Moulding Proportions and Definitions

BASEBOARDS: Baseboards run along the wall at the floor. Baseboards should be chosen to work in harmony with your casings to finish and tie the room together. Baseboards are usually thinner than the casing.

BASE SHOES: Base shoes are primarily used to trim flooring materials and are often used in combination with a traditional baseboard to conseal variations between the flooring and the base. However, this versatile profile works great to solve numerous trimming needs.

BEADED CEILING: A popular profile used often as wainscot paneling. Combined with a chair rail or cap mould and a baseboard, beaded ceiling makes a distinctive wainscot package.

BRICKMOULDS: Brickmoulds are used as exterior casing around doors. 2” is the most common size however, it is available in 1 1/2 and 2 1/4 inch sizes.

BUILD-UPS: Combining two or more moulding profiles to create a new or custom look. Also called stacking, build-ups make it easy to create the look of custom made trimwork without the high cost.

BULLNOSE: A term used to describe the eased edges of trim and stops. A single bull nose stop would have one eased edge and a square edge back. A double bull nose stop would have two eased edges.

CASING: Casings define the overall character of a room and are often the most visible part of the trim. Casings are used primarily to cover the gap between drywall and the door or window frame. Casings are generally thicker than the base mouldings.

CHAIR RAILS: Chair rails have a decorative and practical funciton. Applied to a wall anywhere from 24 to 48 inches from the floor, they are a beautiful accent to the room, while also protecting the wall from scuffs and dents from the backs of chairs.

CORNER MOULDING: This profile is used to protect outside edges from damage and abrasion. Outside corners come in a variety of sizes and detail. COVE MOULDING: This profile has a wide range of uses, it is most commonly used to soften the transition on inside corners.

CROWNS: Crowns usually run along the wall at the ceiling. Crowns come in a wide range of sizes and patterns. Crowns soften the transition from wall to ceiling while adding a distinctive look and charm to most rooms.

DENTIL: A moulding pattern with a series of closely spaced rectangular blocks and spaces. Used especially in classic architecture.
FINISH BOARDS: Finish boards come in either S4S (surfaced four sides) or S3S (surfaced 3 sides) and are used for a multitude of purposes

including shelving, window liner, bases, casing, etc.

FULL ROUNDS: Full rounds are used for numerous purposes and projects. Some of the more common uses are closet poles, curtain rods and towel rods.

HALF ROUNDS: A cross section of this profile looks like a half circle and is used primarily as decorative trim. It works well as a trim piece for wall paper or to add a decorative pattern to flat panels. This profile can also be used to put a rounded edge on 3/4” shelving.

HANDRAILS: Handrails provide safety and support while going up or down stairs.
LATTICE: Lattice strips are thin pieces of flat moulding that come in several widths and are used for a multitude of uses. Among the most common

uses are to hide seams, edge trim, etc.

PANEL MOULDS: Panel moulds are used to frame wall paneling and add a decorative element to this type of application. Panel moulds also add accent to walls.

QUARTER ROUNDS: Quarter rounds come in several sizes and serve a variety of functions but are most often used to finish inside corners.
RETURN: Term used to indicate the method of carrying a mouldings detail from the front of the moulding back to the wall. Generally a 45 degree cut

is made to the front of the long moulding and an opposite 45 is cut on a small piece to carry the detail to the wall.

SCREEN MOULD: A very versatile profile; screen mould fits a wide variety of needs and uses. Traditionally used to hold mesh screening into wood screens, it also works well as edge trim on 3/4” shelving or wood trim for wall paper etc.

SQUARES AND PARTING BEADS: Another group of versatile profiles, squares and parting beads are used in a wide range of applications. Among the many uses of these profiles are to fill gaps, transition heights, etc. This profile is also used in numerous craft projects.

STOPS: Stops are used in door and window applications to “stop” the door or window. Stops come in a wide range of widths in single bullnose (one eased edge) or double bullnose (two eased edges).

WAINSCOTING: Trimwork installed in the area below a chair rail. Numerous options are available including raised panel, shadow box and beaded ceiling. Combined with a chair rail and baseboard wainscoting creates a dramatic look to any room.

WINDOW CASING: Trim that borders the edges of a window frame. Casings define the overall charcter of the room and are often the most visible part of the trim.

WINDOW STOOL: The surface installed below the sash of a window. Also called window sill. Trim installed under window stool creates a distinctive look and adds a decorators touch.

Baseboard, which might be called skirting or just base, provides visual weight to walls but is much more than decoration. It hides the gap between the wall and the floor and covers the gap left around wood floors that allows the boards to expand and contract.

