The amazing Jenny is back today to show you more proof that, sometimes, the difference is in the details! You loved her white kitchen makeover, where she added small touches to give her kitchen a knock your socks off facelift — now you get to see more of her beautiful home! She did all of this new trim work herself, after teaching herself, and she’s here to share with you her tips and tricks for installing trim, plus plenty of beautiful before and afters — give her a BIG welcome back!
A Beginner’s Guide to Installing Trim
by reader Jenny
It took about 200 hours over almost 4 months. I started when I was 8 months pregnant and finished when my newborn was about 6 weeks old. I don’t recommend doing it that way. Really. Don’t.
I put up hundreds of feet of trim: chair rail, crown molding, and dozens of shadow boxes. (The shelves and mantel around the fireplace in the family room were built by a carpenter, not me).
I am self-taught and I did every last bit of the job entirely by myself. And, yes, I’m pretty darn proud of what I accomplished!
I had a general contractor come by to take a look at all of the trim work I did. He told me that if I’d hired him to do the work, he would have charged me at least $10,000.
I was fortunate to find a local lumber yard selling the crown molding, chair rail, and ogee molding (for the shadow boxes) that I needed at a cheaper price than the big box stores offer it. The trim wood for this project cost me about $1,500.
Jenny’s Tips for DIYing Wainscoting and Trim
- A Compound miter saw (a sliding compound miter saw is ideal, but a 12″ regular one will work just fine). I have a Dewalt one similar to this model.
- 18-gauge brad nailer (for shadow boxes) and 16-gauge finish nailer (for crown molding) and an air compressor. I bought a kit like this one and have been very happy with it. (I used over 2,000 nails to complete my trim project. If I had used a hammer-and-nails instead of a nail gun, I’d still wouldn’t be finished!)
- A ShopVac. You are going to generate buckets and buckets of saw dust. A way to clean it all up is essential. Oh, and don’t forget a face mask to wear while you make your cuts—you don’t want to be breathing in all that dust! I found an 8-gallon wet/dry ShopVac at Costco for about $50.
- A 24″ level like this one and 9″ torpedo level like this one.
- Measuring tape
- Multi-purpose protractor. I have this one.
- Wood Filler
- Trim Wood
- Caulk Gun
- A crown molding chart that tells you what degrees to set your saw for cutting angles. I used the extensive chart available in this book, but I learned all the practical knowledge I needed for cutting crown molding on pp. 128-137 of this book, which has excellent pictures to accompany the clear instructions.
- A bag of pre-cut trim scraps. I cut several different pieces of scrap trim (the ogee molding for shadow boxes and the chair rail molding) in increments by degree to use for figuring out angles. I preferred to use a protractor to measure angles for crown molding, but found that for chair rail and shadow boxes, it was faster to use my scrap trim samples. For example, I might have pieces of scrap chair rail cut at 15-degrees, 18-degrees, 20-degrees, 25-degrees, etc. Then, when I came across a corner where two walls meet, I’d hold up pieces of my scrap trim (cut at different angles) until I found the 2 angles that came together for the best fit. That’s how I knew what angles to cut my trim.
- The BuildCalc app. This app saved me all kinds of headaches when designing the shadow boxes. I simply measured the wall and figured out how many shadow boxes I wanted there to be and then entered the numbers in to the app to find out the spacing. I used this online tutorial here to learn to use the app for planning shadow boxes.
Thank you so much for sharing your tips and your gorgeous home with us, Jenny!