For the exterior entryways into your home, there are numerous different methods you can use to accent the door itself while also creating an inherently appealing display for best front-of-house design and curb appeal. Knowing the nomenclature for different types of door trim and other design elements for the front entrance into your home is a helpful jumping off point that will help you search for what you’re looking for more accurately.

The difference between trim, molding, transoms, and sidelites

In most instances, the word “trim” is used to refer to the type of casing that goes around the top and sides of a door while molding—or base molding—is usually added in the areas where exterior doors meet the floor. Molding can also refer to the casing at the apex of the door, and there are several different design types, including a variety of crown molding styles that are easy to find or design yourself.

Additionally, if you’re looking for extra wide trim that flanks either side of your front exterior door and that also contains sidelites (or panes of glass), then you are on the market for sidelites. And, if you are looking for extra wide trim for the area above your front exterior door that allows the sunshine in, what you want is called a transom, and these are available in both square and elliptical shapes for you to choose from. Both sidelites and transoms are available in a variety of styles and wood types from the ETO Doors online catalog.

The trim you want depends on door style: single, French, and double front exterior doors

Trim, casing, molding, sidelites, and transom installations don’t all work well for every single type of exterior door. For example, as a general rule, if you already have a very wide double exterior door installation, you would probably not want sidelites, and for very tall single or double exterior door installations, you would likely not want or need a transom. Likewise, if you have chosen a transom, you very likely would not choose a crown molding or a type of trim that is typically designed to go right above the top of an exterior door. And, if you have opted for a thicker trim around the perimeter of the door and won’t have much space along the sides of the door, you wouldn’t likely be considering sidelites.

For an imposing, wide front entryway, you may choose very tall double or French exterior doors along with thick trim and stark white crown molding—or, to better fit the design of the front of your house, you may instead choose a shorter but wider double door along with thin, matching trim and clear, square transoms above. In either case, the best way to choose will be based on the size of your exterior rough opening (unless you’re planning a pretty serious remodel) and the architecture of your home. Choose what works for your home’s exterior rather than trying to make your exterior match the trim and design of a new front exterior door. Regardless of what you choose, make sure to choose trim, molding, sidelites, and/or transoms that represent the design type you have always wanted for your home.