Trim It Up

As Americans tighten their belts in a sagging economy, adding new trim is an ideal enhancement when looking for a cost-effective change that increases curb appeal. One of the biggest benefits of exterior trim is the exquisite detail it offers a home, as it functions as the finishing touch that personalizes and adds style. And technological advances promise products that are green, easy to work with and will stand the test of time.

“In any geographic area, a remodeling business’s reputation can make or break a company especially in competitive times like these,” says Ralph Bruno, president of Azek Building Products. “Trends are driven by a need to increase margins while satisfying customers and eliminating callbacks. In addition, time/labor savings is more of a sensitive issue than ever before for remodelers”

To address these trend-drivers, Azek creates products that resist moisture and insects, and will not rot, warp or decay. The mouldings are ready to install, while traditional Azek trim products can be custom-milled, routed, turned on a lathe, and heat-formed. Azek mouldings are available in 15 profiles replicating traditional moulding styles. The moulding profiles include crown, rams crown, historic sill, base cap, back band, bed mould, brick mould and quarter round. The benefits of the new mouldings include the elimination of milling costs and the need for painting (although they can be painted).

“Customers are looking for materials that make their installations easy, then survive weather events better than conventional building materials,” says Bob Simon, executive vice president Gossen Corporation.

Gossen has produced cellular PVC moulding since 1968. The company recently expanded its offerings with the WeatherReady exterior line of PVC, beginning with deckboard and broadening into associated products. The WeatherReady line includes trimboards and more than 200 moulding profiles, with a railing line available later this year.

CleanEdge — a proprietary method for sealing all four edges of the solid-core, cellular PVC deck boards — protects WeatherReady decking.

The new PVC Stealth Skirt Board from Versatex is a 5/4-in. thick plank featuring an angled top ridge for the first course of fiber cement or composite siding to rest upon. This tapered edge also allows water to run off and, because it is made from low-maintenance PVC, it can come into direct contact with the ground or masonry with no issues. The Versatex PVC Stealth Bead Board features an extended nailing flange to allow for a true hidden fastening system for porch ceilings and high, hard-to-reach soffit areas. The new plank is a tongue-and-groove design with a kicker. Instead of having to nail through a typical small tongue, the installer now has a wider 1/2-in. surface to nail through.

Berger trimboards are flat, rigid, extruded boards cut from solid foamed PVC sheets. They can be used for both interior and exterior applications. Berger trimboards look like wood but don’t react like wood. Unaffected by sun, moisture, temperature changes and termites or insects, this durable decorative trim won’t split, crack, warp or rot. Berger stands behind its trimboards product line with a 25-year warranty. The product is crafted of a nontoxic material and offers high chemical and humidity resistance.

Kleer trimboards are rigid cellular, white PVC, developed with a small-cell microstructure and with a density similar to white pine. Kleer has a unique and unparalleled range of physical properties, with a texture and uniformity. Kleer looks and feels like wood, while addressing most of the common problems associated with exterior applications of wood. The product offers an array of weatherability features including resistance to moisture, rot, mildew, cupping, splitting, delamination and warping.

It also is resistant to all insects, including termites and carpenter ants. The product can be applied with no adverse effects in areas where it will make direct contact with masonry, concrete, ground or other potentially wet surfaces. Kleer is highly recommended for use in areas of high humidity or salt and fresh water environments.

Using co-extrusion technology, Royal Wood composite trim boards promise the look of wood without the drawbacks.

Royal Wood is smooth and free of surface defects and is as easy to work with as wood. It can be cut, profiled, drilled, fastened, glued or nailed and is installed like conventional wood trim. Royal Wood products never need painting and are reversible — one side wood grain texture, one side smooth. Ideal for fascia, frieze, corners, rakes, band boards, water tables, soffits and window and door trim, Royal Wood trim boards come with a limited lifetime warranty against performance defects, and a 15-year warranty against significant color change.

Developing Business Through Differentiation

“Value selling the customer takes a little work, but if Contractor A can make identical home models look entirely unique using varying width boards and applying mouldings, they can differentiate themselves from Contractor B, who sticks to the status quo casings and fascia,” says Patrick Shabal, national sales and marketing manager for Koma Trim Products. “It is important to point out that labor is a greater component per installed linear foot on elegant trim installations, and at present the price of the best wood product (cedar) has permitted a direct switch and a savings in some markets.”

The Allure Collection from Koma is a line of extruded mouldings that are intended to complement the company’s existing line of products while providing jobsite flexibility and versatility. Each Allure profile is produced with the same Celuka technology as Koma’s trim boards. Koma’s specialty mouldings are backband-style profiles that clip over the edge of flat trim boards and sheet. With three or four of these mouldings at a jobsite, a contractor can achieve a multitude of combinations of trim styles, as well as use these same mouldings as interior or exterior frame and cap details on pediment and panel work.

