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The Trouble With 'Trim'

To a lot of people everything on the exterior of a home that is not a shingle or a panel of siding is ‘trim’.  I won’t even say that that is not accurate, but it can and does create some confusion when we go out to investigate the problem in that it might turn out to be any number of things.  That’s why I thought I would write this entry to more accurately identify the various products on a home that are frequently described as ‘trim’.

As a challenge to myself I will attempt to write the rest of this entry without using the word ‘trim’.

Fascia: Fascia is a board (or other material) that covers the ends and sides of rafters under the edge of the roof (though on the angled gabled ends this will sometimes be referred to as ‘bargeboard’).  Gutters are installed on the fascia.

Soffit: The area under the eaves and gabled ends of the house, though the term is frequently used to describe the material used to enclose this area.  That material (usually wood, aluminum or vinyl) will often be vented to allow the intake of air into the attic space.

Box End: The area on the corner of a gabled end of a house that connects the fascia and encloses the soffit area.  This will sometimes be referred to as a ‘return’.  They can range from simple to extremely ornate.

The box end

J Channel: A curved channel implemented in vinyl and aluminum siding systems that is used to terminate the siding around doors and windows.  It can also be used in inside corners and/or where the siding meets the soffit or roof line.  It helps to create a weathertight seal and improves the appearance of the finished product.  The ends of the siding panels slide into the J channel.  

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F Channel:  Another curved channel used to install soffit.  F channel provides a receiving channel to hide the ends of the soffit panel.

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Drip Cap: A molding installed over an opening in the wall (a door or window) that helps shed or divert rain water.

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Outside Corner Posts:  A functional and decorative vertical piece that receives the ends of the panels of both sides of siding panel where they meet at an outside corner.

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Frieze Board: A decorative broad band installed horizontally on a wall, usually just under the soffit or roof line.

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Band Board: Sometimes called a ‘belly band’ this is a band of material installed horizontally lower down on the wall.  Usually it is decorative though it can be used to terminate the ends of vertical claddings.

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Brick Mold: This is cladding placed around windows and doors.  Despite its name it will be made from wood, metal, vinyl or other composite materials; it will never be made out of brick.

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Shutters: Traditionally, panels that are installed on either side of a window that are hinged and can be closed for security or privacy.  There are also shutters which are a purely a decorative item permanently fixed to either side of the window and serve no actual function.

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Gable Vents: Usually this will be an opening in the triangular portion at the top of a gabled wall covered by a decorative, louvered cover.  It is an alternate form of attic ventilation.  In many buildings the cover may be installed for purely ornamental purposes with no opening underneath and attic ventilation will be achieved through another means.

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Drip Edge/Gutter Apron: These are both metal flashings that are installed under the bottom edge of a slope of roofing material and along gabled edges.  There is a 90° bend and one end goes under the shingles, along the roof deck and the other goes down over the fascia to protect the vulnerable edge of the roof deck.  Generally there will be gutter apron installed along the eaves where gutters are present and drip edge on the rest of the building.

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Cornice: This is an ornamental moulding installed horizontally, usually at the top of a wall just under the soffit or roof line, sometimes referred to as crown molding.

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