Exterior Trim: Go Boldly

As the rapid pace of remodeling continues, homes are getting facelifts with exterior trim.

authors Emily Blackburn | December 3, 2021

Though exterior aesthetics change more slowly than their interior counterparts, designers and contractors alike are seeing shifts in customer choices over the last few months. From bold colors to modern farmhouse styles, homeowners are taking the opportunity to update their homes and keep up with the Joneses.

Darker Looks

Boral Building Products: Bolder colors are dominating exterior aesthetics, with homeowners choosing darker siding and trim colors or choosing to use dramatic contrast to make the trim pop.

“There seems to be two ends of the spectrum, color-wise, with alabaster and milky white trim colors trending as well as dark, nearly black trim,” says Ben Drury, brand director for Boral Building Products Inc. “Both of these options are helping to make trim a focal point on the façade.”

“We’ve seen that uptick in black and dark grays that really make [the trim] pop,” says Steve Booz, vice president of marketing for Royal Building Products. “We’re really starting to see a lot of black window frames as people do replacement windows and to have a black trim next to that as well can just create a stark contrast on the right house.”

A move toward more modern, yet classic looks feature the bolder contrasting colors. Craftsman and modern farmhouse designs have seen an upswing in popularity the last few years for both interiors and exteriors. The clean lines around windows and doors, as well as columns and brackets, offer a lot of curb appeal when bolstered by dramatic colors.

Boral Building Products

From Boral, the TruExterior poly-ash trim is perfect for dark colors because it holds paint, even black, very well without concern about excessive expansion and contraction.

Trinh Le, head of marketing for LP Siding Building Unit, says, “We are seeing building professionals seeking more variety in trim products, whether that means new colors, textures or trim accessory offerings that help them be more efficient at the time of install.”

In terms of color, with modern farmhouses continuing to trend, Le says she’s also seeing white trim and siding combinations and black trim and white siding combinations remain popular. “In addition to seeking more variety, building professionals and homeowners alike are looking for modern, clean and polished aesthetics with exterior trim.”

LP Smartside: Outside Corners can add the finishing touch to any home with a cedar grain finish and a polished look.

LP SmartSide’s premium trim comes in two textures — cedar and smooth — which Le explains gives homeowners the luxury of choice, especially when they’re looking for a polished aesthetic. “We’re seeing a lot of people using products that are smoother, with really clean lines, to go with the minimalist colors,” says Marc Setty, director of marketing for James Hardie. “Minimalist, clean, smooth lines to go with the black window trim with white siding.”

Outside the bold color trends that experts are seeing are also bolder trim choices. Many homeowners are choosing to use trim to create board and batten looks on the exterior of their homes, Le says, and while bold, it is a classic look that will also withstand the test of time.

“We’re also seeing bolder, blockier trim such as wider window trim or raised panels,” Drury says, explaining that styles are still regionalized. “On the East Coast, more decorative elements are still fairly common, while the West Coast is very much clean and sleek.”

Workplace Productivity

Productivity is everything on a jobsite, and that is especially true today when considering the ongoing labor shortage and supply issues facing the industry. Therefore, contractors are leaning toward products that reduce installation time as well as jobsite waste.

LP Smartside

For instance, LP SmartSide Outside Corners are a one-piece, primed accessory, which eliminates the need to build corners during construction while also creating a polished corner look.

Royal Building Products: Thinner, easier-to-install trim boards allow homeowners to update their exterior without committing to remodel the entire siding.

Other manufacturers are looking toward making their products more widely compatible. By doing this, they’re increasing efficiencies across the board and reducing the training that needs to be done on-site at the same time.

“We’ve launched a product that we call Spec Series,” Booz says. “It’s still in the PVC world, and it’s a little thinner, but it mimics a thick board. The idea is to have a lightweight, easy-to-install solution. A lot of exterior trim isn’t necessarily done unless someone is doing other work on their home, since it can disturb the siding or the windows, so it’s usually done together; but the Spec Series Trim that we’ve launched works well with just about any siding.”

Eye on Maintenance

Royal Building Products

In the weeks following the shutdown, “Homeowners started looking around and started fixing up their houses,” Booz explains. “Home price appreciation is way up for existing and new homes, so people have equity, and they’re using it to drive projects to their houses.”

Setty says he believes homeowners don’t want to have to think about remodeling their homes more than once in their lives, so they’re choosing products “not just for the desired aesthetic, but also what’s longest lasting.” More people staying home and spending time in their homes made it abundantly clear that the home has become more than just a place to live but also a place to work and school children.

“A new façade also complements the growing demand for cozy outdoor areas as homeowners seek to expand their living spaces and create a sanctuary,” Drury explains. “Trim provides an ideal way to give the home an update—whether swapping out worn-down wood trim for high-performance PVC or poly-ash trim, going bolder with wider profiles or darker colors, or adding simple touches like gable vents, light blocks or new shutters.”

James Hardie: Hardie Trim Boards, made from fiber cement, mimic the look of wood in both a rustic and smooth finish, meaning homeowners don’t have to sacrifice their wood-look aesthetic for durability and low maintenance.

Homeowners also want to maximize productivity and minimize maintenance for their own time. “More and more we are seeing homeowners considering durability as a significant factor when selecting trim products, as it provides confidence when investing in a home,” Le says.

James Hardie

Cellular PVC is a hot choice among contractors and homeowners alike, not just for its wood-look aesthetic with minimal maintenance but also because of its availability.

“This trend has been going on for quite a while,” says Rick Kapres, vice president of sales and marketing for Versatex Trimboard. “One thing that’s probably accelerating it right now is supply chain issues around the country. Depending on the type of wood, it’s almost impossible to come by.” Homeowners who chose PVC over wood do so because “They love the look, and they love that it’s PVC so nothing is going to happen to it from a moisture or insect standpoint, and the color and the finish will stay that way for them without any maintenance.”

Versatex’s Canvas series has taken its target group profiles and applied exterior grade laminate to the products. This bonds such that moisture and physical damage cannot take it off, and it also creates a UV protective barrier so the color holds.

Keeping with the wood alternatives, TruExterior Trim combines authentic wood looks with the high performance and low maintenance of modern poly-ash building materials. Made with Boral Building Products’ proprietary blend of polymers and fly ash, the poly-ash material is moisture, warp and crack resistant.

Versatex: With wood supply backed up, PVC trim has become a favorite among homeowners and remodelers who want the wood-look plus better durability and availability.

Hardie Trim Boards from James Hardie are made of fiber cement, a durable and long-lasting material made of Portland cement, sand, water and cellulose fibers. “Fiber cement has become more popular because it does not have the same sort of maintenance that’s required of wood products,” Setty says. He explains that he’s seen an increase in demand for fiber cement trim to accompany the James Hardie siding because homeowners see the benefits of outfitting their home in a single-source solution and a trusted brand. QR

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