Types of Cabinet Molding: A Complete Guide


    When it comes to customizing your cabinet space, types of cabinet molding can add a finishing touch that truly transforms the look of your cabinetry. With a plethora of options available, it can be overwhelming to decide which type of molding is right for your space. In this article, we will explore the different types of cabinet molding and how they can enhance the appearance of your cabinets.

    There are several types of cabinet molding that can elevate the look of your cabinets. The first is crown molding, which is installed along the top edge of wall cabinets to create a finished and polished look. Next, there is light rail molding, which is installed beneath wall cabinets to conceal under-cabinet lighting and create a seamless transition from cabinet to wall. Base molding is used to trim the bottom of base cabinets and hide any gaps between the cabinet and floor. Toe kick molding is similar but is specifically designed for use on the toe kick, which is the recessed area at the bottom of base cabinets.

    Other types of cabinet molding include dental molding, which features a repetitive ogee shape and can be used to add a decorative touch to any style of cabinetry. Bead molding is similar but features a row of circular indents, which create a delicate and refined look. Lastly, there is trim or panel molding, which can be used to add depth and dimension to flat cabinet doors or cover gaps between cabinets.

    Types of Cabinet Molding

    When it comes to enhancing the look of your kitchen cabinets, adding molding can make a world of difference. Whether you are looking to add sophistication, character, or charm to your kitchen, there are many types of cabinet molding available to choose from. Crown molding, light rail molding, and base molding are some of the most popular types you may have heard of. However, if you are looking for something more unique, you can consider options such as corbel or rope molding. In this section, we will explore the different types of cabinet molding you can choose from, considerations for selecting the right molding for your cabinets, as well as tips for installing and maintaining the molding.

    Crown Molding

    Crown molding is one of the most popular types of cabinet molding. It is known for its decorative and elegant appearance, and it adds a timeless look to any kitchen. Here are some facts to consider about crown molding:


    • Crown molding is available in various materials, such as wood, polyurethane, and MDF, among others.
    • It comes in different heights, lengths, and profiles, allowing for customizations that suit the kitchen design.
    • Installation of crown molding requires cutting angles and fitting the pieces together precisely, making it a bit challenging for DIY enthusiasts.
    • A professional might need to use power tools, such as a miter saw or a coping saw, to cut the corners of the molding.
    • Careful sanding and painting or staining are critical for a flawless finish.

    Light Rail Molding

    Light rail molding is designed to conceal the lighting under cabinet units while creating an elegant look. This type of molding is typically installed underneath wall cabinets and can be made of materials like wood, thermoplastic, or metal. It comes in different styles, from a simple rectangular section to more intricate designs.

    Some considerations when selecting light rail molding include the desired aesthetic, size of the wall cabinets, and the type of lighting to be used. It’s important to select a molding width that matches the cabinet height to avoid an awkward look. Here are some popular types of light rail molding:


    • Rectangular light rail molding: the most common type that blends with almost any kitchen design.
    • Cove light rail molding: has a concave design and creates a subtle effect of light shining down the cabinets.
    • Arch top light rail molding: has a curved top that gives a more stylish look to the cabinetry.
    • Eyebrow light rail molding: has a semi-circular shape and creates an elegant look that draws attention.

    When installing light rail molding, it’s essential to consider the electrical wiring needed to install the lighting. It’s important to have the necessary equipment like a level, measuring tape, saw, and drill to ensure that the moldings fit properly under the cabinets.

    Base Molding

    Base molding is used to cover the gap between the bottom of a cabinet and the floor. It can also add a decorative touch to the cabinet’s appearance. There are various types of base molding to choose from, including simple and ornate designs.

    Some popular materials for base molding include wood, MDF, and PVC. Wooden base molding is a durable option, but it requires regular maintenance to prevent warping or cracking. MDF base molding is a cheaper alternative to wood, but it’s prone to water damage. PVC base molding is moisture-resistant and easy to clean, making it a suitable option for kitchens.

    When selecting base molding, consider the cabinet’s height, style, and color. A taller cabinet will require a larger base molding, while a shorter cabinet can use a smaller one. Similarly, the base molding should complement the cabinet’s design and color scheme.

