Merchandising and Interior Design Tips

Quick Primer on Finish Carpentry

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finish carpentry

If you’re buying a new home, finish carpentry is something you’ll find will come up again, again, and again (and again) with your builder. An intrinsic element of home décor, finish carpentry complements and enhances your home’s style, not unlike how a picture frame does a work of art.

Though you’ll begin thinking about your new home’s finish carpentry from the very start, it’s one of the final steps of the construction process. Finish carpenters are the craftspeople who install the crown molding, wall paneling, coffered ceilings, banisters, built-ins and other elements into your new home. In short, they put the finishing touches on your labor of love!

Here are a few finish carpentry terms you may come across as you work with your builder:

Crown Molding: These are the elegant lengths of trim that cap a room’s walls. Anything from simple and streamlined to wide and flourishing, crown molding is a graceful addition to every room. This trim is often used in tandem with other finish carpentry – it looks lovely with beams! As you’re envisioning the rooms throughout your home, remember that, though you don’t have to use the same crown molding in each room, it does give the entire home a nice flow.

Crown molding
Crown molding


Tongue & Groove: Sometimes referred to as T&G, this is a method woodworkers use to join planks of finished wood to one another without using nails or glue. Put together this way, the planks create a symmetrical pattern that adds a lot of character and warmth. Tongue & Groove is particularly stunning on walls and ceilings!

tongue and groove
Tongue and Groove Accent Wall


Beams: Different from those that form the structure of your home, decorative beams are a popular carpentry finish for your ceilings. Most often seen in the kitchen, living room, and dining room, this detail has dramatic impact! As far as style, beams can be rustic, stained wood or smooth, painted, and contemporary. Finish carpenters also use beams to create shapes in conjunction with other elements such as a Tongue & Groove ceiling.

ceiling beams
Ceiling Beams


Wall Paneling: So many options here! There is wainscoting, which is trimwork, such as raised panels, that appear below a chair rail. Another favorite kind is beadboard. This type of paneling is made up of vertical planks and is particularly charming in bathrooms and kitchens. Both of these choices are often used in tandem with other trim finishes like baseboard, which is decorative molding that runs along the floor. Another instance in which your builder may ask about paneling is for an accent wall. These can be created with all sorts of materials, such as reclaimed wood.

wainscot wall paneling
Wainscot Wall Paneling


Coffered Ceiling: This design element has been used in homes for centuries, which makes it a true classic. Essentially a grid of sunken squares, rectangles or octagons, coffered ceilings add an effortless sense of formality and can help define a space in a contemporary home.

Coffered Ceiling
Coffered Ceiling


Decorative Moldings: From baseboards to door jambs, this term encapsulates just about every form of a home’s interior trim. The thing to remember here is that many are used together. For example, chair railing, a narrow molding installed at about chair height in the middle of a wall, is often set atop wainscoting.

Decorative wall paneling
Decorative Wall Paneling


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