The wood trim, the doors and windows, and the built-in furniture of the small house can make or mar its appearance more than any other one factor. Indeed, in no other form of architecture is the study of these details more important, and yet in no other type of building is the limitation of cost more exactingly imposed upon the architectural treatment of the trim.
By the very economy demanded in the small house, the architect must make the mouldings of his casing in the simplest possible forms. The trim around doors and windows on the exterior and interior can boast of no special mouldings. In fact the selection must be made from stock material or else the cost will be too great. Most planing mills have standard types of trim, but generally they are very badly designed. However, one cannot go wrong in using a plain board casing 3/4 inch by 3 5/8 inches, which has slightly rounded corners. The tops of doors and windows which have this simple casing should be capped with a fillet 7/16 inch, a head casing 3/4 inch by 5 inches, and a cap mould 1 1/8 inches by 2 inches. This eliminates the mitred corner, which is of such doubtful value in cheap work, since most wood trim is not properly seasoned and will quickly open all mitred joints. To match this simple trim the window apron should be a plain board 3/4 inch by 3 5/8 inches, and the stool 1 1/8 inches by 3 5/8 inches. A plinth block at the base of the door trim in size 1 1/8 inches by 3 3/4 inches by 7 1/4 inches will match up with a plain base-board, 3/4 inch by 7 1/4 inches, or one of similar size, with a cyma recta moulding on top.
The kind of stock trim which some mills continue to keep on hand.
If the local mill from which the trim is purchased has stock mouldings of pleasing design, the architect may safely specify them, but he should not make the economic mistake of demanding specially designed casing from full-size details of his own. The small house cannot stand this additional cost.
In selecting the trim, it is always important to bear in mind that it must harmonize with the walls and have no obtrusive appearance, since it acts with the walls as a background for the furniture. In Colonial work the painting of the trim white, pearl-gray, or cream is always the most pleasing, and so the architect should select a wood which will best take the paint. White wood and white pine are ideal for this purpose. Gum wood is good, but there is always the chance that it will not hold its place and twist. Yellow pine is difficult to paint well, since the hard summer wood has a tendency to stand out beyond the softer spring wood, making the surface irregular; but this difficulty can be overcome if a number of priming coats are used to fill in the grain before the enamel is applied. It is a mistake to finish the painted trim with a glossy enamel, for this will destroy its quietness and background effect. A matt surface of paint or an egg-shell enamel finish is better.
A good Stock Tnm From "Curtis Co".
Any Mill will have the above in stock.
This same principle should be followed in selecting and treating the hardwood casing which is not to be painted. The trim should never be finished with a bright, glossy varnish and stain, for nothing is more ugly in its final effect. Treat the hardwood trim, such as oak, chestnut, ash, and the like, with an oil stain; rub in a filler, stained slightly darker, and then shellac. Over this apply a wax finish, and rub this down with a shoe brush. Varnish manufacturers make grades of varnish which give the dull effect of wax, and these can be used, if desired; but why? Many prefer to even omit the shellac and depend entirely upon the wax for the gloss.
When trim is delivered to the job, it should not be stored in a damp place nor fitted in place before the plaster is entirely dry. In fact, in order to protect the trim from losing its shape, as soon as it comes on the job a priming coat, or filler, should be applied to it, and the ends and back painted with whitelead and oil. It will be noticed that all well-designed trim has a gouged-out space at the back to permit circulation of air around it, and also to make it easier to fit against a flat surface of plaster.
Mouldings for the trim of exterior cornices, string-courses, and the like are often specially designed by architects for the small house, but it is a much better plan to use stock mouldings, selecting them to approximate the design that is desired. Through the efforts of many concerns the market affords many well-designed stock patterns of mouldings for exterior purposes. The idea is sound, and makes possible a great variety of designs through the standardization of parts, but at the same time cutting down the cost.
Likewise the standardization of doors and windows is another economic aid for the small house.
As a rule, all exterior doors should be at least 1 3/4 inches thick, and of white pine, painted. The veneered door is not a very satisfactory type for outside use, unless, perhaps, it is protected by the porch, for even with the best waterproof glue there is a considerable tendency on the part of the veneer to break away from the soft pine core. Some consider that the 1 3/8-inch-thick door is satisfactory for exterior doors in the small house, but, generally speaking, it is best to use this thickness only for interior doors.