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what are you doing for trimwork?

Posted by gingerjenny (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 22, 12 at 13:55

Are you doing painted trim or stained?

One of our builders said painted is actually more costly because the painters have to go back and put caulking at the base and it is tedious and it takes more time to do it properly so more $$ due to the labor involved.

Anyone else heard this?

I like the look of white as well as stained. Either look great with neutral tones but when it comes to the kids rooms i would at least like white trim cause they like their rooms to be more vibrant colors.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: what are you doing for trimwork?

Painted! I like the 'look' a lot more and it's lighter and brighter. The only place I plan to have stain, is maybe on the ceiling beams...and the floors, unless I decide to use vinyl that looks like wood. We do live on a farm :)

Also, when trim gets 'dinged' it's easier to repair, IMHO. I always have white paint handy...but matching stain can be more of a challenge. Especially five years later...unless you plan to keep some extra, for touch ups.

RE: what are you doing for trimwork?

This question pops up periodically so you may be able to find previous threads on the subject by running some searches. The bottom line seems to be that some builders in some areas of the country charge more for painted trim and in other parts of the country, stained trim is more expensive.

With painted trim, the builder can get away with using a lower quality wood (including finger-jointed softwoods) or even MDF or polyurethane trims.

With stained trim, you have to use a higher quality wood. Most people who want their trim stained opt for hardwoods (oak, maple, cherry) which are all more expensive per linear foot than other trim materials. Even those of us who opt for stained pine want clear pine with few or no knots and flaws. And the cheaper finger-jointed moldings which look fine when painted, look awful if stained. MDF and polyurethane cannot be stained. I honestly don't know if MDF and/or polyurethane moldings cost more/less than finger-jointed pine. Pretty sure however that stain-grade clear pine costs more than MDF.

There is not that much difference between the cost of a gallon of good quality stain and a gallon of good quality paint.

Thus, assuming the same size and style moldings, it seems to me that stain grade moldings are definitely going to be more expensive than paint grade moldings. So that leave the question of installation costs...

With painted trim one CAN (and should) go back and fill in any gaps and nail-holes with putty and then paint over them...and of course, that will cost something.

But, with stained trim, for the finished job to look good, whoever is doing the installation has to be VERY VERY good at measuring and cutting and be VERY VERY careful when nailing the trim. If a piece is cut a sixteenth of an inch too short or an angle is cut 1/2 of a degree off, you can't go back and putty in the gap and paint over it. The only options are to cut another piece and get it RIGHT this time or hope the homeowner doesn't notice the shoddy job. If a nail gun slips and mars the wood, the installer can't put some putty of the spot, sand it smooth and paint over it. The entire piece just has to be replaced.

And, a really good stain job needs at least two coats of stain plus a clear topcoat of some sort - all of which should be put on and allowed to cure before the trim is installed. When trim pieces are cut to fit, the cut ends should be stained before the pieces are nailed into place. And, once the trim is fully installed, you need to go back and fill in any tiny nail holes with a wax finishing pencil that matches your wood stain.

In my area of the country, one pays about double for stained versus painted trim. All the tract-houses and spec houses in this area have painted trim and you only see stained trim in fairly high dollar custom homes.

Given the expertise required to do stained trim CORRECTLY, it makes sense to me than stained would be more expensive than painted.

But, enough folks have posted here on GW that painted trim is MORE expensive than stained in their area that I have to believe that that is true in some places. I personally would never pay a premium for painted trim but then, I love the "old world craftsmanship" look look of stained wood trim.

Don't know if any of this info is helpful. You should get whatever you like best...if you can afford it. And drop down to your "second choice" only if you can't afford your first choice. Good luck with it!

RE: what are you doing for trimwork?

Bevangel, yes that is actually helpful :) The charge for painted is $1812 for the house. ouch!

RE: what are you doing for trimwork?

What is the building charging you for stained? Or, is that $1812 the UPCHARGE to change from stained to painted?

What kind of stain-quality trim is your builder planning on using? Was he thinking that he would still use the same expensive stain-quality trim molding in the rooms that will have painted trim?

I suppose that IF he puts in stain-quality moldings and then paints then, then it might be more expensive that staining... but it would be a waste of money (and good lumber) to paint stain-quality molding when much less-expensive paint quality moldings will work just as well.

RE: what are you doing for trimwork?

1812 is the upcharge from stained to painted.

just pine trim

RE: what are you doing for trimwork?


I just did a search on Home Depot just to get an idea of the relative prices of stain-quality vs paint-quality pine molding.

