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

Kleer trim on a custom coastal home

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.

Ready to be inspired? Check out our Instagram page for projects and applications.

LBM Journal: 5 Trim Trends Building Material Dealers Should Know

The COVID-19 pandemic has touched many areas of the building industry, and the trim and moulding category is no exception. As a product that lends itself to quick yet dramatic facelifts, trim was an easy upgrade option for DIYers and pros alike as the pandemic shifted from closures and uncertainty last spring to a surge in demand for home improvement products and services.

What has this all meant for dealers? In its annual In Depth look at the trim category, LBM Journal explored the latest trends and what dealers can do to keep adapting in uncertain times.

Here are a few of their findings:

Trim Products Are Thriving Through the Pandemic

While the industry initially shut down in many areas, home improvement projects quickly ramped up as homeowners sought to complete long-neglected projects and spruce up their interiors and exteriors. Manufacturers told LBM Journal that the trim category is likely to continue to grow significantly in the next 12 months, a prediction backed up by the “2020-2025 Global Molding and Trim Market Report.” In addition, “according to a recent Bank of America poll about homeowners’ attitudes and shopping habits during coronavirus, more than 70% of those polled indicated they have decided to tackle home improvement projects, with more planned for 2021,” the magazine reported.

“As stay-at-home recommendations stretch through the winter, we expect the surge in demand to remain as homeowners continue to seek to make their homes their sanctuary and buyers scoop up new and existing homes that meet their changing lifestyle needs,” Boral Building Products Brand Manager Ben Drury told the magazine. “But lead times should continue to improve as manufacturers catch up, and supply challenges should ease.”

Bold Colors

The trend toward dark trim colors remains strong. In addition, “there’s still a strong desire for multi-textured facades as well as contrasting siding and trim colors,” Drury said. “Both our [poly-ash] TruExterior Trim and [cellular PVC] Kleer Lumber trimboards are a perfect fit for those color combinations. TruExterior Trim’s poly-ash technology allows it to be painted any color, including black, so it’s perfect for the white-siding-with-dark trim trend.”

Bold colors are popping up on the interior, as well, manufacturers said.

Clean Styles

The desire for Modern Farmhouse looks continues unabated in many areas of the country, leading to trim profiles that are more simple and clean in style, the article states.

Ease of Installation

The trend toward sprucing up homes in the pandemic has driven more LBM dealers to push installation-friendly options. LBM Journal cited consumer studies from The Farnsworth Group and the Home Improvement Research Institute reporting that 80% of homeowners had started a DIY home project by June of last year. Along with the simple fact that homeowners were stuck quarantining, they also are getting a confidence boost from online resources such as YouTube and Pinterest. Savvy dealers, even those that typically cater only to pros, have recognized this surging customer opportunity and have responded with increased support and product guidance.

Back to Basics

As we proceed through this year with a bit of caution, some manufacturers recommend that dealers stick to basic strategies, including taking advantage of educational resources for increasing foot traffic and visibility, diversifying your product lines to include alternative trim materials, and maintaining your knowledge base. “The best thing dealers can do for their customers is to be truly knowledgeable about the products they sell—and even those they don’t sell,” Drury told the magazine. “This will help ensure they can recommend to contractors the right solution to each project, making them even more valuable to those customers.”

And this includes taking advantage of ever-growing opportunities for virtual training sessions. To arrange for product knowledge and installation virtual training for Boral Building Products brands, including TruExterior and Kleer as well as siding brands like Versetta Stone and Foundry, contact us here.

All told, LBM Journal paints a positive picture for the year ahead: “When taken together, all of these changes and challenges point to an optimistic year for the moulding and trim industry,” they concluded. “Yes, LBM dealers will need to remain agile so that they can quickly adapt how they do business in response to any continued (or even new) restrictions from the continuing health crisis. But by staying atop training and education and by being prepared to meet the anticipated increasing demand for trim products by both pro and DIY customers, dealers will position themselves to reap the greatest gains.”

To read more trim trends and insights into today’s trim market, view the LBM Journal article in its entirety here.

Exterior and Interior Touches Create a Sense of Home for Michigan Foster Children

Boral Building Products, Kleer Lumber, Foundry siding

If not for the parking lot out front and its multiple front doors, it would be hard to tell that the Chippewa County Family Project Teen Foster Home is anything more than a traditional residence. And that’s just the idea.

