Architraves, and skirtings for that matter, were designed simply to hide the untidy edge between wall and door. In the case of skirting boards, it was the joint between wall and floor. This situation is repeated at the joint between wall and ceiling with coving.
New Architrave is fitted by cutting the top corners at an angle so they butt up to each other tightly to form, in most cases, a right angle. If your door frame is twisted or leaning over, a right angle may not be appropriate so see our project on angles used in carpentry to work out how to cut the angle you need for your door frame.
Over the years architraves have developed into almost an art form in some properties. Huge, deep molded architraves make ordinary doorways look grand. Combined with molded skirtings the room can have a simple doorway turned into a feature.
Simple architraves are still called moldings. These come in two forms. Chamfered & Bull-nosed. Chamfered architrave is above and Bull-nosed is below.
The architraves should be cut so they can be fixed to the doorframe with small (30mm) panel pins. Enough of the architrave must therefore overlap the frame to allow these pins to be banged in. The pins are fixed with a small 8oz panel pin hammer and both the pins and hammer can be bought in the tool boxes below.
The architrave should be fixed with the molded edge facing the door but be kept back from the internal edge of the door frame by about 6mm (¼ inch) If the frame is slightly out of square the architrave can be adjusted to suit as a slight variation on the 6mm does not show. Measure the frame from floor to a point shown in the diagram below. I.E. 6mm in from both the side and the top of the internal edge of the frame. Place a length of architrave in your mitre saw or mitre block and then set the correct angle using the guide and make the cut.
Once both uprights are cut, pin them in position but do not bang panel pins in all the way. Measure and cut the top section and drop it into place. If the mitres are not perfect you can move the side pieces to get a good joint. When you are happy, pin the three sections into place. Use a nail punch to sink the panel pin heads below the surface of the timber and fill the little holes with some decorators caulk.
Any discrepancy in the mitres can also be filled with decorators caulk as can the back of the architrave if it is sitting off the wall slightly.
When joints are filled as required, they can be sanded down for priming and painting.
Skirting boards should be added after the architraves and the joints treated in the same way. Filling is never neat until sanded down and most fillers (despite what they say on the tin!) do shrink back a little so it is much better to over-fill the joint and sand back to a neat finish.
Removing and replacing architrave is a relatively simple way of giving your home a new look. To remove existing architrave, insert a sharp chisel into the joint formed between the face of the frame and the front, molded edge of the architrave. Lever the architrave out gently and repeat all the way up the frame.