May marks National Home Remodeling Month, the NAHB’s annual celebration of the remodeling industry and remodeling professionals. Westlake Royal Building Products™ has signed on as the title sponsor of the event for the second consecutive year.
During National Home Remodeling Month, remodelers are encouraged to leverage customizable marketing tools, content, and tips to help promote the industry and local expertise. Available materials include sample social media posts, web banner graphics, press releases, fact sheets, and more. For local councils and members, NAHB offers government proclamations, articles and op-eds, fact sheets, and a how-to kit.
“Westlake Royal is thrilled to sponsor this initiative again this year. Remodeling offers numerous benefits to homeowners who want to change their living environment without uprooting their family and moving. Home improvements can add more space for a growing family or older parent, improve energy efficiency and increase the resale value of your home,” said Steve Booz, vice president, marketing & product management at Westlake Royal Building Products. “We are excited to join in supporting NAHB’s members, who are committed to quality construction and integrity, professionalism, and their customers.”
As part of the sponsorship, Westlake Royal Building Products will host several events for NAHB members during the month of May, including a Shop Talk on May 11 featuring Chuck Chura, senior product manager for Westlake Royal Building Products, who will discuss using panelized stone to drive building efficiencies.
Westlake Royal Building Products’ portfolio of siding and trim comprises more than 30 individual brands, ensuring you and your customers can find the right product for each project, application, style, and budget. To support you behind the scenes, Westlake Royal offers numerous professional tools and resources that can help you select the perfect material, choose the ideal color, and ensure proper installation for long-lasting looks and performance.
Along with our in-house customer service team and in-field sales representatives, be sure to take advantage of our extensive array of resources to help sell, select, and install siding and trim from Westlake Royal Building Products.
Samples: We offer samples for nearly all of our siding products and many trim products. How to get: Visit individual project pages (start here) and click on “Request a Sample.”
Sample boards/folders/brochures: When meeting with clients in your office, in their home, or on the jobsite, our portable sample boards can help compare different materials and illustrate the aesthetic and performance benefits of each. Leave-behind brochures outline product benefits and color options. How to get: Contact your local sales rep.
Fan decks: Help your customers visualize and select siding options with fan decks featuring siding color and grain options from several Westlake siding brands, including Exterior Portfolio® and Royal®. Vinyl samples are cut from actual siding, providing a true physical representation. How to get: Contact your local sales rep.
Product knowledge sessions: In-depth knowledge of the products you sell and install is your best marketing tool. Westlake representatives and dealers are available to provide an in-depth look at your siding and trim options so you can sell with confidence. How to get: Contact your local sales rep or Westlake dealer to schedule.
Sell sheets: Download and print hard-hitting one pagers outlining products and topic areas in detail. How to get: Visit individual project pages (start here) and click on “Resources.”
Consultative training sessions: Our in-house sales experts can provide in-person sales training and tips to help you sell more effectively and efficiently. How to get: Contact your local sales rep to inquire.
Color & design guides: To help customers truly discover what color can do for their home, explore Westlake Royal Building Products’ range of design guides, including:
–Color Explorer: Choose color families and find products that match and coordinate. Click here to access.
Design galleries: See completed projects via our product-specific inspiration galleries. How to get: Visit individual project pages (start here) and click on “Gallery” or “Inspiration.”
Immersive Experience: This online, 3D interactive program showcases exterior products from Westlake Royal Building Products™ siding and trim brands as well as Westlake Royal Stone Solutions™ and Westlake Royal Roofing Solutions™ on three distinct homes. Tour the homes, explore the material options, and experiment with profiles and colors. Click here to access.
In-person or virtual training: On the jobsite, at the lumberyard, or over the phone, our sales team can provide installation training and best practices to help you avoid callbacks and improve performance and efficiency. How to get: Contact your local sales rep.
First nail program: Schedule a short jobsite training with our installation experts for Celect® Cellular Composite Siding, Versetta Stone®, TruExterior® Siding & Trim, and Zuri® Premium Decking. How to get: Contact your local sales rep.
Installation instructions: Download and print installation instructions for all Westlake Royal Building Products’ siding and trim via the web. How to get: Visit individual project pages (start here) and click on “Resources.”
Code reports: Downloadable and printable. How to get: Visit individual project pages (start here) and click on “Resources.”
Specifications and drawings:How to get: Visit individual project pages (start here) and click on “Resources.”