From inside to out, the 5,500-square-foot house in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is designed to be welcoming for children in the foster care system, just like a permanent home would be. 

“The committee wanted the kids to feel like they have a home, that they’re not just being placed in another facility,” notes Dan Arbic, owner of Arbic Construction in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

foster home, Chippewa County, Foundry siding, Kleer Lumber

Inside, the house is divided into two sides, one for boys and one for girls. Each side has six bedrooms and three bathrooms, a kitchen, and common areas. In the center are offices and a living space for the house parent. 

Arbic also owns a cabinet company, and he put those skills to work creating custom cabinetry and an upgraded hardwood trim package that ensured a cozy warmth to further the home-like feel. In developing the interior, the committee sought the input of local high school students, ensuring that not just adult perspectives were considered. 

On the building’s exterior, the mission continued with an elevation, lines, and styling similar to traditional homes. The façade features all of the current trends, including a soft gray and blue color palette with robust white accents, and a varied façade. Horizontal siding on the lower walls combines with vertical siding on the second level, highlighted by eye-catching blue accent walls and gables clad in Foundry shakes. 

Kleer trim, PVC trim, column wraps

Tapered columns wrapped in bright white Kleer PVC trim and warm stone flank the trio of entrances. The bright white trim is featured throughout the façade, including around the windows. 

Foundry Siding was chosen in part for its ease of installation during the winter construction window; the material stays pliable, even in colder temperatures, ensuring fast installation. 

The contractor also was able to perfectly coordinate the color with the rest of the exterior siding. 

The winter installation also typically doesn’t bode well for keeping trim in pristine condition, but because Kleer trimboards feature TruEDGE technology, they resist dirt and are easy to clean. Plus, Kleer trimboards are wrapped in small-quantity KleerPaks to ensure they stay looking like new from the lumberyard to the jobsite to the walls.

“Foundry was easy to install, and it locked in a lot better,” Arbic says. “And Kleer, in its packaging, we received it without defects or scratches.”

Foundry siding, Kleer Lumber, siding

This was Arbic’s first time using Foundry and Kleer, and based on experiences with other products, he had expected to have to replace some of the siding and trim due to expansion as the colder temperatures and clouds gave way to warmer sun. Instead, “We didn’t have to replace a stitch of trim,” he recalls. “Same thing with the siding—we had zero problems. It went up easy, even though it was no more than 25 degrees when we installed it. Nothing broke, nothing chipped.”

For Arbic, the ease of installation and the discovery of a new go-to exterior material was merely a bonus on top of a fulfilling project that involved so many within the community as they came together to support the needs of local teens.

5 Trim Tips & Tricks From Carpenter Mike Sloggatt

TruExterior Trim

If you’ve been to the Builders’ Show, the Remodeling Show, or JLC Live, you’ve likely crossed paths with longtime carpenter Mike Sloggatt. Armed with a headset and a career’s worth of knowledge, Sloggatt, owner of Mike Sloggatt Home Improvement, delivers compelling presentations on siding and trim installation focused on ensuring quality exteriors that stand the test of time.

Among the materials Sloggatt installs during workshops is Boral TruExterior Siding & Trim. “TruExterior is virtually indestructible in terms of water, insects, and holding paint,” Sloggatt says. “But don’t get lazy—install it properly, and it will treat you really well.”

Along with the installation techniques provided by Boral, here are a few of Sloggatt’s best practices and quick tips for installing TruExterior Trim to ensure a quality—and efficient—installation:

