Detailed Exteriors

The downturn in the housing market is causing an upswing in at least one area of remodeling right now — exterior trim. With more Americans playing it safe by investing in their current homes, low-maintenance exterior trim is gaining ground while homeowners also look to increase the curb appeal of their home in more creative ways.

“What we’ve seen happening in the trim market is not only is it growing and consumers are starting to think about trim, but they want to make sure it is long-lasting,” says Kristen Baer, channel marketing manager for AZEK. “I think consumers are thinking more creatively and want a grander look on their home. With the current economy, homeowners are staying put and doing the things to their home to enhance the look that they might not have bothered with even five years ago.”

There’s a huge future for exterior trim products and it’s growing exceptionally. Consumers are actually thinking about trim when they’re thinking about their home. Whether it’s on a home, enhancing a deck or creating an outdoor kitchen, trim boards are being used in more creative fashions. Homeowners are much more aware of what is out there and their demands are increasing about the look that they want. With this push from consumers, new products are emerging all the time, such as thicker profiles, more mouldings and more milled products.

Low-maintenance demands

“I think low maintenance is driving trim,” says Rick Kapres, vice president of sales for Versatex. “I think people want to get away from maintenance. They want products that are long-lasting and are built to last. The contractor is in favor of a low-maintenance product as well because they don’t have callbacks or issues in the field. With many of the low-maintenance products, they are easy to install with the same tools and fasteners.”

Kapres also feels that the reason there has been an uptick in things like gingerbread homes and decorative esthetics on the exteriors of homes is because of low-maintenance products lending themselves to all of these things that a homeowner can do to beautify their home. Better still for the homeowner is that a low-maintenance product will last much longer than a wood product.

“When putting up trim, it’s important to ask the consumer what they really want and generally that is low maintenance,” adds Baer. “Like the fact that you don’t have to paint it, but if you choose to paint it, it will hold up very well for up to 25 years; that can be enticing to a homeowner.”

It’s important to know all there is about low-maintenance products in order to educate the consumer, because the homeowner might not know they can get a product that is long-lasting, low-maintenance and available in several architectural styles. This will give a company a real opportunity to up sell a job and create a more polished product for the homeowner.

The trend of layering

Today’s trend is also toward a grander ornate look on the front of the home. In the past people probably shied away from more trim on the home because of the maintenance, but with a low-maintenance product they can use more of it, which includes the use of layering.

“Trims are becoming more elaborate in our field, which is cellular PVC mouldings,” explains John Pace, president and COO of Versatex. “You can add different crowns, caps and bases to trim boards to really dress up column wraps. Mouldings ares being used more and more on the exterior to dress up what is maybe seen as just a plain-Jane trim board.”

PVC and low-maintenance products are growing tremendously and consumers want to be more creative. Thinking outside the box for the look of their home’s trim has lent itself to larger or ornate sills, gingerbread home entryways and the comeback of decorative front porches. With all the different exterior mouldings available now from manufacturers, two to three layers of mouldings are being applied to trim boards to create more complex looks.

“We have 16 profiles of mouldings that match our trim,” says Baer. “I think it greatly improves a project to have mouldings and trim that match, making it easier to layer. You can be more creative in the design and building, such as gingerbread layering or giving entryways that grander look in older neighborhoods. As remodelers are taking wood off of some of these old historic houses, they are able to match the trim perfectly.”

Down the road

“Green is the future of all products, whether it’s building products or otherwise,” says Pace. “I think green is here to stay because it’s not only the focus of the consumer, but also the manufacturer. For instance, not only do we use all of our recycled material scrap that we generate during manufacturing, but we’ve also been able to buy scrap PVC and reintroduce it into the process.”

One thing that is also giving alternative trim products a better perception in terms of green is the product’s longevity. It’s not going to be replaced nearly as often; it’s not going to fail in the field; and it doesn’t require constant painting. Plus, contractors can set up a bin at a site to collect the scraps and send it back to manufacturers to be used in future production.

“We’re not going back,” says Kapres. “Once people try a product like cellular PVC instead of wood, they see the value in the product. They more than get their money back when they have no maintenance or repair issues and the contractor has no callback. A home will look as good in 10 years as the day that a remodeler put the trim up. We’re in a shift like the shift we’ve seen with wood decking to composites, and in siding, away from wood. They might be a little more expensive, but there is a real value there.”

Way out into the future Versatex has even explored the idea of using nanotechnology in trim products to the extent that trim might one day exude moisture to help put out a fire or morph into different colors. Sometime in the future, as weather climates change, a homeowner may be able to change the trim color on their home at the push of a button.

Exterior Trim Companies

Here is a brief list of companies supplying exterior trim products. These companies offer products like fiber cement, composites and cellular PVC trim boards and mouldings.

Use the E-Inquiry for more information on the following suppliers:

  • Versatex Please indicate #76 in E-Inquiry
  • AZEK Please indicate #77 in E-Inquiry
  • CertainTeed Please indicate #78 in E-Inquiry
  • KOMA Trimboards Please indicate #79 in E-Inquiry
  • James Hardie Please indicate #80 in E-Inquiry
  • Nichiha Please indicate #81 in E-Inquiry
  • MiraTEC Please indicate #82 in E-Inquiry
  • TechTrim Please indicate #83 in E-Inquiry
  • Gossen Please indicate #84 in E-Inquiry
  • Kleer Trimboard Please indicate #85 in E-Inquiry
  • Royal Building Products Please indicate #86 in E-Inquiry
  • Berger Building Products Please indicate #100 in E-Inquiry
  • Windsor Mill Please indicate #101 in E-Inquiry