Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Case for Bigger Mouldings

My Mom has asked me to figure out the trim work for her house--you know, the baseboards, casings, the headers over doorways and windows, and, maybe, crown.

First, there's no doubt that trimwork increases the value of the house, is there?

Look at this:

Isn't that amazing?

And this:

But, it has to be the right size. Most of the mouldings in our houses (unless you are lucky to live in a house built before WW1) are downright dinky.

Look at the difference here:

I have been researching what size they ought to be and while there's really nothing that says exactly, there is agreement that each of the components should relate to the other--and the height of the ceiling (not the size of the room).

It all starts with the baseboards.

These are 9 foot ceiling with 7 1/4 inch baseboards and 6 5/16" crown.

The same in an 8 foot hallway:

These photos come from a thread in Houzz where someone asked if her 5 1/4" baseboards were too wide. Someone answered, "Asking if your baseboards are too wide is like asking if your diamond is too big."

But tall baseboards can get expensive.

There are three ways I've found which might work. (But I have yet to figure out which will work for us).

1. Fool the Eye 

Imply a taller baseboard by installing a narrow piece of trim some distance above (no more than half the width of the original) --and paint it all the same glossy paint. This is an excellent solution if you already have baseboards and do not want to rip them out. It works well for adding heft to crown moulding, too. I'm not so sure it is a good solution for door and window casings, though, as the difference between the texture of the wall and the mouldings would be too apparent. Backband moulding is excellent for that.

2. Add backband moulding

Again, this is an excellent solution if you already have casings or baseboards and don't want to rip them out.

This example shows how you it works. (Worth clicking through if you've no idea. It is a great little gif.)

3. Stack the mouldings.

Apparently, this is the traditional way to install baseboard. It helps the trim move with the house--and so minimizes shifting and cracking. You could do this over existing baseboard, I think, if it is plain and wide.  The top piece is called the cap and the bottom is called the fascia.

In classical moulding, the height of the cap is equal to the total depth of the baseboard from the wall. (It's profile.)

Of course,no one says you have to adhere to classical proportions. Here, this enterprising gal just used a casing and flipped it so the narrow edges met together in the middle.

Or, of course, you can do this before you install anything to build up a profile you like.

As I mentioned, though, proportion is important.

From what I've read, the consensus seems to be that the baseboards and crown moulding should be about the same size, headers a bit smaller and the casings about half the size of the baseboards.

So, for example,

base: 5 1/4 to 6"
casing: 3 1/2"
crown: 4 1/4"
headers: 4 1/2"


base: 4 1/4"
casing: 2 1/2"
crown: 4 1/2"
headers: 4"

Another guideline seems to be that once baseboards reach 5 inches, casings should not be smaller that 3 1/2". I also read that the profile, or thickness of the boards should not be less than 3/4". That makes stock moulding from big box stores pretty much out of the question (unless it's stacked, of course). The thickest I've found is 5/8ths

This is what it looks like when your casings are roughly the same size as (or larger than?) your crown and baseboards:

The baseboards and casings are the same width here, too.

So, as soon as you think there's a rule--somebody breaks it--and breaks it well. It's all interconnected--and it all has to do with your own eye.

I'm off to the Big Box store to see what I can come up with!


MMarie said...

This is so interesting Alana! I had no idea the impact of wide floor boards or crown moldings until seeing your comparison photos. Great research! Sadly i think my little home is going to remain plain jane!

t said...

I think it increases the value if it is appropriately, done impeccably, and in the style of the house. I've seen some botched jobs where a mid-century modern type house had more traditional moulding installed, and it looked ridiculous. It has become a pet peeve of mine because so many home improvement show lead homeowners to believe that merely installing crown moulding is an upgrade.

Alana in Canada said...

Interesting, t! Yes, the style of your home makes a difference. I started out looking at classical proportions to figure out what to do and quickly realised it was too much for us. The scale was off, perhaps?

Nothing wrong with a plain jane, Mmarie. The baseboards in my house are around 4 inches (or less) and I am not planning on any sort of major up-sizing.

But my Mom hasn't has baseboards or trim for close to 25 years. It'll be an adjustment no matter what we do.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...