    Proper installation of base molding requires measuring accurately and cutting the molding at the proper angles. The molding should be glued and nailed to the cabinet’s bottom, ensuring that it’s flush with the cabinet and the floor.


    • Wood
    • MDF
    • PVC


    • Cabinet height
    • Cabinet style
    • Cabinet color


    • Measure accurately
    • Cut at proper angles
    • Glue and nail to cabinet bottom

    Properly maintained base molding can last for many years, requiring only regular cleaning and dusting to keep it looking its best. To prevent damage, it’s essential to avoid moisture exposure and consider preventive maintenance measures.

    Chair Rail Molding

    Chair rail molding is installed on the wall at chair height in a room, typically around 36 inches from the floor. It offers protection to the walls against chair backs and adds a decorative element to the room. Chair rail molding can also be used as a design element, separating wall colors or wallpaper patterns.

    When selecting chair rail molding, consider the design style, material, and width. Common materials include wood, PVC, and MDF. The molding can be plain or have a decorative profile, such as a scallop, bead, or ogee. The width should match the style of the room and the overall design concept.

    Proper installation of chair rail molding involves accurate measuring, cutting, and drilling. It’s important to mark the wall carefully and locate the studs or use anchor screws to secure the molding. Use carpenter’s glue to secure the molding to the wall and finish with paint or stain.

    Here are some other types of cabinet molding to consider:

    • Toe kick molding
    • Corbel molding
    • Rope molding
    • Applied molding

    Toe Kick Molding

    Toe Kick Molding is used to cover the gap between the base cabinet and the floor. It is available in different materials such as wood, MDF, and PVC. Proper selection is crucial, especially considering the color and style of the cabinet. Here are some popular types of Toe Kick Molding:


    • Plain Toe Kick: This molding is simple and adds a clean look to the cabinet. It is usually made of MDF or wood and is easy to install.
    • Carved Toe Kick: This molding adds an extra decorative touch to the cabinet. It is more about style than function and is usually more expensive than plain toe kick molding.
    • Curved Toe Kick: This type of molding is popular for modern-style cabinets. It adds a contemporary look and can be made of different materials like stainless steel, PVC, or wood.

    Proper installation of Toe Kick Molding requires accurate measuring, cutting, gluing, and nailing. The process should be completed before the cabinets are installed to make it easier to work on. The molding requires regular cleaning and maintenance to avoid damage as it is located close to the floor, where dirt and moisture tend to accumulate.

    Corbel Molding

    Corbel molding is a decorative element that is used to support countertops, shelves or to add detail to cabinet doors. It’s available in different materials such as wood, polyurethane, and MDF. There are different types of corbel molding, from plain to elaborately carved designs. It’s important to select a corbel molding design that matches the cabinets’ style and color for a cohesive look. Corbel molding can be challenging to install because it requires precise measurements and cutting, as well as proper adhesive and fastening techniques.

    One of the factors to consider when selecting corbel molding is its size, which depends on the weight and size of the surface it’s supporting. The material is also a consideration since hardwood corbel molding supports more weight than MDF or polyurethane corbel molding. Corbel molding can add a luxurious touch to cabinets, but it requires regular cleaning and maintenance to avoid dirt build-up and discoloration. Proper cleaning includes wiping with a damp cloth and using mild detergent or polish to protect the finish.

    In conclusion, corbel molding is a great way to add artistic detail to cabinets and support surfaces. However, it requires precision and expertise for proper installation; hence, it’s recommended to hire a professional. When choosing corbel molding, consider the cabinet size, style, and color, as well as the material’s durability and weight capacity. With proper care and maintenance, corbel molding can maintain its beauty for years to come.

    Rope Molding

    Rope molding is a type of cabinet molding that adds texture and depth to the cabinet doors. It is available in various materials, including wood and polyurethane. The rope design is created by twisting together multiple strands of material.

    Here are some essential facts about rope molding:


    • It is typically installed on the front edges of the cabinet doors
    • It can be used to create a traditional or vintage look in the kitchen
    • Proper installation requires precision cutting and careful gluing
    • It needs regular cleaning and maintenance to avoid dust and grime buildup

    Rope molding can be challenging to install, so it’s best to hire a professional if you’re not experienced in carpentry. Ensure that the material you use for molding is of good quality to ensure durability.

