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Old 04-03-2009, 11:25 AM
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Casing windows and doors

Looking for guidance from some of you finish carpenters.

I am building an apartment in the hayloft of a former dairy barn. I plan to use 4" square trim everywhere. We want a finished look, but one that is appropriate in a barn, if that makes sense. I plan to use butt joint casings at the windows and at a cased opening between the living and dining rooms, like the one shown at the bottom left of page 92 here:

I am having trouble figuring out what materials to use. In particular:

What size should the apron be? One carpenter suggested the same 1x4 stock as in the rest of the window casing. Another said that the width of the apron plus the thickness of the stool should equal the rest of the window casing.

Do I use regular 1x4 stock or 1x4 casing material?

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Old 04-03-2009, 01:16 PM
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Excellent article that is right up your alley from Fine Homebuilding.

Looks like you can register for a free trial to read the article if you don't want to buy the mag. But you can also find the mag at public libraries.

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Old 04-03-2009, 01:50 PM
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^^^Great article. Thank you.
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Old 04-03-2009, 02:47 PM
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1x4 around the windows is pretty typical-but often 5/4 is used for trim as its finished thickness is more like 1 1/8". The finished size of 1x is 3/4", which can get a bit 'thin' looking depending on the size of what you are casing.

For the opening between the two rooms, consider its size-
If it is a door opening without a door, I'd treat it like any other cased opening.
If it is on a wall with other cased door openings and is the same height then I'd case it with the same size trim.
If it is a wider/taller opening, I'd consider upping the width of the casing, as it is a 'special' item- but I'd do the same method of casing as the others.

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Old 04-03-2009, 04:51 PM
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FWIW, Article on Craftsman style looks like good information. Depending on where you are located, you should try to find a local mill. Size of material should be related to the size of the openings, whether window or door. 1x4 is the "nominal" size, it is actually only 3/4"X3 1/2", generally not "heavy" enough in appearance for a window of any size. Lumber yard pine, even #1, select, or "clear" is typically knotty as h*ll, twisted, cupped, generally a PITA to work with and for all your effort will produce a less than desirable result.
Here in the northeast most areas have a mill within a reasonable distance where you can buy truly clear & knot free, easy to work, poplar lumber, sized to your specs, for about the same or a bit less than the readily available homeowner crap.
Assuming that you are installing average sized double hung windows (32"X60" +/-), and given the context (barn) you will want to use a casing that is minimally a true 4" wide; or perhaps 4 1/2" wide. My thoughts would run to a 5/4 (full one inch thick) by (actual) 4 1/2" wide. Boost the door casings to 5" wide.

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Old 04-03-2009, 05:04 PM
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Good point about matching the casing to the opening. I have several different size openings - regular size doors, small double hungs, medium double hungs, wide double hungs (actually two double hungs next to each other), and a cased opening that's about 6 feet wide.

You think I should find something wider for the cased opening? There is a door and some windows in close proximity to the cased opening. Might it look odd to have different size casing on that opening than on the adjacent doors and windows?

EDIT: Following up on my83300cd's comment, the cased opening is the same height as the adjacent door, so I will probably trim them the same. Make sense?
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Old 04-03-2009, 05:12 PM
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I have used #1 pine 1X4 to case many, many doors and windows. I don't think it looks thin at all. As for knots, you will need to hand pick your lumber, there is no other way to get decent wood. I actually like to run the router down both edges with a 1/2" roundover bit, makes it look like real trim instead of a piece of 1X4 nailed to the wall. Typically I use 1X6 across the top.
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:04 AM
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We usually always used poplar for paint grade casing. It doesn't show grain lines under paint (like Doug Fir does) it's fairly stable (once painted) and is semi hard, almost like maple.

It has an unpleasant yellowish green color so has to be painted, no stain grade -- it's one of the less expensive hardwoods.

Clear pine is also good, doesn't show grain lines under paint, but clear pine can be spendy, almost as much as poplar, IIRC.

Any 1x4 will work pretty much, doesn't have to be specified as casing, though something with sharp corners would be good, IOW, no 1/8" quarter rounding on edges.

Reason for this, on the butt joint above, the top cut edge of the vertical will have a sharp front edge whereas the quarter rounded edge of the horizontal piece will sit back slightly from that edge. One way around that would be to use stock that's 1/8" or maybe 3/16ths thicker for the top piece. I've seen it done this way a few times. Makes life a little more complicated on your stock and tooling, that is, a planer comes in handy for that if all of your stock is 7/8 or 1", you plane it down thinner for the side pieces.

If you have un-rounded material, just touch the edges with sand-paper very lightly before assembling to get any loose burr off, assemble it, and then use a sanding block to slightly round the edges that are exposed. That will give you a nice smooth joint at the top butt joint.

One way around that, if you have stock with way rounded edges, is to use the rosette corner pieces also on that page you linked to. Those are pretty easy to use -- easier to get good results with those than with mitering. Has a sorta old school look -- I've used them on a couple of remodels to match the rest of the house. You cut each piece of casing about an eighth shorter than if you wanted the two corners of the casing to meet (as in their picture, I don't like it that way), twice that for the top piece, it meets two rosettes, after all. That allows the corner of the rosette block to protrude in slightly from the two casing pieces.

Home depot usually has rosettes available.

For the apron, I have a thing for making it slightly wider than the casing, about 20 % wider. This from having seen a house once with wide casing and a narrower apron. Looks really weak that way, sorta like a weak chin.


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Last edited by cmac2012; 04-04-2009 at 01:13 AM.
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