Find the right trim material for your home interior.
Trim is regularly used around the top and bottom of walls, the outside of doors and windows, and as a decorative addition to the interior of homes. The terms molding and trim are often used interchangeably, but molding is actually a type of trim that tends to have a grand, decorative design, such as crown molding. Trim is the more general term for the edge material used to cover seams and joints around doors and windows, between floors, and on walls or ceilings. A good example of this is baseboard trim, which is used in almost every home and serves as a natural transition between walls and floors.
You can find trim with a wide assortment of purposes, like protecting walls from chairs, hanging pictures, or even acting as a narrow shelf to display decorative items. Use this guide to learn more about the various types of trim, where they are commonly installed, and the decorative or functional purpose of each type.
Types of Trim
Trim is a broad category that can be broken down into several types based on the design, purpose, and installation location. Find out more about the types of trim to make an informed design decision for your next home renovation project.
1. Crown Molding
One of the most well-known types of trim is crown molding. This decorative trim has an ornate design that is intended to add character to a home. Crown molding is typically installed at the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling. This position allows the crown molding to serve as a natural transition between the wall and the ceiling while also covering the joint between the wall and the ceiling to create a more visually appealing design.
2. Quarter-Round Trim
Quarter-round trim is made from a quarter of a circle round. It’s often installed at the base of the wall, where the wall meets the floors. This location is ideal for covering the joint between the wall and the floor, but quarter-round trim can also be installed between the wall and the ceiling. In many homes, the base of the wall will have baseboard trim with a strip of quarter-round trim installed on top of the baseboard trim to give the baseboard a more decorative appearance.
3. Chair Rail Trim
There are several types of trim that are intended for more than just looking good. Chair rail trim is a functional material that is meant to protect the walls from chairs and other furniture. The chair rail trim takes the damage, instead of the back of a chair scratching against the wall or slamming into it when the user pushes it back too hard.
While the main function of chair rail trim is to protect the wall, this type of trim can also be used for decorative purposes. For instance, it can be installed as a natural transition between two types of wall coverings, like paint and wallpaper or wallpaper and wainscoting.
4. Baseboard Trim
As indicated by the name, baseboard trim is generally installed at the base of the walls inside the home. It is intended to act as a natural transition between the wall and floor, as well as cover the expansion gap joint between the wall and floor. This type of trim is an inexpensive option that is commonly used to finish room renovations in houses and condos. You can invest in decorative baseboard trim, but it usually has an unembellished appearance since it’s often covered up by furniture.
5. Picture Rail Trim
Similar to chair rail, picture rail trim is designed with a functional purpose. The trim is intended for installation about three-quarters of the way up the wall, where it can be used to hang picture frames without needing to nail holes in the wall. Depending on your preference, picture rail trim can be installed all the way around the room in an unbroken border or you can cut smaller pieces and install them individually throughout the room to hang pictures, small mirrors, and other wall decor.
Wainscoting is a type of wood paneling trim that is often installed in foyers, staircases, bathrooms, dining rooms, and finished basements. This trim is made up of vertical panels that extend from the floor to the middle of the wall in an unbroken border around the room. It can sometimes be topped with chair rail trim, which acts as a natural transition between the wainscoting and the top portion of the wall.
7. Picture Frame Trim
Don’t let its name confuse you: Unlike picture rail trim, which is a functional trim meant to hold art and wall decor, picture frame trim is a decorative material that is typically installed directly on the wall in the shape of a picture frame. The simple addition can be repeated to mimic paneling, or it can stand alone as a focal point that enhances the aesthetic of your home. If you have wall art that needs a frame, you can also use picture frame trim to showcase the art.
8. Panel Trim
There isn’t a big difference between picture frame trim and panel trim. Picture frame trim is installed directly on the wall, while panel trim or panel molding is installed on top of the paneling. This type of trim is intended as a decorative addition that draws the eye to framed paneling. It can be repeated throughout the entire room, or it might be limited to one section of the paneling as a standalone focal point.
Another commonly used type of trim is known as casing. Casing refers to any trim that surrounds a door or window. Similar to baseboard trim, casing is both practical and decorative because it acts as a natural border for the door or window, while also covering the expansion gap joint between a wall and door or window. Select a casing design that suits your style. You can find basic designs that are completely flat or more ornate designs that are intended to stand out after installation.
10. Plate Rail Trim
While picture rail trim provides a place to hang pictures, plate rail trim is essentially a narrow shelf that can be used to mount small items. At one time, decorative plates were a common addition to home decor, so this type of trim was a popular option. Today, plate rail trim can be used to mount other types of interior decor, like framed artwork, small collections, potted plants, and more.
11. Rosette Trim
Used on walls, ceilings, and columns, rosette trim is a square piece of wood with a round or floral pattern in the center. This type of trim is a decorative material often used with casing or baseboard trim. Install rosette trim at the top or bottom corners of a door frame, window frame, or column to enhance the aesthetic of the room.
12. Corbel Trim
Corbels are thick blocks of wood that stick out further from the wall than most other types of trim. Corbel trim is essentially an L-shaped bracket with a long side that mounts to the wall and a short side that mounts to the underside of a horizontal surface, like a ceiling, countertop, cabinet, or mantel. They were originally designed to be weight-bearing, but in modern home design, they are generally only decorative.
13. Architrave Trim
Architrave trim or architrave molding is a specialized type of trim that is installed at the top of windows and doors. While casing simply borders the window frame or door frame, architrave trim extends several inches above the top of the frame and is often topped with a thick cap or crown that stands out prominently from the wall. The purpose of architrave trim is entirely decorative, so if you don’t like the look of ornate trim above your windows or doors, then it’s best to pass on this design option.
If rosettes are too much for the base of the doorway, but you don’t want to look at the odd transition between a baseboard and the doorway casing, then plinths are a good option. Plinths are blocks that are installed at the base of a door as a decorative transition between the casing and baseboard to prevent unsightly seams and angles.
15. Batten Trim
When you install wall paneling, there is always a gap or a joint between the pieces of paneling. Batten trim is intended to hide the joint between the two pieces of paneling. Simply install the wall paneling, then measure and cut a piece of batten trim to run along the length of the joint from the floor to the ceiling. This gives the panel wall a more finished appearance and improves the interior aesthetic of the home.
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