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7 Inspiring Architectural Exterior Millwork Designs

Multiple gabled roofline, featuring various exterior millwork trim styles

Exploring exterior millwork design variations opens the door to endless possibilities for architectural solutions with both longevity and aesthetics in mind. We’ve pulled together seven inspiring examples from the Belco perspective. Each design element plays a pivotal role in transforming outdoor spaces. Whether it’s the intricate beauty of balusters, the functional elegance of batten strips, or the robust presence of posts, columns, and beams, these designs bring both visual appeal and structural integrity to the table.

1. Balusters

Two story home with white trim, featuring columns, rails, and balusters

Balusters play a crucial role in enhancing the safety and aesthetics of railing systems. They are part of the balustrade along with the handrail. Balusters prevent potential accidents by securing the railing, and preventing small children and pets from slipping beneath. Beyond their safety function, balusters contribute to the polished appearance of railings. Builders can choose from various materials such as stone, ceramic, iron, vinyl, and wood when designing balusters to match the overall aesthetic of the structure. 

When selecting exterior millwork designs, aesthetics take precedence, with wood being a preferred option for its visual appeal and long-term performance. Wrought iron and stone, while suitable for commercial and high-end applications, may appear too formal for typical suburban homes. Vinyl, often chosen for its low maintenance, lacks the natural appearance of wood, featuring a glossy surface that reveals its plastic nature. Furthermore, the limited color options of vinyl, and the inability to be painted restrict its use and customization. In contrast, decorative wood balusters offer a myriad of style options, allowing for the creation of both plain and ornate designs that seamlessly complement various banisters and columns. The versatility of wood in design makes it a favored choice for those seeking diverse aesthetic possibilities for their exterior spaces.

2. Batten Strips

Row of custom homes featuring batten strips

Batten strips, also known as board and batten, are a versatile exterior millwork element. Additionally, they are experiencing a resurgence in popularity, reminiscent of their traditional use on cedar shake gables. In contemporary construction, they are employed on gable ends, and utilized extensively in modern farmhouse designs to add sophistication to simple panel siding. 

As builders seek cost-effective solutions without compromising quality or aesthetics, batten strips emerge as a budget-friendly option that makes a significant visual impact. They serve both decorative and functional purposes, covering seams between siding panels to prevent water damage. Among material choices, Belco’s Preservative Treated XT®Trim stands out, providing a durable, low-maintenance solution with a 20-year warranty against decay, making it the top choice for batten trim. Whether opting for real wood like cedar or exploring non-wood materials like fiber cement or OSB, the decision hinges on factors such as cost, maintenance, and aesthetic preferences.

3. Posts, Columns, & Beams

Single story home, featuring white glulam columns

Prioritizing the construction of robust, durable, and visually appealing structures has led to the increasing popularity of engineered wood products, specifically glulam (glued laminated timber). Renowned for its versatility and remarkable load-bearing capabilities, glulam is combined in construction projects, such as timber-frame pavilions, where glulam columns provide vertical support for the roof, and beams create a lattice-like structure. This ensures both lateral support and an attractive design. This adaptable material extends beyond straight spans, allowing for curved and pitched applications, providing builders with beautiful design freedom. Belco Forest Products’ XT Post line offers a notable glulam wood solution; fully laminated, preservative-treated, primed, and ready for exterior installation on porches, decks, balusters, and newels. Glulam components play a vital role in exterior millwork designs, offering strength, stability, and eco-friendliness for creating impressive architectural statements that balance functionality with aesthetics.

4. Exterior Wood Accents/Porch Accents

Natural wood porch ceiling, featuring tongue and groove accents

There are endless ways to transform exterior spaces with the timeless beauty of wood accents using versatile exterior millwork. Craft striking focal points using wood accent walls, infusing warmth and texture into outdoor areas. Elevate the charm of porch ceilings with the smooth face and polished look of tongue and groove lumber, creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Extend the allure to garden structures like pergolas, arbors, or trellises, where the natural beauty of wood seamlessly blends with the surrounding greenery. The enduring appeal of high contrast elements using preservative treated and prime coated products with texture ensures longevity and architecturally inspired spaces. From traditional and coastal elevations, to a more modern vertical approach, creating curb appeal is an artistic piece of the puzzle when designing beautiful structures with polished allure.

