What is Trim in a House?

What Is Trim In A House
Photo by mohamed_hassan

Choosing the perfect accessories can be one of the most nerve-wracking things about building a new home. There are dozens of variables that have to go into your decision, such as room size, house size, overall style, tastes, ceiling height, and budget.

Choosing the perfect trim for each room is another important decision you will have to make. So then, what is trim in a house?

Are you tired of the same old and plain design options when it comes to decorating your home? Do ugly joints around the floor or window frames bother you? Consider using trim to add style to your home and break up spaces around boring walls and ceilings.

Let’s then find out what is trim in a house. There is trim for everyone, whether you’re a new or existing house owner. You’ll find countless options for trimming your walls, floors, or even stairs. 

Trims can be used to complement your existing decor or to create a whole new look for your home.

Whether you prefer traditional or modern design, read on as we’ll find out what is trim in a house, affordable and easy-to-use decorating options to spruce up your home and add a personal touch to your floors, walls, and other elements in the house.

What is Trim in a House?

A small but powerful finish design element in a room or around a building, trim, also known as molding or casing, is one of the best ways to add depth and beauty to any room.

It is a type of millwork used to frame windows, doors, walls, floors, and even ceilings for practical and decorative purposes.

They add depth, detail, and richness to any room; it is by far the best way to make any home stand out, then come out looking like a million dollar house. 

Most people building a new home don’t give it much thought. They generally do not consider the size, style, and material used, How they flow from room to room, and how they blend in with the house’s overall style, which they shouldn’t. And these are essential factors to consider.

Trims typically fill the gaps between two areas but can be very decorative, setting the style and tone of a room. Trims can also help protect surfaces. For example, chair rails prevent a sliding chair from striking the wall.

Trims are mostly made of wood, but these days also come in more affordable synthetic materials like polystyrene, polyurethane, and PVC. It can also be of plaster.

There are several types of trims, baseboards, crown moldings, window, and door casings, and chair rails, all of which work together to form a cohesive look that becomes an integral part of your architecture. And keeping track of them all can be a bit confusing.

But we’ll help walk you through all the basics so you know exactly how to describe what you’re looking for or what your designer or contractor is talking about!

PS- Designers and contractors may sometimes throw around the words “trim,” “casing,” and “molding.” It can be used interchangeably to describe millwork types: “Casing is a special type of molding used to trim windows and doors.” 

You can comprehend what is trim in a house, but before you start shopping for the right trim for your home, it’s essential to know what types are available. Let’s look below at some of the types of trims that can be present in a house.

Types of Trim in a House

 Here are basic explanations of the different types of trims to help you understand what is trim in a house better:

1. Crown Molding

As it is named, it’s no surprise that crown molding is the king (or queen!) of trims. It has long been one of the most popular types of millwork and is still installed in homes today.

They are usually installed along the top of about 2 to 12 inches of a wall. The crown molding requires mitered cuts at the corners and comes in several profiles.

It is used to provide a visual transition between walls and ceilings while helping to establish the style and decor of the room, covering the junction where the wall meets the ceiling and visually drawing attention to the feel of taller walls.

Crown moldings can also hide imperfections in drywall or plaster in hard-to-finish corners and joints and can conceal wiring used for lighting and speakers.

The style and size of this trim should be carefully selected to match the dimensions and design of the room, as oversized molding can spoil the look of the walls.

It doesn’t have to be fancy, but many homeowners need a little decoration to spruce up the space. Trim profiles can be designed based on old column designs.

The Ogee trim has a simple S-shape, while the rosevine profiles have graceful flowers and vines. The egg and dart molding consists of series of ovals and lines, while dentil molding is portrayed by patterns of squares or rectangles.

Cove profile crown molding has a simple, curved shape that suits modern decor [source: This Old House].

Generally, larger crown molding pieces are more formal, while smaller pieces with fewer curves and ridges are more casual and modern.

2. Baseboards

Baseboard is also an incredibly popular type of trim, acting as a counterpoint to crown molding. Cover the joint where the wall meets the floor.

Baseboards help to protect the base of a wall from damage while hiding expansion joints or gaps between the wall and the floor.

They can also be a decorative frame around a hardwood floor to draw attention to the natural beauty of the floor.

Homeowners will find many types of baseboards to complement any decorating style; the simplest units are made from rectangular pieces of wood, while the more intricate moldings are carved into elegant shapes or profiles.

Baseboards can be used alone for a clean and basic look, while others are paired with quarter-round molding. The quarter-round molding is placed in front of baseboards at ground level to hide expansion joints further or even protect the molding from scratches and damage.

Since it’s not always as noticeable as crown molding (furniture often covers it up), homeowners tend to keep it much simpler.

Chair Rail

One of the most practical trims, the chair rail, is installed mainly to protect the wall from chairs bumping into it and damaging it—damage such as scratches and dents caused by the impact of the chairs.

When residents move away from the table or adjust the position of the chair, the chair back will hit the chair rail instead of the wall. 

The chair rail molding is placed on the wall about one-third of its height from the floor. As such, this type of decor is most prevalent in dining rooms. Sometimes you will also see panels below.

However, the chair rail can also break up a large or high wall. A bare wall may seem too plain or dull, but a chair rail can instantly (and subtly) change the look of a room.

It can be used alone or with other types of trims such as baseboards or wainscoting. Some chair rails are pretty elaborate and can be used to complement the traditional or colonial decor.

