M2=H2: M is for Moldings and Trim

Every home has some sort of molding and trim work. These range from baseboard to quarter round, crown molding, cove molding, rails, wainscoting and casings. While each serves a different function, all have some things in common, such as miters, joins and finish.

Molding and Trim

Over time, you might notice that your trim has become separated from the floor, the wall or other pieces of trim. This is a natural result of your house’s settling and the wood drying out and shrinking slightly. If left unrepaired, this separation can allow debris and dirt to collect under the molding. Here’s how to fix it!

MITERS AND JOINS: A miter is where two pieces of wood join at an angle in a corner. Some corners may have a 90-degree join to a square corner piece instead of a miter. A join also occurs where wood is pieced together or seamed in your trim. As your house settles, you might notice that a small gap appears at any of these joins. While it’s a normal process, it can be unsightly.

If the separation is small, you can use wood filler to close the gap. First, clean the surface. Then press filler into the gap, shape to conform, let dry, sand to match the surface and finally stain or paint to match. It’s best to paint the entire section of trim to avoid an obvious repaired section.

In addition to corner joins, you may notice some areas where baseboard or quarter round separates from the floor and creates a gap. A good fix is to loosen the nails, reposition the trim to meet the floor and reattach in place. You may need to touch up the paint around the nail heads. If your trim is stained, use a colored wax wood filler to cover the heads. Another alternative when baseboard has a gap at the floor is to squeeze latex caulk into the gap. Be sure to clean any unintentional smears before it dries. Also remember to protect your flooring or carpet with an index card slipped under the molding when you paint or stain.

FINISH: if your wood trim is painted, care is a breeze! Just dust regularly, and once or twice a year, wash with a gentle wood-safe cleanser. Never use a Magic Eraser on wood trim, as it will scratch and damage the finish.

If your wood trim is stained, care is similar, although the type of finish will determine how you deep clean it. Dusting is fine for stained trim of any finish.

For trim finished with linseed or tung oil, use lemon oil polish, which will renew the finish. For trim finished with wax, you must first strip off the old wax with either lemon oil polish or a mixture of white vinegar and water. Then you must reapply a new coat of wax, and buff to a shine. Trim finished with polyurethane has the easiest care – just wipe with a damp cloth.

Over time, dings and gouges may occur in your trim. Fill the gouges with wood filler, sand and then refinish to match your trim. If the gouge is on stained wood, you may be able to use a wax crayon wood filler to cover and fill the blemish.

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