By BUILDER Magazine Staff. If you're still using wood exterior trim boards on your houses, then you know the deal. They're lightweight and inexpensive, but, like a tuna sandwich, wood does not last long when exposed to the blazing sun and water. A smart alternative is composite molding and trim. While they may look like wood, these products will last until the cows come home.

Composite trim may be wood/plastic, cellular PVC, vinyl, or polyurethane. They differ in weight and appearance, but they all boast better weather-resistant qualities than most wood exterior trim products.

One such composite is Royal Wood, a wood/plastic product that handles like wood but will not split, rot, warp, or fade over time, according to its manufacturer, Phoenix-based Precision Composites. The smooth-faced product may be painted, but it can also be left as is, says Larry Demaree, vice president of marketing and business development.

"The bonus of using this product is that you will have the ability to use it in severe exposure applications, such as garage door trim," Demaree says. "It just will not peel or rot, even in its natural state."

Vycom Corp. in Moosic, Pa., says its AZEK trim board is manufactured by an extrusion process that gives the product a rough wood-like texture on one side and a smooth face on the other. Ideal for architecture that is popular in Western states, AZEK can be cut, drilled, and sanded just like wood, and it is solid throughout so it has no interior voids.

Despite its apparent benefits, composite trim still plays second fiddle to wood. Like everything else, this is due to cost. Composite material, in general, is comparable in price to high-grade clear cedar or redwood, but it is much more expensive than, say, finger-jointed pine. The fear factor for builders is that composite will eat away at their bottom line.

Not true, says Rachelle Shendow, marketing manager for Vycom. "When builders use pine, most times they are wrapping it in aluminum, so there are two installations to pay for. Factor the wood, aluminum, and the installation, and composite actually comes out cheaper in some cases."

Courtesy CraftMaster Manufacturing

Two faced: MiraTEC treated exterior composite trim is ideal for a variety of applications, including gables, corner posts, and window and door trim. The product is treated with zinc borate so each piece is moisture, rot, and termite resistant. The trim resembles clear cedar, but without the knots, splits, and cracks. Factory primed, each piece is cedar-textured on one side and smooth on the other. The boards come in 16-foot lengths and in widths from 2 to 12 inches. CraftMaster Manufacturing. 800-255-0785.

Courtesy Style Solutions

Louver me not: These urethane half-round louvers are workable like white pine, but they will resist splitting, weather damage, and insects, says the maker. The pieces require no sanding, priming, or sealing, and may be painted to match any deacute;cor. Some pieces also come in a wood-grain stainable version with a redwood texture and color. Twenty styles of louvers are available, including custom designs and sizes. Style Solutions. 800-446-3040.

Courtesy Vycom

Wild frontier: The Frontier Series trimboard is a new line of cellular PVC products that are designed with a rough texture to match certain architectural styles--especially in the West and Northwest. Manufactured via an extrusion process, the pieces are impervious to insects, will not rot, cup, split, or delaminate. They also hold paint well, the manufacturer says. The trim has square edges and no interior voids. It is available in standard profiles. Vycom. 570-346-8254.

Courtesy Precision Composites

Fit 'n trim: Royal Wood is a wood and plastic composite trim that comes in a smooth white finish. It can be installed and left as is, or it can be painted to suit your needs. The product handles like wood but it will never spilt, warp, or rot, which also means that it can be nailed closer to the edge, the maker says. The boards come in 16-foot lengths and up to 12-inch widths. Precision Composites. 866-899-3320.