  • Stay organized: Thoughtful setup of materials ahead of time can save you steps over the course of the day. Sloggatt, for example, sets up his cutting station and always works from the same direction—pulling a piece off the stack to the left, cutting, and stacking to the right for installation. To help keep the cutting space clean, he puts a canopy over the saw with a garbage bag behind it for easy disposal of scraps, and he keeps a small battery-powered leaf blower nearby to blow away dust and keep his tooling clean so it will last longer.
Mike Sloggatt
Mike Sloggatt gives a TruExterior Siding & Trim demo at the International Builders’ Show.
  • Use the right tooling: TruExterior offers the workability of wood, which allows it to be routed and shaped into a range of decorative profiles. It does, however, require carbide blades and bits, and it can be difficult to cut wood once those blades and bits have been used for the poly-ash material. Sloggatt designates bits and blades specifically for TruExterior, marking them with blue spray paint. This ensures the tooling will last longer and eliminates any frustration that may result from trying to cut other materials after TruExterior.
  • Understand your materials and think of the system: When Sloggatt first started building 40 years ago, resilient old-growth timber was common for framing—and much more forgiving. Today’s wood materials need to be better protected from moisture and managed as a system. How well the window is trimmed, flashed, and integrated with the weather-resistive barrier can impact the integrity of the wood framing underneath as well as the trim above.
  • Store properly: TruExterior offers superior dimensional stability compared to most materials, but every product is prone to some movement if exposed to the right conditions. As with any trim material, keep TruExterior off the ground and covered during storage so that it won’t risk being installed wet. Once installed, TruExterior can be in contact with the ground with no concerns about excess moisture absorption.
  • Avoid flashed nail holes: One challenge every installer has likely faced is driving a fastener into painted trim and filling the hole, only to leave a noticeable flash behind. To avoid this, Sloggatt puts a small bit of blue painter’s tape over the spot before driving the fastener, then fills the hole with the tape still in place. This ensures the hole is filled but not the surrounding material, eliminating the glare of a flashed hole.

Want to learn more about TuExterior installation? Download the installation guide here.

How to Achieve Low-Maintenance Garage Bucks

garage bucks, TruExterior trim

Garage bucks, the trim along which the garage door runs, are essential to proper garage door installation. With a thermal stop over the top with a rubber flange, the buck helps form the door’s seal. It’s also one of the most moisture-prone areas of the exterior and therefore requires special attention to materials and installation.

When installing the garage buck, it’s ideal for the trim to be flush with the ground to help minimize air intrusion and bugs. However, many trim materials, such as engineered wood, fiber cement, or wood, cannot be used in ground-contact applications due to moisture absorption.

This is evident in the replacement project pictured here. The original garage bucks were painted pine, which proved problematic. As shown in the image below, the bottom of the trim is nearly rotted away due to the wood wicking moisture from the ground. The homeowner also had to paint the trim each year, as moisture and movement caused the paint to flake off. In addition, the wood was more vulnerable to insects.

garage bucks, trim
Before

To remedy the issue, the installer removed the pine trim and added TruExterior 1×6 trimboards in its place. In an area this prone to moisture, TruExterior offers a reliable solution: It can be installed in contact with the ground, it is dimensionally stable, and it won’t crack, warp, or split. Made with a proprietary blend of polymers and fly ash, TruExterior Trim is also low maintenance and can be painted any color, including dark hues, while offering the authentic look of wood.

Garage bucks, trim, poly-ash trim
After

If you haven’t yet tried TruExterior—this is the spot to give it a go. The quick replacement project for remodeling pros or DIYers will yield a cleaner look while dramatically reducing the home’s maintenance needs year after year.

For more information, visit the TruExterior trim page.

LBM Journal: Trim Buyers Crave Authenticity, Simplicity, and Durability

Much like other areas of the home exterior, consumers and contractors are looking for trim products that deliver authentic looks to boost curb appeal while ensuring low maintenance and durability, according to LBM Journal’s recent In Depth trim feature. “Homeowners are craving authenticity, and they also want their homes to be unique,” Boral Building Products’ Brand Manager Ben Drury told the magazine.

Here’s an overview of trends and observations from LBM Journal’s annual report:

  • Simple styles: Ornamentation is out, clean lines are in, driven in part by the continued love of Craftsman and Modern Farmhouse styles.
  • Dark colors: Homeowners remain drawn to dark colors, particularly dark blues and grays. Often, these hues are in contrast to white siding or the other way around. TruExterior answers this call, with the ability to be painted any color.
  • Durability is central: “Poor quality of wood, increasing material costs, lack of skilled labor, extreme weather events, and growth of consumer knowledge … are all having an impact on the direction of product development,” LBM Journal reports. “But perhaps the greatest driving factor is product durability.”
  • Labor shortages playing a role: Strains on labor are driving contractor demand for cellular PVC products, like Kleer Lumber, because they’re easy to install while still delivering the look homeowners desire.
  • Education is key: For dealer salespeople, it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of products in order to be a resource to customers and to help them solve exterior challenges. “Know more about your products than your customers do—and even about the products you don’t sell,” Drury advised. Good displays also are important, including vignettes showing how products and materials go together across the façade, particularly as demand for multiple textures remains strong.

