When trimming a house most pros follow a few general rules when estimating a job, prepping for work, and finishing up. These 5 easy tricks of the trade can help anyone when doing any kind of trim work from simple base to more complex crown molding.
To allow for cutting waste, measure each wall and allow 3 inches for cutting waste. Round up your order to the next available length. If you have a 6′ 7″ piece of base, order an 8 foot piece to account for waste. Try to buy in lengths so you have one piece for each side of the room. Some trim carpenters use a polystyrene molding. This type is cheaper than wood in some cases. It also cuts and paints easier than wood. At some large home improvement centers, they also sell pre-cut corners that eliminate the need for cutting and matching and outside corner or inside corner.
When removing existing molding, carefully pry it off to avoid damage to the drywall. Use a long board to place between a pry bar and the wall. Use a small putty knife to help separate the trim. Always precut the old caulk along the top of base trim. If you don’t the drywall paper will tear. You can use a stud locator to locate where the boards maybe nailed, or simply look for the holes with a flashlight. The flashlight helps to see the indents where the nails may be.
Once you have the old trim off or if you’re starting from scratch, then you need to find the studs. Use a stud finder or if you don’t have one, you can punch a nail into the wall. As long as it’s being covered by the trim itself you’ll be fine. Once you find one stud, you can measure 16 inch intervals to find the other studs. Not all walls are 16 on center. You should test each one with a nail. If there is no carpet on the floor then you can mark the studs on the ground with a pencil. If theirs already a finished floor, measure the studs from one wall to the other and write them down on some scrap wood. Then lay out small marks on the trim you cut to fit in its place. Make small enough marks that the nail will cover.
When deciding when to stain or paint your wood, here are some things to keep in mind. What type of wood are you staining and how much you have to spend on wood. Staining fine woods like walnut or oak make a beautiful finish, but come with a more expensive price. Painted woods are cheaper and more forgiving when making cuts. Some woods are unique for staining like pine and create a rustic blotchy look. Pine is one of the cheapest stainable woods as well.
When making mitered cuts that join such as outside corners, a professional trim carpenter will cut each side from the same piece. This ensures that the molding patterns match up correctly. There can be variations in patterns as the machine spits out trim after trim. If you don’t have enough material for using the same piece for a corner then you can help fix a miss matched piece of trim by using a little caulk or wood putty.
These 5 basic tips can help you have great success in doing any type of trim work. Preparing for the job is almost as much work as doing the job, so take the time to plan ahead with these instructions to ensure a quality job you can be proud of.