Last Updated on February 1, 2021 by Kimberly Crawford
Windows are considered as the eyes of the home and like eyes, window trims are worthy investments to make them more beautiful. But beyond just beauty, exterior window trims are functional in protecting the home from outside elements like rain, snow, and wind.
They also help in insulation and in regulating the natural light our homes are receiving. So needless to say, exterior window trims must be taken seriously.
Exterior window trims come in designs and you need to choose the best ones for your window to have the best polish. In this post, we will walk you through what exterior window trims are, including some ideas that you can consider for your own home’s windows so read on.
Related: Parts of a window
Exterior window trim kits
Trim kits for doors and windows highly resemble one another in terms of design. Exterior window trim kits are considered as more modest but in specific designs, the differences are more pronounced. For example, English, Federal and Georgian window trim kits have more elaborate trims than some door trim kits.
Exterior window trim kits are easy to install. They are nailed to the window’s jambs, studs, and sheaths. The newly nailed kits now outline the windows rough opening. Basically, exterior window trims function the same as the interior trims but they are just more vulnerable to moisture because they are more overexposed to outdoor elements.
Exterior window trim ideas
There are thousands of premade exterior window trim kits out there but if you want them customized, there are more than a thousand designs to get inspiration from. Ornate embellishments are a thing for windows if you want to be real standouts and here are some ideas to consider.
1. Exterior window wood trim
Wood is nothing but traditional and timeless. Exterior window wood trims are the best options for craftsman, cottage, and modern home designs. Plain wood casings are not enough and delicate carvings in exterior window casings will always make a bold statement any day. Here are some ideas for some head start.
Do not think that window wood trims need to be neutral-toned only. You can spruce up with any color if it matches the home’s aesthetics.
2. Faux stone exterior window trim
Newer window trim designs now make use of low-density foam which looks like real stone, hence, faux stone. They are pressed with an impact-resistant film or coating and are easier to install compared to wood trims. The most popular are faux veneers and vinyl.
Given the type of materials used in coming up with faux stone window trims, it is known for its longevity, delivering full fifty years of the standout window if maintained properly. Here are some ideas to draw something from.
3. Exterior window white trim ideas
Regardless of the design of your home, white exterior window trims are the most popular because of their clean vibe and versatility. White window trims are also dependable architecture-wise because they emanate an illusion of continuity. White exterior window trims are practical to use in complementing white porches, doors, and columns.
If you are looking for some white exterior window trim ideas, the following are famous designs to build your project from.
4. Log cabin exterior window trim
A log cabin exterior window trim does not only give off the ultimate rustic vibe but also adds a continuous source of natural light and good insulation inside the house’s interior. Since you would find this design in rainy, snowy locations, these functions just make sense.
Here are some log cabin exterior window trims that you can consider.
5. Victorian exterior window trim
Victorian homes are fancy as they come with additional gingerbread trims, classic porches, and ornate doors. You can keep the window trim embellishments clean and subtle, but you could also go all-out like adding Charleston or Monarch gables to top them off.
These are what you should expect out of Victorian exterior window trims.
5. Colonial exterior window trim
In contrast with the fancy Victorian homes, colonials are known for their symmetry in lines and shapes. The windows are small squares and they are several of them lined up neatly in symmetrical rows. The most common colonial exterior window designs are Georgian and Southern.
Here are some colonial exterior window trims to draw inspiration from.
6. Black exterior window trim ideas
Just as with anything, black goes well with exterior window trims too. If white and all other colors fail to live up to your expectations, black is the perfect remedy. It is versatile across all home designs. Black exterior window trims can be made with many materials including vinyl, fiberglass, wood, and metal.
Here are some designs that you could check out for black exterior window trims.
7. Farmhouse exterior window trim
The farmhouse as a home design is said to be the fusion of the colonial and Victorian design. As such, farmhouse exterior window trims are nailed in slim and long double-hung windows, lined symmetrically.
A black farmhouse exterior window trim will go well with black colored doors and dark-colored porches and columns. Here are some ideas for a black farmhouse exterior window trim if you are considering having one.
8. Plastic exterior window trim
Plastic window trims are becoming more popular because they are lightweight but durable at the same time. They are very workable, easy to install, and comes in many designs. They are commonly made of PVC. Here are some ideas for plastic exterior window trim.
9. Modern exterior window trim ideas
This design comes in all forms, shapes, and colors, literally. You can add a flat stock trim to box type houses, there are also thin window trims, modern bay window trims, a picture frame trim, metal cladding window trims, or invisible and minimalist trims. Here are two of the most workable modern exterior window trim designs out there.
10. Exterior window trim ideas for vinyl siding
Vinyl siding comes in many colors if you want to opt-out of the traditional white. For a better curb appeal, you can mix and match the home’s paint finish with the color of your vinyl siding. You can also add other details to it if you want to. Here are some ideas that you can consider.
11. Craftsman style exterior window trim
This style is a hybrid of contemporary and cottage home window designs. The craftsman style is distinct for its wide frames, simple lines, and multi-paned windows.
A craftsman style home is unique for its earth tone colors and comes with tapered columns and large porches. Here is what to expect from a craftsman style exterior window trim.
12. Stucco exterior window trim ideas
The stucco trim has been used mainly for commercial establishments, but it is now also used extensively in residential exterior window trim designs because they are a cheap alternative.
It is often pressed with another foam layer to make it more impenetrable to outside elements. Here are some stucco exterior window trim ideas that you can check out.
13. Exterior window trim ideas for brick homes
Contrary to popular opinion, brick homes are also versatile. As far as exterior window trim ideas are concerned, brick homes will benefit a lot with white, black, and wood exterior window trims. Here are some designs that you can check out for exterior window trims for brick homes.
