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Inexpensive interior trim that still looks good?

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  • Inexpensive interior trim that still looks good?

    Does anyone know of any inexpensive interior trim that still looks good and is fast to install? We typically do all of our houses in oak trim, and we stain & finish it ourselves in our shop. For one client we installed mdf trim, but by the time we caulked and painted it, it ended up costing the same or more than our regular oak, since all we have to do there is fill some nail holes with putty.

    So, does anyone know of any inexpensive trim that you don't need to caulk and paint when you are done, but still looks good? Obviously there is stain-grade pine, but that's only about $0.10/ft cheaper than oak.

    FYI: A typical house costs us about $4,000 - $5,000 for the trim package, including interior doors (6 panel oak) and door hardware. It costs about $3,000 - $4,000 to stain, finish, and install it. We put casing around all of our windows - no drywall returns. I know that is one area we can save money.

    Thanks in advance,

  • #2
    Re: Inexpensive interior trim that still looks good?

    MDF is about the cheapest I know. If you can't do MDF cheaper than oak, you're doing something wrong.
    We do not finish MDF on-site as a separate operation. We buy it pre-primed or pre-prime it ourselves if we make a custom profile. Then painters caulk and finish it when they do everything else.

    "So, does anyone know of any inexpensive trim that you don't need to caulk and paint when you are done, but still looks good?"

    I don't.



    • #3
      Re: Inexpensive interior trim that still looks good?

      Lowes has foam core trim product that is suppose to be installed without painting. It comes in a white finish, oak, (and maybe a 3rd).

      I have only used the white. But except in one case it was caulked and painted anyway.


      • #4
        Re: Inexpensive interior trim that still looks good?

        seth my supplier now has MDF trim with a real wood veneer in oak, maple and maybe cherry.

        it accepts stain and your clear coat, it may be available in your area and maybe more cost effective material wise.

        Labor rates vary for each situation so ill exclude that idea.
        --William P--


        • #5
          Re: Inexpensive interior trim that still looks good?

          Thank you for the ideas. I'll check out the stuff at Lowes and the wood veneer MDF.

          The one time we installed painted trim, we got it pre-primed, but the trim was a different color than the walls and our painting bill was a lot higher than we had expected. Plus we have a pretty good supplier for oak trim - it's about $0.65/ft.

          Any other tips for making interior trim less expensive while not sacrificing looks?


          • #6
            Re: Inexpensive interior trim that still looks good?

            Seth, just what kind of trim is this? What size base and casing? What style? $.65/ft seems awful cheap for anything beyond very small, very basic flat casing.

            WMP - can you post a picture of the veneered trim? Or a link to the product? I'm having a hard time visualizing how you can wrap veneer on colonial trim or anything other than the most basic profile.



            • #7
              Re: Inexpensive interior trim that still looks good?

              It is a pretty basic profile. This website pretty much shows the profile we get, though we do not get our trim from this supplier. The casing we normally use is like HH-356 shown here:

              The base is like HH-620 shown here:

              We get it unfinished, then stain & finish it ourselves in our shop. Prices are usually $0.55 to $0.70/ft. How does that compare with what you are finding?

              - Seth


              • #8
                Re: Inexpensive interior trim that still looks good?

                OK, those are fairly small profiles. We pay $0.60-0.75 for casing that size and 0.75-0.90 for base, depending on the quantity. Our quantities are rarely over 1,000ft of any one size/profile.

                Now if you look at those shapes, I'm sure there is no way you're going to veneer it. Maybe some of that fake wood thermoformed plastic they put on cheap kitchen cabinet doors? That would work but look real cheesy.



                • #9
                  Re: Inexpensive interior trim that still looks good?

                  In my opionion trim is the finish product that is seen all the time. Why cheep out on it? make it look good and people will pay for it. unless you are building cheep looking condos or apartments.

                  I had a lady buy a 800,000 house over looking beach in CA up in Palos Verdes. Guted house spend over 500,000 to redo. Straightend studs before drywall, 15,000 fridge 100,000 in kitchen, front door was 5,000.

