Moulding Buying Guide

  • Getting Started

  • Mouldings are functional as well as aesthetic and will enhance any room’s décor. Originally created to cover joints where windows and doors meet drywall, and flooring meets the wall. The design of the moulding makes a statement about the architectural style of the room.

  • What to Consider

  • Profile: The surface of the moulding may have a decorative shape when viewed from the cut end. This is the profile, as on a person viewed from the side. The profile will determine the architectural style of the moulding. Use moulding appropriate for the architectural style of the home. Profiles can be built up or even milled to create a design compatible with the architecture.

    Need: If gaps are visible where the floor meets the wall, or in corners where the walls meet the ceiling, moulding can be used to cover these gaps and enhance the look of the room.

    Room Size: Large rooms can be sectioned into areas by adding decorative mouldings such as chair rail or wainscoting.

    Lifestyle: Heavy traffic areas may benefit from installing mouldings so the drywall does not suffer.

    Budget: While softwoods (such as pine and douglas fir) and hardwoods (such as oak, maple, and cherry) are readily available, composite and vinyl mouldings may produce the desired results with less cost.

  • Types

  • Floor: Baseboard mouldings form a foundation in a room, continuing the wall to the floor. Quarterround is a baseboard shoe designed to cover the gap between the flooring material and the baseboard. Flooring will expand and contract slightly with changes in temperature and humidity levels. Other baseboard shoe profiles are readily available or can be created. Baseboard caps are decorative elements installed on top of the baseboard moulding and flush to the wall for an enhanced aesthetic. A Saddle is a piece of moulding that transitions the floor from one room to the floor in an adjoining room.

    Window and Door: Casings will cover the spaces between the window unit or door and the wall structure. Designed to frame the opening, casings are thicker than baseboard mouldings and can be built up by combining several profiles for impact. Architrave is the moulding that tops the window or door — called a header or pediment — adding drama to the window or door opening. A Sill is installed at the bottom of the window where it meets the interior wall to cover the gap between the window frame and the drywall. A Jamb is part of the doorframe in which the hinges securer the door. The Door Stop is attached to the jamb to prevent the door from swinging through. Plinth Block moulding is the thicker vertical element at the intersection of the door casing and the baseboard.  Plinth block may be decorative or simple, depending upon the casing and baseboard design.

    Wall and Ceiling: Corner Guards protect the outside edges of a wall with an opening. Backsplash mouldings protect the wall above a cooktop or counter from splashes. Most frequently created from tile, or countertop materials, Back Splashes are available in wood profiles, also. Cove mounding is designed like its name and is used on an inside corner or as a transitional piece. Chair rails are attached to a wall at heights of 24-inches high to 72-inches high, parallel to the baseboard, and run the length of the wall. Originally designed to protect walls from being hit by chair backs, chair rails now are decorative. Chair rails also top wainscoting to form a transition. Wainscoting is decorative moulding attached to the wall under chair rails to define the space and form a dramatic effect. Originally it was created to protect the lower section of the wall that would receive the effects of family life. Designed as raised panel, shadow box or beaded, the style of wainscoting should complement the style of the home. Crown Moulding tops off the room, covering any gaps where the wall meets the ceiling. Crown moulding is curved or angled for edges to meet the ceiling and wall with an air space behind it. Many designs of crown moulding are available and several moulding profiles can be used to create an individualized look. The size of the crown should be in proportion to the height of the wall and size of the room. Crown moulding profiles can be used to create fireplace mantles, or even decorative elements covering a kitchen stove vent. Panel Mould comes in many profiles to create a panel effect or transition from paneling to a flat wall.

    Decorative: Mouldings are used to create a visual impact in a room. Profiles abound to create Crown Mouldings, Wainscoting, etc. Rosettes are blocks containing a carved “rose” or flower and are incorporated into crowns, door casings, fireplace surrounds. Corbels or Brackets originally were structural to carry a heavy weight such as a cornice, but now are decorative and specific to architectural styles. Corbels will be seen in the kitchen under countertops fastening them to the cabinets, under the kitchen air vent surround attaching it to the wall, “holding up” a fireplace mantle or enhancing archways or as part of a door surround. Ceiling Medallions break up a large ceiling and often introduce a chandelier. Medallions can be simple or extremely decorative and are available in many sizes, shapes and styles.

  • Material

  • Wood is the traditional material used for creating moulding.

        •  Softwoods such as pine are milled into the design desired. Pine will be stain-grade: no knots and very few if any defects; or paint-grade, which means defects will be present or the moulding is finger-jointed to create longer lengths, but these will be covered by paint so they will not be visible. Purchase pine primed for painting, or clear.

        •  Hardwoods such as maple, alder, cherry, etc. are milled into designs and are available most often as stain-grade.

    MDF Medium Density Fiberboard is an engineered wood product and is lightweight, easy-to-use. MDF is provided primed for painting and is available in a multitude of profiles. More stable than wood, MDF will not expand and contract in the corners as much as solid wood.

    PVC Polyvinylchloride is used extensively as exterior trims on windows and doors because it is water and insect proof. PVC cuts like wood and can look like painted wood. Available as primed or painted.

    Polyurethane foam is molded into trims such as crown moulding and decorative mouldings such as medallions. Primed, it is light weight, impervious to water and insects, does not expand and contract like wood.

  • Cost Considerations

  • Size matters - the wider, or larger breadth moulding, the more expensive.

    Design - Most moulding is milled using knives that cut through the surface to create the various curves and designs. Multi-faceted profiles are more expensive to create than simple ones. Building up a design with several profiles adds to the cost. Custom milled profiles are the most expensive.

    Material - Wood, clear knot-free for staining is the most expensive with finger-jointed and paint grade wood less costly. PVC can cost as much as wood, as can polyurethane. MDF is less expensive with polyurethane foam MDF, PVD and polyurethane will not need to be repainted over the years unless the homeowner wants to change the color. Wood will require repainting or re-staining periodically to maintain the moulding look.

    Installation - A skilled do-it-yourselfer with the proper tools can handle all of these materials. A professional contractor will charge more for built-up mouldings and for complicated jobs.