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Exterior Trim


The exterior trim on a cottage is like make up. It dresses the façade of the building with detail and makes a tremendous visual difference in its harmony and appearance.

Crown moulding and rafter tails, with mansard return roof

Like other parts of the structure, the exterior trim must be commensurate with the style of the building. Modern structures sport radically different trim details than Victorian styled buildings. Queen Anne style buildings are the most decorative in their detail and therefore the most expensive to build. Although modern styled cottages are predominantly devoid of decorative exterior trim, it takes an experienced builder to do the high quality finishes required to achieve high quality minimalist appearance and the strong horizontal lines typically of modern or international style. Sometimes a prefabricated modern building are devoid of trim because no one spent the money or took the time to trim it! Windows are frequently left with only their brick mould as trim.

A distinctive cottage has integrity because all its parts are considered at one time and no component stands alone. This creates a blending of both visual harmony and interest on the exterior of the building.

The following list will provide you with the vocabulary and understanding you require to discuss trim details with your architect and builder. The accompanying pictures put these details into context of how they are used on actual cottages.

Bargeboard - This is the projecting boards placed against the slope of the roof gable of a building

Soffits - refers to the material that forms a ceiling from the exterior house wall to the outer edge of the roof, bridging the gap between the siding and the roof line. Cottages that have exposed rafter tails do not have soffit or fascia. In some developments that are based on traditional style, soffits and fascia are not permitted, in favour of exposed rafter tails.

Fascia, and window trim blended with the soffit

Fascia - This is the vertical surface which caps the ends of the rafters and which can be used to hold an eaves trough. When your cottage has a style with exposed rafter tails there will no fascia covering the ends of the rafters.

Crown molding - Decorative moulding which flare out from a wall to a finished top edge

Cornice - An ornamental molding that projects along the side of a building, often a decorative development at the eave

Drip molding - This piece of trim is both decorative and functional. It is a small piece of wood that protrudes above a skirt board or banding board to stop water from running back into the building. The drip mold has a narrow saw cut underneath, which causes the water drops to fall to the ground before they touch the skirt board or band board, hence giving this board a longer life.

Casing - Casings are the trim around windows and doors both inside and outside the building. The style of casing is commensurate with and enhances the design of the cottage.

Hand crafted by Rob Borne from 130-year-old antique pine

Back banding - A raised piece of wood trim around the outside of trim which gives it dimension and shadowing

Sills - The bottom piece of the window trim

Belt Course or Banding - A band of trim running around a building at the level at which the first storey ends and the second storey begins Belt Course- a horizontal course of masonry that marks the division between floors or the raised course that helps divert rainwater.

Water table or Skirt Board (with drip mold) - A skirt board at the bottom edge of the exterior wall separates the siding from the foundation, with a small board on top that has a cut on the underneath, which causes water to drip off and not run down the wooden water table board. The water table or skirt board also has the decorative function of visually anchoring the building to the ground.

Brackets - These are a small, flat piece of wood or stone projecting from the wall to support a shelf, balcony, or roof.  Brackets under eaves or windows can be either functional or decorative.

Half columns are traditional to old Muskoka architecture

Columns - These are a slender upright post with a base at the bottom and a capital at the top, used as a support or as decoration in a building. Half columns are frequently used on porches.

Belvedere - This is a rooftop pavilion to enjoy a landscape view

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