All The Trimmings

A beautiful house, with beautiful windows, and nice clean white trim everywhere.

That trim could cost you a lot of money.

Many types of exterior trim are made to look like cedar. Not only is cedar rot resistant, it’s rustic looking and adds to a home’s visual appeal. It may not be madeĀ  of cedar though. PVC (often recycled plastic) can be made to look like cedar and it will last for decades and is both rot and insect proof. JamesHardie, makers of Hardiboards, also makes Harditrim. Expensive, but warranted for decades, if installed properly.

Some builders, looking to save money, are installing pine, fir, and other softwoods that are also made to look like cedar. They are not. Manufacturers make a lot of claims about these materials, but our experience is often reflective of the examples below.


Rot damaged fascia board
Rot damaged fascia board


All of the wood in the following pictures has been cut or nailed – and improperly painted or caulked. Because this type of wood is not inherently rot resistant, water seeped in right away and rot set in quickly thereafter.

The gap in the wood is circled, the area around the gap is soft enough to push your finger through.

This damage was visible just below the gutter.






Rot damaged fascia (part deux)
Rot damaged fascia (part deux)

See the trim board beneath the gutter? About 4 to 6 inches from the right end? The same situation on another corner. A piece of wood was cut at an angle and not properly sealed. Water infiltrated that open cut and quickly led to rot.

Cedar would have lasted several more years. PVC or HardiTrim, which might have there own requirements as far as painting and sealing, would last much longer, even if directions weren’t followed as they have natural rot resistance.

Paint and caulk would have slowed this down as well, but pine and other soft woods are not the best trim choices. Even cedar and redwood need regular maintenance to prevent rot.




Bad practice
Bad practice

It’s always best to leave a small air gap between trim and concrete or other porous surfaces, especially when the trim will be exposed to constant or regular moisture.

In this picture, not only had the wood trim been cut (sized) along the bottom edge, it was installed flat against the deck, so every time it rained, water seeped into the base of the trim, and stayed wet, because neither sunlight nor air could dry out the bottom of the trim.

If the damage in this area is small, you can sometimes trim the bottom and seal / paint it, to stop further damage and keep an eye on it, this can often be a minor rot issue. The siding nearby is HardiBoard.




The trim side pieces were also starting to show some rot damage, but here again there were vertical lines showing in the trim running between the windows, and wood so soft you could poke your finger through it.

How can you tell what type of trim you have, and what type of maintenance you need to perform on it? How can you prevent spending hundreds – if not thousands of dollars replacing your trim?

It’s easy really, call Valiant Inspections, for a home inspection. I recommend every home is inspected every five years, or so.