Typical baseboard, installed by builders in most homes today is 3-1/4″ tall and goes unnoticed. Upgrading base board moldings to a taller profile are a great home improvement project that will enhance any room. Any time new floors are installed would be a good time to remove the existing baseboard and once the new floor is down, add new and taller base trim.

Base Cap Mouldings are used in addition to regular baseboard moulding to create a finished and more complex architectural moulding.

Astragal Mouldings can be used as a decorative element at the top or base of an architectural column or as framing moulding on furniture or wood work.   Often it is used as a component of more complex moulding and is sometimes attached to one or both doors to close a gap.

Baseboard moulding is installed around the perimeter of a room where the walls meet the floor.  Base boards fill in the gaps and uneven edges and help protect the walls from layers of moulding are used to create a decorative baseboard design.

Beaded insert profiles are used to insert between mouldings.

Casing Profiles are profiles used as wood trim or moulding applied to openings such as doors, windows, and archways.  Casings are used to cover the gap between the wall and the frame.  casing are the most visible trim or moulding and as such help define the character of a room.

Chair Rail moulding is attached to a wall about three feet from the floor.  Chair rails are intended to protect walls from scuff and dents from chair backs.  Chair Rail moulding created a visual break between the top and bottom of a wall and is used as a beautiful decorative accent.

Cove Moulding is  a smaller, concise moulding used where walls and ceilings meet.  They are often used as an inside corner guard or to hide joints.   Sometimes Cove Moulding is used as a transitional moulding to a mantle or shelf and often in combination with other trim to create beautiful compound mouldings.

Crown Moulding is usually installed in the corner where the ceiling and wall meet.  It is transitional moulding used to fill gaps and uneven edges or just to add distinction to the room.  The moulding can be as large as 15″ depending on the style of the room.  Mouldings can be combined to make a compound Crown Moulding.

Dentil Moulding or Strips have a pattern of closely spaced blocks and spaces and are used as a decorative moulding, especially in classic architecture.  Dentil Moulding is often found around the base of Crown Mouldings.

Door jamb is the exposed frame around a door from which the door is hinged.  The trim also stops the door when it is shut.

Door Stop Moulding is the trim that prevent the dorm from closing past the door jamb.  The Door Stop moulding is applied to one side of an interior door frame or the interior side of a transom or side lite jamb.

Drawer side mouldings are used in drawers.

Hand rails are attached alongside a wall to be used as hand support along a stairwell or hallway.  Hand Rails also provide for walls in high traffic areas.

Light Rail profiles are used for under cabinet moulding for lights.

Nosing profiles is the trims that creates the rounded edge of a stair tread.  The finished moulding covers the edge of risers.

Outside Corner Moulding is the trim that covers wall comers for beauty and protection.

Scribe Moulding is the lightweight trim used to cover the seam where two surfaces meet on the same plane.

Shoe and Corner Round Moulding is the bottom member of a balustrade and is the attachment point for the balusters on or near the floor line.

The Window sill moulding is installed below the window sash.  Window Sills are sometimes called “window stools”.  Trim is often added under the Window Sill for a more decorative and finished look.

Rope Moulding Rope Moulding is a finishing trim with a decorative twisted pattern. Rope molding is often used in compound Crown Mouldings, on mitered cabinet doors and in amny creative, custom designs.

Planking Profiles are used on the floor.


Wooden rosettes for molding corners are available in many different styles and sizes. They are a component of our miterless trim system but offer more than just ease of installation. Custom wood architectural rosettes are a classic moulding detail that lend historical accuracy to reproduction work and traditional elegance to contemporary millwork design.

Plinth Blocks terminate the bases of door casings and meet the base board molding for a clean and classic wall trim corner.   Wood Plinth Blocks come in several standard shapes and sizes and historical styles can be reproduced.

Both an installation time saver and a beautiful custom wood architectural element, crown corner blocks are part of the miterless trim system of molding blocks

Wainscoating Cap Moulding.

This architectural moulding cap functions to trim the edge of the paneling or beadboard. It is also known as panel cap molding, paneling molding or wainscoting chair rail.

Essentially wainscoting cap molding is a sort of chairrail with a notch out in the bottom back to accept paneling or beadboard.

How Much Baseboard Molding Will I Need?

Use a tape measure and record the length of each wall for which base will be applied. Add the lengths together and add at least 10% for cutting waste.

What Tools Will I Need to Install Base Board Moldings?

Tape Measure
Miter saw (Electric Power Miter Saw)
Hammer (or Pneumatic Finish Nail Gun with compressor)
Nail Punch
Sand Paper
Putty Knife
Caulking Gun

What Materials Will I Need for Installing Baseboard Molding?

Baseboard Molding
Finish Nails (8d) or 2-1/2” finished nails
Wood Filler
Interior Grade Caulk

What if My Wall is Longer than my Molding?