3-1/4in x 9/16in stain-quality base moulding: $1.39/linear ft.
3-1/4in x 9/16in pre-primed finger-jointed base moulding: $0.88/liner ft.
Identical profile, paint quality is 37% cheaper.

11/16in x 7/16in solid pine (stain quality) base shoe moulding: $0.49/linear ft.
11/16 in. x 7/16 in. pre-primed base shoe moulding: $0.29/liner ft.
Identical profile, paint quality is 41% cheaper.

11/16in x 2-1/4in x 7 ft solid pine casing (5-Pieces): $20.00
11/16in x 2-1/4in x 7 ft primed pine casing (5-Pieces): $15.40
Identical profile, paint quality is 28% cheaper.

Prices at the HOme Depot in your area might be a little different but I doubt the relative difference will change much. Likewise, your builder may be able to get better deals from some other suppliers, but again, the relative prices between paint grade and stain grade probably aren't going to vary by much since they depend on what the manufacturers charge.

So, either painters in your area make a heck of a lot of money compared to trim carpenters OR your builder's trim carpenter is so good at getting perfectly mitered corners and perfectly sized pieces every single time that he never wastes a single piece of wood... in which case, he ought to be able to install the pre-primed molding so that it doesn't NEED much caulking making painting it pretty cheap.

OR - and this is what I suspect is really true - your builder know that gaps and holes are a bit harder to see on stained trim than on painted wood and figures you won't look closely enough at the stained trim installation to notice all the gaps and nail holes until he has collected his money and is gone.

If he is building another house with stained wood trim that is a few weeks of yours, I suggest you go take a close look at his stained wood trim installation. Look for gaps at mitered corners, unfilled nail-holes, and pieces that don't line up quite right, etc. If the installation is NOT good, let him know now that you are not going to be satisfied with that quality of stained trim work. Point out the gaps and other flaws that you see and tell him that while his other clients might not notice such shoddy work, you will. And, since one cannot fill gaps in stained wood with putty or sand down uneven spots and hide the flaw with paint (as one could if one were doing painted trim), you would expect his trim guy to come back and remove and replace every piece of trim that wasn't cut perfectly.

Who knows, maybe when your realizes just how much extra stain-grade trim he is likely to wind up having to buy in order to get an acceptable installation done for you, he just might reconsider giving you painted trim for no upgrade charge... especially if you point out that you've done some research and know that paint grade molding is typically 20 to 40 percent cheaper.

Its worth a shot if you've decided you would rather have painted trim.

RE: what are you doing for trimwork?

Thanks for that post bevangel. It didn't make any sense to me as to why it would be more. I am going to ask him if it is the same type of wood being painted. Maybe if they are using the pine to paint? Not sure but something about it doesn't seem right.

I was in two of their model homes today and looked at the wood trim pretty closely cause i was trying to love it vs painted. I didn't notice any mistakes or gaps. It actually looked pretty good. one was more oak color and the other more of a cherry stain color. I felt the oak color made it look more dated to me 80's. I guess cherry was the 90's? lol

I personally decided they just like to see wood in their homes cause they are "oak"brook homes. lol

RE: what are you doing for trimwork?

You could be right. ("oak"brook homes... LOL!)

But don't be too complacent that the quality of work you see in the "model homes" is the same quality of work that goes into all the rest of the houses as they are built. Model homes often get all sorts of "upgrades" that aren't standard in other houses and it wouldn't surprise me for a builder to take extra care and/or hire the best craftman around to install the trim in his model homes but then use less qualified people (who work cheaper) to do the rest of the houses.

Sounds like you're building in a development where your builder is putting in lots of houses. Do go wonder around some of the NON-model homes or go introduce yourself to a neighbor who has already moved in and check out the quality of the trim work in a finished non-model house.

RE: what are you doing for trimwork?

I had all the baseboards installed and painted in my current 1650 sq ft house in California for $400! Though, I can't remember how much the trim itself cost...

I think painted trim looks much more contemporary, unless you house is overall a craftsman style.

RE: what are you doing for trimwork?

we are doing craftsman but with a more modern twist. if that makes any sense

RE: what are you doing for trimwork?

It's personal preference, so go with what you think looks best. However, if it was me I would go with white trim if you are trying to go for a modern twist. Have a look at the photos on houzz and you'll find lots of similar ideas!

RE: what are you doing for trimwork?

I know this is an older thread, but we're also doing a craftsman with a modern twist and will use white painted trim. Would love to see some pictures if you ever see this. I hope everything went well!

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