    Applied Molding

    Applied molding is a versatile type of cabinet molding that can be used in a variety of ways to enhance the look of kitchen cabinets. It is called “applied” because it is applied to the surface of the cabinet rather than being built into the cabinet itself.

    Here are some ways that applied molding can be used:


    • Applied molding can be used to create raised or recessed panels on the doors or drawers of cabinets.
    • Applied molding can be used to create a border around the edge of a cabinet face frame or doors and drawers.
    • Applied molding can be used to create a decorative edge along the top of wall cabinets, similar to crown molding but on a smaller scale.
    • Applied molding can be used to frame the area around a range hood or other built-in appliance.

    When selecting applied molding, consider the following factors:


    • Material: Applied molding can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, MDF, or polyurethane. Each material has its benefits and drawbacks, so choose based on your preference and budget.
    • Design: Choose a design that matches the overall style of your cabinets and your kitchen. Applied molding comes in a variety of styles, from simple to intricate.
    • Size: Consider the size of the area you are applying the molding to and choose a size that fits proportionally.
    • Installation: Consider the difficulty of installation and whether it is something you feel comfortable doing yourself or if you should hire a professional.

    Choosing the Right Cabinet Molding

    Now that you know about the different types of cabinet molding available, it’s time to choose the right one for your kitchen. However, with so many options to consider, the process can be overwhelming. Not only do you need to think about the material and design style that suits your taste, but you also need to take into account your cabinet style and budget constraints. In this section, we’ll explore the factors to consider when selecting the right cabinet molding for your kitchen.

    Molding Material

    When selecting cabinet molding, one of the most important considerations is the material it’s made from. The material determines not only the appearance but also the durability, maintenance requirements, and cost. Here are some common materials used in cabinet molding:


    • Wood: Wood molding provides a classic look and can blend well with different cabinet styles. It’s available in various species, such as oak, cherry, maple, and pine, and can be stained or painted. However, wood molding can require more maintenance than other materials, as it’s prone to warping, cracking, and fading.
    • Polyurethane: Polyurethane molding is a synthetic material that resembles wood in appearance but is more resistant to moisture, insects, and damage. It’s also easier to install and maintain than wood. Polyurethane molding comes in various styles and colors, including metallic and textured finishes.
    • Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF): MDF molding is composed of wood fibers and resin, and it’s a popular choice due to its affordability, stability, and versatility. MDF molding can be painted or veneered to mimic wood or other materials. However, it’s not as sturdy as wood or polyurethane, and can warp or swell if exposed to moisture.
    • PVC: PVC molding is a plastic material that’s resistant to moisture, scratches, and stains. It’s also lightweight, easy to install, and comes in various colors and patterns. PVC molding is ideal for cabinets that are exposed to water or high humidity, such as in a bathroom or laundry room. However, PVC molding may not look as authentic as wood or polyurethane, and may have a shorter lifespan.

    Design Style

    Selecting a suitable design style for your cabinet molding is essential to achieve a cohesive look. Your design style should complement your kitchen’s overall style, color palette, and cabinets. Popular design styles for cabinet molding include traditional, modern, contemporary, and rustic. Here are some design styles to consider:


    • Traditional: This design style has decorative options such as raised panels and intricate edges that create a luxurious feel.
    • Modern: This design style has clean lines, simple designs, and muted colors. It is ideal for a minimalist look.
    • Contemporary: This design style incorporates elements from both traditional and modern designs, creating a clean yet elegant look.
    • Rustic: This design style has a natural look, featuring materials such as wood, stone, and metal. This design style is perfect for those seeking a farmhouse look.

    The design style of your cabinet molding should complement your kitchen’s overall style, and it should not clash with other elements in the kitchen. It’s best to select a cohesive design style for your kitchen and stick to it when selecting cabinet molding.

    Cabinet Style

    When choosing cabinet molding, it’s essential to consider the style of your cabinets. The right moldings can enhance the look of your cabinets and complement your overall kitchen decor. If your cabinets have a traditional style, ornate moldings such as corbel or rope molding can be an excellent option. For modern cabinets, clean and simple designs work well, such as light rail or applied molding.

