Trims

Posted on Jan 6th 2012 by David — Comments ↓

Floor trims and moldings are very long, thin strips of material (usually wood) which have been shaped to fit at the end of your flooring. They cover expansion gaps, help your floor transition smoothly from one room to another, even one type of flooring to another, and protect your walls as you do regular sweeping and cleaning. Trims exist for wood and laminate, for stone and tile, and for vinyl flooring. They’re basically available for any kind of flooring that is made.

Trims are often described as giving your room a subtle, professional touch. It makes them sound as dispensable as candles are to a cake, when in reality they are pieces without which your floor simply isn’t complete. Take a laminate floor for example. To allow for a bit of expansion and contraction due to temperature and moisture, a gap of around 1/4″ will be left at each wall between it and the edge of the floor. No one wants an exposed quarter inch gap between their floor and the wall, so trims and moldings cover those gaps. These are what complete your floor structurally. They are necessary.

 

What kind do you need

This is as easy as looking around at your room. Imagine your new floor in the empty room or space. Wherever it will meet up with a wall, there you will need some trims. Wherever your floor will meet another floor, usually between rooms, there you will need a transition piece. You will also need transition pieces for areas where the floor ends at a doorway or a stairway.

 

What type do you need (of each kind)

Here we’re talking about coloring. There are three main options.

Exact Match: Some manufacturers make trim to perfectly match their flooring patterns and colors.

Close Match: Some manufacturers do not make trims, so there are third party companies that make a variety of colors and styles of trims to match the most popular styles of flooring.

Unfinished: Trims are also available which need to be painted or stained by the owner. This can be helpful if you would rather your trim accent the walls than mimic the flooring. Also, if an exact match is not made, you can take a sample to a paint store and have them match the basic coloring in a stain.

 

How much do you need

In short, you measure the length of the walls at the floor to determine how much trim is needed there. Measure any doorways, closet entries, transitions from your new floor to another floor in another room as well. If you’re taking notes, list each area separately, because each need has its own trim type. You might need just one kind of trim, and you might need five different kinds.

One often overlooked consideration is with any floating floor, usually a laminate floor. If you are installing a floating floor that goes more than 25 feet in any direction, it is always strongly recommended to divide that floor into smaller sections shorter than 25 feet, using a trim called a T-Mold to form the seam joining them. If that is your case, you will need to select where in your area it will be best to divide your floor with a trim piece, and measure that distance.

We recommend adding about 10% to your order of any type of trim to cover any mistakes that could occur in measuring, cutting, staining, or any other things that might come up. Trims generally come in lengths of 72″, 84″ or 96″. Since it is unlikely that your needs will divide exactly by the offered trim lengths, if you need just a few pieces of any trim, then you will probably have your 10% just with the extra on your last piece.

 

Installation tips

We will look at any specific tips we may have for each trim in detail separately, but there are a few general tips we want to share for all of them.

Depending on the style, trims are either attached to your walls or your subfloor, almost never* to the actual flooring you are installing. Remember that the floor may move due to temperatures. The trim is designed to hide that movement underneath, not to move with the floor and pull away from your wall.

Doorways. Say you have two doorways, collectively longer than one piece of trim, so at least one of these doorways is going to have two pieces of trim joined together. Aesthetically, it is usually better to plan on the split being in the middle of the doorway rather than having one short piece meet one longer piece.

Because of the thinness of the pieces being used, it may be best to use small finish nails, or staples, rather than standard nails or screws, to install your trim.

At corners, two trim pieces are cut at an angle, so they can perfectly meet. This is called “coping” the molding, and it can be a difficult thing to do for the inexperienced carpenter. If you’re installing your own floor, and this process seems out of reach, you should look for pre-cut trims.

 

Details on dermining which trims you need

You should be aware that trims are a little like beef. There are a bunch of different names for the same cut. We’ll try to give them all, so you’re equipped wherever you shop. Clickable titles lead to more details.

Trims to go around the perimeter of a room, where floor meets wall

Baseboard

(also known as a Skirting Board or Skirting [and in England Washboard, Mopboard, and Scrubboard] and some will call this a Wall Base, though that term should really apply to vinyl trims, )

Baseboards are the basic trim used at the bottom edge of your wall. Unlike most other trims, these rarely cover the expansion gap between the floor and the wall. Another piece would be attached to do that. These pieces are much taller than they are wide.

Quarter Round

For wood & laminate
The shape on the end is one quarter of a circle, where the flat sides rest on the floor and against the wall, leaving a rounded hill visible over that seam. These can be used both with and instead of baseboards, and definitely in areas such as under a cabinet, where the taller baseboard might not fit.

Wall Base

For vinyl & carpet
This is the equivalent of a baseboard, but made of a rubber or plastic, used primarily with vinyl or carpet, and in commercial or public areas.

Bullnose

For tile & stone
This is also an equivalent to the baseboard, this time for, and made of, stone or tile.

Transition Pieces to go Between Floors

These are called transition pieces because they do not help your floor stop at a wall, but rather assist in the transition from one floor to another.

End Cap

(aka End Mold, Square Nose, Universal Edge, or Baby Threshold) For wood & laminate
End caps lay over the edge of a floor and then drop straight down over the edge, “ending” the floor, if you will. They are great for places where your floor meets carpeting, a fireplace, a sliding glass door – anywhere the floor just needs to have an exposed stop.

Reducer

(or Reducer Strip) For wood & laminate
The bottom of a reducer has two levels. It’s designed to rest squarely on two different levels of flat flooring (meaning not carpet), leaving a gentle curve on top. Suppose you have a thick hardwood floor meeting a thinner (slightly lower level) vinyl floor. This would be your transition piece for that meet up.

Threshold

(aka Sill or Saddle) For any floor, made of wood, metal or stone
These are used at exterior doorways, or in places where a Reducer is too small to cover the level differences, such as going from a lower floor to a carpet or thick ceramic or wood.

T-mold

For wood & laminate
A T-Mold serves a similar function to the Reducer, joining two different floors, but these are used when the floors are the same level. This is the piece you would use if you’re splitting a very long floating floor in a single room to avoid going over 25 feet in length.

On Stairs

Stair Nose

(aka step down) For wood & Laminate
These finish the end of a step, and must be used any time laminate flooring is being installed on your stairs.

 
 
 
* This one is the exception, when you occasionally DO attach the trim to the flooring.

 
 
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David is a Writer at Floors To Your Home (.com), as well as the PPC Manager, a Marketing Strategy Team member, a Researcher, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jitō. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, explore film history, mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’) and write non-fiction for my friends. Connect with me on W. David Lichty’s Google+

 
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W. David Lichty is the Content Guy at Floors To Your Home (.com). In my spare time I shoot and edit video, explore film history, mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’) and write non-fiction for my friends. Connect with me on Google+

 
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