Exterior House Trim Terminology

By PropertyClub Team
Aug 28th 2023
Maintenance is one of the most important aspects of owning a home. Whether you plan on doing the work yourself or hiring a contractor, it helps to understand the terminology, features, and architectural elements you may encounter. Here are a few essential terms related to the exterior of a home.


Trim on a house refers to the materials that cover and enclose important features such as the windows and doors. Different types of trim are used for both decorative and functional purposes. Trim is typically made of wood, but it can sometimes be substituted for synthetic material or plaster.


A soffit is an architectural feature that protects the underside of another construction element – usually a rafter or an eave. On an exterior, soffit protects the underside of the roof overhang. However, it can serve an aesthetic and functional purpose, and it's available in different colors and designs and can add character to the exterior of your home.


Similar to the soffit, fascia on a home is a horizontal or angled board that protects and shapes the roof overhang. It's the flat board that runs along the lower roof edge, parallel to the home's surface and perpendicular to the soffit. The primary purpose of the fascia board is to keep water and moisture out and support the shingles, but it can also serve as a design element as well.

hash-markFrieze Board

A frieze board is a type of trim positioned between the soffit and the top of the home's siding. It covers the soffit and siding gap and keeps moisture from getting into the rafters or gables. Frieze boards are usually made out of wood but can also be made of vinyl or fiber cement.


Cladding refers to any covering attached to a home's exterior to protect it against the elements or make it look more appealing. Cladding can be made from wood, tiles, metal, fiber cement, or any other range of materials. But it's a non-loadbearing element and serves strictly as a skin or thermal layer to protect the exterior.


Siding is a type of cladding on the exterior of a building that protects the home from the elements. Although they are similar concepts, there are a few key distinctions: siding is applied directly to the wall, whereas cladding is applied indirectly using furring strips. Plus, siding is the main layer of protection for the home's exterior. It is typically made of metal, plastic, or composite material, whereas cladding is more of an added layer of protection.


A gable is a triangular portion of a wall where two intersecting roof pitches meet at a point. The term may be used as an adjective, as in a gabled roof, referring to a top with this type of traditional structure. It could also be used to refer to smaller gabled walls within the overall design of the exterior – as in the home has multiple gables.

hash-markHip Roof

A hip roof is a type of roof where the sides slope downward toward the peak (rather than intersecting at a point, like a gabled roof). Therefore, the roof has no vertical sides, and it resembles a pyramid when squared at the bottom. Many modern roofs feature multiple hips and gables to add character and complexity to the design.


Shutters are solid window coverings that protect the glass and regulate the sun or shade. They are made up of a frame of vertical bars and horizontal rails and come in various styles, including solid panels, wood, glass, or fabric. They may also be louvered, which means they contain moveable blades that can be rotated up and down to control the light.


An eave refers to the edge of the roof that extends past the edge of the wall on the side of the home. The purpose of an eave is to create an overhang so water and debris can run off without damaging the exterior. They also provide protection from the sun and ventilation for the attic. However, eaves also serve a decorative purpose to make the home more aesthetically pleasing.


A dormer is a small roofed structure that projects vertically out of a larger, slanted roof. They often contain a gable, window, and other exterior elements, giving them the appearance of a mini roof within a greater architectural design. Dormers are usually added for aesthetic reasons but also serve to create more space and add windows to the roof plane.

hash-markCornice Molding

Cornice Molding refers to the decorative features at the top of a building element, such as a wall, door, or window. Often used interchangeably with crown molding, cornice molding is found in both exterior and interior elements, whereas crown molding is traditionally found inside a home. Cornice molding is most commonly used as a design feature to give an exterior more character and sophistication, but it's also vital to protect buildings from bad weather.


Flashing is a thin layer of waterproof material that's used to prevent moisture from damaging essential elements of the home's construction. It's used in many important architectural elements, including chimneys, walls, windows, and door openings, to keep water from impacting the structural integrity. Flashing can either be exposed – which means it's visible and usually made of sheet metal – or it can be embedded – which means it's fully concealed and can be made of many different materials.


The rake of a roof is the exposed portion of a gabled roof that extends from an eave to the sloped sides of the ridge. The rake provides additional protection from potential leaks because it extends past the exterior wall. However, don't confuse it with a roof rake, which is a tool used to clear snow and debris from a roof.


A bracket is an architectural element that carries weight, often projecting from a wall. Brackets feature two perpendicular slabs with a flat or curved piece between them to provide additional support. Brackets are a functional element but can also be used as decoration; for example, Craftsman-style homes often use brackets for aesthetic purposes.


The apron refers to the decorative trim that sits against the wall and beneath the bottom portion of the window. Similar to crown molding, it helps accentuate the window's design. Although mostly decorative, it also shields the framework of the windows and hides the gap between the wall covering.

hash-markBox End

Box ends are the elements positioned at the gables, typically where the siding and roof line intersect. They connect the fascia and soffit to give the corners of the roofline a neat appearance and also seal the areas between the roof and siding.

hash-markHouse Trim Terminology FAQs

Rake Board vs. Fascia

Both a rake board and fascia refer to exterior trim around the roof. The primary difference is that rake boards run diagonally along the roof gables, whereas fascia runs horizontally along the rafters, gutters, and trusses. Although they're both important, Fascia is a bit more crucial for protecting the roof and siding.

Eaves vs. Fascia

Eaves and fascia also get mixed up often yet have key distinctions. Eaves refer to the lower edge of the roof that is made up of a fascia and soffit, whereas the fascia is the vertical board that runs along the end of the eave. So, the fascia is an integral part of the eave, but the terms are not interchangeable.

Soffit vs. Eaves

Similar to fascia, the soffit is an essential part of an eave but is a slightly different concept. The eave refers to the entire section of the room that overhangs past the wall. The soffit is just the underside of the eave.

Gable Trim vs. Rake Trim

Gable trim and rake trim are both terms used to refer to the metal flashing used along the edges of a roof at the gable (or rake) to finish the edges. They are both different terms used to refer to the same material.