Exterior Wood Trim Styles

Written by hannah wahlig
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Exterior Wood Trim Styles
Trim is used as an aesthetic element to a home's exterior (home, image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

Exterior wood trim adds a decorative design element to a home's exterior that contributes to the overall style of the home. Exterior wood trim creates a finished look that can increase the value of a home. Wood remains an available material for exterior trim, though its popularity has decreased in the wake of a proliferation of alternative trim materials.


The use of exterior wood trim can be traced to Japanese styles of architecture throughout the eighth and ninth century; decorative wood detailing was used on the overhangs of dramatic peaked roofs in temples and palaces. Though exterior home detailing was an option prior to the Victorian Era, it wasn't until the mid-19th century that ornate wood trim became widely available for the middle class. The Victorian Era popularised wood trim detailed with ornate handcrafted wood moulding and trim used on roof lines and porches of Victorian homes. The arts and crafts movement of the early 20th century ushered in a renewal of simplistic wooden trim options that focused on plain wood beams before the market for synthetic materials took over in the middle of the 20th century.

Victorian Style Wood Trim

One of the most common styles of wood trim draws on the Victorian influence of the 19th century. Historical restorations of homes often include period-specific, hand crafted wood trim that incorporates designs like flowers or spiral flourishes. Wood trim is a preferred material for such styles because of its variety as well as its historical accuracy. Victorian style wood trim may also be added to a modern home to give it an elegant appearance. Most Victorian wood trim is done in white or a light stain to reveal the natural wood grain.

Craftsman Style Trim

The crafts movement of the 1920s reintroduced handcrafted items in the wake of industrialisation and mass production. Wood trim and moulding regained popularity because it evoked a sense homemade craftsmanship. Unlike the elaborate Victorian styles of wood trim, craftsman style wood trim valued simplicity over ornate designs. Craftsman style wood trim is largely post and beam style with little carving or detailing save for a few simple corner designs on select pieces. Craftsman exterior wood trim is usually a neutral colour or dark stain to coordinate with the rest of the home's exterior.

Modern Wood Trim

Wood is declining in popularity as a material for exterior trim as more synthetic material options become available. However, architects still incorporate wood trim to the simple designs of modern homes. Plain white trim that mimics the look of interior moulding is a common design choice for newer homes because it creates a cohesive look throughout the entire house. Colonial style homes pair well with natural wood trim that has been pressure-treated to reduce moisture or weather damage; the exposed wood grain complements the traditional angles and colours of colonial homes. Modern homes that utilise clean exterior lines and neutral colour palates are well suited for plain wood trim with little carvings or flourishes painted in a solid grey, white or black.


Not all wood varieties are well suited for exterior trim as they react differently to the effects of weathering and moisture. In general, hardwoods are better for exterior trim than softwoods. Cedar, mahogany and oak wood trims are highly resistant to sun bleaching, moisture damage and warping, especially when they are pressure-treated. Less expensive wood options like pine or cypress are more economical for most consumers although they are more susceptible to warping or cracking over time. Tropical hardwoods are the most expensive and long-lasting option for wood trims; some varieties of tropical hardwoods like ironwood can last up to 40 years without warping.

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