Wood is commonly used for many home projects. It’s known for its structural aesthetic, durable, and paintable nature and is widely used as fascia, soffit, window/door trim, siding, and even corners. The biggest negative to using wood is when it is not being properly maintained; it can warp, rot, and cause functionality issues. In the last 10+ years, a popular alternative has been created that allows minimal maintenance.  With today’s homeowners’ schedules being hectic and the cost of regular upkeep on a home consistently increasing, an alternative material that provides this level of protection from potential maintenance in the future is PVC trim and molding.

There are many manufacturers making these products, including Ply Gem®, Versatex®, Azek®, and Fypon®.  Each of these manufacturers make a variety of styles and sizes of trims.  PVC trim offers a trim board that looks like wood and is also paintable like wood.  It always comes standard in white color and one side of the trim board is smooth and the other has a wood grain texture.  This allows for it to be used both in traditional and contemporary design.  PVC Trim boards are great for areas that are in contact with moisture. Examples of moisture contact areas would be ground level or against a roofline.  They are also resistant to wood feeding insects and woodpeckers.  

Like any other home building materials, PVC trim is only as good as how it is installed.  The following contains a few tips for DIY PVC trim or molding installation from a trusted Exterior Contracting Professional, Resnick Roofing & Contracting. 

  1. Always cut with carbide tipped saw blades and bits
    1. You can use the same power tools you would use with wood
    2. If you use plain steel blades they can dull quickly when working with this material
  2. PVC trim should be fastened using stainless steel screw or hot dipped siding nails
    1. This will prevent corrosion
    2. The best method is counter sinking the screws and filing the holes with an exterior filler to prevent seeing the screw heads
    3. PVC will expand and contract slightly with temperature changes so fasten it tightly and use fasteners long enough to reach framing and not just sheathing
  3. “Cement” seams to ensure watertight joints
    1. Manufacturers recommend a specific PVC cement that is slightly different than that used on traditional PVC piping 
    2. This special cement has a longer “open time” and will usually allow around 5 minutes of time for adjustments to be made
  4. Leave “expansion” gaps on long pieces
    1. As mentioned earlier, this trim will expand and contract as temperature changes
    2. After installation use an acrylic or urethane caulk that will adhere well to PVC
    3. Gap sizes should be determined by the temperature during install.  The gaps should be around 1/16” when installed during moderate temperatures 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit.  When installed in colder temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit the gap should be 1/8”.
    4. This material tends to get more brittle as it gets colder, so when installing on colder days it is advisable to predrill holes for fasteners to prevent splitting of the material when it is being fastened
  5. If you decide to paint PVC trim, always use 100% acrylic paint
    1. You should not be in a rush to paint the trim once it is installed
    2. This material will not weather or lose its ability to hold paint
    3. Using lighter color paint shades will help prevent heat absorption and lessen the amount of expansion/contraction of the material

While PVC trim may be more of an upfront cost, it certainly can save you both time and money in the future and help keep your home beautiful for years to come!