Poly-Ash and PVC Trim Provide a Ready Alternative to Lumber

The COVID-19 pandemic presented the building industry with a number of challenges, from initial closures to the cost of safety protocols. But as those issues have been addressed, one challenge continues on strong: price increases, particularly lumber costs.

The NAHB reports that lumber prices have risen a whopping 180% since last spring, resulting in an increase in the average single-family home price by more than $24,000.

“According to Random Lengths, the price of lumber hit a record high this week and is up more than 170% over the past 10 months,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke in a Feb. 12, 2021, statement. “NAHB is urging President Biden and Congress to help mitigate this growing threat to housing and the economy by urging domestic lumber producers to ramp up production to ease growing shortages and to make it a priority to end tariffs on Canadian lumber shipments into the U.S. that are exacerbating unprecedented price volatility in the lumber market.”

Luckily, for trim applications, builders and remodelers have several manmade alternatives that offer the authentic look of wood.

TruExterior Trim, for example, is made with a proprietary blend of polymers and fly ash. Fly ash is a byproduct of coal energy production, so it’s sourced near the manufacturing facility. And unlike wood, TruExterior Trim provides a high level of dimensional stability along with durability for resistance to warping, cracking, and splitting. It can be used in ground-contact applications.

Despite these distinct differences, TruExterior Trim offers the workability of wood, so it can be routed and milled into endless styles of decorative molding and trim.

TruExterior poly-ash trim at a custom home in the Chautauqua Institution artist community
Seen here on a custom home at the Chautauqua Institution, TruExterior poly-ash trim can be milled and routed just like wood.

Another wood-look alternative is Kleer Lumber trim (pictured above), made with expanded cellular PVC. Kleer trimboards resist moisture, insects, splintering, rotting, delamination, and swelling. Kleer trim can be installed in contact with the ground. Like TruExterior, it’s made in the USA in Westfield, Mass.

In addition to trim, TruExterior and Kleer can replace lumber for other non-structural applications such as flower boxes and pergolas.  

Cellular PVC trim in a flower box application
Kleer cellular PVC trim can be used in ground-contact applications on or off the house.

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