Home Repair

Room makeover

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To get a new look in a room (or even an entire house), one simple way is to paint the walls and ceiling. Another way is to add a chair rail at about 40" from the floor, then paper above and paint or paper below. And still another way is to completely change all the trim around the doors, windows, and baseboard. This involves a little basic finish carpentry knowledge though. The first step would be to decide what look you are striving towards: Simple, traditional, or more ornate. Make sure that the new trim pieces are at least the same width or greater than that removed, or you will spend a lot of time patching the walls. The simple styles would be flat boards used as trim, 1x4 usually with 1x5 for the top piece, a 3 1/2" or 4 1/2" window stool, and apron to match the side pieces (that's the window sill and the piece underneath). For the baseboard, 4 1/2" baseboard molding and a 3/4" base cap to finish off the top. The traditional styles would be the 2 1/2" or 3 1/2" colonial casing around windows and doors, with 4 1/2" colonial 1 piece base. The more ornate styles include a larger baseboard 5 1/2" to 6 1/2" with a 1" base cap on top. At the sides of the doors there would be a plinth block at the bottom (this is a thicker usually 7/8" block slightly higher than the baseboard) maybe 4 1/4" belly molding with a rosette in the corners (this is a thicker usually 7/8" square block with a design matching or complimenting the belly molding). Windows would have the rosettes in the upper corners and a stool / apron. This is a very elegant look (and my personal favorite!)

Thanks for all the wonderful advice Guru! I'm most appreciative as are all the members I'm sure, of your invaluable contribution here. Three cheers for Guru!!!

I have a question regarding crown molding, I think I read somewhere you cut it at a 45 degree angle? Is that correct? Apologies if this is silly. I have been considering placing some in my new painted room (once the ceiling is done) Very Happy I even bought myself a Miter saw when I placed laminate flooring in my rec room so will have the neccessary tool.

Thanks in advance
Miter saws are great for cutting crown. First remember the table on the saw would represent the ceiling and the fence would be the wall. So your working upside down and backwards! Now that said, get an extra piece and practice a few cuts. Most walls aren't exactly 90 deg so cuts aren't exactly 45 deg, so a saw that could go to 45 1/2 deg or 44 1/4 deg would be best.

Just remember upside down and backwards and you'll be fine

You can also get pre-made outside and inside corners so all your cuts would be at 0 deg!

The Guru (keeping fingers crossed)
Remember the last tip (posted above)? We talked about the inside trim... Well I hope you decided what style you are going to use. Here are some hints on installing. The first thing to remember is NOT TO HURRY! Take your time and be careful with the power tools.

After you carefully remove the old trim, patch any holes and dents in the wall that might have incurred. If you are using flat or traditional trim without the rosettes, you will need some sort of miter box. Lets start with a door opening. First measure the inside measurement of the top trim piece. Lets say its 35 3/4". Now add 3/16" + 3/16" (or 3/8") to the length. You now have 36 1/8". Cut a 45 degree angle on one end (the wide side of the molding is the LONGER side). Now measure 36 1/8" from the SHORT side and cut the other end making sure the thick side in going to be longer. This should fit above the door with 3/16" extra on each side. Install this piece with a couple of nails in the middle.

Now measure from the top of this piece to the floor. This is usually about 7'. Making sure the piece you selected is going to be long enough, cut a 45 on one end. Turn the piece upside down and hold it (point down) where it would go. Then mark this piece at the top of the installed piece. Cut it at the mark, and it will fit perfectly! Do the same for the other side and you’re done with one side of the doorway.

Now a window is a bit more tricky, because of the stool (window sill). Mark on the wall with a pencil, the spot where the molding would end on the left and right. That is the full width of the trim (use a scrap and hold it up as it would go, then just lightly draw a line on the outside edge for the left and right sides). Now measure this width, add 2 inches, and you have the length of the stool. If you bought a factory stool there is a 15 degree angle on the bottom. This goes towards the window sash. Now hold this piece where it goes but up against the wallboard. Mark the sides where the inside of the molding is (approx. 3 1/2" from the end). Now still holding the stool, measure the distance from the stool to the sash on both ends in case there is a difference. You now have to cut notches on both ends, so that the stool just touches the sash. After that, install the top and sides as a doorway.

The apron under the stool is the length of the stool minus the 2" you added before. Hold the piece vertical in the miter box, cut a 45 degree angle with the long side the front face. Do the same on the other end. The longest point to point on the face should be the measurement from above. Now cut returns. Little pieces that are cut from the apron material that have a 45 degree cut on the front end, and a 90 degree cut on the side against the wall. This piece fills in the little triangle area on each end.

Install the apron and just glue in the returns.
Crown molding: I once had crown moldings installed in an office building I owned. The carpenters cut the ends square on opposite walls and scrolled the two ends of the remaining wall trim. Looked like a perfect fit. Have you ever run across this method?
Sure, that's called a coped corner. It only works on an inside corner, that's approx 90 deg, and for crown that isn't too ornate. You cur the second corner back at 45 deg, then back-cut with a coping saw on the profile line on the face. Kinda tricky with crown and only necc. on stained wood. Any pre-primed finger jointed wood or composite crown can be done with regular mitering.


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