There are many reasons why free foam cellular PVC (polyvinyl chloride) has assumed an ever-growing role as the go-to material for decks, trim, siding and cladding.

Durability, availability, and versatility are often cited as leading reasons, key considerations in today’s tough building environment. Yet, change isn’t always easy. Contractors used to working with a certain material may be reluctant to switch to something else, even if the alternative is widely accepted and is proven over many decades, like PVC.

Ask Garrett Davis, owner and operator of G.W. Davis Company, a custom homebuilder and remodeler in central Maine. Davis started out a wood guy, but his thinking has evolved in recent years.

“I love wood. In fact, my company was called G.W. Woodworking for the first few years,” Davis says. Wood is still a big part of Davis’ life, but it’s PVC he specs first in bids because of the way the material has eliminated callbacks in his home building, remodeling, and decking projects.

What have years of field experience taught Davis about PVC molding, trim and siding? He offers five lessons:

1. Fasten it right. “Use Cortex fastening screws [when installing PVC trim],” Davis says. “Cortex plugs aren’t obvious if you’re consistent with placement, not haphazard. Depending on the board size, install every 12 inches and make sure the screws line up vertically. I do two screws, one-inch from the bottom and top. Three screws on bigger boards. Cortex eliminates movement.”

2. Fasten often. “Every single nail holding PVC siding is into a stud, just like all my trim. I have solid attachments everywhere. I use a lot of fasteners and lots of glue. If you think you’re doing enough, you’re probably not. You need to do more,” Davis advises. The reward? No siding movement from season to season, even in Maine (where you have big temp changes).

3. Fasten near the edges. Wood and cement board can splinter or crack if fastened near the edge. Free foam cellular PVC is different. You fasten PVC near the edges to prevent buckling and warping, Davis says.

4. Keep it cool. Keep stored PVC siding, trim, molding, or other PVC products out of the sun. Store in a garage or under a lumber tarp. Cool PVC installs truer. Davis knows all material moves, whether it’s wood, fiber cement, or PVC. “If installed right, it’s set-and-forget with PVC. That’s the beauty of it. Just follow the manufacturer’s guidelines,” Davis says. “There’s no expansion and contraction from water absorption. Sealing, painting, repainting, maintenance and all the things you normally face with wood go away with PVC. Just fasten properly.”

5. Butt joints and glue. “Use butt joints as much as possible, with biscuits and lots of PVC glue. Christie’s Red Hot Blue Glue is a great product,” the contractor says. For longer runs on skirt boards, fascia or frieze, manufacturers recommend scarf joints, fastened on both sides near the edge with adhesive.

Davis has one last piece of advice and one he feels is too often misunderstand by contractors.

“I’ve heard all the arguments for and against PVC,” Davis explains. “A lot of people say wood is cheaper. In my experience, it’s not. I don’t like worrying about water seeping into end grains or wondering how much paint is enough. Do I need to biscuit this? How do I hold this joint together? With PVC, water worries and callbacks go away. Plus, it’s a cinch to install. If you’re used to wood, you’ll like PVC.”

As proof, Davis points to his own home. He relied exclusively on PVC trim, molding, and siding from his go-to PVC building material supplier, AZEK.

“I want the look of wood, not the maintenance,” he says. “It’s all about set-and-forget. No repainting. No color fading. No peeling, warping, rot, or having to add a rain screen.”

Davis singles out AZEK for all PVC siding, trim, molding, cladding, and deck products. “They keep me a step or two ahead of my competition. I sell on quality. No one delivers like AZEK.”

Learn more about how PVC siding, trim, cladding, and molding from AZEK can help differentiate your company with quality materials.