Education & More
CEU courses: Expand your exterior product knowledge and earn credits with free online courses. How to get: Visit AEC Daily and search “Westlake.”
Westlake Royal PROS Perks: Earns rewards for the products you buy! Enroll in this points-based program to start earning merchant gift cards and Visa® Reward Cards as a thank-you for purchasing products within a robust selection of 13 Westlake Royal Building Products siding and trim brands. Click here to register.
Browse Tip Top Exteriors’ Instagram feed and you’ll start to see a pattern—the company installs a significant amount of Haven® Insulated Siding from Westlake Royal Building Products. Owner Joe St. Angelo says the cladding has become a go-to option for the St. Catharines, Ontario-based siding contractor thanks to the benefits to both his crews and his clients.
Haven Combines Beauty With Energy Efficiency
Haven Insulated Siding offers the benefits of traditional vinyl siding, including easy installation, durability, sustainability, and low maintenance, with the elevated thermal performance of an exterior foam backing.
Haven’s EPS foam helps the siding insulate better than fiber cement, wood, engineered wood, and brick, adding R-value as well as reducing noise by up to 45%. By providing continuous insulation, similar to that of a separately installed foam board, Haven insulates the framing studs, which don’t get covered in cavity fill or foam, helping to reduce heat transfer.
For Tip Top Exteriors, Haven also brings installation benefits, with an auto-level feature that makes it easy to attach with just one installer. “It’s much faster than traditional siding,” St. Angelo explains. “Another thing that makes it easy is the coverage. [The D6 panels] are 12”, they’re double 6, so it’s 12 by 12; you get eight sheets per square, so it goes up really fast.”
Haven’s insulated corners come in 20’ lengths and are easy to make square and create a seamless look that doesn’t take away from the visuals, St. Angelo says. “Because it’s rigid, it goes up really easily for a piece that long … you just pop it in.”
For homeowners, Haven brings an elevated aesthetic that has helped Tip Top Exteriors promote the upgrade. Haven features a realistic, rustic woodgrain, the foam backing helps achieve a more solid feel, and D6 profiles comes in longer lengths of 16’ for a more seamless appearance. “It’s all about the look—it’s the closest thing to real clapboard,” St. Angelo says. “We’ve found it delivers a 75% return on investment for our customers.”
Along with increased energy efficiency and low maintenance, Haven Insulated Siding is manufactured with recyclable and recycled materials, and life cycle assessments reveal that vinyl siding has up to half the environmental impact as fiber cement.
Haven is designed to withstand hurricane-force winds up to 160 mph and is made with TXL Lamination for a stronger bond and better on-the-wall performance. Haven carries a Double Lifetime Warranty, providing full coverage for both the first and second owner.
Operation Tiny Home is a non-profit in Oregon providing affordable, high-quality housing for at-risk populations, including veterans, natural disaster survivors, and young adults aging out of foster care. On April 6, the organization, in partnership with North Sound ACH, handed over the keys of its latest tiny house project to the Lhaq’temish Foundation in support of a Lummi Nation U.S. veteran facing chronic housing instability.
Zack Griffin, co-host of the television series “Tiny House Nation,” joined Operation Tiny Home, North Sound ACH, and the Veterans Administration National Tribal Advisory Committee at the ceremony, which was held at the Seven Feathers Casino Resort in Canyonville, Ore. The home’s recipient spoke to supporters and cut the ribbon on her new house. Following the event, the tiny house was transported to its final destination near Bellingham, Washington.
“Witnessing the joy on the veteran’s face as she received the keys to her new home was truly a moving experience,” Operation Tiny Home noted on its Instagram page. “We want to extend a heartfelt thank-you to all who made this possible — your efforts have made a real difference in the life of a veteran and her family.”
Tiny House With All the Comforts of Home
The interior of the home will feature two lofts and a full, modern kitchen. Amenities in similar Operation Tiny Home projects have included wood ceilings, mini-split HVAC systems, a large bathroom and shower with bench, and a washer-dryer combo unit.
Manufactured with cellular PVC, Celect offers the timeless look of real wood yet absorbs a miniscule amount of water, so there’s no need to worry about swelling, cracking, chipping, and degradation. It’s an ideal combination of features for the Pacific Northwest locale, where wood cladding looks are popular but the wet weather can wreak havoc on natural materials. The siding includes a fade-resistant Kynar Aquatec® coating that withstands all weather conditions and climates, and it comes with a 25-year color protection warranty.
