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Hi,

This is my first post to this forum, but I've been lurking here and on the contractor one for a while, and I'd like to preface my question with a really sincere, "thank you," to the community here in general. That being said, here goes:

My wife and I bought our two story fiber cement siding house three years ago, we live in central Texas, and I decided to paint the house myself. I want to note that the house is still in pretty good shape, so it's not like I'm doing intensive repairs here. After too much research and trials to figure out what worked, what didn't, and what wasn't worth doing, I got the siding painted. When I started looking at the trim I noticed that some other problems we had encountered stemmed from what can only be considered poor construction practices. I want to replace a bunch of it because there are really awful looking joints that have absorbed water, but I realized that replacing the siding correctly may involve some big decisions.

In the images below, the first depicts the way my trim has been installed by the builder: they ran the fiber cement siding to the edge of the house... sometimes - the length which they extend under the trim varies wildly from about a half an inch to about 5 inches. Capped on top of that, they fastened on the trim. The siding underneath hasn't ever been painted or anything.

The way all documentation for fiber cement siding I can find says the trim should have been installed is the second way, which involves cutting the siding to length and butting the trim up against it.

My dilemma is this: if I replace the trim that needs it, should I replace it with the same (possibly wrong) convention the builders used, or should I attempt to correct that? I have I think 160' of trim on the house, some of which is 16' in the air, and this is a one man operation. If I replace it the second way, that means cutting the existing siding by getting the necessary, somewhat expensive tools, somehow getting some of it way off the ground to install, and rethinking some architectural geometry also really high up in the air. I''m really not interested in doing that myself.

If I just replace the material with the same method, I'll save time, but could potentially be leading to bigger problems in the future as that unfinished siding under the trim rots as water makes its way under it, not to mention some of that water getting around the protective barrier. Being in central Texas, we don't get a lot of rain, so I don't know that it's that big a deal that they installed it that way, and it has to have passed inspection at some point, so surely it's not that bad.

If anyone has any insight into this situation, I'd really like to know. I'm also not sure what nails I should attach the trim with if I go the second way. Some of those will surely go through the fiber cement where it extends further under the trim, and I don't feel like a trim nailer will work for that, meaning I'd need to rent or drop the money on a bigger nailer, because I'm not dragging siding 16' up in the air so I can balance it and drill holes for the nails as recommended to avoid cracking the fiber cement.

I'll attach actual photos as well, but I'm at a loss here, so any guidance is greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
 

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Naildriver
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Door #2. Your trim always goes up first and the siding cut to fit. I would opt to change out all the incorrect trim to make it look like a professional did it. Using 5/4 Azek is a good choice for the trim.
 
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retired painter
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I've painted more new construction houses trimmed out like yours than I have done the way you propose. I assume it's just quicker/cheaper for the builder. If you cut back the siding so the trim boards set flush with the sheeting, the end of the siding may not have anything but the sheeting to be nailed to. I don't know if that will be a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Door #2. Your trim always goes up first and the siding cut to fit. I would opt to change out all the incorrect trim to make it look like a professional did it. Using 5/4 Azek is a good choice for the trim.
Thanks, guys. I saw on the family handyman website that the trim should have gone up first and then the siding cut to fit. I'm glad to know that is the accepted standard. I'd also been wondering about trim to use instead. I imagine you guys have similar climate in Georgia, so I'll definitely check that out.

I did upload actual photos as well. The first shows the variation in trim length, the middle board of which barely went under the trim. It also looks like they didn't bother with a starter strip either. The second two show part of my beef with the results of their method - the irregularity of where the trim was nailed onto the siding resulted in uneven forces on the trim causing it to buckle over time, which visually bothers me. Another one in there shows a 45 degree joint in the trim right about eye level as I walk up the driveway. You can see about half of each board's width is sticking out with that gap underneath. That part isn't painted because I can't bring myself to waste good paint and time painting over something that looks like that.

The last photo is of some window trim. I need to find an example of what it should look like somewhere; I haven't been able to tell yet if that should be trimmed first as well, and then cut to fit. If so, that looks like it will leave a little aluminum from the window frame sticking out past the trim instead of being flush. I know the trim on top wasn't paid especially close attention, since none of those pieces above are at the same angle; one or two are almost flat, and the rest are at weird angles, either slanted with the siding or somewhere in between. I might throw up a photo of the trim and siding around the entryway later.

Anyhow, thanks for the advice so far, you as well, Mark. I know I could just paint over it, but but the thought of that bothers me. That was part of the reason I didn't want to hire anyone either, because I figured I'll give enough of a crap to try and fix some of those, which doesn't always happen. Again, thanks.
 

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Take the time to read the James Hardie instructions.

Thanks, guys. I saw on the family handyman website that the trim should have gone up first and then the siding cut to fit.
The vapor barrier goes up up first, then the corners are flashed with flashing, then the trim goes up and then the siding is butted to the trim. Non colored products are then caulked where the siding meets the trim.

When you forget to renew the caulk the flashing under protects the structure. When the trim rots it is easy to replace.

Why use 50 year siding and not install it properly?
 

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Just one of my many pet peeve's to see a siding job done like that.
Get in get out, get paid go to the next one.
If I had to fix this I'd suggest using one piece outside corners, cut them to length, set them in place over the siding, mark the siding, remove any of the end nails and cut the siding back with a diamond blade in a circular saw.
 
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cut the siding back with a diamond blade in a circular saw.
Wear a stocking cap or pantyhose on your head, safety glasses and an OSHA approved cartridge style respirator while doing this. Buy a box of the pre-filters for the rrespirator and change them as you need to.
 
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