“More trim is being used per home as builders seek to differentiate one home from another,” says Bob Merrill, CEO of CMI. “Decorative, machined trim and millwork are growing in footage per house as consumers seek a more personal look to their homes. As the McMansions give way to smaller, more efficiently planned homes, a desire for better craftsmanship and a focus on details is growing. In addition, the traditional building style is flourishing.”

“Trim is probably one of the most cost-effective ways to dress up a house or add interesting architectural details, and homeowners have always strived for uniqueness and distinctive curb appeal,” says Ben Skoog, business marketing manager for LP’s engineered siding business. “Now that there are more options, homeowners demand their homes become personal reflections of themselves vs. a cookie-cutter look. Homeowners tend to pay for the perceived value of owning a unique look or design.

“The two hottest styles we’re seeing are the shake or shingle and the board and batten,” adds Skoog. “In many cases, shakes — sometimes considered an accessory in the same category as trim — are applied to the gable ends, above garage doors or another location on the front elevation for a classic look. The board and batten look is often found in the same areas as shingles and shakes, but are sometimes on a whole house.”

This year, LP Corporation introduced more than 80 new SmartSide Trim and Siding products in varying dimensions and textures, adding to the company’s existing 1x2 battens and smooth panels. SmartSide includes cedar shakes, reversible trim and stucco panels.

In the second half of 2008, LP SmartSide will introduce 2-in. thick trims in addition to its offering which already includes 4/4-in. and 5/4-in. trims. They’ve also started to include more literature and design tools to help contractors and builders use LP SmartSide trim to craft the latest looks and styles. All LP SmartSide products use Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)-certified wood, are made from small-diameter, rapidly regenerating trees and are treated with environmentally friendly borates through the SmartGuard process.

“A good contractor can take a flat, square house and dress up windows, doors, eaves and frieze lines with wide trims, triple stacks, dentil moulding or keystones for a fraction of the cost of other large scale effects that dress up the look of the house,” says Skoog. “Also, maintaining a current photo album of past projects and having plenty of ideation materials for homeowners will demonstrate their company is more than capable of designing and building the customized look that homeowners want.”

Shades of Green

“In terms of material trends, as with other product categories, customers are interested in being ‘green’ and understanding the ingredients and manufacturing process of our products,” says CMI’s Bob Merrill. “We find this to be a win, because MiraTEC is an engineered wood trim product made using wood that offers no commercial timber value. Their use in our product also promotes sound forest management.”

MiraTEC is produced using CMI’s patented and proprietary TEC manufacturing process for a trim board that is one solid piece. MiraTEC is available in 16-ft. long boards with 4/4 (3/4-in.) and 5/4 (1- in.) thicknesses, and widths ranging from 2 to 16 in. Factory-primed on four sides with a mildew-resistant primer, these trim boards can be machined to create striking and creative designs.

Windsor Mill’s WindsorONE trim boards are manufactured with total sustainability and life cycle assessment (LCA) in mind. Wood offers the benefit of being renewable, sustainable and environmentally friendly, and its LCA is far greater than many other building materials. In fact, Windsor Mill products even meet a range of LEED certification requirements and have received the Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) Indoor Advantage Gold certification — the most stringent indoor air quality (IAQ) certification in the industry.

RealTrim from Woodtone is a factory primed exterior trim and fascia product manufactured from the renewable forests of Western Canada. It is a beautiful tight-grained substrate that is manufactured to endure the elements. RealTrim features a 10-year substrate warranty and is available in several dimensions and several lengths (8 to 20 ft.) to reduce waste. The product is applicable for fascia, door and window trim, corner boards and facing columns.

Technological Tools

“The best way remodelers can gain an edge in a tough market is to be educated about the new technologies and products that can help them win customers, save time and labor costs and stand out among the competition,” advises Azek’s Ralph Bruno.

“We are seeing an overarching trend in the building products industry toward the adoption of technology,” says Stephen Cork, senior vice president, business development for RenoWorks Software. “When we first came out with our visualization software eight years ago, it was rare for remodelers to have laptops and Web sites. Now it is commonplace. It is more economical and environmental to utilize technology for marketing objectives than to rely on print catalogs, door hangers and telephone listings.”

Remodelers and contractors can use RenoWorks software to show homeowners how their home will look with actual manufacturers’ products. Trim boards can be added to any image to give an idea of how a home will look with new trim.

With this product, a contractor or remodeler takes a photo of a client’s home and then imports that image into the software and applies manufacturers’ products to the image of the home. The company has made concerted efforts to make it as user-friendly as possible so that anyone can use it — not only those who are technologically inclined.

“The adoption of technology is more than a trend; it’s a new way of doing business,” says Cork. “The wow factor of being able to show someone more than a product sample can make a remodeler stand out on something other than price.”

The economy may be lagging but business doesn’t have to. By paying attention to current trends, CMI’s Bob Merrill advises that remodelers “can capitalize by designing projects that offer enhanced curb appeal. When trying to create diverse homes within a community, a little extra trim can go a long way to modifying and improving the overall look of a home.”