How To Hang Trim

I got to help a fabulous customer today that was putting up trim for the first time. He didn’t even know what he wanted for a profile so I had to help him pick it out. I explained that there were no rules what you could use where and explained that he wanted to pick the straightest boards for the easiest installation. From here, it was all in the steps.

Choosing the Trim and Getting it Home

Trim needs to be as straight as possible. You can pick a straight board by looking down the length of the board on one side, turning the board and looking down the length on another side. In fact, you’ll see multiple customers doing this down the millwork aisles at any given moment. To get it home safely, have somebody wrap it together with shrink wrap so that it supports itself on the ride and is less likely to break. Make sure to use a red flag if the trim will hang out of the vehicle so that everyone is safe on the road.

Cutting the Trim

There are a few tricks when cutting trim for corners and where it meets. First off, corners are never going to be exactly 90 degrees. You can cut your trim at two 45 degree angles and cover the gaps that will occur with caulking or wood filler. You could also use a coping saw in order to cut one piece in the profile of another in order to disguise the edges.

When you have a wall that is longer than your trim, you will need to meet them up and disguise the seam. The best way to do this is to cut both pieces at an angle and overlap them. It will hide the seam so much better than using a butt joint.

Hanging the Trim

To attach the trim to the wall, you have two major choices. You can use a brad nailer and brads in order to quickly and efficiently hang the trim. This is a lot faster and easier as well as the brads have smaller heads than a finish nail so they’re easier to hide.

You could also use basic finish nails and a hammer. If you are going to go this route, it takes more time but it’s a lot less expensive. Make sure to pick up a nail set though or else you will damage your trim with hammer head marks.

Hiding the Gaps and Holes

When your trim is all hung beautifully, you’re going to need to hide the gaps and the nail holes. If you are going to have painted trim, you can use caulking. If you are going to stain your trim, or don’t want to deal with the mess of caulking, you could use wood filler. Extra credit: to hide the gaps on outside corners, you could also press the edges of the pieces together to make the gap smaller or even disappear.


This is mostly how you hang basic trim. There isn’t anything special about it other than to take the patience to do it accurately. When you trim is hung up, every 1/16th of an inch is going to show. Ultimately, your first trim job probably won’t look great. I can definitely tell where some of my first trim is that I hung up. You’ll get better with practice so don’t shy away from it.

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