Residing and Trim Cladding

The Kalamazoo Historic District Commission does NOT endorse the residing of structures within the historic districts. It is the Commission policy that the original fabric of the building should be repaired or replaced when necessary. If the original siding material will not hold paint, an investigation to determine the source of the problem should be undertaken. If the source is not addressed, a moisture problem will continue to cause damage to the structure when covered by new siding.

In rare instances where it can be demonstrated that more than 50% of the original materials will no longer hold paint or are so badly deteriorated that they can no longer be reasonably repaired, or when the current siding is considered hazardous (as in the case of cement asbestos siding), the following residing standards must be strictly adhered to.

  • All siding applications will require a site visit by members of the historic district commission and the historic preservation coordinator. This site visit can be arranged before the next regularly scheduled historic district commission meeting. No siding applications will be considered after the September HDC meeting.
  • No trim cladding application will be reviewed by the historic district commission without representation by the contractor who will be doing the work at the meeting.
  • A residing and trim cladding application must be filled out and submitted with the application. This application is available from the coordinator by mail, fax (337-8513) or email


For the purpose of these guidelines, the terms “residing materials” and “trim cladding” shall be understood to encompass the use of any residing materials such as aluminum, vinyl, steel, hardboard, Upson board, wood, masonry or molded urethane which is designed to replace or cover all, or any part of, an exterior wall, trim work or other building element of a structure within a locally designated historic district.

Statement of Purpose

The commission shall review all Certificates of Appropriateness proposing the installation of residing materials or trim cladding as individual cases. Each certificate shall be decided on its own merit. No person should interpret any Commission approval for residing or trim cladding as being precedent setting. Unrestricted use of residing materials or trim cladding will not be allowed.

In any case where residing materials or trim cladding are proposed for use by a property owner or siding contractor, the following information is required as part the project application for the Certificate of Appropriateness and is covered in the Trim Cladding Application:

1. The property owner shall be required to submit information stating in detail, the intent and scope of the proposed residing or trim cladding installation including the identification of any deterioration or problems occurring relative to the existing siding or exterior building fabric. If known, the cause and extent of this deterioration must be clearly stated and the proposed remediation or repair BEFORE trim cladding is installed.

2. The property owner or siding contractor shall submit a detailed written description (including drawings and photos) of exactly how all of the proposed residing materials and trim cladding are to be installed. This shall include an explanation as to the method of installation and the type of underlayment used to prevent moisture buildup behind the siding. Material and color samples shall be submitted with this written description.

It is required that the property owner and a representative of the building contractor be present at the Historic District Commission meeting when the Certificate of Appropriateness is reviewed. The contractor’s representative will be questioned in detail as to the proposed method of installation. No trim cladding application will be reviewed without representation by the contractor who will be doing the work.

The following conditions of installation shall be met by all proposals for residing or trim cladding.

1. All existing deterioration shall be made structurally sound and its causes, as much as possible, shall be corrected prior to the installation of residing materials or trim cladding.

2. Any installation of residing materials shall simulate the appearance of the original building material that it is intended to cover. This simulation shall take into account the size, shape or profile, texture, color and linear direction of the original building material.

(a) The residing material shall be similar in appearance and dimension to the original siding. The exposure to the weather of the new siding shall range within one inch of the nominal dimension of the original siding. The Historic District Commission shall have the authority to waive this requirement in the event that they believe a different design or dimension siding would be more appropriate to the architectural character of the Historic District.

(b) A proposed color shall be appropriate as determined by the Commission.

(c) Generally, the Commission does not approve wood grain textures. Smooth surfaced siding is much more likely to be approved on review. However, the appropriateness of a specific siding texture shall be determined on an individual case basis.

(d) Corner boards of the siding should match corner boards on the original siding. For example, a 4” original corner board should be covered with a 4” corner piece of siding.

3. Any installation of trim cladding shall adhere to the following guidelines for the treatment for architectural trim elements.

(a) Existing cornice or building trim elements shall not be covered or replaced without Commission approval. Commission approval will depend upon how closely the trim cladding or new trim elements duplicate the appearance of the existing building trim elements. The application should be as detailed as possible.

(b) The wall siding material shall not extend over the existing trim members such as window casings, sills, fascias, soffits, frieze members, brackets, aprons, comer boards or any other characteristic moldings.

(c) If the above-mentioned trim members are to be clad, they shall be covered with custom formed cladding which shall closely approximate the shapes and contours of the existing mouldings or trim. Distinctive or unusual trim elements shall not be clad without prior consideration and Commission approval.

(d) No building trim elements are to be removed or altered to facilitate the installation of the new siding or trim cladding without approval of the Historic District Commission.

(e) In most cases the soffit cladding material shall run parallel and not perpendicular to the plane of the wall.

4. To avoid the creation of an exterior vapor barrier or exterior water penetration, the following guidelines shall be followed:

(a) All residing materials and trim shall be properly ventilated through the use of weep holes or other approved means.

(b) All siding and trim shall be properly installed and flashed so as to prevent exterior water penetration.

(c) Architectural grade caulking such as polysulphide, polyurethane, or butyl shall be used where required. However, to allow proper air circulation behind the new siding, it is recommended that not all vertical butt joints be caulked or sealed into the trim channels.

(d) Any insulation that is impervious to water vapor shall not be used.

(e) Any other material proposed for use in conjunction with residing materials or aim that contributes to the creation of a vapor barrier between the new exterior surface and the old exterior surface shall not be used. No backup material with a perm rate of less than one shall be used (one perm permits 1/7000th pound of water, one grain, to pass through one square foot in one hour when the vapor differential is one inch of mercury).