We do a lot of wood rot repair on exterior painting projects in Overland Park and Kansas City. We’ve done everything from replace a couple of rotted trim boards to entire walls of siding. Have replaced thousands of feet of trim over the years, we’ve developed some opinions on the materials available based on our experience. Let’s take a look at some of their pros and cons.
There are 3 primary choices when it comes to siding and trim on exterior painting projects:
- LP Smart Siding and LP Smart Trim
- James Hardie Siding and James Hardie Trim
- Natural Cedar Trim
It is possible to buy wood trim in other varieties. We see some poplar or pine out in the field. It’s a cheap material for wood rot repair, and we caution against using it because when we run into it, we’re almost always replacing it. Pine/Poplar doesn’t hold up like cedar will on an the exterior of your home.
The existing siding type on your home dictates what we’ll use if we must replace some of the siding. All siding should match, so unless you’re replacing everything we’re locked in to matching what is currently on your house. If that’s LP Smart Siding panel or lap, then we’ll go for the same material.
For trim, if possible, we almost always reach for LP smart trim. It’s cost to performance ratio is better than regular cedar, paint bonds better to it, and it comes in a cedar texture that matches up well with real cedar trim so it can be mixed and matched on a house with real wood.
These general rules for siding and trim give us a good starting place, now lets look at each material in more detail.
In Overland Park, Westport, Midtown, and Kansas City there are plenty of homes which are stucco siding on the front and even stucco siding all the way around. On many of these homes, the trim embedded in the stucco is 2" rough cut cedar. If we’re replacing trim in this situation, we typically reach for rough cut cedar so it matches. LP smart trim and Hardie trim don’t come in 2" thick sizes.
Occasionally we have a homeowner request that we don’t use real wood. In this case there are only 2 alternatives. One is an extruded plastic type trim call Azek, and the other is a composite trim called Bortal. These two aren’t wood products so they won’t rot, but they also won’t look like the rest of the cedar trim on your home. So you’d have to decide if aesthetics are important to you, and they can be especially if it’s the front of your home.
In our experince, properly prepared cedar which is primed, finish coated, and caulked correctly will last as long as your exterior paint job will. Wood rot we see on cedar generally arises from:
- incorrect installation – allowing water to penetrate and continually saturate the wood surface
- paint which peeled off exposing bare wood and wasn’t addressed for many years
- cedar directly behind a bush which stays shaded and isn’t allowed to dry via airflow/sunlight
- a sprinkler system that continually saturates a section of cedar trim repeatedly
Some pros and cons for cedar trim:
- comes in oversize sizes, such as 2×6 or 2×8
- readily available supply
- cost is generally lower than Hardie trim but comparable to LP smart trim
- come in extra long lengths, like 20ft+ if needed so we can minimize butt joints
- requires more prep via priming to ensure good paint bond
- is real wood, so it will rot if it is not protected with a coating
LP Smart Trim and LP Smart Siding
We find LP smart products on the newer homes built in the suburbs at the edges of Overland Park, Lenexa, Shawnee, Lee’s Summit, and Kansas City. LP Smart Trim and Smart Siding arrived on the scene in the ’90s and are extensively used today. If your home is newer it may be 100% smart product, from siding to fascia and soffits LP makes everything necessary to finish the exterior of a home.
We like LP smart trim because it’s cost is comparable with that of cedar, it comes pre-primed from the factory, and it comes in 16ft lengths. Where we can, we opt for LP smart trim if we’re replacing some rotted trim on an exterior painting project.
Engineered wood product means that real wood is part of LP smart products, so it can still rot, and it will. Many of the reasons for cedar trim rotting we listed above will also cause LP smart trim to rot. If properly installed, coated, caulked, and maintained LP smart trim and smart products will last for many painting cycles.
- comes in all common trim sizes – 1×2 / 1×3 / 1×4 / 1×6 etc….
- comes in 16′ lengths – long length helps minimize butt joints in long runs
- pre-primed from the factory – in our experience we rarely have issues with peeling on LP smart products
- cost comparable with real cedar
- contains wood and will still rot if not maintained
- isn’t always as easy to find as cedar, though most lumber yards stock it
- won’t match exactly with real cedar, though comes in a cedar texture which is close
James Hardie Siding and Trim
Homes with James Hardie siding and trim are less common in Overland Park and Kansas City, though it is quickly becoming a popular building material. Hardie products originated in Australia and came to the US in the early 1990s. It hasn’t been around in our market as long as LP or cedar, but we think it will continue to grow in popularity in the future because it has beneficial characteristics.
Hardie products are fiber cement. They are not wood. No wood means no rot, ever. The hardie reps have a small demo which is basically a box with two partitions filled with water and a piece of LP smart trim submerged in one and a piece of Hardie trim submerged in one. The LP trim is swollen as it’s soaked up a great deal of the water, and the Hardie trim has hardly soaked up any and reamins essentially the same.
Because it’s cement it also means that squirrels can’t and won’t chew on the siding like the do with cedar. Woodpeckers can’t peck holes in the siding like the do with cedar. It’s extremely fire resistant, and it’s virtually hail proof.
Hardie siding come pre-primed from the factory for field painting. Hardie also sell a variant of their products known as Hardie ColorPlus which are coated in the factory.
Normally we only use hardie when we’re replacing an entire wall of siding or we’re dealing with smooth lap or a batten & board siding. Hardies trim sizes are slightly different than normal cedar, so we never mix and match hardie trim with cedar. Hardie’s textured siding panels also have a different look than LP smart side panels so we don’t mix and match there.
We think James Hardie products are the most bomb proof lowest maintenance product on the market right now, but it comes at a cost. Hardie products are more expensive than either cedar or LP smart products.
- fiber cement, so no rot ever, even if the paint somehow peels off
- in our experience paint loves to bond to the cement. we’ve never seen Hardie peel
- designed to minimize caulking. less caulking means less maintenance
- comes in all styles – lap / panel / batten & board / shingle
- can come in pre-coated from the factory, with an excellent 15 year coating warranty
- fiber cememt is heavy so correct installation is critical
- fiber cement is more brittle than LP or cedar and can break easily in transport
- cutting with a circular saw creates silica dust which is hazardous to breath so working with Hardie requires additional PPE and precautions
- not easily mixed and matched with other siding types. Hardie is best for full wall replacement of full re-siding projects
We’ve explored lots of options you have for wood rot repair on your home. We can’t stress enough that routine maintenance (repainting every 8 to 12 years) is the best course of action to prevent excessive wood rot in the first place. It is rare that we repaint a house without performing some wood rot repair, but in the cases we do it’s generally a home with LP smart products that has been on a routine repainting schedule. As of yet, we haven’t replaced any existing Hardie products on a home, as once it’s installed it won’t rot ever.
During our estimate we take pictures of and itemize all the wood rot for you. That way you have the exact information you need and know exactly what to expect for the wood rot repair. We’re happy to offer our recommendation if you have questions about what product is the best fit for your home and will work best for your situation. Contact us today.