Choosing Molding for Your Built-in

Explore this gallery of common molding types and how they can be used.


Molding not only conceals unsightly shelf edges, it adds a decorative touch. It's also a way to hide gaps and dress up built-ins and other projects.

Although most molding profiles were created for specific purposes, they come in dozens of styles that can be adapted for a variety of uses. They come in a variety of hardwoods and in less costly paintable and stainable composite materials as well. Here are some available styles:

-- Baseboard molding covers the gap between the floor and a built-in such as a bookcase. Select a profile that matches the baseboard in your home.
-- Strips conceal plywood edges and also can be used to add strength to shelves. Strips are usually available in widths from 1 to 4 inches.
-- Crown molding is used to finish the top of a built-in and covers the gap between it and the ceiling.
-- Cove molding is a plainer version of crown molding.
-- Door-edge molding is used to give hardwood plywood doors and drawers the appearance of solid wood panel construction.
-- Base cap molding provides an appealing edge for shelves.
-- Base shoe molding conceals gaps on all sides of a built-in. It's flexible, so it conforms to irregular floors and walls.
-- Ornamental moldings have embossed faces for a handcrafted look.

Transform with Trim: Add Moldings to Increase Visual Appeal

The biggest challenge associated with moldings is deciding which ones to use. Crisp, clean profiles contribute to plain, contemporary lines, while ornate ones relate to antique and traditional styles. The contrast can be dramatic, so select moldings that complement your home's decor.

In this slide, a Colonial profile casing in oak serves as the cornice on an entertainment center. Door-edge molding trims the unit's doors.

Add smaller moldings by gluing and clamping. Larger moldings are best fastened with finishing nails. Sink the heads of finishing nails below the surface and fill the holes with wood filler.

No Long Clamps?

If you don't have clamps that can span the width of a plywood shelf to hold a trim piece in place while glue dries, use masking tape. When the glue has dried and you remove the tape, wipe off the tape adhesive residue with a little solvent, such as lacquer thinner.

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