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Hey, you're in the home improvement zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!

Windows and Components Category

Improvement Project:

How to install window trim.

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):

  • Casing/trim

  • Carpenter's framing square

  • Carpenter's torpedo level / small level

  • Shims

  • Wooden miter saw box and handsaw

  • Power miter saw

  • Hammer

  • Trim finish nails

  • Coarse sandpaper

  • Caulking gun

  • White caulking tube

  • Drywall compound

  • Flexible joint knife

  • Tape measure

  • Pencil

  • Paper



With installing a window and its frame comes installing the complementary window trim.  Window trim helps define the window and give it a finishing look.  While there are various types of window trim that you may choose from, to avoid having to devote time to sketching and planning out complicated designs, what is focused on here is simple mitered casing/trim, which is fairly popular.

Caution: When dealing with sharp objects, such as a saw, make sure you take precautions; read all product manufacturer instructions.

Installing window trim can be done in a few steps, and here's how:

  1. Ensure that the window frame sides are level, first and foremost, using a small carpenter's level; if not, add or otherwise adjust the shims between the sides and the structural opening of the house to which the frame is attached.

  2. Ensure that the left and right window frame sides are each square to the head window frame side, using a carpenter's framing square by placing it against such sides, side by side (i.e., left to head sides and then right to head sides), to accomplish such a task; if not, add or otherwise adjust the shims between the window sides and the structural opening of the window to which the frame is attached.

  3. With a tape measure, measure the length of the left, right and top window frame sides, and write these respective measurements down with a pencil on a sheet of paper.  Having the side trim placed against the one of the window frame sides, determine the extent of what the reveal will be; mark the reveal of each window frame side in two spots along its length.

  4. Cut the side trims to the determined written-down measurements of the left, right and top window frame sides, and, at the same time, in consideration of the reveal points, also make the necessary 45-degree cuts of the top ends of the left and right trim sides and at both ends of the top side trim with the use of a wooden miter saw box and handsaw--all so that these side trims will ultimately join, when finished, in conformity as perfect corners at the very top of the trim scheme.  (For cutting angle cuts of the trim for more than one window, you might consider buying a power miter saw, as with practice, it efficiently enables one to make professional cuts in no time.)

  5. As may be needed, use coarse sandpaper to sand away any rough, uneven parts of the trim sides just previously cut to size.

  6. Now, with the use of a hammer and trim finish nails, go ahead and tack the trim sides together around the window frame, starting with the left and right trim sides and then the top trim side, so that, as previously noted, these side trims join in conformity to make perfect corners at the very top of the trim scheme.  (The trim sides should be flush against the window frame sides.)  The trim finish nails should be hammered in below the surface of every trim side about every six inches apart.

  7. With a caulking gun, cocked with a caulking tube of white caulking, fill in the crevices/gaps found between the trim sides and the walls, and use some drywall compound with a joint knife to cover up the nails and nail impressions so as to become flush with the surface of the trim sides.

That's how to install window trim.  When you're ready, you can paint the trim and the surrounding area.

Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


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