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What is Backband?

backband molding

In the realm of interior trim and casing, backband molding is one of the hardest working pieces of trim that largely goes unnoticed, but plays quite a large role. Backband is a specific type of molding that is often added to the outer edge of a larger molding profile.

It serves as a decorative detail that not only enhances the visual appeal of the trim but also adds depth and dimension to the overall design. Backband molding is typically narrower than the main molding and features a distinct profile, but can be something as simple as an outside corner style.

Historical Significance

Backband molding style gained prominence during the late 19th century and continued to be a popular choice throughout the early 20th century, particularly in the construction of houses built before 1950.

Wood was plentiful and cheap in those days so installing different styles of backband that fit the architecture of the home was very common. There isn’t one specific style of backhand as it was a type of molding that often fit itself to the style of home being built. Ornate profiles were commonly found on Queen Anne or Folk Victorian homes whereas simple versions could be found on the many Bungalows built in the 1920s.

Built-up trim and casing were common in houses built before the mass production of housing became common after the baby boom. After that time casing was simplified for production trim carpenters to be able to install quickly and cheaply.

Today, the average home has traded wood casings for drywall returns and sadly lost the need for not only backband but all the beautiful aspects of trim commonly found in historic homes.

Uses of Backband

It wasn’t just casings around windows and doors where you would find it either. Backband molding found its way into various aspects of house construction, serving both functional and aesthetic purposes:

  • Window and Door Casings: Backband molding was commonly used to frame windows and doors, adding a touch of sophistication to these architectural elements. The additional layer of molding provided depth and visual interest to otherwise plain casings.
  • Baseboards and Crown Moldings: Historic homes often featured baseboards and crown moldings adorned with backband details. This not only highlighted the boundaries between walls and floors or ceilings but also created a seamless transition between different architectural elements.
  • Wainscoting and Wall Panels: Backband molding was skillfully incorporated into wainscoting and wall panel designs. It helped define the panels and provided a polished look to interior walls.
  • Built-in Cabinetry: Backband molding added a touch of elegance to built-in cabinets, bookshelves, and other custom carpentry. It accentuated the edges and surfaces, making the cabinetry a focal point of the room.

Choosing & Installing Backband

Backband is such a ridiculously easy way to make your home’s plain or lackluster casing something special. Rather than tearing out the existing casings and replacing them why not consider adding backband to them to create a more detailed and high-end look?

Below you’ll see some different options and how you can really dress up a rather plain molding with backband.

There really are no hard and fast rules when it comes to uses. You can use backband on the outside of the existing molding as is common or you can install it on the inside corners to make it even more fancy.

Below are the two very basic steps to install backband successfully on almost any existing casing.

Step #1 Measure & Cut

Backband is typically installed on the outside of the existing flat casing. Most commonly that is done using mitered corners regardless of the pattern of the existing molding. The easiest way is to place the backband in place and mark the corner where you will cut a 45º angle on a miter saw.

Step #2 Nail in Place

Fit the backband into place and nail it through the existing casing using an 18 ga. nailer. Then caulk and paint it and you’re done! I told you it was easy.

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1 thought on “What is Backband?

  1. I can’t find any backband in my area. Quite a few of my windows have rotted sections that need replacing. I am in Wichita Falls, TX. Could you lead me in the right direction to get some made using the profile of my existing backband?

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