5. Gable and Rake Trim

Gable of a home, featuring white gable and rake trim

Rake trim, often overlooked, plays a vital role in exterior millwork design, covering the soffit board nails on gables. This trim, following the gable angle, can be oversized for emphasis, with distinctive sizes preferred in different regions. Fiber cement and OSB are impractical due to brittleness and vulnerability to water swelling, making primed white wood and cedar the two optimal choices.

Cedar stands out as an excellent option for rake trim, being decay-resistant and stable, though it is also more costly. Primed white wood, a budget-friendly alternative, offers durability, easy shipping, and paint adherence. For superior protection and stability in small sizes, Belco XT Trim is a beautiful choice, boasting a 20-year warranty and a eco-friendly wood preservative treatment process for added durability and longevity.

6. Belly Band

Two story home featuring belly band trim style

Belly band trim can be a “make or break” appearance choice influencing the overall appearance of a home, providing visual separation between surface materials. Found in gables and larger homes, belly bands shine when accentuating different material thicknesses, with their thicker profile unifying disparate boards. In terms of materials, real wood options like primed white wood and cedar are popular choices. It offers a lightweight, easy-to-install, and durable solution. Cedar, while naturally decay-resistant and visually appealing, presents challenges due to its high cost and limited availability. Non-wood options such as fiber cement and OSB have their drawbacks, with fiber cement’s weight and size limitations and OSB’s vulnerability to water damage.

Engineered wood trims like OSB provide a lighter alternative, but their susceptibility to water damage at the ends poses potential issues. While OSB offers some advantages, such as longer lengths, its vulnerability to swelling and potential water intrusion make it less appealing as well. You guessed it! Belco XT Trim stands out as a superior option for belly bands, ensuring durability and long-lasting performance due to their innovative preservative and prime treatment manufacturing process.

7. Barge Board

Simple gable roofline, featuring barge board trim style

Barge board, though somewhat overshadowed by modern roofing trends, remains a relevant element in exterior millwork design, providing structural support and architectural flair to gables. Placed at the outer edge of the roof, the barge board ties roof stringers together, contributing to the overall aesthetic appeal of classic craftsman homes. For optimal performance, this exterior trim must withstand wet conditions, offering both structural value and design enhancement.

Several options are available, each with its pros and cons. Real wood, including cedar and primed white wood (PWW), is a lightweight, versatile choice. Belco XT Trim, addresses decay concerns with a preservative treatment, providing durability and a 20-year warranty. Non-wood alternatives like fiber cement and Oriented Strand Board (OSB) offer stability but come with drawbacks such as weight and limited lengths. While fiber cement requires sub-fascia framing, OSB’s vulnerability to water damage, severe swelling, and aesthetic issues make it less ideal for regions with average rainfall. Choosing the right material, with a focus on preservative-treated white wood, ensures a durable and visually appealing barge board for any exterior design.

Choosing the Best Exterior Millwork Materials: The Belco Difference

It is evident that the creative possibilities are limitless when it comes to inspiring design using exterior millwork. Meticulous craftsmanship and a thoughtful approach to each element contribute not only to the aesthetic appeal but also to the structural integrity of outdoor spaces. 

At Belco, we constantly innovate and elevate to manufacture beautiful wood trim, fascia, and glulam products without sacrificing the longevity builders and homeowners deserve. Thanks to our one of a kind preservative and prime treatment process, we only offer products that balance visual allure with long-lasting performance. Whether it’s the enduring charm of wood accents, the understated elegance of gable and rake trim, or the structural and visual significance of posts, columns, and beams, Belco has the exterior millwork design blueprint for creating architecturally inspired spaces. 

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Preservative treated, primed, and available with a combed, brushed, resawn, or smooth face. The real beauty of your home comes to life through a well made trim package.

Preservative treated, primed, and available with a combed or smooth face. These glulam columns are strong, beautiful, and enhance any exterior design. 

Belco XT®-T&G is graded smooth face with edge vees on all four edges and a textured ungraded back.

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