To read more trends and insights into today’s trim market, view the LBM Journal article in its entirety here.

Video: Kleer Trimboards vs. Dirt Intrusion

Do your trimboards stand up to dirt?

PVC trim is a low-maintenance alternative to wood. But not all PVC trim is created equal. Over time, some PVC trim products will collect dirt in the edges, leading to a grimy, gray, aged look that can dull the exterior façade.

Kleer Lumber is different. Kleer trimboards feature TruEDGE technology—smoother edges that help the boards resist dirt and, when they do get dirty, make them easier to clean. The result is brilliant white trim that looks great for the long haul.

But don’t take our word for it. Check out this video, in which we put Kleer trim and two other PVC trim brands through a dirt intrusion test to see how they stack up:

As you can see, dirt doesn’t permanently embed itself into the edges of Kleer trimboards, ensuring easier cleaning and a more beautiful finish compared to other PVC trim options.

Kleer Lumber trimboards versus trim competitors

Kleer trimboards also contain UV inhibitors to prevent yellowing, so no painting is required to maintain the original white appearance. Not interested in white? Kleer trim can be painted easily with 100% acrylic latex paint.

To further ensure Kleer trimboards maintain their pristine appearance, they’re wrapped and shipped in KleerPaks. With KleerPaks, dealers can sell smaller quantities without leaving the remaining stock exposed in the lumberyard or warehouse, and builders and remodelers can use the boards they need on the jobsite without worrying about the rest of their product getting scuffed, dinged, or dirty.

Kleer trimboards come in eight widths and in lengths up to 20 feet. And while it offers the look of wood, Kleer trim is resistant to splitting, warping, and checking; it’s straight with no need for culling the pile; and it resists extreme weather conditions.

Ready to be inspired? Visit our Image Gallery or Request a Sample.

5 Best Practices for Going Bold With Exterior Color

Kleer trim

When used well, bold colors can add a tasteful pop of life to a home’s exterior. When used poorly, you can end up attracting negative attention.

Here are five tips from Trisha Wagner, senior product manager and an authority on color at Boral Building Products, to ensure your use of bold is gorgeous, not gaudy.

1. The best place for bold color is in a home’s decorative details
While it always depends on the house, bold colors are generally best used in a home’s accents, such as the shutters and front door. It’s one of the fastest ways to have a large impact and can completely transform a home’s look and feel. Even better, these details are often the easiest—and most affordable—to change later with either a fresh coat of paint or replacement.

2. Remember to coordinate
One of the first things to consider when picking bold accents is the home’s siding color. You want to select accent colors, such as on the trim, shutters, and front door, that work well with the siding, so consult the color wheel for reference. As explained on Color Matters, “color harmony” can be achieved by choosing analogous colors (three colors side by side on the wheel) or complementary colors (directly opposite each other on the wheel). This can be especially helpful in moving beyond traditional colors. For example, instead of the typical pale yellow, try a deep maize yellow paired with red, coral, or cobalt accents.

3. Pay attention to the entire home exterior
The front of the home isn’t the only area people see. Don’t forget to decorate the back and sides of a house, particularly since outdoor living is more important to buyers than ever before. A bare side or rear home exterior looks and feels unfinished; shutters and accents on these walls will add dimension and complete the look.

4. Find what works for you
If clients are uncertain about incorporating bolder colors, encourage them to experiment with different tones before making their final selection. If a home’s style doesn’t support shutters, consider using just a bold trim color. You can also soften a home’s look by pairing white or cream trim with one or two bold accents. For a less-permanent option,  incorporate bold colors into the landscape design, such as bright-red or -purple flowers and plants, a jewel-toned bird bath, or even a painted fence.

TruuExterior trim bold colors
White can be a bold choice against a neutral cladding.

5. Don’t discount the power of white
In the sea of tans and beiges that dominate today’s exteriors, white becomes a stark contrast that is a bold choice in and of itself. A crisp white trim against a richer-toned cladding is eye-catching and stands out from homes with cream accents.

For more design inspiration, visit www.kleerlumber.com and www.truexterior.com