                  I showed her the perfect trim package for her house. She ended up hiring the guy that did her floors ( not the owner but a installer/labor). he did it for $300.oo labor and cheepass stuff.

                  It looked like Sh@t ruined the whole look of her house. where for 2,000 gran she could of had a trim package that made her house look fantastic. Go figure.
                  youtube channel: builtinsbykreg
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                  get up.... get out there..... get going ! rocking all day long
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                  • #10
                    Re: Inexpensive interior trim that still looks good?

                    Pine/spruce is the least expensive up here, about .35-.45 per ft. with a coat or sanding sealer and 2 of laquer we can't do it any cheaper, I mean less expensive!



                    • #11
                      Re: Inexpensive interior trim that still looks good?

                      You guys must get great deals on trim because here on the east coast, unless you're buying truckloads of trim, even the pre-primed finger joint 2 1/4" colonial casing is still around .85 a foot. My average installation of trim is usually a 4 1/4" finger joint Estate Series casing from Garden State Molding company for around $1.87 foot. My clients dont want the "cheap stuff" because that's what they already have installed from the builder.

                      I've never seen these prices of $.55 a foot you're referencing...

                      Good luck finding "cheaper molding" but don't look on the east coast.


                      • #12
                        Re: Inexpensive interior trim that still looks good?

                        It is interesting to hear that trim prices are higher on the east coast. I have linked to a flyer that shows the local prices of some cheap trim. I am not claiming that it is high quality hardwood, but for paint grade and if you want cheap, it is readily available here. Note that the prices are in Canadian currency, so take another 15% off for $US. (Notice the 7' 356 for .19 a foot)
                        Darren Dolman


                        • #13
                          Re: Inexpensive interior trim that still looks good?

                          This may not answer the original question, but I couldn't resist offering two sources for inexpensive trim. I am not a builder, nor a carpenter. I am a homeowner stuck in the midst of a remodeling project since last August who has been forced to take on more DYI areas. One of my frustrations was in finding inexpensive sources for decorative trim. I will be painting everything.

                          Two excellent sources seem to be...
                          Out of Canada, but they ship to the US, have all delivery services setup with decent Carriers, offer trim in builder's lengths, pre-pay all Customs Fees, will deliver right to your door, and post prices at their website in US Dollars. Checking out several local and other Internet sources, I'm convinced these are the original suppliers to several US companies reselling their products online and here, locally. Their selection seems to be far wider than most others I've found. They even have MDF wainscoting in two sizes -- and not the low-quality 4'x8' pressed-sheet product. But mostly finger-jointed pine, MDF and Ultralight MDF. Some items are available in other woods, I think.

                          Polyurethane is hard to beat when it comes to truly decorative Crown and Ceiling Medallions and Chair Rail. Decor Group has some pricing posted at their website which seems darned inexpensive compared to Fypon, and other like-quality products. But talk to Peggy at Decor Group. Tell her Guy Owen sent you, by way of introduction. If you own a business, you can get a Discount List which comes in at about 50% Off the website postings. The website currently lists odd lengths that are being replaced by 8-ft and 12-ft lengths soon. If you need up to 12-ft, tell Peggy ahead of time and she can order them in that way. It may take two months to receive them until they start stocking these. The quality of the poly is less than that of Fypon -- not as dense. But the design options are much greater and -- from my point of view -- every bit as usable once painted. Really some stunning designs vs price-point here. I like their offerings so much that I am using them for a source at my place of business -- which needs Polyurethane for decorative moldings on pylon signs, etc. They publish a nice catalog with better-quality photos than shown at the website. These items all seem to come in from China or Malaysia.

                          I am NOT associated with either company. I just came across the original question here when I searched on Google for questions I have, such as "What are the correct size relationships between interior trim options? Rosette and Plinth vs Baseboards or Casing? How much taller than the Baseboard should the Plinth Block be?" My search term was "interior trim size house".

                          Good luck!