    If you have shaker style cabinets, consider adding crown molding or base molding that complements the simplicity of the cabinets. Raised panel cabinets can benefit from applied molding or chair rail molding. Remember to consider the color of your cabinets when selecting molding, and choose options that complement or contrast with your cabinet color.

    Here are some popular molding options for different cabinet styles:

    • Traditional cabinets: Crown molding, corbel molding, or rope molding
    • Modern cabinets: Light rail molding, applied molding, or simple crown molding
    • Shaker style cabinets: Base molding or clean-lined crown molding
    • Raised panel cabinets: Chair rail molding or applied molding

    Budget Considerations

    When choosing cabinet molding, budget is an important consideration. The cost of the material, size of the kitchen, and complexity of the design can all affect the price. Wood is the most expensive option, while MDF is the most affordable. Here is a breakdown of average costs for each material:

    • Wood: $5 to $20 per linear foot
    • Polyurethane: $2 to $8 per linear foot
    • MDF: $1 to $5 per linear foot
    • PVC: $1 to $3 per linear foot

    Other budget factors include the cost of installation, which can vary depending on the difficulty of the project, and any additional tools or materials needed. It is important to establish a budget before starting the project and to research different options to find the best fit for your needs and budget.

    Installation Tips for Cabinet Molding

    Now that you’ve selected the perfect cabinet molding for your kitchen, it’s time to start installing it. The installation process can be tricky and require precision, power tools, and careful sanding and painting. Without proper installation, even the most beautiful molding can appear shoddy and detract from the overall look of your cabinets. In this section, we’ll explore some tips to help you install your cabinet molding like a pro.

    Measuring and Cutting Accurately

    Proper measuring and cutting are crucial for cabinet molding installation. Incorrect measurements and cuts can affect the final look and compromise the structural integrity of the installation. Here are some tips for measuring and cutting accurately:


    • Use a measuring tape to measure accurately, and always measure twice before cutting.
    • Mark your measurements with a pencil and a straightedge to ensure straight cuts.
    • Use a power saw, such as a miter saw or a table saw, for clean and precise cuts.
    • Be careful not to cut too much material, as it’s easier to remove material than it is to add it back.
    • When cutting crown molding, use the reverse angle method to account for the angles of the walls and ceiling.

    Remember to take your time and work carefully when measuring and cutting your cabinet molding. It’s better to spend extra time ensuring accuracy than to rush and end up with an unsatisfactory final product.

    Sanding and Preparing the Surface

    Before installing cabinet molding, it’s crucial to prepare the surface by sanding it properly. Here are some tips to ensure the surface is smooth and ready for installation:


    • Begin by cleaning the surface with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris.
    • Use fine-grit sandpaper to sand the surface, starting with a low grit and working your way up to a higher grit for a smoother finish.
    • Be sure to sand in the direction of the grain to prevent any damage to the surface.
    • If there are any gaps or holes in the surface, fill them with wood filler and sand the area until it’s level with the rest of the surface.
    • After sanding, wipe down the surface with a clean, damp cloth to remove any sanding dust.

    By properly sanding and preparing the surface, you’ll ensure a smooth and even finish for your cabinet molding installation.

    Gluing and Nailing the Molding

    Once the measurements are accurate, the next step to installing cabinet molding is gluing and nailing it in place. Apply wood glue to the back of the molding and press it against the cabinet. Hold it in place for a few minutes until the glue dries. Next, use a nail gun or hammer and nails to secure the molding in place. Ensure the nails are flush with the surface and not sticking out, and fill any gaps or holes with wood filler.

    List of steps for gluing and nailing cabinet molding:


    • Apply wood glue to the molding.
    • Press the molding against the cabinet.
    • Hold it in place for a few minutes until the glue dries.
    • Use a nail gun or hammer and nails to secure the molding.
    • Ensure the nails are flush with the surface and not sticking out.
    • Fill any gaps or holes with wood filler.

    After gluing and nailing the molding, let the glue dry completely, and then sand any rough edges. Apply wood filler to any gaps or holes and sand it until smooth. Finally, paint or stain the molding as desired, and clean up any excess paint or stain.

