The 15 Types of Trim You Need to Know for Your Next Remodel Project

Finding the right kind of trim is essential to completing any kind of remodeling project around the house. Familiarize yourself with the terminology and the available trim options to complete your project to make sure they fit with your home.

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Sand Wood for Even Finishes trim
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Bare Wood

With a trim project you’re going to have to decide what types of trim you want to use. A good place to learn the types of trim is Lowe’s glossary. They are bare wood, primed wood, medium-density fiberboard, polystyrene and PVC trim. You should use bare wood if you want to stain it or have a natural wood look. The type of wood you can choose from usually ranges from poplar to pine to fir to oak to aspen.

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Behr paint and primer in one
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Primed Wood

Primed wood trim is sometimes cheaper because you can use less expensive wood and use finger joints to join shorter lengths of trim. Some of the headaches of go away versus bare wood. Primed wood will cut the installation time since you won’t have to wait for the primer to dry. It’s easier to spot defects and nail holes on primed trim, so you can fill them before the final coats of paint. It’s even simpler to cope primed trim because the contrast between the raw wood and the painted surface gives you a crisp profile line to follow. So don’t buy raw wood if you’re going to paint.
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Medium Density Fiberboard
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Medium-Density Fiberboard

Medium-density fiberboard is a popular option for trim because it’s typically the cheapest. It does come with its own set of issues, though. MDF won’t perform as well in wet, humid areas. MDF (medium-density fiberboard) is inexpensive and a great material for painted trim, but only if you’re installing it in a permanently dry place. Installing it near the floor or near windows where water or condensation sometimes collects is a recipe for disaster. The MDF will soak it up like a sponge, expand and shed paint in very short order. So avoid using MDF anywhere at risk for getting wet.

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Polystyrene trim is made of rigid foam material and is a cheap, easy-to-work with option for trim, depending on your needs.

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Polyurethane Trim
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Polyurethane trim is an option that won’t see much deterioration because of its build. Polyurethane is typically ready to paint, cuts like wood and is lighter weight than wood. Working with polyurethane trim is much like working with wood—you cut it with standard saw blades, nail it by hand or with a gun and paint it just like wood. Home centers carry a small selection of polyurethane trim. You can find an endless variety of options by going online and searching for “polyurethane trim” (some products are listed as “urethane” rather than “polyurethane”).

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PVC Trim
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PVC Trim

PVC azek trim is ideal for exterior trim options because of how it holds up against sunlight and how it keeps paint. It cuts almost like wood and is a good alternative in areas that take on water. PVC trim runs about the same price as knot-free wood. PVC trim is emerging as an interior trim option as well.

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Wood Composite

Wood composite trim is made up of wood fibers, phenolic resins and wax. They can be cut like wood and come factory primed. Wood composite trim is also another option for exterior trim to give the appearance of wood trim. It’ll save you time and money in the long run since it holds paint better and longer than even the best-quality exterior wood.

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Casing trim
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Area Specific Trim: Casing

Casing refers to the trim used around interior or exterior windows and doors. Casing is designed to cover the unfinished gap between walls and door or window frames. It usually spans two or three inches.

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Baseboards are trim placed on the bottom of walls where they join the floor. Baseboards, which are also called wall base molding, cover the joint between the wall and the floor and come in a variety of designs. From softwood to hardwood to vinyl, there’s a lot to wade through and it’ll have to match the other trim in the house.

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Crown trim molding
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Crown Molding

Crown molding covers the corners between ceilings and walls. It comes in at a big angle and can be tricky to install. Crown molding is also known as cornice moldings. It’s not necessarily needed in all instances but it can add a decorative flair to a home.

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chair rail trim molding
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Chair Rail

Chair rail was originally meant to protect walls from furniture damage but these days it can also be decorative. Chair rail is a great way to dress up the dining room or other rooms. It can also be used to breakup wallpaper from paint or the use of two different paint colors.

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Picture Rail

A picture rail allows picture frames to hang from walls without having to nail holes in the wall and can be a perfect addition to an older home. It’s also a great idea for homeowners who might not have the ability to hang pictures on their wall.

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Wainscoting is wood paneling against a wall, similar to a chair rail but there is a difference. Wainscoting is seen in foyers, staircases, master bathrooms and dining rooms. Wainscoting is panels that extend from the middle of a wall to the floor almost while chair rail is just a horizontal rail in the middle of a wall.

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Wall Frame Molding

Wall frame molding is made to look like a picture frame but is typically larger. Wall frames are found in Georgian and neoclassical homes and typically in hallways, stairways, living rooms or dining rooms. The precise nature of working with trim can mean a time-consuming venture.

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Rail trim molding
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Plate Rail

A plate rail is used as a platform to store a collection of items like jars or pottery and is another of the many types of trim options.