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Frankentrim: “You Get What You Pay For” or “Beware the Low Bid”

simple door trim moldings

Use a miter saw not an ax.

[This is part of my Hiring a Finish Carpenter Tips series]

I like to keep things very positive on my blog, and so I prefer not to critique other carpenter’s work because we all work at different experience levels. But if you are going to hire someone to install your moldings, you should expect at least a minimum level of craftsmanship.  After all, finish carpentry is all about attention to detail — that’s what you’re paying for.

The following examples of “professional” molding installations should serve as a warning to you that not all who call themselves finish carpenters share the same definition of finish.

Above  The contractor on this project said his crew could trim the French double doors they installed.  Looking at the quality of their finish skills, I’m surprised they ever managed to get the door installed.  Or get paid.

Below  This is the same door trim as in the above picture.  I’d like to know at what point in your development as a “professional” craftsman you can look at this baseboard and say, “Boss, I’m finished blending the baseboard.”  I couldn’t let my client live with this mess, so I came up with DOOR TRIM-133.

simple door trim and baseboard

All you need now is a case of caulk and a blind eye.

Below  I took the four pictures below in a $500,000.00 townhouse show model.  All of these moldings had been “professionally” installed and painted only a few months before I took these photos.

To keep the two pieces of this horizontal wall treatment thing from separating like this, all the carpenter would have had to do is join them with a scarf joint.  Also, both sides of the joint should have been glued with a strong construction adhesive.

picture rail molding scarf joint that is no good.

A scarf joint may have kept this molding from separating.

Below  Open end cuts that expose the wood grain is bad form, since a simple return would make a nicer surface.  If an end cut is necessary, the least the carpenter can do is sand the end grain smooth.

And don’t even get me started on that green over-paint on the molding.

picture rail

No open end cuts allowed.

Below  It’s the paint job on this wall that I want to highlight here.

This crown molding was masked off and then the walls painted.  When the tape was pulled up the wall paint went with it.  Avoid this kind of mess by reading our How to Paint Moldings page.

easy crown molding

Anybody on this paint crew hear of touch-up?

Below   This is why I harp on gluing every single molding contact surface.

crown molding lower detail

Below  Don’t allow your finish carpenter to leave open end cuts like this.  The proper method is a return to the wall.

baseboard molding end cut

Below  This low ceiling in front of a half bath made it necessary for the contractor who initially remodeled this place to do a dissolve at the top of the door — nothing wrong with that.

But he could have at least made an effort to make it dissolve into the ceiling.  Read more about the proper way to dissolve moldings here.

easy door trim molding

There just is no excuse for this kind of workmanship no matter what the price point.  Nor is there an excuse for the typo I put in the picture.  Gotta’ fix that.

The best way to avoid a confrontation with your finish carpenter over poor craftsmanship is to make sure you communicate your expectations in advance.

[This is part of our Hiring a Finish Carpenter Tips series.]

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