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Customize Your Windows and Trim

by Andrew Misek

window trimMany homeowners replace their windows to improve the look and energy efficiency of their home. Sometimes though, the windows alone aren't enough to achieve the homeowner's wishes. To improve your windows' overall look and feel, you may want to consider window trim. We'll give you a few tips on how it can be used to customize your home.

What's Window Trim?

The first question that needs to be answered is "what is window trim". It's the decorative casing that goes around your windows. It can be found both inside and outside of your home.

Window Trim Terminology

There are many different terms associated with window trim and knowing them will help you decide what's best for your windows. Whether you're installing it yourself or having a professional do it, these are the major terms associated with window trim.

  • Crown molding -  angles out above your window to add dimension
  • Frieze board - attaches the crown molding to the cap
  • Crosshead strip -  transition between head casing and frieze board
  • Side casing -  covers gap between the window frame and wall
  • Backband molding – outside edges of the casing
  • Horn - the piece of the stool that extends past the casing and apron
  • Stool - hides the gap between the lower sash and the windowsill
  • Apron - visual support for the stool
  • Head casing - hides the gap between the window frame and the wall
  • Cap - covers the crown
  • Joints - where two pieces meet; the corners of the trim
  • Molding - the decorative design in the trim

Beginning the Installation of Your DIY Window Trim

Many homeowners make their own window trim. It isn't time consuming, but it does require basic carpentry skills such as measuring, cutting and nailing. It isn't easy, but with a little practice, installing new window trim can be a DIY job.


Every task has its specific tools. Make sure you have the proper ones before starting your window trim installation:

  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Saw
  • Plane
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Glue

While these are all hand tools, there are power tools that can be used instead such as a nail gun or jig saw. Power tools are recommended for more advanced users because they can be dangerous.

The Installation Process

There are a couple of tips we'd like to share before we begin. Whenever you're cutting the trim, keep your shoulder over the saw. This will steady your cutting and make it straight. After making your cuts, smooth down the edges with your plane.

window trimStart your window trim installation with the stool. It should be cut 1 to 1.5 inches past the edge of your side casing. Your stool should extend the furthest away from your window. You'll also need to cut a box on each side of the stool so it fits around your window. Once everything has been cut, apply glue to the back of the stool and hammer nails from the front of the stool all the way to the window frame.

The next step is to measure your side casing. Cut the top of the casing so it doesn't go beyond the top of your window. Apply glue directly to the window frame and attach the boards. Secure the side casing further with nails.

With the header, make sure to cut it the length of the far edge of the side casing, not the stool. Once you've made your cuts, apply glue to the top of the window frame and where the header meets the side casing. Finish attaching your header with a few nails.

Finish off your window trim with the apron. Much like the header, the apron should be cut to the far edge of the casing, not the stool. Apply glue to the bottom of the stool. Finish by nailing the apron into the wall. Now you have your perfect windows!

Benefits of Window Trim

Window trim adds the finishing touches to not only your window, but your entire home as well. The style and flair they add both inside and out will make you the envy of the neighborhood.

You also have many color and material options so your window trim meets your style. Being able to customize it means there is the perfect window trim for you out there.

Style isn't the only thing that window trim adds. It can also improve insulation around your windows. This traps your heat and air inside while protecting your home from the outside weather.

By separating your home from the outside weather, your heating and cooling systems will work more efficiently.  A more energy efficient home is extremely important and will lower your utility bills.

Modern vs Traditional Pre-Made Trim

Modern window trims, are minimalistic and sleek showcasing very clean lines. Its color should be similar to the window so the trim blends in. This makes your window the centerpiece of the room, not the trim.

The issue with modern trims are their corners. The side casing and the header meet at a 45 degree cut. Over time, humidity causes them to expand and create gaps. These gaps look awful and will ruin the insulation.

Traditional trim often lies flat against the wall and are very simple in design with a slightly extended head casing. The side casings usually have more decorative designs.

Traditional trim has a different joint – the side casing and header meet at a butt joint. Along with the butt joint, the round edges on the base prevent gaps caused by humidity. They're made to withstand the test of time.

Many Color Choices

There are many different window trim color options available.  You'll want to get one that matches or accents the color of your windows. If you were to get too crazy with your color selection, it might ruin the look of your entire room.

Not only should your window trim match the color of your windows, but you have to be aware of the color of your home's exterior. Your window trim shouldn't be a weird color compared to the rest of your home otherwise your home won't look its best.

Beautiful Both Inside and Out

The ultimate goal of window trim is to improve the overall look and feel of your home. It should help show off your style.

Picking the right color and style that best matches the look of your room is crucial.

The same can be said for your home's exterior. Making a poor decision can be even worse because a mis-matched home exterior/window trim combination can affect your home's curb appeal.

Make Your Windows Stand Out With Window Trim

Window trim is often forgotten about but can improve the overall look of your home both inside and out. It's important to keep in mind the style and color when deciding which window trim is right for you. Don't get carried away though or it can backfire on you. Make sure your window trim is an expression of your style and matches your home's aesthetics.