More modern homes will generally benefit more from the clean, straight lines created by simple round or square chair rails.


Although wainscoting is technically paneling rather than trim or moldings, it often falls under the same umbrella as decorative wall millwork.

It uses large panels on the lower half of a wall. These panels can be used alone or sandwiched between chair rails and baseboards. 

This trim helps to protect walls from damage while providing a decorative finish. Modern wainscoting made with vinyl or plastic can even be used in bathrooms and kitchens to reduce water damage. As a bonus, it makes it easier to keep your walls clean.

Picture Rails

Like chair rails, picture rails are also practical and have a purpose. They are established between a foot or two feet below the ceiling and are about an inch wide, although larger versions are available.

You can hang beautiful artwork without damaging your walls – nail them to the molding instead of the wall. However, over the years, the picture rail has become a decorative element in its own right.

The picture rail traditionally has a relatively simple design. Depending on the style of the room, a picture rail can be used alone or in combination with crown molding and other trim elements. 

Though modern picture rail can still be used to hang pictures, it mainly serves a decorative function by complementing certain design styles. It can also be a simple tool used to divide large wall surfaces or separate different types of wall finishes.


A frieze is a large panel and is one of the most complex trim types around the house. It is traditionally installed between rows of crown molding and picture rail and can range from a few inches to over a foot in height.

Friezes are most often found in classical or Victorian decorations. Some modern design schemes may feature a single frieze without other accompanying trims to add an understated decorative element to the room.

This is particularly true with salvage or antique tin frieze panels, which can be painted or left unfinished.

Doors And Window Trims (Casing)

Any trim around a door or window is called casing. Door and window casing are trim elements used in the home’s doors, windows, arches, and framed openings. 

They can vary from very complex profiles to simple rectangular profiles and are usually made of wood or vinyl. The outer edge of these casings is generally flat to fit flush with baseboards and other types of wall trims.

Most window and door casings are interchangeable, so if you find a style you like, you can use it to trim almost any type of opening around the house.

It is both decorative and practical. Casings create a decorative finish on doors and windows and can also help tie different architectural elements together to develop a cohesive look in a room.

This trim also serves a practical purpose by hiding unsightly gaps around door and window frames. It can even help hide minor drywall imperfections that can show up when painting doors and windows.

Pillars And Pilasters

In the past, columns were used in house construction as structural support for roofs. Although these structural columns are not found in most modern homes, smaller units are often used to mimic the look and feel of classic column designs. 

Thinner columns are called pillars or pilasters; they are generally used for decorative purposes. As many builders use these terms interchangeably, pilasters can typically be recessed into a wall while pillars are surface mounted or freestanding.

A pillar or pilaster provides a unique accent and can be used to frame a fireplace, doorway, or other openings. These units are also useful for spotlighting a piece of art or an architectural element in a room.

Most of the pillars and pilasters are stylized according to the designs of ancient Greek and Roman columns. They consist of three elements: Crown, shaft, and pedestal or base.

Many manufacturers sell interchangeable units to allow owners to match and mix different styles to create a unique look. Wood and plaster versions are usually the most common, although fiberglass offers an attractive, budget-friendly alternative.

Stair Stringers And Brackets

Trims aren’t just for walls and floors. It can also be used on stairs. No matter what type of stairs you have in your home, there is usually a way to add trims so that the stairs complement the surrounding decor.

In a closed or square staircase with walls on at least one side, adding stair stringers can give the staircase a whole new look. The stringers are large, flat panels ranging from 1 to 2 feet in height.

They are placed along the joint between the stairs and wall and usually run at the same angle as stairs. The top and bottom of each panel can be finished with decorative moldings or left unfinished for a simpler look. Although stringers are primarily used for aesthetic purposes, they can also provide structural support for older stairs.

For open staircases, homeowners can add brackets for style and flair. These brackets are installed at the triangular area on each side of the stairs where risers and treads meet. They are often made of wood, although some older units are made of iron.

Other trims types around the house may include:

Pierced Molding

Pierced molding is a decorative trim that is not completely solid in shape but is cut so that the wall behind it can be seen.

Architrave Molding

Architrave is a type of trim that is placed above windows and doors for decorative effect.


Beadboard is a type of wainscoting (meaning it’s also a panel, not technically trim or moldings) that is made up of a series of vertical boards with separate ridges called beads. They can be framed with trims.


Also known as a coving, it is a plain, cove-shaped trim used where walls and ceilings meet. It can also be used on stairs where risers and treads meet. Basically, the Cove can be seen as a less decorated version of the Crown molding.


Corbels are loose L-shaped brackets that are placed between a vertical surface (like a wall) and a horizontal surface (like a ceiling or countertop). Although initially designed to support weight, they can also be decorative.


Plinths are blocks used at the door’s base as a decorative addition to the casing.


The molding, also called board and batten, is a piece of wall trim used to hide the joint between two pieces of paneling.

Conclusion on what is trim in a house

Now that we probably know all about what is trim in a house and the various types, we should also keep in mind that trims can be sold in a wide range of sizes, materials, and styles.

And that’s exactly the kind of stock sold at your local Home Depot or Lowes. Custom trims layers trims of different sizes and styles, creating a look not possible with one-piece molding.

For this, you will need not only an excellent design but also an installer with the necessary skills and experience.

Whether you want to keep it chic, modern, fun, rustic, or quirky, custom trims are a great way to make your home look its best.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like