Last summer, Ralph Streano, owner of Lifetime Remodeling Systems, in the Portland, Ore., suburb of Milwaukie, began installing fiber-cement siding. Streano, whose company had specialized in seamless vinyl siding, had done his homework. "We'd been to all the seminars and read all the materials."
The company owner, who sells his own jobs and does about 40 a year, says he set out to distinguish his company by doing high-quality installations. In addition to installing fiber-cement siding, he installs ice guard around windows and finishes with an upper-price-point paint. To trim windows, doors, and corners, Streano uses cedar, because, he says, that's what's available from his distributor.
Scott Little, vice president of Elite Custom Exteriors, in Sandy, Utah, says his company is about to install its first "complete" fiber-cement siding job, meaning one that includes fiber-cement trim components as well as planks, on a house that will be included in the local Parade of Homes. Up until now, Elite Custom Exteriors has trimmed its fiber-cement siding jobs with cedar or composite products. Little says company installers prefer composites to cedar because they're as easy to work with, hold paint better, and come in double-sided finishes.
The fiber-cement trim his crews are about to put up is somewhat more expensive. But trimming in fiber cement holds two advantages, Little says: warranty and maintenance. The entire job now carries the manufacturer's 50-year warranty on materials. In addition, fiber-cement components hold their paint from seven to 15 years, depending on the coating, as opposed to two or three years for cedar and, Little estimates, five or six years for composite trim products.
"It's still a nail-on product," says Little. "The biggest difference is that it's cement, and cement holds paint a lot better."
Dustin Hawkins, a salesperson for McDowell Exteriors, St. Charles, Ill., says his company mixes and matches different types of trim products on its fiber-cement jobs. "We've used cedar corners and fiber-cement corners. Even composites."
Choice of material is determined by how much of the exterior will remain and client preference. A smooth finish on the fiber-cement boards calls for smooth fiber-cement or composite trim products. "Some like that rough cedar look, so we use cedar on the corners," says Hawkins. Soffit and fascia, too, dictate the look and choice of siding and trim. If rough sawn cedar is used in the soffit and fascia, "then the corners look nice in cedar, and we tie it in with window frames." If the soffit and fascia are aluminum, "then fiber-cement or composite products are preferred" for trim.