What is Finish Carpentry?

finish carpenters

Finish carpentry refers to the final touches that make a house a home. Finish carpenters work on homes after the structure is fully built, insulated, wired, and plumbed. For this reason, finish carpenters can perform most of their work before or after the homeowner moves into a home. Many homeowners perform DIY finish carpentry in their own homes. However, as with most projects, a professional finishing carpenter can typically perform the work more quickly and professionally, albeit for a higher monetary cost.

Finish Carpentry Projects

Almost any visible wood in a home was put there by a carpenter. Finish carpentry projects can include basic, functional items such as hardwood flooring or stairs. Most of the skilled and specific finish carpentry work, however, is aesthetic. Finish carpenters typically:

  • cut and add design flourishes to window and door trim
  • install and dress up baseboards at the floor and crown molding at the ceiling
  • install crown molding, wainscoting, and wall paneling 
  • build in bookshelves, intricate fireplace surrounds, and closets.

A builder or general contractor may hire a finish carpenter for any of these projects. A homeowner can also work with finish carpenters on finishing a new home or remodeling and existing house. Finish carpenters earn more than the average carpenter. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, finish carpenters can expect to earn about $20 per hour. 

Finish Carpenter Qualifications

The most common way to find and start a job as a finishing carpenter is as an apprentice, working with an expert finish carpenter to learn the trade, pick up some tricks and hopefully make contacts in the industry. The easiest way to find a finish carpenter apprenticeship is through a local union, such as the area branch of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.

Finishing carpenters must have an intimate knowledge of the aesthetics and properties of construction woods and keep up with new developments and trends. For example, the green movement is driving designers and homeowners to bamboo, eucalyptus, and other fast-growth woods for a range of finish carpentry work. Of course, finish carpenters also need to understand and use a wide range of adhesives, fasteners and tools. Different finish carpentry jobs can call for vastly different materials. Finish carpentry is a physically demanding job, but a rewarding one that offers obvious, fast, and pleasing results.

For your finish carpentry projects, hire a qualified professional contractor. 

Updated December 10, 2017.


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