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Door and Window Trim Options

A relatively simple home improvement is replacing door and window trim. It can really improve the look of your home, and though it does take some time to cut, nail, paint, etc, it doesn’t cost a lot for the materials.

You have several options when it comes to door and window trim, so lets look at the pros and cons of each.

Wood Trim

You can find species such as pine, fir, cedar, spruce, and redwood (pine and fir should be treated with a preservative to prevent decay), and it will cost you 75 cents to $6 per linear foot (costs for wood trim vary a lot depending on species, size, etc.).

Pros are that wood looks good, appeals to many, can be inexpensive, and is readily available at most home improvement stores. Cons are that you need to seal and refinish natural wood about once every five to ten years.

Engineered Wood Trim

A little different than traditional wooden millwork, engineered wood trim is made by heat-pressing hardwood fibers into various widths, thicknesses, and lengths. It costs $1.35 to $2.50 per square foot (uninstalled) and is a little more durable than regular wood.

Pros are that it resists warping, and factory priming adds durability and reduces maintenance. Cons are that engineered wood will still need to be painted every five to ten years, and decorative trim pieces generally aren’t available.

Vinyl/Cellular PVC Trim

PVC is sold in long 18- and 20-foot lengths, so using it means less waste when installing window and door trim (as well as gables, soffits, and corner boards), and it’s fairly easy to install with no knots or joints to work around. It can be painted but doesn’t need to be. Costs depend on the type and size of trim piece but will run around $2 to $10 uninstalled.

Pros are durability and ease of maintenance (you can get a 25-year structural warranty–10 years on the finish). It can be easily cleaned with a garden hose, soft cloth, or soft brush and a household cleaner. Cons are few with the only real downside being that you may not think the look as sexy as wood.

Fiber-Cement Trim

Another trim option is fiber-cement, which is made from portland cement, sand, wood fiber, additives, and water. This stuff is noncombustible, won’t rot or crack, is termite-proof, and is stable through temperatures and humidity changes. It can be painted or stained, and the trim can last up to 50 years (paint jobs should last 15+ years).

Pros are its extreme durability and low maintenance. Cons are that fiber-cement trim is typically only available along with a purchase of siding. Also you may not be able to find decorative trim/millwork.

Urethane Trim

For this type of trim, a high-density polyurethane foam is molded to a smooth, white finish and then treated with a UV-inhibiting primer. Unlike some of the other man-made materials, it can be easily shaped to resemble hand-carved wood or multilayered trim. Urethane is lightweight and shouldn’t shrink, warp, or decay, though it is temperature sensitive.

Pros are that the trim should last the lifetime of the building, and even paint jobs will last longer since moisture doesn’t penetrate as it does with wood. Cons are the price, which ranges from $4 to $25 per linear foot uninstalled.

Source: 2008 Exteriors magazine “Trim and Accents”


Windows & Doors
  1. 5/20/2008 | 9:05 am Permalink

    Wow! That is one unique fireplace. Please keep us updated once you install it with the pros and cons. I bought my first wall mounted fireplace at Accent Furniture Direct and love it! I saw it on Oprah and then found it on the internet. It is by SEI and it is a contemporary piece that is not only functional but also looks like a piece of art!!