Replace, Repair Wood Trim To Spruce Up Rooms

Replace and repair wood trim and add touches of elegance to every room in your house.

Crown molding adds a subtle but sophisticated finishing touch to a room. Image: Fypon®

Add, replace, and repair wood trim to spruce up dull rooms and increase the value of your home. Repairs range from simple cleaning to paint touchups. Replacements remove trim that’s beyond repair. And additions—chair rails, crown molding, and base built-ups—turn ho-hum walls into eye-catchers. Best of all, wood trim is inexpensive, so your home improvement dollar goes a long way.

Clean trim

Get into those grooves with a damp microfiber cloth that attracts the dust that’s dulling your trim. Wipe baseboards, ceiling molding, windows, and door frames. Don’t forget the tops, which are expert dust catchers. 

To get rid of stubborn scuffs and stains on white trim, attack with a little Comet or another abrasive cleaner sprinkled on a damp cloth. And when you really need some muscle, grab a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, the sponge-like pad that wipes out marks … well, like magic.

Repair trim

You won’t be able to wipe away nicks, gouges, and loose trim. Try the following tips to repair wood trim problems:

  • Shoot and smooth latex caulk into the ugly lines that appear when trim separates from walls and each other.
  • Fill gouges with wood putty.
  • Tap finishing nails into loose shoe molding. Cover nail heads with wood putty or a wax pencil.
  • Use a rubber mallet to reattach toe kicks wandering away from cabinets.
  • Touch up trim repairs with the same color and type of paint as the original. Paint an entire section of the repaired trim so fixes vanish.

Replace trim

Sometimes no matter how hard you try, those old baseboards and shoe moldings still look beat up. Replacing wood trim doesn’t cost as much as you might think. If you’re handy with a miter box and saw, you can replace trim yourself. Five-inch composite base typically costs $2/linear ft., so you could replace the baseboard in a 10-by-15-ft. room for about $100 in materials.

Add trim

Nothing glams up a room faster than some well-placed trim.

Crown molding adds elegance. But don’t overbuild the crown. Ten-foot ceilings can handle 10-inch moldings, while 8-foot ceilings would look overwhelmed with that much trim. Stick to 3- to 5-inch molding on lower ceilings. Prices range from 90 cents to $3/linear ft for wood composite, red oak or poplar; $1.50 to $6.50/linear ft. (much higher for intricate designs) for mahogany, cherry, or walnut.

Protect walls with chair rails. Generally, place chair rails one-third of the way up from the floor, or install them where the backs of your chairs hit the wall.

Build up baseboards by adding trim on top of what you already have. Before you dive in, tape a few samples above your current base to see if they visually get along.