Of course, there is more to exterior window trims than just designs. In these FAQs, we will cover some of the most important pointers that you should be abreast of if you intend on installing or upgrading your exterior window trims soon.
What type of paint to use for exterior window trim?
Knowing what type of paint to use for an exterior window trim is an investment. You will not achieve the desired look that you have envisioned for your exterior window trim if you mess up the paint that you will use for it. Aside from that, choosing the wrong paint will lead to flaking in just a year, costing you again.
Truth be told, any type of paint can be used for exterior window trims but there are specific considerations. For wood exterior window trims, the best type of paint to use would be oil or acrylic exterior gloss paint.
For vinyl, only use exterior gloss paint that is specific to vinyl materials and exterior gloss paint for metals if your exterior window trim is made of metal.
Now, if you have unfinished exterior window trim, you must first paint it with a primer before coating it with a semi-gloss exterior gloss paint. Again, make sure that the primer you will use is compatible with the material used in your exterior window trim.
What is exterior trim called?
Taking it technically, there are a lot of terms associated or are even used interchangeably with exterior trim. The differences are significant for architects and engineers, but it might come in handy if common people like us know about them too.
Exterior trims function to protect the home from harsh outdoor elements and in making sure that enough natural light and insulation seeps in. Its other function is for aesthetic value. Here are some of the terms used to refer to exterior trim.
- Fascia boards: They function to prevent the roof’s lower lines from sagging or from being separated from the upper deck. They bind the overhangs together giving the roof what they call ‘lateral rigidity’. The exposed fascia is what we see hanging below the gutters.
- Frieze boards: Today, frieze boards are now just installed for decorative purposes. They are lines of horizontal exterior trims seen above the sidings and meet with the overhangs and the soffits.
- Rake boards: This one is an exterior trim inclining at a certain angle along the roof’s gables and peaks. Its more popular name is bargeboards.
- Soffits: This functions to protect the lower roof from harsh outdoor elements like rain or wind. They also make sure that wasps and other insects do not niche on the roof. Soffits are positioned below the roof’s overhangs.
- Boxends: They are the corners where the gutters begin and end. They are also considered as the end corners of the frieze boards and soffits.
- Other exterior trim structures: Since we are talking about exterior trims, here are some minor structures that deserve to be named too: brackets, channels or special exterior moldings, drip caps that are often seen on top of exterior window trims and indoor trims, and flashings.
What is the best exterior trim material?
When it comes to the best exterior trim material, we cannot just declare one winner. Taking it all in, we would say that there are four best exterior trim materials out there.
- Wood: This one is of course the traditional choice and thanks to recent trends, other composite materials for wood are now available. Its earthy, natural look is a sought-after characteristic but some downsides like being expensive and being vulnerable to rots and insects impede it’s being a consistently top choice.
- PVC: We are talking specifically about cellular PVC here. It is lightweight, easy to install, durable, and can withstand harsher climates. But issues on expanding and contracting could still be a problem and beyond this, it is also expensive. But in terms of workability such as types of coating, it is a good choice.
- Polymer: This one is a lot like PVC in many ways. They are within the same price range, both are lightweight, easy to install, and very workable with the type of coating to be applied to them. But in contrast with PVC, it is more prone to damage. Nonetheless, they are becoming a popular choice in locations with temperate climates.
- Fiber cement: It is the most durable and sturdy choice for exterior trims. Aside from being an inexpensive material, it is also rot and corrosion-resistant. With that said, it is also the lowest maintenance of the four. It is a solid choice and since fiber cement comes primed, all you have to do is add a paint finish for it.
Is PVC trim better than wood?
For exterior trims, yes. PVC trims are less absorbent of moisture and unlike wood, they are not vulnerable to rots, insects, and niching pests. Aside from this, PVC trims are more flexible when it comes to coating or paints. These are the reasons why PVC trims are chosen over wood trims nowadays.
What trims to use for exterior windows?
The rule of thumb is that interior window trims must match the home’s interior moldings while the exterior trims should match the home’s exterior aesthetics. But there is more to it than just colors. There are also considerations that should be followed.
For instance, ranch or barn style homes will look best with simple, unfinished exterior window trims or simple picture frame trims. If you are working with a craftsman or prairie style homes, wide trims are perfect. The most intricate exterior window trim designs are found in English cottage, Colonial, Victorian, Georgia, and Provencal home styles. They make use of rosette or fluted exterior window trims.
How do you finish exterior window trim?
There is no one exterior window trim finish that is there. As have been mentioned, this one depends on the style of the home and the paint finish of your home’s exteriors. For instance, if you have a monochromatic home color, your exterior window trims should be darker colored but with lighter-toned sidings.
If you have Colonial, Georgia, or craftsman style homes, you can drop the sidings and just go for black or dark-colored trims to add an illusion of continuity. If your aim is to give emphasis on the exterior window trims, go for bolder colors and more flashy designs.
If you just want a clean, cladded design, go white exterior trims. If you want to add angles and dynamics to the design, go for layered trims.
Can you add exterior window trim?
Yes. Wood is the easiest exterior window trim to add. But it gets tricky for some exterior window trim materials. For instance, if your exterior window has a vinyl siding and you want to add or replace it with a vinyl exterior window trim, you must first remove the existing vinyl siding. Install the additional window trim and put back the sidings if you want to.
Exterior window trims can be more complex than what we know. They come in many designs, are made using various materials and the mix and match of these two define if they will function as what is expected of them or in the long run they would add greater aesthetic value to your home’s exteriors.
For everything to work out, you need to have a working knowledge of what materials are out there, what designs are out there, what style your home has and how much you are willing to spend for it. If you have all of these sorted out, then build that exterior window trim you have been eyeing for.