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Choosing Trim to Fit Your Siding Project

If you are considering a siding project for your home, you’re probably going through the same selection process most educated homeowners in our region deal with Vinyl or Fiber Cement, Manufacturer A or Manufacturer B, and even Red or Blue, but most homeowners forget to consider the rest of the components to their siding project: the trim.

Siding will change the look of the walls, but the associated trim around the windows and doors, corners, fascia, rakes, and soffits not only contribute to the overall aesthetics of the project but are crucial factors to achieve that “Low Maintenance” exterior so many homeowners are trying to achieve doing this type of project.

When choosing trim products, take a second to think about these two factors and how they apply to each trim area: 1.) Type of Siding Selected  2.) Overall Budget Considerations


With all the manufacturers and types of products out there for the exterior, there are thousands of combinations homeowners can select for their homes.  The first selection a homeowner should make however is the bulk decision on the job: What siding works best for our needs?

Of course consumers can choose a masonry-type exterior with applied cultured stone, brick, or stucco, but for our discussion, we will focus primarily on the “Wood Look” types of exterior clad siding.

The first choice homeowners come across is often VINYL SIDING.  Vinyl Siding is “plastic exterior siding for the house used for decoration and weatherproofing imitating wood clapboard.  It is an engineered product, manufactured primarily from Polyvinyl Chloride (or PVC) resin.” (Wikipedia)  Vinyl Siding is the “Entry Level” product when considering siding.  Its ease of installation and lower maintenance properties make it a good option for homeowners looking for a functional, relatively long-lasting, and relatively inexpensive overall cost.

VINYL siding has specifically designed trim options to help optimize the home’s exterior functionality, but with a lower cost product, some homeowners use the trim components to add aesthetics lost in the synthetic look of vinyl siding.

The next option homeowners have is often FIBER CEMENT SIDING.  Fiber Cement siding, sometimes known as HardiePlank (which is just the name of the #1 manufacturer of fiber cement siding JAMES HARDIE) is “a building material used to cover the exterior of a building in both commercial and domestic applications.” (Wikipedia).  Made of wood cellulose fiber, cement, sand, and water, this material outlasts wood in every way without warping, rotting, cracking, or blistering and provides a more authentic wood look than vinyl siding.  According to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost Vs. Value Report for 2014, Fiber Cement Siding is the #1 Return on Your Investment Project in the exterior Remodel Category and has been for over 8 years running.

Fiber Cement siding is best installed by trained carpenters.  Cuts and measurements must be precise and accurate.  This is unlike vinyl siding which can be installed by any common laborer because the siding overlaps itself (so exact cuts are not necessary) and it is loosely nailed to the wall to allow for the siding to move back and forth on the wall as it expands and contracts.  This means that the trim options associated with Fiber Cement jobs can be more customized and allow for more authentic details, especially around the windows, doors, and corners because no J-Channel is required where it would be on a Vinyl project.

For those few homeowners that are looking to do a WOOD siding project, wood trim options usually make the most sense.

WOOD is not a low-maintenance product.  So deciding to do a “low maintenance” trim package with your wood siding might not make fiscal sense.  Wood trim products are less expensive than “low maintenance” options, and because the siding needs to be painted as well, there isn’t a large additional cost associated with painting the trim.  If you desire a low-maintenance trim, the same reasons homeowners prefer the low-maintenance trim would lead to the decision to use a low-maintenance siding as well.  Why fix the trim problem and install siding that creates new problems?


At the end of the day however, all this stuff is really really nice. . . . But what does it cost?

The more elaborate the trim selection, the more expensive the project.  All CROWN molding profiles, Panels, DENTAL molding, PEDIMENTS, PILASTERS, and other custom wood styles low maintenance trim looks take additional time and craftsmanship to fabricate and install.  These can be done as a part of vinyl, fiber cement, and wood projects but are not always needed, even if the existing trim before the project includes these looks.

For VINYL projects many contractors will wrap existing window/door/fascia/ and rake trim with a malleable rolled sheet aluminum coil that forms a low maintenance seal around the existing wood.  This is the most cost-effective way to convert these trim areas into “low maintenance” trim.  This wrap is a smooth-painted aluminum or PVC-coated finish usually in a pre-finished color.

Other options around windows and doors for vinyl jobs include using a simple J-channel and specially designed vinyl trim called Lineals (a hollow vinyl 3 ½” Trim board to mimic the thickness of wood that includes a J-channel so an additional layer of plastic trim need not be installed).

These options are reasonably priced and become attractive options for customers looking to dress up the vinyl.  Vinyl also manufactures a lineal hollow Crown molding as well as pre-fabricated vinyl CROWN HEADERS which can be easily adjusted and installed to match that COLONIAL trim style.  Of course, though, each additional molding used, the more expensive the project becomes.  Although these looks have a similar plastic look and feel, like the vinyl siding, they can mimic existing looks while maintaining functional weatherproofing and low maintenance quality.

Fiber cement projects more similarly mimic wood-style construction.  It can be a suggested option to use aluminum coil wrap for the windows/doors/fascia/ and rakes like the vinyl, however, the synthetic look of the aluminum coil wrap can clash with the authentic look of the fiber cement siding.

For our area of Florham Park, Madison, Chatham, and Short Hills New Jersey, homeowners will most likely choose a synthetic wood trim like the Fiber Cement Trim (James Hardie NT3 Trim) or the full cellular PVC trim boards (like AZEK trim boards).  These products provide authentic installation for added aesthetics and low-maintenance functionality that is hard to top.

Full cellular PVC moldings profiles like the AZEK Adams Casing or the AZEK Rams Crown Molding dress up the simple flat trim with colonial details very common in the Central and Northern New Jersey counties like Summit, Union, Middlesex, and Somerset.

When finishing your siding project details, strongly consider the important factors involved with your trim decisions.  Sound, cohesive trim decisions turn any siding job into your personalized siding project.