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Community and Q&A

Lumberyard: Cedar trim options

kevinjm4 | Posted in General Questions on

I’d like to go with cedar all around my house for trim. Problem is my lumberyard, both of them, were not much help.

what is the best option, and/or pro’s and cons, or what to stay away from altogether when it comes to cedar for trim application. I at least know to avoid std and btr. But also don’t want clear, just can’t afford it.

around Seattle it is typically western red cedar I believe.

so for trim, I’m choosing between these options:

Note: they claimed to use a high end priming process – roll on instead of spray, not sure what this means

-select Tk green primed.
-select tk KD primed.
-(select tk kd??) fingerjointed primed.
I believe this is what they sell but they weren’t sure.

-Or finally, am I just better off going with select tk kd unprimed, priming it myself with a good quality oil primer. Just would love to buy pre primed to save time…

any help, advice, definitions – and what specifically to ask the lumberyard for so there’s no mix up will be much appreciated.


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  1. CrisPA | | #1

    Pre-primed cedar is a joy to paint - however they do it, it's like magic. So unless there's a big price premium, I'd suggest going with the primed boards.

    And if you will be doing the transportation, be sure to cap with plastic and tie the front end of the bundles. Otherwise, when you get up to about 35, the wind will separate them and break them off, leaving a trail of ~12 in pieces behind you. Or so I've heard...


  2. Expert Member
    Akos | | #2


    If you are going to paint it, I would vote for clear pine over cedar. For outdoor, you want something without any knots, the type of wood doesn't matter as much, protection and durability comes from the paint.

    For budget outdoor knotty cedar, I find water based stain type sealers work the best (ie Arbourcote), oil tends to flake over time.

  3. Expert Member


    Are you set on using cedar? If the panels are cement-based, why not the trim?
    Everything you can see on this facade is cement-based except the fascia.

    1. kevinjm4 | | #4

      After further reading here and elsewhere, I’ve concluded there are many opinions... finger jointed can split and you can see the joints, non finger has bad shape to it, white, cedar, etc... I’m just about open to anything except plastic, and I’d prefer to not go with cement based, but it is an option.

      I’d prefer wood. I suppose doesn’t necessarily have to be cedar, I’m open to any type of wood that is not too steep a price. I will say after looking at the “primed whitewood” at my local lumberyard I was not impressed. Looking for something a step up from that.

      Also for some reason Home Depot’s primed exterior whitewood is similarly priced to primed cedar... not sure why.

      After seeing this I figured I might as well go with cedar if they’re about the same price. That’s the context for my question. Since I’ve always heard cedar is “better” than whitewood.

      1. Expert Member
        MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #5


        My experience with cedar in wet locations in a PNW climate similar to yours is that it lasts about a decade. Longer than most other species, but not long enough to be thought of as rot-resistant.

        I suggested the cement-based battens because I know your siding is in a vulnerable location. To protect the bottom of the battens, a concrete-based water table helps. The other pieces of trim that will rot out quickly are the horizontal ones over the openings. I'd suggest caulking the top to the panel with Big Stretch prior to installing the battens above.

        1. kevinjm4 | | #7

          Malcolm, thanks a bunch for the tips, and good to know someone with your knowledge recommends big stretch, I have seen a thought about getting that.

          The reasons I went with the smooth hardiepanels was because of the cost, and also its rot resistance and speed of install. I would have loved to go with 1x10x10 cedar boards but, cost. And reasons for choosing to not go with hardie battens was because of width primarily. But I suppose I could try a 1x2 hardie trim. Instead of their 1x3 “hardiebatten”

          I just like the workability and avilability of wood. For instance, I will be making my own sill and header cap trim piece, with drip line and slope.

          I was just asking the question because i don’t know a ton about wood and it’s exterior application and It’d be nice to walk to a lumberyard and say can I see your “x”?...

          Hardie trim where I’m at is a special order item according my nearest lumberyard. Since I’m new to everything building, I prefer to see the material before buying it. That being said, water table will probably be cement based because of the vulnerability of that piece.

          Thanks again.

          1. Expert Member
            MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #10


            I guess another way of looking at it is so what if the battens only last a decade? It's not much work to replace them, and no damage done to the wall.

            A picture of the water table on that wall during construction:

      2. Expert Member
        Akos | | #8


        For B&B the type of lumber matter much less than the install details. This is a 6 year old shed with rough sawn pine for both boards and battens. We don't see as much water as the coast there, but definitely way more snow.

        The reason it works is that there are no horizontal battens. As soon as you add these, the horizontal ones and the bottom of the vertical battens start to rot.

        I'm with Malcom on this, if you want horizontal battens, go with a not-wood solution.

        If you must have wood, the top of the horizontal battens need to be mitered, or even better a small kick out flashing above it, and the bottom of the vertical battens need to be kept about 1/4" above them. Even then the paint on the bottom will come apart first.

        1. kevinjm4 | | #9

          Hm, did I say horizontal battens? I’m not doing those. I will be doing vertical battens. Unless I’m misunderstanding. Also thought B and B was always vertical.

          1. Expert Member
            Akos | | #12

            People like to put all kinds of horizontal bands with B & B to break up the pattern. I'm guilty of this, the garage there has one at the bottom, which is starting to rot already.

            If you are going just vertical, then pretty much any wood will work. Make sure you prime the back and cut ends.

            PS. For some reason this site keeps rotating my pictures in strange ways. I tried rotating the picture on my computer and it still shows up upside down.

        2. Expert Member
          MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #11


          The confusion over the battens probably came from me. Kevin does plan to have trim around his windows, which would involve a horizontal one at the head.

    2. Stockwell | | #13

      Hi Malcolm--Do you happen to know the paint colors on that house? I think we are going to do something very similar.

      1. Expert Member
        MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #15


        I'll call the owner today and find out.

      2. Expert Member
        MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #16


        The trim is satin Black. The main colour is Earl Grey 7660 by Sherwin Williams.
        Both are solid colour stains.

        1. Stockwell | | #17

          Thank you sir!

          1. Expert Member
            MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #18

            Cheers. Remember the way the colours render in my photo might be misleading.

    3. kevinjm4 | | #19


      I went to my local lumberyard to take a look at the hardietrim. It looks like they were sawn using a drywall jab saw. Perhaps that’s the nature of working with that materiaL

      I think I’ll go with the clearest tight knot KD cedar I can find, prime it (alkyd) myself then paint (acrylic b.moore).

      1. Expert Member
        MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #20

        Good idea. We quite rightly devote a lot of time to durability, but need to remember this is something you want to enjoy and be proud of. If cedar speaks to you, that's what the wall needs.

  4. charlie_sullivan | | #6

    Here in New England, I've found great quality and pricing by going straight to small sawmills for eastern white cedar. I don't know if there are equivalent options on the west coast for western red cedar, but it might be worth scouting around a bit.

    My other advice is to listen to Malcolm since he is generally a good person to listen to and he is in your area.

  5. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #14

    Kevin, a couple of other options you might consider:

    Boral TruExterior is a fly-ash and poly composite product. It's usually considered relatively "green" because of its recycled content, and it is impervious to everything. It is not the cheapest option, nor the nicest to work with.

    Western Hemlock has been the most affordable, clear, solid wood clapboard even here in the northeast for the last decade, and on a project I designed the builder recently used western hemlock for both siding and trim. It's not as naturally rot-resistant as red cedar, and it's a bit more brittle, but other characteristics are comparable to cedar. I have mixed feelings about using such old-growth lumber, but as long as it's sustainably harvested (look for FSC certification) it's probably better than using a petroleum-derived or cement-based product, when it comes to the environment.

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