Exterior siding and trim

Exterior siding and trim

In years past, there were not many options for exterior siding and trim. The lumberyard I worked at in the 1980s sold only vinyl siding and sheets of plywood siding, called T-111. Cedar and redwood were the go-to materials for customers wanting higher quality siding and trim. Redwood has all but disappeared from the marketplace because of cost and availability, and cedar is poised to follow suit.

Enter composite siding and trim. These materials have come a long way since the first vinyl shake shingle was introduced or the first cement board siding was used. There are so many products out there and more being brought to market all the time, it is hard to know which material works best in certain situations. This article will discuss the exterior siding and trim that we here at Thomas and Milliken display, distribute and stock. The few lines we carry represent a small, but important, part of the market.


First up is cement board. We display James Hardie ColorPlus lap siding in our Petoskey showroom. In addition to lap siding, Hardie offers shake shingles, sheet siding and full selection of trim boards. You can buy Hardie primed and ready to paint or choose one of many prefinished colors. As with all siding materials, proper installation, care and maintenance are key to long-term performance of the product. 



Boral TruExterior siding and trims are products we have been stocking for more than three years. It is a composite material whose primary component is fly ash, a byproduct of coal fired power plants. When it first came on the market Boral focused on trim boards and siding products that resembled old cedar and redwood profiles. Dutch cove, channel rustic and shiplap are just a few of the profiles it produces. In doing so, Boral was able to bring to market sidings, formerly made of wood, that were no longer stocked at lumberyards. This served a very niche type market as the most popular type of siding was and is lap siding. Boral brought that product to market two years ago and now offers a high quality affordable lap siding that has the same workability as wood. Combined with a wide selection of trim boards, soffit material and beaded tongue and groove products, Boral can offer a homeowner a complete exterior millwork package.



Composite shakes have grown in popularity with many different finishes, exposures and textures. From a distance it is difficult to tell the difference from wood to composite. Cedar is still used a great deal for sidewall shake siding because of its quality, beauty ease of use and overall familiarity. Grayne composite shake siding comes in two sizes, 5” and 7 1/2” to replicate both red cedar and white cedar shake sidings. It comes in sheets and is easily installed. You can buy Grayne ready to paint or in a number of prefinished colors that are complementary to most lap siding choices. One of the common complaints with engineered shake siding is that it is too perfect and too uniform and that it clearly does not resemble wood shakes. Grayne works to solve that problem by having different wood grain patterns on the panels so as to create the more random appearance you get with wood. 



The Tando family of composite shake siding offers homeowners a broad selection of different textures, exposures and finishes. The Signature Shake product uses semi-transparent stain to produce a textured shake that has all the color, nuance and appearance of wood. Beach House Shakes offer the uniform appearance of smooth cut cedar shake shingles with a palette of color choices. The Tando Shake series offers different sizes and textures of product from square butt, to staggered shakes, to a traditional hand split shake panel; all come in a variety of prefinished colors. 



Thomas and Milliken became a distributor of Versatex composite trim boards this year. Composite trim boards, such as Versatex, have become mainstays in the building industry. Versatex continues to be a leader providing high quality trim boards, sheet goods, column wraps, corner boards, siding skirt boards, stealth trim for windows and doors and tongue and groove products for porch ceilings and soffits. When properly installed, Versatex performs like its wood counterparts. Additionally, Versatex has teamed up with Aqua Sur Tech oem, to provide dark paint and stain finishes that do not adversely affect the performance of the trim boards. One of the common complaints with composite pvc trims is that they move a lot on the wall and you can’t paint them dark colors. The contractor guide Versatex dealers offer shows how to install its trims in such a way where they won’t move, and properly prepared and painted trim with Aqua Sur Tech will offer years of low maintenance and performance.



The most important thing a builder, remodeler, architect, or homeowner can do prior to specifying, recommending, or purchasing exterior siding and trim is to talk to a knowledgeable dealer. A good dealer will have the experience and knowledge to help find just the right product for the situation. Thomas and Milliken prides itself by partnering with suppliers that offer quality materials, deep inventories and a commitment to meeting and exceeding the needs of its customers.


Kent Strawderman

Thomas and Milliken Millwork

1840 M-119 Unit 4

Petoskey, Michigan  49770

(231) 881-9318 office

(231) 881-9321 fax

(231) 838-4820 cell



Written By Kent Strawderman