How to Choose Interior Trim

Classic Colonial Crown Molding

Interior trim is something most home buyers don’t give much thought to until asked by their builder. Interior trim certainly does not get the attention that kitchens and baths do in the home planning process. But, interior trim is one of the most visible and important aesthetic elements of your home. Without it, a room would only be four walls. Casings, crown moulding, baseboards, chair rails and wainscoting all add architectural details that absolutely define a room and bring it character and elegance.

We offer the following guidelines to assist you in your trim selection and ordering process:

Interior Trim Timeline

Interior trim is installed towards the end of the homebuilding process. It is typically installed after the walls in a house have been plastered and allowed to dry for 3 to 5 days. To maintain the quality and integrity of the millwork, it is not recommended that trim be delivered to a house until plastering is complete and the house is “dry”. Excessive moisture is absorbed by wood and causes it to expand, cup and bend.

Depending on your tastes and budget, you may need “special order” or “custom” products. Examples of these may be stair parts or doors in non-stock species (such as cherry and mahogany), custom style doors or a custom casing and/or moulding. These items have longer lead times than standard stock products – like a custom piece of furniture, some custom doors can take up to 12 weeks to arrive. You should plan these lead times into your decision-making process and have your trim selections finalized several months before your builder anticipates needing them. A good rule of thumb is to have your interior trim ordered around the same time as your custom kitchen cabinets.

A good millwork company will have not only a comprehensive showroom, but also sales people willing to spend time with you to make your selections. They will be happy to offer you assistance early on in the process to narrow your options and point you to exactly what you are looking for.

Planning Your Trim Selections

Knowing you need to allow yourself enough time for trim selection is part of the process. The other part is knowing what you need to select and what questions you should ask yourself. In general for interior trim you are selecting four main categories of products:

  1. Interior doors
  2. Stair parts
  3. Mouldings
  4. Other architectural millwork (such as mantels, wainscoting or columns)

Below is a list of questions to ask yourself to help you narrow the myriad of choices that are available to you when it comes to interior trim:

Interior Doors

  • What is my budget per door?
  • Am I looking for a paint-grade door or a stain-grade door?
  • What style door am I looking for?
  • What type of hardware do I want?
  • What finish am I looking for on the hardware?

Beautiful staircase

Stair Parts


  • What size casings do I want and can I fit in them in my house? (your builder can help you answer this question)
  • Am I looking for stain-grade moulding or paint-grade?
  • What style of casing am I looking for?
  • Do I want to use crown moulding in my foyer, living room, dining room, etc.?
  • What size crown moulding should I use?
  • Do I want a chair rail for my dining room or other areas such as a foyer or stairway?
  • What type of baseboard do I want to use?

Other architectural woodwork

  • Do I need a wood mantel for my fireplace? What style mantel would I like?
  • Do I want to accent a cased opening or room entry with columns?
  • Do I want beadboard in a powder room, mudroom or basement?
  • Do I want wainscoting in the dining room, foyer, stairway, etc.?

We hope this publication gives you some guidance on making your trim purchases. Designing your new home is exciting – have fun with it! Please feel free to contact us directly if you have more questions.