Wall Finishes & Trimming

Choosing the appropriate finish for your wall comes easy for some people, but not so for others. There are many things to take into consideration when making a decision that will greatly affect the atmosphere of your home for possibly many years to come. Let’s go over some of the more common wall finishes that you’ll see in almost every home.

1. Paint. Perhaps the most economical of your options, painting your finish on to your new wall can be fast, easy, and cheap. One thing to note about painting is that your wall generally needs to be sheetrock or some other material that doesn’t have any visible “grain”. Plywood has a grain that will be visible through a paint job so it is advisable to only use plywood as a pre-finish when you’re planning on using wallpaper. You can of course, apply a thin coat of finishing compound to the entire wall to hide the grain, but this would be more work. Masking off surrounding areas is a must, as well as using spackle or compound to fill in all joints and defects before painting.

2. Wallpaper. wallpaper comes in almost every conceivable pattern and color, making it a viable option for your home’s walls. There are various quality differences in wallpaper which you will have to consider when purchasing. Thicker, better quality wallpaper with rich patterns will naturally be more expensive, while thinner, simpler wallpaper may be cheaper. Similar to the paint option, wallpaper finishes require filling in all joints and defects with compound or putty prior to wallpapering.

3. Paneling or tongue and groove boards. This option requires a bigger budget but may be worth it in terms of durability and looks. Paneling comes in all kinds of qualities and textures, and is my personal favorite for obvious reasons. It’s also relatively easy to install due to it not needing the “preparation phase” that wallpapering and painting need. Perhaps the main difficulty involved in paneling installation is the aesthetic aspect as patterns must be aligned and centered around door & window frames etc. Paneling will need to be measured and cut precisely so as to accomplish this.


There are other options such as stucco, brick, and various sidings that are usually used for exterior walls, but can also be used on occasion for interior walls as well. “Mixing” styles together – such as wainscoting – can be a fun and stylish way of meeting your needs for variety. Wainscotes can come in almost any height you want, although they generally look the best between 3 to 5 feet from your floor. Wainscote tongue and groove boards often come without a finish, allowing you to stain it to the color of your choosing.


Trimming or molding is what you tack on to edges, wall bases, ceiling-to-wall corners etc, to provide a smooth visual transition between uneven or differing surfaces. Even on the simplest walls, base boards and crown moldings are generally required to hide the floor-to-wall joint, as well as the wall-to-ceiling joint. The vertical height of these trimmings can vary according to preference, but base boards are generally under 200mm, and crown molds are either the same or – depending on the style – significantly shorter.

Unless you’re fine to settle for very simple trimming, it’s generally better to purchase factory-made products. Without proper tools and routers, it’s very difficult to turn out good, detailed trimming. On the other hand, if you have a good, powerful router, sharp bits, as well as a reasonable amount of experience, you can try shaping out your own trimming. As far as simple trim goes, this can be done yourself quite easily. A router is of course preferred, but if you don’t have one, you can get by with an angle grinder or planer, and simply bevel the visible edge of your trim.

This is the bottom of the barrel when it comes to trim detailing, but if you’re going for the “simple” look anyway, this might be exactly what you want.

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