7 tips for maintaining moulding and trim

If your interior has a nice touch added to it with moulding and trim, keep it looking great with these seven easy tips.

7 tips for maintaining moulding and trim

1. Nail removal

  • When you're reinstalling moulding and need to remove the old nails, a natural inclination is to drive the nails out from the back. But if you do, the nail heads will splinter the front of the trim as they come out.
  • Instead, use this old carpenter's trick: Clamp locking pliers on each nail and pull it out through the back of the moulding. Put the new nails in different places, pre-drilling holes for them.

2. Keep the mouldings clean

  • The best way to keep moulding looking its best — and free of the dirt and grime that can eventually ruin its finish — is to simply wipe it every few months with a sponge dampened in a mixture of dishwashing liquid and water. Rinse with a damp sponge and then dry with an old towel to prevent spotting.
  • Most moulding has a glossy or semigloss varnish or paint finish, which can withstand a quick wipe down.
  • Trim around entry doors is especially prone to collecting dirt.

3. Keep mouldings dry

  • The key to preserving moulding is to keep its finish in good shape. The easiest way to do this is to protect the woodwork against prolonged exposure to moisture. That means closing windows, wiping trim around sinks and showers, and placing pet food bowls far from your trim.
  • The biggest threat of all? Wet mops.

4. Re-nailing tips

  • If you've ever driven a loose nail back into trim, you probably discovered that it doesn't hold very well. When you need to re-nail moulding, there are two tricks to keep in mind:
  • Use a new nail, driven in to one side of the existing nail. You can either pull out the old nail with pliers or sink it, depending on what works best.
  • To avoid splitting the moulding, pre-drill a hole for the new nail using a nail of the same size as a drill bit. To do this, simply clip the head off a nail with cutting pliers. Put the nail in the drill as if it were a bit and drill the hole. Drive in the new nail; then use a nail set to sink the head slightly below the surface. Fill the new hole and the old one with wood putty that matches the finish.

5. Paint it white

  • White trim is timeless, goes with every wall colour, and is easy to touch up. Paint all your mouldings with easy-to-scrub glossy white paint.

6. Using trim screws

  • If your moulding is warped slightly or if you fear a nail might pop again, use a trim screw instead. This narrow, small-headed screw holds better than a nail and doesn't bend while you're driving it. The disadvantage: the head is larger and more obvious.
  • To install a trim screw, first drill a countersink (a depression the same diameter as the screw head and slightly deeper) and then continue drilling a pilot hole with a bit the diameter of the screw shank. After you drive in the screw, conceal the head with wood putty.

7. Add storm windows

  • Storm windows do more than reduce winter heating costs; they can protect your interior woodwork. The moisture that collects on the interior of single-pane windows all winter long can damage the window frame and surrounding trim.
  • On cold days, warm, moist air in the house condenses on the cool glass, water drips down onto the frame and trim, and ultimately the woodwork begins to deteriorate, even rot. The best way to eliminate this condensation is to install storm windows.
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