Installing wooden trim: a few helpful tips

Architraves, skirting boards and other pieces of decorative wooden trim are the details that can lift a room from the mundane to the magnificent. Here are a few helpful tips for installing your wooden trim.

  • Nails don't draw pieces together like screws do, and it's not unusual to see nail-fixed wooden trim hanging loose. Often the best way to tackle these gap trouble spots is to tighten them up with a trim screw (sometimes called architrave screws). These screws have a thin shank and a tiny head, so you can easily hide them with putty.
  • When nailing any wood that will remain exposed, such as skirting boards, architraves and picture rails, never hammer the nail in all the way. Leave the last 3 millimetres (1/8 inch) exposed and finish nailing with a nail punch to avoid bruising the wood. If the wood is to be painted then the bruising can be filled, but bruises on stained wood can be very unsightly.
  • When attaching trim, always pre-drill holes for your nails. If you don't, the wood is very likely to split, especially if the nail has gone in too close to one of the ends. If a split occurs, leave the nail in place while you get some wood glue into the gap (a corner of sandpaper can help you get the glue into the groove). Gently ease the nail out and fit a spring clamp across the trim, then wipe away excess glue with a damp cloth. Leave to dry, preferably overnight.
  • When installing a picture rail, use your ceiling line as a guide, rather than the floor. Floors are often uneven and if you take your measurements from the floor up you may set your picture rail at a slope. Instead take your measurements down from your cornice or ceiling.
  • If you need to remove a nail from a piece of wooden trim, you can do so without leaving a dent. First grab the nail head with locking pliers, then slide a piece of plastic laminate between the jaws of the pliers and the wood surface below before gradually easing the nail out of the wood. The locking pliers put a super-strong grip on the nail head, and the laminate protects the wood from the metal jaws.

Follow these tips for installing wooden trim, and you'll be better able to change a mundane room into a magnificent one.

Installing wooden trim: a few helpful tips
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