Waste Allowance for Running Trim

Suggestions for how to handle the "fudge factor" involved in estimating trim material quantities. August 13, 2007

When supplying running trim such as crown and baseboard moulding for a large residential or commercial project, what is a good waste allowance to figure in the quote - 10%, 20%, or more?

Also, should I use a different allowance for paint grade than stain grade mouldings? I'm trying to avoid two things. On the one hand, I do not want the installers running short of mouldings in the ninth inning. On the other hand, I don't want a huge pile of mouldings left over that the owner will look at and wonder why he bought more than was needed.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor A:
It depends on how good your installers are. I would figure 5-10%. If it is paint grade that is just primed and will be painted on site then you would be in the 5% area as mistakes can be hidden with putty or caulk. If it is pre-painted or stained and finished you would probably be around the 10% mark. With the stain you would want to try to match different shades as it went around the room and you may get a couple of non-matching pieces, especially in clearcoated (no stain). When I do installs, it is usually just a room or two. I would bring one extra stick with me. I would also try to cut the longer pieces first so if I made a mistake I could use it in a place that required shorter pieces. I also scope out the room and compare it to the lengths of trim I have and try to calculate what pieces will come out of what stock as to be more efficient with my wood. Waste not, want not.

From contributor B:
We handle overage a couple of different ways depending on the project. The first way is to run the exact footage required for the project with the intent of running additional trim later in the project. This is usually done when moving material is a major chore on the job site. The second way is to run overage and hold it back at the shop. This way you only move the material once to the job site and you don't have to set-up to run more material.The third way is to run the overage and ship it. This is usually the cheap paint grade projects where overage is not a huge cost factor.

Back to the original question of the allowance 5 to 10% for cheap paint grade in large runs and not many miters or very expensive material. 10 to 15% for typical commercial jobs and mid range homes. The overage also depends on the quality of your crew (or you). Some guys will bring back truckloads of trim to the shop and some guys will always run short.