How to Choose Trims & Moldings
Picking out your floor is often the easy part. Choosing things like baseboards and transitions is a whole other ball game. Don’t worry; we have this all-inclusive guide on how to choose trims & moldings to make the process easy and fun!
So you’ve chosen your floors, your paint and all the other big ticket items. That means you’re done, right?
That’s what I thought! But trims and moldings are a super important part to any remodel or renovation. They are the finishing touch your home would look naked without.
Okay, that’s great, but what does that mean for you? Let’s take a look at what trims and moldings do and how to select the perfect finishing touch.
What Are Trims & Moldings?
Before I started working for a flooring company, if you had asked me what trims and moldings were, I would have looked at you like you had 3 heads. More often, you refer to them as “baseboards” and “transitions”. Baseboards are definitely the most common,
Basically, trims and moldings are any extra pieces you need to transition your floor to stairs, another floor, walls, etc. They are the finishing touches on your picture-perfect floor. And they are one thing that is often forgotten until the last minute.
In fact, I recently redid almost all of my flooring and then one day I realized: whoops! I never even thought about baseboards! Now, don’t get me wrong – I like what we chose. However, I know there are so many options out there and I wish I had been a little more informed before making that decision.
That’s what we’re here for. To make sure you feel informed and not overwhelmed by your trim/molding options. Let’s take a look at what you have to choose from.
Types of Trims & Moldings
Going to the store or shopping online can be really intimidating with all these new terms. Let’s break it down, shall we?
A quarter round is basically a round baseboard. They are usually shorter than a baseboard and they are – you guessed it – a quarter of a circle round.
You can use a quarter round with or without a baseboard. If you ask me, just pick one or the other. I am not a huge fan of them together and it’s extra money you don’t need to spend.
Quarter round trim is especially helpful when you have an expansion gap between the floor and the wall. Almost all flooring (except tile) expands and contracts to some degree and wood flooring is particularly expand-y.
The very creatively named t-molding looks like…you guessed it; a T! This is what you’ll use if you’re transitioning the flooring, usually between two rooms, and both floors are level.
Usually, you will use a t-molding to join together two hard surfaces like tile and wood, or even two different tiles or wood planks. The t-molding just gives you a nice little transition that is easy on the eyes and keeps things looking sharp and connected.
Stairs are all well and good but, let’s be real, nobody wants a random, unintentional step as you transition between floors. Not only does that look silly, but it’s a safety hazard.
While you will often see these used for transitioning wood to vinyl or carpet to a floating floor (like laminate or vinyl), you can really use them on literally any 2 floors that are different heights. I’ve seen lots of gym owners using reducers to transition from their thicker rubber floor down to their main flooring.
As with most trims and moldings, I recommend using one that matches your flooring. A wood reducer on a rubber floor is going to look weird. I mean, if you like that sort of thing, I’m not here to stop you. But, really, don’t do that.
I’ll give you 3 guesses where you use a stair nose and the first two don’t count.
You’ve probably seen these babies a million times, but just never stopped to notice. If you think about the way your floor goes onto stairs, without an edge piece on each step, the floor would be unprotected and wouldn’t have anything extra keeping it in place when it’s most vulnerable.
Yes, flooring is vulnerable. It has feelings. Let’s be sensitive and give it some protection.
In addition to keeping your floor safe and strong, the stair nose, honestly, just looks really freaking pretty. We take it for granted because we have never seen steps without them, but trust me, it makes a huge difference.
There are lots of different styles and look options in the stair nose category. You can really pick any option that goes with your floor – it’s up to your personal style.
This is the main man when it comes to trims and moldings. You will see baseboards in almost every home and office.
Baseboards accomplish a couple of things. They cover the expansion gap between your floor and wall. They also look pretty. Yes, that is important.
There are a nearly unlimited baseboard sizes and styles to choose from and they can really vary when it comes to price. Personally, I love a simple, clean baseboard. But you do you, my friend.
You know that awkward spot in your home where it transitions from a hard flooring surface to carpet? It’s just tough to make that look natural.
That’s where a threshold comes in. This baby is perfect to transition your hard surface to carpet, sliding doors and any other awkward transition spots.
End caps work similarly to thresholds. They help you with those tough transition areas.
You can use an end cap anywhere you’d use a threshold. However, they are most popular for transitioning your hard surface to a fireplace.
Poor tile. Tile is like the poor, forgotten middle child of trims and moldings. There just isn’t a lot out there for transitions other than the usual metal transition strips.
It’s okay. Don’t feel too sad – the bullnose is stuck to your tile like glue. Or…mortar.
This baby will be your go-to option when it’s time to transition your tile to the wall in any commercial setting. Just choose one that matches your flooring and you will be set.
I like to think of a base shoe as a fancy baseboard. This little fancy pants is most popular in homes and businesses alike. It looks a lot like the quarter round, just a little less round. You’ll notice the shape starts off straight then rounds up to the wall.
This does the same thing as the baseboard – it covers the expansion gap between the floor and the wall. If you want a softer, rounder look that isn’t too far off from the traditional, you will love the base shoe.
Additionally, the base shoe is dense and durable. Don’t worry about little feet kicking it. This guy was built for the job!
Hey tile, it’s your turn again! And this time, it’s like, really your turn. Because cove base trims are the only trim pieces that are, actually, tile, themselves.
My parents used cove bases as the trim (I still call them the baseboards because that’s what they look like) in their home and it looks just beautiful. They are tough, durable and super easy to clean, making them the ideal trim piece for tiled homes.
For those pesky corner sections, they even make cove base corner pieces to make your life super easy.
How to Choose
Okay, so now you know which one’s which, but still, with so many options, how do you choose? There are a few key factors that come into play.
- Location. You’re not going to put a stair nose on the flat ground. That’s just silly. Some trims and moldings work in several locations, but some are better suited to particular areas. Start with the location to rule out inappropriate options, then you can move onto the more detailed decisions.
- Floor type. Typically, you want your trim/molding to match your floor. If you’re using a t-molding to transition between two types of floors, easily find one to match your wood (or laminate or vinyl) surface. If you have tile floors, typically a wood trim still goes really nicely (that’s what I did), but there are also metal options, as well.
- Style. This is the fun part! As you can see, each option has its own look and style. This is where you get to choose what appeals to you and what will fit your space. Take home some samples first to get a good idea of how these babies look in person. That’s your best bet!
As long as you pick the correct trim/molding for your location and floor type, it’s hard to go wrong. The rest is up to you and can match your personal style.