Millwork is generally defined as any type of woodwork that is produced commercially in a mill. Often, different examples of this type of woodwork are finished pieces that can be installed with little or no modification as part of the construction process for a home or public building. However, millwork also includes the creation of sections of lumber for use in the construction process.
Just about every building contains some type of millwork. In addition to the lumber that is used to construct frames for houses and other buildings, many of the specific features of the space are created using different types of architectural millwork. This can include such items as window casings, door frames, and crown molding. Even design elements such as mantelpieces around fireplaces, and the interior and exterior doors used in the project are considered part of this class of wood product.
Another example of this type of woodwork produced in a mill is the decorative trim that is used along baseboards or as part of the design of a chair rail. Trim of this type may be very plain, or it may include attractive beadwork, grooves, or various types of patterns that help to enhance the overall look of the space. While sometimes included in the initial design, trim can be added at a later date as a means of changing or updating the look of the home.
Other examples of millwork are also found in the home and other types of structures. Kitchen and bathroom cabinets constructed with wood fall into this category. Blinds and shutters constructed with wood components also qualify as this type of woodwork. A flight of stairs as well as bookshelves and the shelving contained in pantries and closets also are considered examples of this type of woodwork.
In times past, the designation of millwork applied only to building materials and elements made from wood. However, the increase in the use of synthetic materials has caused some to redefine the meaning somewhat. Many professionals now consider any item that is composed of a combination of wood and synthetic elements to be properly defined as millwork. This includes products that make use of pressed wood chips in the design. Some do not agree with this expanded definition, and maintain that only products produced completely from solid wood can be rightly identified as millwork.
As with many products, the quality of a particular type of millwork will depend on the choice of raw materials, and the care that is given to the creation of the woodwork itself. Customized pieces that are created with great care tend to be high quality, while mass-produced pieces that are made from inferior woods will generally meet basic standards, but nothing more. Because of the variance in quality, it is possible to purchase different types of mill-created products at a wide range of prices.