Use this step-by-step picture and video window trim DIY tutorial to easily recreate a classic simple farmhouse look around a window with a few tools and basic lumber. What a change you can make for around $30!
One of the things I was disappointed about in our farmhouse fixer when I first saw it was that most of the original features had been removed. There was laminate flooring, narrow 1960s-type window moldings, hollow-core doors, and even metal trailer-park railing on the kitchen stairs (you can see all of this in the video tour here).
However, if there’s one thing I know of from remodeling two previous homes (see our ranch-to-cottage redo here), it’s that all these things can be easily changed. It’s the location that can’t. We fell in love with the property and views – and the cute exterior, of course!
Now our goal is to find ways to bring back the original character of the 1920s farmhouse. The home is a very simple style, a ‘T’ shape with a front porch and side porch that’s been enclosed. There’s no formal entry and the only stairway to the second floor is in the kitchen. So clean & simple is our guiding principle when adding features back.
We decided to start with the window trim in the open living-dining area:
These are big windows with lovely views, but they were hampered, in my opinion, with small mid-century style molding. I know the difference good trim can make in a house, adding character to any home, from builder-grade, to ranch, to remodeled older homes like this.
Luckily, we did have the original trim still intact on the upstairs windows to help guide us. I was so happy when I realized this!
Many farmhouse window trim tutorials you might see call for 1 x 4’s as the flat molding around the edges. Our large original windows had 5-1/4″ wide molding – these are substantial! The configuration of the sill, bottom and side moldings in the originals are in a classic style.
It’s really the top of the window trim that I debated about. And Brian was no help – he leaves all that up to me (which is a blessing and a curse…).
The original trim is very basic, with the side boards simply butting into the top board. I knew adding too many molding pieces to the top wouldn’t look right in this house, but after looking at many styles, I decided to add a 1×2 between the top and the side boards for these more ‘formal’ rooms downstairs.
I felt it would add just the right touch to make it look a bit more finished, but still clean and simple like the house itself.
Okay, so this was our thought process, now on to the how-to! You can watch the short video for an overview and then read all the details in the tutorial following.
First Steps for Any Window Trim DIY Project
No matter what type of window you’re redoing the trim on, the first step is always the same:
1. Remove the existing molding.
This is important to do first, even before buying your materials because of the next step:
2. Measure your window opening.
You’ll be able to get the most accurate measurement of your window after you remove the existing trim. Once you have this, you’ll know how much lumber to purchase.
Farmhouse Window Trim Tutorial
Supplies Needed for Farmhouse Window Trim DIY:
- Electric miter saw (easiest) or hand saw with a miter box (harder, but doable)
- Tape measure
- Small pry bar (for removing existing trim)
- Pneumatic nail gun and small air compressor (easiest) or regular finish nails to use with the hammer (harder)
- 3-IN-ONE 100% Pneumatic Tool Oil
- Lava Soap (gets all the grease and paint off after the project)
- Not pictured: electric jigsaw (easiest) or hand jigsaw (harder)
And of course, the wood! Here’s a visual to help you see what you’ll need and how it will come together:
- Four 1 x 6’s (which are actually 5-1/2″ so almost perfectly match the width of our original examples) in the length needed according to your measurements.
- One 1 x 4
- One 1 x 2
We bought 8-foot lengths for everything.
- Before using your pneumatic nail gun, you’ll want to prep it by adding a few drops of 3-IN-ONE 100% Pneumatic Tool Oil. This will dissolve gum and sludge while also removing calcium buildup and moisture for better performance and to help extend your tool’s life.
Okay, we’ve removed the molding, measured, bought our supplies, and oiled our nail gun. Let’s create a pretty farmhouse window!
Step 1: Create the sill.
This is the piece that is the trickiest of all the trim pieces – but it’s not that hard, which shows you just how easy this window trim DIY is!
- Measure from the outside of where the 1 x 6 will be on one side of the window to the outside of the other 1 x 6. TIP: to make this easier, we held up the 1 x 6 where we wanted it and marked the wall, then we measured from one pencil mark to the other.
- Cut the 1 x 4 to your measurement.
- Measure from the pencil mark to the inside of the window where the sill widens. Decide if you want this piece to be even with the 1 x 6’s or extend a bit. (This will usually match the upper vertical piece as well.) Ours extend about 1/4″ beyond the 1 x 6’s.
- Then measure the depth of the sill to the wall.
- Mark these measurements on each end of the 1 x 4 with a pencil, connecting the lines until you’ve made an L.
- Use the jigsaw to cut along the lines.
Step 2: Nail the sill.
- Slide the 1 x 4 against the window and make sure the cut-outs rest against the wall. Adjust as needed for a tight fit.
- Use the nail gun (or a hammer and finish nails) to attach the 1 x 4 to the window well securely.
Step 3: Attach the side pieces.
- Measure from the sill to the top of the window edge. TIP: get the measurements of both sides since sometimes old houses are a little wonky. There can sometimes be significant differences.
- Cut the 1 x 6 side pieces to the measurements.
- Attach to the sides with nails.
Step 4: Attach the top vertical 1 x 2.
- Measure from the top outside of one 1 x 6 to the other, adding any extra if using (like the 1/4″ we used).
- Cut the 1 x 2 to that measurement.
- Attach to the top of the 1 x 6’s with nails, narrow side out.
Step 5: Attach top and bottom pieces.
- Measure from the outside of one 1 x 6 to the other. Again, take both top and bottom measurements, in case the window isn’t square.
- Cut the top and bottom pieces to these measurements.
- Nail the 1 x 6’s into place.
Step 6: Caulk and paint (or stain).
- Choose the trim finish you’d like. We are caulking and painting to match the rest of the house.
Step 7: Clean up and call it a good day!
- Have you used Lava Soap after a DIY project? It has pumice embedded in the soap, making it like soap and a brush all in one and moisturizing ingredients that soften your hands. It worked so well in getting the grease and paint off our hands.
Oh, newly refurbished farmhouse window, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
- You look like you’ve been here all along.
- You were only $30 in materials.
- Yet you look like a million bucks.
- You only took a couple hours of our time, from pulling off the old to priming the new.
- You surprised us with your ease and the dramatic difference you made to the whole room.
- I just love looking at you.
Cheesy, but true! And now I can’t wait to do all the other windows on the main floor and see this farmhouse fixer slowly come back to life.
Thank you to 3-IN-ONE and Lava Soap for sponsoring this how-to – I hope you’re able to use these great DIY helpers in your next project!
You can also find a nearby store that carries Lava Soap on its website, and print off a money-saving coupon.
Disclosure: I received product and/or compensation for this post. As always, the opinions, thoughts, and projects are all mine and I will NEVER promote something I don’t love and think you will find helpful – promise! For more info, you can read AOC’s entire disclosure page here.
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