A Guide to Architectural Trim Styles

No matter what style of house you live in, adding trim to its exterior can make a huge visual impact. Certain home types, such as Victorian and Colonial residences, feature specific sorts of millwork and trim that you’re probably familiar with. Even if you live in a simple bungalow or a brand new build, though, you can dress up the outside of your space with the right type of trim. As you read this guide, you will learn about the various materials that are used to create exterior trim pieces today, and you will discover some key vocabulary that will help you make the right purchases for the project you’re planning.

Trim materials
  • Composite – As in the decking industry, composite trim has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years. The Georgia-Pacific brand offers a particularly popular composite line that is is known for its durability and ease of installation. This trim option doesn’t have bothersome finger joints and lacks any knots or other unsightly issues. It comes primed so it can be easily painted.
  • Plaster – In past centuries, plaster was the preferred material to create beautiful trim. Some historic homes throughout the United States still feature original plaster trim and, in rare cases, homeowners choose this material for brand new architectural detailing. Plaster is crafted from gypsum and is, in today’s world, often expensive because so few artisans still deal with it. If you intend to use plaster trim outdoors, make sure it is properly sealed.
  • Polyurethane – You are certainly not alone if the notion of using polyurethane foam as trim seems a bit strange. This material, however, is among the most popular choices for modern homeowners, due in large part to its affordability and its ability to be molded into a wide range of styles, from classical to mid-century modern. Typically, this type of molding is sold with a white finish.
  • Wood – Wood was the most prevalent material choice for the gingerbread moldings that were commonly used during both the Victorian and Queen Anne eras. Pine is the most common wood used for architectural millwork, but cedar, redwood, and poplar, among other species, are also options depending on your budget. Wood trim usually has to be treated to prevent decay and may need to be repainted on an annual basis. It is, however, the best choice for historic homeowners who want their renovations to be as authentic as possible.
Key terms
  • Bracket – Architectural brackets often feature filigree and are used to connect and support vertical pieces, such as columns, to horizontal surfaces, such as porch roofs. Their purpose is identical to all other types of brackets, including the shelving brackets you probably have throughout your home.
  • Capital – A capital is the decorative section at the top of a column. Corinthian, Doric, and Ionic columns are the most common types, each with unique features.
  • Gable decoration – If you have a gabled roof, you might want to consider adding a triangular-shaped gable decoration to it. These pieces are made specifically to dress-up gables and often feature scallops or filigree.
  • Header – A header is a horizontal piece of trim that fits above a window or door frame. Some headers are extremely embellished and ornate, while others are quite simple. You can even custom-order headers that have stained glass insets and other interesting features.

Although this is certainly not a comprehensive guide to architectural millwork, it should help you as you begin selecting pieces for your remodeling project. If you find yourself struggling, don’t hesitate to consult with an exterior design specialist in your area. Many decorators offer hourly services that don’t break the bank!

More than just a contractor.

Hatch is your partner for exterior remodeling.

Disclaimer: By hitting the “Submit” button with your information provided, you authorize Hatch Homes to reach out to you regarding questions about your project. Message and data rates apply. Consent is not a condition of purchase.