How to Use Wooden and Plastic Shims


For homeowners routinely engaged in reworking and repair service projects around the dwelling, selected applications and products quickly turn into will have to-have items. Some, like cordless drills, are anticipated need to-have tools. Other applications and materials may well be entirely unanticipated. Shims are a single such merchandise.

Shims, regardless of whether wooden or plastic, are so useful to household transforming jobs that you should often have a bundle of them on hand.

What Shims Are

A shim is a slim wedge made of wooden or plastic, traditionally made use of for incrementally positioning and adjusting making factors right before securing them in area.

The most prevalent development use of shims is to wedge window or door units in location within just their framing through set up. Soon after a door or window device is placed into the opening, shims spaced at intervals around the body are gently tapped into position with a hammer.

Thorough placement of the shims will incrementally go the window or door unit until finally it is the two stage and plumb, wedging it in location as nails or screws are driven to safe the device to the framing. At the time safe, the shims are trimmed off flush with the framing.

Where to Use Shims

What’s frequently stunning is how lots of makes use of you will come across for shims all through plan household servicing initiatives and repairs.

A few of deals of shims on the shelf in your household workshop will generally obtain a use. When putting in cabinetry, for example, shims are indispensable for leveling foundation cabinets along the flooring or changing wall cabinets so they are completely plumb.

  • Plumbing or leveling windows for the duration of set up
  • Plumbing pre-hung door models
  • Leveling important sections of subflooring or floorboards
  • Modifying exterior decking boards to flatten the surface
  • Having the squeaks out of inside flooring by inserting the shims in between subflooring and joists from below
  • Managing sounds on staircases
  • Leveling and plumbing kitchen area cupboards throughout installation

Sizes of Shims

Professional shims acquired in offers are usually concerning 7 1/2 inches and 9 inches extended and 1 1/2 inches extensive.

Contractor-grade shims can reach as prolonged as 12 inches to 16 inches extended. The thicker conclusion of the wedge may possibly be about 3/8 inches thick, tapering down to 1/16 inches thick at the narrow idea.

Even if the shim’s thick end isn’t really thick sufficient, that can easily be preset. Shims can be doubled up or tripled up to enhance the thickness.

Wooden Shims vs. Plastic Shims

Plastic Shims

  • Slender wedges built of plastic

  • Impervious to h2o

  • Get rid of surplus by snapping off at rating factors or by sawing

  • More hard to glue together than with wooden shims

Shims are built generally from wooden or composite plastic. Wood shims are inclined to be created from cedar or pine, although plastic shims are ordinarily designed of composite blends of article-shopper recycled plastic.

Some composite shims may perhaps have wooden substance blended with the plastics. Composite plastic shims typically have rating strains that let you to snap off the shim at chosen lengths wooden shims have to be sawed off with a miter noticed or scored with a utility knife, then snapped off. Picket shims and composite plastic shims expense roughly the identical.

1 gain of plastic shims around wood shims is that plastic is impervious to h2o. So, if you are shimming up cupboards or subflooring close to sinks or other moist regions, plastic shims will be a far better preference. Also, for any exterior get the job done such as decks, siding, or roofing, you should really use plastic shims.

1 advantage of wood shims above plastic shims is that they are a lot easier to use when you need to have to stack two or a few shims collectively. The friction helps shims maintain with each other greater without the need of slipping, or wood shims can even be glued alongside one another.

By contrast, plastic shims are slippery and can grow to be dislodged. Plastic composite shims are not able to be adhered collectively with typical wooden glue, though polyurethane glue can be used.

A single downside of plastic shims is that they are pre-scored to snap at certain places. Wooden shims, on the other hand, can be scored and minimize off anywhere vital.

How to Use Wooden or Plastic Shims

Insert Shim

Carefully tap the shim into the opening with a hammer. Shims are very delicate, so be mindful when tapping. A rubber mallet may perhaps be the finest instrument to use when driving shims.

Evaluate Shim Depth

Make sure that you have pushed the shim in significantly sufficient, but not as well considerably. It is easy to develop into way too enthusiastic about shimming, which can result in frames to bow or elevate cabinetry out of degree.

As soon as pushed, it is challenging to back out the shims. It is specifically complicated to back out a shim that has been driven in too considerably, mainly because your pliers have nothing to grab onto.

Resolve Work Material in Location

Nail the function material in location. With window and door set up, this is generally finished by driving casing nails or screws by way of the jambs into the framing proper through the shim places.

Cut Extra Shim

If making use of wooden shims, flippantly rating the wood with your utility knife as close as possible to the workpiece. Bend the shim at the scored line to snap it off. Alternatively, you can slash off the shim with a multi-device.

If employing plastic shims, bend back again the shim and snap it off. It is normally not necessary to rating the shim since plastic shims now are scored. A multi-resource can also be employed to trim off a plastic shim.


When utilizing shims on door or window jambs it is ordinarily ideal to use two opposing shims. Spot the slender edges of every shim on possibly aspect of the jamb and slide them above each other right until the ideal thickness is attained. This presents a flat or square floor to nail or screw to with no tweaking the jamb.

Can You Make Your Very own Shims?

It is feasible to lower your possess shims with a table saw or electric powered miter saw. Simply place wooden in the noticed with the grain of the wood parallel to the saw blade. Minimize off the wedge. Make guaranteed that your fingers are not near to the noticed blade.

Even though you can cut your have shim in a pinch, pre-slice shims from a keep are so low-cost that it is hardly ever well worth the effort and hard work to slice your personal.

Slicing shims on a desk observed thoroughly and safely and securely is no effortless feat considering the fact that the parts are so slim and obtaining the taper just proper is complex. For most owners, the low value, easy availability, and uniform measurement of manufactured shims make them a much better choice than home made shims.


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