Exterior Trim, Molding and Columns

Create curb appeal with these handy touches that add character to your home.
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Photo by: Ply Gem

Ply Gem

By: Jeannie Matteucci

Sometimes the exterior of your home needs that finishing touch to make it look complete. Decorative trim, molding and columns are three design tools you can use to reach this goal.

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Dress Up Your Home With Trim and Molding

Adding molding and trim to the exterior of your home is like wearing a great pair of earrings or the perfect pair of shoes: It can create harmony and add a nice touch of elegance.

"Exterior trim and molding can bring an old house back to life and bring an under-featured house, regardless of age, to a newfound sense of vibrancy," says licensed general contractor Mark Clement, host of the MyFixItUpLife radio show.

There are many types of decorative exterior molding and trim you can use, including gingerbread trim, dentil molding, brackets or a gable pediment. Choose trim that complements the architectural look and style of your house. For example, exterior crown molding and a pediment used over a front door flanked by columns or pilasters create a cohesive and attractive entry for a classic, formal-style home.

"My best suggestion for someone who wants to add detail to the exterior of their house is go on the Internet and look at homes in your style for ideas," says Jeffrey L. Davis, founder and owner of Chadsworth Incorporated. "You want to keep the details consistent with the style of your house."

Once only available in wood, molding and trim products now come in synthetic materials (including composites and cellular PVC) that are lightweight, long-lasting, require less maintenance, and easy to shape, mold or cut using standard woodworking tools. The installation process and price depend on the type of molding or trim you choose. For example, you can pay less than $5 a foot for dentil molding in a synthetic material, or pay $30 a foot for molding with an intricate design. Replacing exterior wood trim can cost around $5 to $12 per square foot, while replacing exterior brick trim can cost $15 to $20 per square foot. Costs vary by material and sizing.

Something as simple as choosing a screen door with decorative trim can have an impact on the look of your house and require no additional installation. Consider your budget, the time you want to spend on the project and any upkeep the material might require when deciding on the right molding and trim for your home.

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Add Columns for an Architectural Boost

Exterior columns are sometimes load-bearing or purely decorative. They add detail to a porch, portico or veranda and can make your entry a defined destination. There are different shapes and styles of plain and fluted columns that reinforce or enhance specific architectural styles, everything from historically accurate elegant Ionic and textured Corinthian columns to the thick and tapered square columns that are a trademark of Craftsman homes.

"Proportion is very important with columns," says Davis. "You want to think about it ahead of time. We've all seen columns that are too skinny for a porch."

Columns on stone-faced pedestals are a nice option for a rustic-style home. You can even space columns far apart to make a tight entry feel more gracious and inviting, or use columns in pairs to visually establish a rhythm on a porch.

Columns come in a variety of materials, from traditional wood to composites, and range in price from around $100 to $5,000. Prices depend on the design and material as well as the bottom diameter and height of the column.

"If cost is an issue, stay with something in a simple design," says Davis. "If you add an ornate cap or other detail, you're going to pay more."

Columns made from composite materials are a popular option because they stand up to the elements and can be cut to length. Many carry a lifetime warranty, but always check with the manufacturer.

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