Recreating historic window trim

Part of the charm of our run-down old 1937 farm house is in its exterior details. As we replace old windows with new windows, we have been very careful to match the original look with the new look. Our focus on the details extends to the original window trim.

On Monday the window that Lee installed back in February had its trim installed. We hired out this work because Lee hates ladders.

We used SPF [Spruce Pine Fir] engineered wood for the trim, as it is extremely stable and comes pre-finished. The window trim was actually assembled on the ground using pocket screws and then fastened into place after all the shingle siding was cut back sufficiently. The missing cedar shingle siding was then restored under the window.

Most of the new trim has the exact same dimensions as the original. The large butt-jointed boards on the sides and top are wrapped in a casing to create a reveal effect. The sill trim had to change slightly, as the original wood windows had an integrated sill that extended back under the sashes. Our new aluminum-clad windows have their own sill, so the trim adds a surface-applied “sill” made of 2×4 SPF with a beveled top surface. This sheds water and mirrors the sloped sill of the originals. We’ve decided that the new sill extends out a little too far, so Lee is going to plane it down a half inch or so before we primer everything.

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4 Responses to Recreating historic window trim

  1. Ali says:

    It looks good. We replaced some windows last summer and with custom made Anderson windows which poppoed in from the inside of the house, allowing us to keep the exterior trim. I hate it when the exterior trim doesn’t match — like at my house in one of the later additions. Someday….

    Great explanation of your strategy for air exchange, BTW. Oh and Lee, you might want to look into a ladder stabilizer. I’m not a ladder fan myself and the stabilizer makes a big difference.

  2. Leigh says:

    Good job to recreate the original. I envy you getting new windows, ours need replacing but they’re still pretty far down on the to-do list.

  3. Lynn says:

    Looks great! The new trim looks just like the old. But I agree, I think the sill extends out a little too far. Your place is really coming along nicely! Wish I could say the same…

  4. lee says:

    Ali – Yes, you can see the badly done replacement trim on the small bathroom window in the picture above. Two windows on our house were replaced somewhere during its life, both with cheap aluminum sliders, and both with narrow picture-frame trim. I’ll look into that stabilizer. It seems like it would make me a lot happier on a ladder, although I don’t know if it will attach to the 28′ extension ladder I have. My brother works on ladders, so I’m fortunate enough to have a fancy one with hooks, V-rung, and self-leveling feet. No stabilizer though.

    Leigh – Thanks. It’s one window at a time and I’m not looking forward to the next one, another second story 3′ x 5′ monster.

    Lynn – Thanks for the confirmation on the trim. The dormer has the same trim style, but I think we made the sill shorter there. I couldn’t check it when we were working on the bedroom though, because somebody put the screen in from the outside. Oops.

    You guys have made a lot of progress too. It all feels a lot slower when you’re living in the mess!

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