It was the perfect backdrop for a joyous ceremony that brought together members of the tribal community, the local community, and the building community. During the event, attendees were invited to fill unfinished interior walls with messages for the new homeowner.
“This is more than just a housewarming; it’s an opportunity to show our love and support for our tribal veterans,” Operation Tiny Home stated. “We’ll be making this house a home by filling the walls with messages of blessings and support! Because who wouldn’t want to live in a home infused with love and positivity?”
If you’re looking for remodeling projects that will deliver the most bang for the buck, exterior projects are some of the best bets. According to the Remodeling 2023 Cost vs. Value Report, exterior projects such as garage door replacement, manufactured stone veneer, and vinyl window replacement were among the top projects delivering the best remodeling ROI.
The 36th annual study by Remodeling magazine and Zonda Media compares the average costs of 23 remodeling projects with the value those investments will retain at resale based on surveys of more than 6,000 Realtors. “True to form, this year’s report confirms a consistent truth that has been revealed on every report for the last 30 years: Exterior replacement projects typically provide a higher return on investment than interior discretionary remodels at the time of house sale,” the magazine said.
Leading the way among exterior projects were garage door replacements, recouping 102.7% of costs. It was topped only by HVAC electrification conversion, a new category for 2023, which recoups 103.5% of costs.
Manufactured stone veneer (such as Westlake Royal Building Products’ Versetta Stone panelized stone siding) once again placed high on the list, offering the third-best ROI at 102.3%, up more than 10 percentage points over last year. The study looked at the cost versus return from replacing a 300-square-foot band of vinyl siding from the bottom third of a home’s front façade with manufactured stone veneer, along with sills, corners, and address block.
The other exterior projects in the top 10 were steel entry door replacement (100.9% cost recouped), vinyl siding replacement (94.7%), fiber cement siding replacement (88.5%), vinyl window replacement (68.5%), and wood window replacement (61.2%). Minor kitchen remodel and a midrange bath remodel joined HVAC conversion as the other non-exterior projects in the top 10.
“The reason for high returns on exterior projects stems from what real-estate professionals regularly witness from buyers: If their first impression is a run-down exterior, they tend to enter the property wary and reluctant to spend large on the property,” Remodeling editors said. “If, on the other hand, the home looks well taken care of, they enter with a more positive view from the outset.
Manufactured Stone Delivers Most Remodeling ROI in Two Regions
When the Remodeling 2023 Cost vs. Value report is broken down geographically, manufactured stone delivered the most return on investment among all projects in two areas: the South Atlantic (Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida), with a dramatic 109% ROI, and the East North Central (Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio), with 103% ROI.
With a panelized format the installs with nails or screws and requires no mortar, Versetta Stone offers remodelers an easy way to embrace the high-ROI benefits of manufactured stone. Each lightweight panel covers 2 square feet and features a built-in rainscreen. Browse profiles and colors here.
See the full Remodeling 2023 Cost vs. Value Report study and associated trends at www.costvsvalue.com.
The demand for outdoor living space that emerged during the pandemic (and even before) remains on trend. Homeowners are increasingly looking to the outdoors to extend their home’s footprint while creating places to relax, entertain, and so much more.
In a report released in December, Zillow noted that functional outdoor space is the most sought-after feature in for-sale homes in 2023. “The humble backyard, once overshadowed by chef’s kitchens and walk-in closets, is the new luxury for today’s home buyers,” the company said. “Backyards are now highlighted in 1 out of every 5 Zillow listing descriptions. Mentions of patios and pools also surged, up by more than 13% and 11%, respectively, in 2022.”
Here’s a look at some of the biggest outdoor living trends and how to accommodate them.
Functional, indoor-like spaces: With more focus on the outdoor space, creating separation between functions is increasingly popular. Areas for dining, sitting, or quiet relaxation are separate and appointed with appropriate amenities. Outdoor rugs can create visual designation, as can multiple levels or incorporating different colors and patterns of composite decking to frame an area or create an aesthetic separation. Furniture with the look and comfort level of interior options furthers the feel.
Sophisticated features: With growing popularity comes new ways to use the outdoor space. Along with mainstays like decks, patios, and hot tubs, homeowners aren’t afraid to appoint their spaces to meet their unique usage needs and hobbies. This may include swim spas, smaller but more practical plunge pools, pizza ovens, a dedicated yoga space, sound systems, and more.