    Maintenance and Care for Cabinet Molding

    Taking care of your cabinet molding is crucial to keep it looking great and functioning properly over time. Regular cleaning and maintenance will prevent damage and prolong the life of the molding. In this section, we’ll explore the best practices for cleaning and maintaining your cabinet molding, including preventive measures to minimize damage and wear. Whether you have crown molding, light rail molding, base molding, or any other type of molding, these tips will help you maintain its beauty and function for years to come.

    Regular Cleaning and Dusting

    Regular cleaning and dusting of cabinet molding is necessary to prevent dirt buildup, stains, and damage. Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining different types of cabinet molding:

    • Crown molding: Use a soft-bristled brush to remove dust, then wipe with a damp cloth.
    • Light rail molding: clean along the bottom of the cabinets and rails carefully to avoid disturbing the wiring of the lights.
    • Base molding: Dust along the edges and clean with a damp cloth, and avoid using abrasive cleaners.
    • Chair rail molding: Dust and wipe with a damp cloth or sponge, and avoid using water if the paint is not completely dry.
    • Toe kick molding: Clean the surface, avoid using harsh soaps or solvents, and dry immediately to prevent moisture buildup.
    • Corbel molding: Dust and clean using a soft brush or vacuum, and avoid using water or abrasive cleaners.
    • Rope molding: Dust gently to avoid breaking or damaging the texture, then use a damp cloth to clean.

    Regular cleaning and maintenance will keep your cabinet molding looking its best for years to come, and prevent the accumulation of dirt, stains, and damage.

    Preventive Maintenance

    Regular preventive maintenance helps to extend the life of cabinet molding. Here are some preventive maintenance tips for cabinet molding:


    • Clean the molding regularly. Use a soft-bristled brush or a damp cloth to clean the molding. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals that can damage or stain the molding.
    • Inspect the molding periodically. Look for any signs of damage, such as cracks, chips, or discoloration. Address any issues immediately to prevent further damage.
    • Keep the molding dry. Moisture can cause damage to wood or MDF molding. Wipe up any spills or standing water immediately.
    • Protect the molding from direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause discoloration, fading, or warping of the molding.
    • Avoid using sharp or heavy objects near the molding. Accidents happen, but preventing damage from occurring is essential. Do not let children play around the cabinets or use sharp objects around the molding.

    The combination of regular cleaning and maintenance, along with preventive measures, ensures that cabinet molding looks its best and lasts a long time. By utilizing these tips, you can ensure that your cabinet molding remains in excellent condition for years to come.


    What is cabinet moulding?

    Cabinet moulding is decorative trim that is installed on the top, bottom, or sides of a cabinet to give it a more finished and polished look. It is typically made of wood, but can also be made of other materials such as MDF or plastic. The moulding can be plain or ornate, depending on the style of the cabinet and the overall design of the room.###

    What kind of crown molding on cabinets?

    The kind of crown molding on cabinets is typically made of wood and can be either flat, angled, or curved. It is often decorative and adds a finishing touch to the top of kitchen cabinets, hiding the join between the cabinet and the ceiling. It can come in a variety of styles and sizes, allowing for customization to match the overall design of the kitchen or room.

    What is the molding at the base of a cabinet called?

    The molding at the base of a cabinet is called a toe kick.

    What are the different types of cabinet architecture?

    There are mainly two types of cabinet architecture: face-framed and frameless. Face-framed cabinets have a frame around the edges of the cabinet box, with doors attached to this frame. Frameless cabinets, also known as European-style cabinets, do not have any frame around the edges and have doors attached directly to the cabinet box.

    Last Words

    In conclusion, adding cabinet molding to your kitchen can enhance its overall look and feel. As seen in this article, there are various types of cabinet molding to choose from, including crown, light rail, base, corbel, and rope molding, each with their own unique features and installation requirements. When selecting the right type of molding for your kitchen, it’s essential to consider factors such as material, design style, cabinet style, and budget considerations.

    Furthermore, professional installation is crucial, as it requires precision cutting, careful sanding, and painting, among other processes. Regular maintenance and care are also necessary to keep the molding looking its best and prolong its lifespan. With the tips and considerations provided in this article and hiring a professional, transforming your kitchen with cabinet molding is an achievable task that can significantly improve your kitchen’s aesthetic.