Whenever possible use one length of molding per wall section but it isn’t always possible. A scarf joint is used to make an in-line connection between two pieces of baseboard molding. When cut properly, one piece will seamlessly overlap the other.

Mouldings (Interior)

By Lindsay Daniel and Sarah Andrews

Have you ever entered a room and thought, “Something just doesn’t look right”?  You may not have realized it at the time, but there’s a good chance that the proportions of the room, as defined by mouldings, were all wrong.  One function of proportion is to help control how a room is perceived.  Moulding selections, their size, and where they are placed can help steer the proportions of your room.  (We will explain in a later article how these interior mouldings mimic classical proportions of columns that you see on the exterior of buildings).

Three of the most typical interior mouldings used today:

  • Crown Moulding: A projecting moulding located where the ceiling or roof and wall meet.
  • Chair Rail: A wall moulding that prevents chairs pushed against the wall from damaging the surface.
  • Baseboard: A flat moulding running around the base of a wall  where it meets the floor.

Function ~ At a basic level, mouldings conceal joints, or junctures, between two similar or dissimilar materials (this also keeps the bugs and roaches out!).  For example, the area where a hardwood floor meets a sheetrock wall is covered by a baseboard, thus creating a transition between the two.  Less obvious functions of mouldings include serving as a visual “foot” (baseboard) and “head” (crown), as well as creating eye-pleasing proportions within a room.

History ~ There is much debate on the origin of mouldings, but most sources agree that the ancient Greeks were among the first to use these architectural elements for practical and aesthetic purposes. The Greeks created definite stylistic rules, to which many historic buildings adhere.  The Romans followed in the footsteps of their Greek counterparts and many of today’s commonly used moulding profiles and proportions originated with the Greeks and Romans.  Well-known shapes, such as egg and dart, dentil mould, ogee, ovolo, and cavetto all date back to ancient building. These profiles, along with many others, became indicative of classical building all over Europe.

Evolution: Coming to America ~ Just because Europeans came to America did not mean that they left their rich history of building details behind. In colonial America, carpenters used hand planes to shape wood mouldings – rougher relatives of the grand mouldings they left behind (that were most likely in stone).

Results ~ Today, mouldings are often considered afterthoughts – simply something that’s “supposed” to be part of room – and are not carefully chosen to enhance the proportions of that room.

Tips ~ There are many different proportional systems; here is an easy system to use.

  • Rule of proportion: Consider the height of your ceilings when selecting baseboards (this guide works for typical, 8’ – 10’ ceilings).  One good rule of thumb is to observe an approximate inch/foot ratio (1:12) or slightly less; for example, if your ceilings are nine feet tall, a nine inch tall baseboard could best anchor the room and provide a substantial visual “foot.”
  • Rule of proportion: In selecting a suitable crown moulding, one should also take into account the ceiling height – a three inch crown in a room with ten foot ceilings looks like a very tall man with a very tiny hat!  You have to test this one since the shape and color of the crown affects the perception. However, a comfortable proportion would be somewhere between a ½ inch/ foot (1:24) or an inch/foot (1:12) ratios. This means for a 10 foot ceiling a crown assembly height should be between 5” and 10”. Keeping an appropriate proportion is the key to the success of crown moulding.
  • Rule of proportion: For lovers of chair rail, use a fractional proportion of 1/3 to 2/3  – meaning that the chair rail is placed in the lower third of the wall to make the ceiling appear taller.  Take care not to bisect the room – for instance, if the ceilings are eight feet tall, keep the chair rail well below four feet to maintain a pleasing proportion.  Bisected rooms appear to have lower ceilings.
  • Remember: Even though these “rules” are not iron clad, these ratios will bring dignity and order to your interiors.  By using rules of proportion, you can control how your room is perceived.


Classical Proportions – compare this proportion to those of the Roman columns.  The base (wall below chairrail), the column shaft (upper wall), and the entablature (the crown) are perfectly proportioned to each other in this room, thus making the ceiling appear taller and more elegant.

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Poor proportions – The wainscoting makes the room look squatty by bisecting the wall.




The Ogee is the moulding shape that you typically find at home improvement stores, but don’t let that deter you!  Scout out these other beautiful shapes at lumber yards and other resources.  My favorites are always the less ornate.  Check out how enticing the light is that plays on the more simple shapes.

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Proportion ~ example

Three examples of the same room.  These drawings show that you can control how a room is perceived by manipulating the mouldings.  Doesn’t the ceiling appear taller in the top drawing?  The base, columns, and crown contribute to that overall feeling.

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Column Vocabulary

The beauty of columns lie in the proportional systems that govern them.  That system is based on the ratio of the diameter of the pedestal and column to the entablature, and such a system can help guide moulding selections.

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