PVC Trim vs. Wood Products

by luke on July 26, 2011

PVC Trim Products vs. Wood Trim

 

PVC TrimOver the past ten years there has been a huge increase in the use of PVC and wood alternative products in the building industry. Virtually every lumberyard and home improvement store has PVC and composite offerings intended for a variety of uses. One of the most common products is cellular PVC trim.

 

Cellular PVC trim is attractive for two major reasons:

  • PVC is rot-free, insect-free, and does not absorb moisture.
  • PVC is relatively maintenance free!

However, before you tear every piece of wood trim off your house…there are a few things ¬†you should know about PVC trim.

The most common PVC trim products are: Azek, Koma, Kleer and Versatex.

Although every manufacturer touts their particular product as being the best, they are pretty much all the same thing: Cellular PVC.

  • PVC trim is commonly available in 9′ and 18′ lengths. This is a bit different from the standard 8′, 10′, 12′, and 16′ lengths offered by clear and finger-jointed wood trim. Although this is not a big deal, it is something to be aware of when making a material list.
  • PVC trim is roughly twice the price of common wood trim.
  • PVC does not bond well using common wood glues. Despite this fact, many contractors and home owners continue to use wood glue or the only slightly better option of PVC cement. Even the manufacturers of PVC trim often recommend their own brand of adhesive…basically high priced PVC cement. These inappropriate adhesives often yellow and degrade with age. The best carpenters know to use Bond & Fill. Bond & Fill is a two part bonding agent that dries white and is both sandable and paintable.
  • PVC is not as temperature stable as wood. An 18′ PVC 1×4 will easily increase in length by an 1/8″ as it is warmed by the sun and expands. This means that if you cut and install it in summer, it will likely have gaps in the winter. Also, if you fit it tightly in the fall or winter, it will likely ripple and possibly buckle in the middle of the summer. This expansion and contraction should be taken into account when fitting exterior trim. Using additional fasteners can greatly reduce the amount of rippling and buckling. (Note: Painting your exterior trim a dark color can dramatically increase the amount of expansion!)

With all of that being said…I actually do like PVC products! While they are not the best solution for every situation, they do solve many of the annoyances of wood trim.

  • If properly primed, PVC will hold paint for 20-25 years without peeling!
  • When painted, PVC is virtually indistinguishable from wood trim.
  • PVC trim is available in both smooth and wood grain finishes to complement the look of your home.
  • Dents and chips can be easily repaired with Bond & Fill such that they virtually disappear!
  • PVC can be shaped and molded as easily as wood
  • PVC is more flexible than wood…making arches and curves easy to trim!

PVC trim is a great product for many applications. As with any new product, learn the pro’s and con’s as well as the correct application methods before you dig in.

If you are looking for an alternative to nail/screwing and fastening your PVC Trim…check out the Cortex Fastening System!

Good Luck!

Luke

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