The Finishing Phase Explained

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the halfway point of your project. Many aspects of construction are already complete, such as preliminary framing, in-wall plumbing and electrical rough-ins, insulation, and sheetrock. While the early stages of construction can be nerve-racking and homeowners feel like they are descending on the metaphorical Remodeling Emotional Rollercoaster, the finishing phase is exciting. It is the point where many homeowners can visualize their new space and mark the final weeks or months of construction, depending on the scope. Continue reading to learn more about the final stages and what you can expect while leading to substantial completion.

Our mission from the beginning has been to provide a smoother remodel experience for homeowners. The Design, Scope, Build process achieves this by bringing all phases of the remodel under one roof.

– Our process

Interior Trim

Once the walls are closed, finish carpenters will return to the job site to begin installing interior trim. Trim usually consists of baseboard, doors, casing, crown moulding, and wall and ceiling finishes. If you plan on visiting the project, you can expect the sweet smell of freshly cut lumber and the early stages of the final push. Sometimes, this portion of the project can coincide with the tile and millwork installation. However, one thing to note is if your project includes luxury vinyl tile, the baseboard will be attached to the walls following the LVT installation.


Board and Batten paneling, as seen above in the primary bedroom of the Victorian Remodel, is considered interior trim. This type of trim is installed after the interior door and window casing but before the baseboard installation.

Tile and Hardwood

Tile work is an exciting and gratifying stage of the remodel. Selecting and ordering the tile at the start of the project can be a fun process, but the installation is when the real fun begins. While the prep is messy, the wet saw is noisy, and grout mixing can be dusty, once you see the tile, you’ll be grateful for the steps to achieve the finished product. Typically, tile installers will start in the bathrooms, and if a kitchen remodel is a part of the scope, they’ll return following the countertop installation.

Prefinished hardwood and reeded tile at the Cape Ann Refresh.

If the scope and space allow it, the hardwood flooring installation can be scheduled concurrently with the tile to push progress along. It is important to remember that the various species, wood cuts, and finish may determine the installation process and timeline. After the hardwood installation, the finisher will sand, stain, and seal. This stage can happen directly after the hardwood installation or further down the timeline to alleviate scheduling constraints or to ensure the best outcome. If the contractor delays the finishing stage, the unfinished floors are protected with heavy-duty construction paper.

Interior Millwork

Contractors sometimes group interior millwork with the trim stage. However, some millwork, such as bathroom vanities, can only be installed following tile. Millwork typically includes cabinets and built-ins and may come pre-finished, unfinished, semi-custom, or fully custom. The level of detail is determined based on your scope and budget. To ensure your expectations align, the contractor will explain the benefits of pre-finished vs. unfinished and semi-custom vs. fully custom during the design phase.

If you choose unfinished custom cabinets, you should expect a higher price for fabrication, installation, and onsite finishing. You can also expect an extended millwork installation timeline to factor in the finishing of the cabinets and built-ins.

Custom cabinets painted to match the trim, topped with white quartz with gray veining at the Todd Farm Kitchen + Bathroom Remodel.

Stone Countertops

With cabinets and built-ins in place, the contractor will hire a stone company to template the countertops. Once the contractor receives and approves the template, the stone company will push the slab into production. It is standard to select your desired stone slab during the design phase. Based on local lead times, stone fabrication generally takes seven to ten business days following the template approval. Once the installation date is confirmed, the installers will carefully mobilize the material, attach the stone with heavy-duty adhesive, polish the stone (if needed), and provide care and maintenance information.


Paint is almost always the second-to-last step in the finish stage of construction. Painters prefer to be last to ensure dust is no longer flying on the job site and provide adequate time for finish carpenters to wrap up their work. Much like other aspects of the construction process, the price, timeline, and finish will depend on your budget and scope of work. Most contractors will budget for standard Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams paint if included in the contract. However, if you prefer a higher-level finish or a superior product, painters may recommend other reputable brands for an added cost.

Hidden navy blue mudroom closet in the Second Story Addition.

A common misconception about paint is the process will go quickly. While smaller spaces, such as a single bathroom or kitchen, can take a few days, multi-room remodels or whole homes can take a month. The reason behind the longer timeline equates to the prep needed, which is crucial when delivering a high-quality paint job. Painters will spend many hours carefully taping, protecting, sanding, and priming to ensure the walls, ceiling, trim, and sometimes millwork is perfect. You should expect the painters to return for touch-ups if the plumbers and electricians return to install their related fixtures.

Finish Plumbing and Electrical

Finish plumbing and electrical rounds out the finish stage of construction. Once the final coat of wall paint is dry, the electrician will return to install the remaining outlet and switch covers, recessed lights, and homeowner-provided fixtures, such as pendant lights, sconces, or specialty fixtures. Appliances will also be delivered and installed if a kitchen is in the scope.

The plumbers typically return a few days after the electricians; however, depending on the space size, they can work side-by-side. Plumbers will install the trim kits to all wet areas, which include the bathroom shower systems, faucets, toilets, and water filtration systems. Once installed, the plumbers will test each fixture to ensure it works efficiently and maintains a safe water temperature.

When all trades receive their final inspections, the contractor can request the final building inspection with the local building department. While waiting for the inspections, the contractor can complete punch-list items, typically including hardware installation, specialty fixtures, such as shower enclosures and bathroom accessories, and demobilization. Again, depending on the size and scope of the project, the punch list may extend past the substantial completion date of the signed-off permit. Once the job site is clear of all facilities, debris, and materials, your contractor will hand you the keys to (finally) enjoy your new spaces!

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