5 Common Problems with Cedar Trim and a Better Alternative

Trim is the final finishing feature on the exterior of most homes. It’s what helps cover siding edges and frames windows and doors. And while trim can be found in a wide range of different materials, cedar is probably one of the most common used. 

Cedar is easy to get and easy to work with, and it also resists some of the issues of other woods such as insect activity. However, cedar also has drawbacks for both homeowners and installers. While you may have worked with cedar previously, better materials are now available that can help make those issues a thing of the past.

Cedar Trim Problems 

The following five problems with cedar trim may make you consider switching materials before your next project: 

1. Moisture Issues

While cedar tends to hold up better over the long term than some other woods, it’s still susceptible to moisture. This includes not only rainfall and snow, but also high humidity levels and moisture in the air. Excessive moisture can cause the trim to swell, check or crack, and rot over time. In turn, this leads to a lot of callbacks from homeowners wanting their trim replaced and wondering why it isn’t holding up or lasting. This can be particularly problematic when the cedar trim is being paired with another type of siding material, such as vinyl. 

Homeowners will expect their trim to last as long as the siding without maintenance or intervention, so when the cedar succumbs to the moisture problems its prone to, this can create additional issues with clients. 

2. Cedar Bleed

If you’ve worked with cedar trim in the past, then you’ve likely encountered cedar bleed. This is the phenomenon where the tannins in the cedar leach out through the paint, staining light colored trim and causing it to look streaky, dirty, or stained. 

Cedar bleed can happen in a short period of time after you paint or install the trim, or it can occur months down the road. Regardless of when it happens, it’s likely to cause callbacks on the part of homeowners who are now wondering why their previously white or light colored trim is now streaky and impossible to get clean. 

While cedar bleed can be dealt with by using the right kinds of primers to block the tannins, this leads to added expense and time for a project. For this reason, despite cedar bleed being a known issue, it’s still a common one, with many installers still failing to prime it properly.

3. Mildew Problems

Like all wood, cedar contains some level of moisture or water content. And depending on how long the trim has been sitting around prior to install, that moisture or water content can lead to the development or growth of mildew inside the wood. Sometimes it’s easily seen, and the right type of primer can help keep it from bleeding through the paint and showing itself on the surface of the freshly painted trim within a few months. Other times, though, it may not be immediately obvious that the wood has a mildew problem. When you paint the cedar using any type of oil-based paint or without the proper primers, you end up sealing in the moisture and the mildew, which causes it to spread, often showing up on the outside of the paint. Now you’ll have another type of callback to contend with, as the homeowner wants to know why their home has a mildew problem on their fairly new trim. 

4. Cracking and Bubbling Paint

Cedar needs to be primed and painted properly. This is just inherent to its nature, and it can’t be worked around. Not applying primer properly, or the right amount of the right primer, or mixing the type of paint and primer you use, can all create an issue where the paint begins to bubble off of the trim. 

Sometimes this happens within a few days of the trim being painted and installed, but it’s more common to find these issues popping up after a few months. The paint job and the trim installation is still new enough that the homeowner will expect a return visit to deal with it. The only thing to do is to remove the bubbling and cracking paint, prime the material properly, then repaint. This leads to lost time and money both in terms of callbacks and even when preparing the cedar trim properly for installation in the first place. 

5. Diminished Durability

Although cedar has a lot of great qualities, over the years, it’s durability has diminished. It has a tendency to crack from contact with moisture, and it also dings, scratches, and dents fairly easily. This makes it hard for the installer to work with, as any aggressive treatment may result in trim that looks beat up before it even gets installed. This can lead to longer installation times, more waste material, higher costs, and more callbacks as homeowners discover that their trim isn’t aging at the same rate as the rest of their siding. 

A Better Cedar Trim Alternative

Rather than using trim that’s fragile, moisture susceptible, and prone to issues with staining, bleeding, and mildew, consider using a trim that’s been treated with preservatives instead. 

The preservative-treated XT Trim from Belco has had the bulk of its water replaced with preservatives that help to eliminate the issues that are inherent with cedar. The preservative-treated trim is stronger and more durable than cedar, so it’s less prone to cracking, dinging, and denting. It won’t have the same issues with bubbling paint, bleed-through, or mildew growth, so you’re also less likely to have the same issues and numbers of callbacks as you’ll get from using cedar trim. 

Preservative treated trim, such as Belco’s XT Trim looks, cuts, and handles like the wood trims you’re already familiar with. However, it doesn’t require the same level of care in priming, sealing, and painting to ensure the right level of coverage, and it’s a lot more stable and less prone to the issues of cedar. 

You’ll find yourself completing jobs more quickly with better results, which lowers your overhead, stops time-consuming and expensive callbacks, and provides a better quality of material for your clients. This can result in more referrals and references for future jobs, resulting in better business growth. 

Get a Better Trim with XT Trim

XT Trim is the answer to most of the issues installers and homeowners face when using traditional cedar trim. Stop annoying prep work and expensive callbacks and make the switch to durable, preservative treated XT Trim instead, and get better results on all your jobs.

If you’re ready for a better trim, contact the experts at Belco Forest Products today!

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