into quarters) against the floor to add another design element and create an even more polished look.
Casing is molding trim around windows and doorways. Typical casings are 1" to 4" wide. Most homes only have casings around windows on the first floor - on the second floor, the windows are carefully sheetrocked and painted just like any other wall corners.
Window sills can have casing on the front and a painted surface, casing and a wood window sill, or no casing at all.
Any doorway with a door generally has casing to cover the natural gaps between the door frame and the wall.
Casing can also be used to trim around an opening between two rooms, but this is for decorative purposes, and not normally required. The room pictured has full casing around all windows and doors, as well as the opening between rooms. The window sills are wood, painted a glossy white to stand out from the walls.
Crown molding is placed around the upper edges of a room's walls. Not all homes have crown molding. Some have crown molding in only a few rooms, while others have it throughout the first floor of a two-story home.
Crown molding varies in depth and thickness. Custom builders can use 1, 2, 3 or even 4 separate pieces to compose a crown molding, depending on the price point of the home.
Typical molding is 3", but homes at the upper echelon of the housing spectrum can have up to 15 or 20" crown molding.
The room pictured has two-piece crown moulding.
A chair railing is a piece of trim placed across the center of a wall, approximately 30" from the floor (at about the height of a chair.) In the past, this was installed in dining rooms to protect walls from chairs, hence the name. Now it is mainly used for decorative purposes.
When chosen, it is typically found in one or two select rooms, like a formal dining room, a formal living room, or a hallway. Chair rail allows more dramatic paint choices, as it divides the walls into an upper and lower portion. The choice to include chair railing, and the width and detail, depends on the budget of the buyer.
This form of interior trim is growing in popularity as an extra touch. When present, it is often found in only one room, such as the formal dining room, or a sitting room, or even a bathroom.
Wainscoting is a type of paneling, which generally extends from the baseboard to the chair rail.
The paneling can be in sections as small as a few inches or as large as several feet with decorative scrollwork or designs.
The paneling and attached baseboard and chair rail is often painted white.
There is a very dramatic and rich effect from the use of trim above and below the panels themselves, plus the contrast between the color of the walls and the color of the paneling and trim work.
A variety of trim can be used to decorate and embellish built-in bookcases as well.
Most common is the use of casing across the top and bottom shelves, but there are many options depending on the price point desired.
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Articles copyright Stanton Homes 2006-2012. Unauthorized use is not permitted. Provided for informational purposes only, no claims are made by Stanton Homes regarding the validity of any statements. Please note: all listing information per MLS, and current as of posting date. Information subject to change. Stanton Homes does not make claims to ownership of any lot listings, but can work with homebuyers to purchase available lots and build. Home plans to be approved on an individual basis, subject to neighborhood restrictive covenants and lot restrictions. Ask for further information regarding any community, lot or floor plan. Photos represent typical homes and details of each neighborhood, to help highlight different options available in the Raleigh/Triangle area. No claim of ownership is made to homes or land pictured.