Future Trends for Multifamily Housing Exteriors

Moisture management and architectural trim and reveal options
Sponsored by TAMLYN
By Kathy Price-Robinson
1 AIA LU/Elective; 1 AIBD P-CE; 0.1 IACET CEU*; AAA 1 Structured Learning Hour; AANB 1 Hour of Core Learning; AAPEI 1 Structured Learning Hour; This course can be self-reported to the AIBC, as per their CE Guidelines.; MAA 1 Structured Learning Hour; NLAA 1 Hour of Core Learning; NSAA 1 Hour of Core Learning; NWTAA 1 Structured Learning Hour; OAA 1 Learning Hour; SAA 1 Hour of Core Learning

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe how the increased emphasis on tightening buildings has magnified the importance of moisture management, which has led to an increase in the use of drainable weather-resistive barriers (WRBs) and new steps in the creation of rainscreens.
  2. Identify standards for rainscreens, and explain how these moisture management strategies create new options for the designers to consider innovative reveals and metal trim in multifamily housing units.
  3. Discuss how reveals and metal trim give new refinement and detail to common and traditional siding materials, such as wood, lap sidings, composites, and others.
  4. Describe new shapes and finishes for metal trims and reveals, and how these add interest to exteriors.

This course is part of the Multifamily Housing Academy

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Working with Manufacturers

In an ideal world, the manufacturer of water management systems and/or architecturally interesting trim and reveal pieces will have the staff and resources available to help design the building envelope for ultimate form and function. When a manufacturer has thousands of design and color options, this allows architects and users to dramatically improve their building aesthetics and create modern architectural lines preferred by millennials and others in today’s market. But without knowledgeable assistance, specifying the best products or combination of products can be a daunting task.

A manufacturer may have its own team of architects in-house to aid and assist the process of selecting and assuring the correct profile for the specific application or desired aesthetic effect. Depending on the size and flexibility of the manufacturer, it may also have the ability and materials to provide appropriate non-extruded fabrication from sheet stock of almost any shape or profile that may be needed on a project.

For best results, an architect should rely heavily on the knowledge and expertise of the manufacturer chosen for the project.


There is growing recognition among building scientists and codes that walls need to drain, and, going forward, housewraps will increasingly be judged by how effectively they provide positive drainage of water from the wall. Specifying a drainable housewrap provides an extra insurance that moisture that finds its way behind the cladding can easily find its way out.

At the same time, sophisticated products and processes that create a wall assembly increasingly capable of drying out and preventing moisture damage to the envelope and building open the door to new types of trim and reveals that can be considered for multifamily housing projects. New profiles of extruded aluminum trim products have made it possible to aesthetically trim almost any type of siding panel or plank product with a wide range of depth options. And they may be available in choices of primed, clear anodized, specialty anodized, or color matched to satisfy whatever the project requires.

With a superior drainage plane and aesthetically dynamic trim and reveal products, multifamily housing projects can achieve the ultimate dream of architects, designers, and specifiers: a perfect blend of form and function.

Kathy Price-Robinson writes about building and design. Her remodeling series “Pardon Our Dust” ran 12 years in the Los Angeles Times. She specializes in writing about buildings that are durable and resilient to climate disruptions, as well as products and designs that provide shade in hot climates. www.kathyprice.com

End Notes

1Growth in Urban Population Outpaces Rest of Nation, Census Bureau Reports.” Newsroom. United States Census Bureau. 28 March 2012. Web. 7 April 2019.

2Dure, Beau. “Millennials Continue Urbanization of America, Leaving Small Towns.” National Public Radio. 21 October 2014. Web. 7 April 2019.

3Pack, Andrew A. “Increasing Density: A Small-Town Approach to New Urbanism.” Bridges. Fall 2013. Web. 7 April 2019.

4CityScape at Belmar.” Studio Completiva. Web. 7 April 2019.

5Ryman Lofts.” Smith Gee Studio. Web. 7 April 2019.

617 Walnut.” Studio Architecture. Web. 7 April 2019.

7Cortona at Forest Park.” Humphreys & Partners Architects. Web. 7 April 2019.

8Syracuse Plaza and Goldsmith Village.” Milender White. Web. 7 April 2019.

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Originally published in Architectural Record.