Fireplaces and fire pits: An increasing number of options for size, style, and fuel type has given homeowners the flexibility to add the ambience and season-extending benefits of outdoor fires, no matter the size of their deck or their budget. From a soaring stone fireplace to a simple Solo stove, there are few obstacles to adding a fireplace to nearly any outdoor space. Kindred™ Outdoors + Surrounds, part of the Westlake Royal Building Products portfolio, offers a range of outdoor fireplace options, including elegant fire bowls in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Comfort products: A direct result of the pandemic and a need for safer gathering outdoors is the desire to use outdoor spaces well into the colder months and throughout a sweltering summer. Along with more standard propane-fueled heat lamps, a growing number of infrared heating options is available in decorative and built-in styles. Similarly, ceiling fans are essential for creating airflow during the summer. Also consider screened-in areas and sun-blocking canopies or pergolas.
Pergolas: Indeed, “Requests for pergolas are on the rise,” Design Builders, Inc.recently told us. “Pergolas work well next to pools or as shade for an outdoor kitchen. With a pergola, you can install heating elements or a ceiling fan for comfort through all seasons. Pergolas are a good alternative to a gazebo in regions where you can’t get the roof zoned as well.”
Blended indoor-outdoor space: The outdoor living trend toward blurring the lines from indoors to out continues unabated. Panelized opening glass walls and coordinating flooring and decking help create the illusion and truly connect the two zones to maximize physical and visual space.
Gardens: Gardens have always been a thing for outdoor spaces, of course, but increased flexibility has opened up the hobby to a greater number of homeowners and even apartment renters. Raised planter beds, small herb gardens, and even lettuce grow towers allow homeowners to source some of their own food, which is a growing concern among some consumers, without the space or commitment required for a full vegetable garden.
Work from home space: For the many homeowners still working remote, spring means an opportunity to take their laptops outside and soak up some vitamin D while still getting their jobs done. Comfortable seating and overhangs or other sun barriers, along with great WiFi access, are critical to making this happen.
Inspired by these outdoor living trends? Learn more about Zuri Premium Decking and browse our idea gallery here.
For contractors, cybersecurity might not be high on the priority list. Between balancing projects, sourcing building materials, and interacting with clients, it’s easy to let the security of your computer systems fall to the back burner. However, contractors and the construction industry overall are at risk now more than ever due to the adoption of smartphones, laptops, and other tools.
The good news is that there are a few easy tips that help protect your business.
The Risk of Cyber Threats to Contractors
Contractors and others in the construction industry are at risk for security breaches every day. If you keep customer information on a computer, use a smartphone to schedule projects, or take advantage of accounting software, among many other tasks, there are risks for a breach. Some of the most common cybersecurity breaches that happen with contractors include:
Phishing scams: These are most commonly emails sent by scammers who are trying to get you or your employees to click a link to gain access to your company’s system.
Tech support scams: A scammer sends a message to a construction/contractor business pretending to be tech support and saying your computer system needs to be fixed to gain access to sensitive information.
Ransomware attacks: A scammer infects your system with malware and threatens to release sensitive information unless a ransom is paid.
3 Cybersecurity Tips for Contractors
1. Hold “Fire Drills” to Help Prevent Cybersecurity Attacks: One of the best things you can do to help prevent a cybersecurity attack is to hold training sessions. Gather all your employees and walk through what one of these attacks could look like. A great place to start is going online and looking up some classic phishing scam emails.
Go through the main “red flags” to look out for, which may include:
The email being sent from an unknown or unofficial address.
The email having misspellings and grammar issues while trying to get the recipient to click on a link.
The content of the email stressing a sense of urgency with language like “you need to act now.”
2. Keep Your Technology Current, and Update Passwords: Many manufacturers of technology like smartphones and computers regularly update their software, making it more challenging for cybersecurity threats to break through. When you’re using an old or outdated system, those protections aren’t there to help prevent the latest cyber-attacks, putting your system at higher risk.
That’s why it’s important to keep any technology that holds customer or business information current. While the cost of replacing an old phone or computer might seem high at first, it’s less than the financial and legal damage a cyber-attack or scam could cause your business.
Part of keeping your technology current also involves using best practices for your passwords. For starters, if any of the software used for your contracting business offers two-factor authentication, be sure to turn it on. Also make sure that no one in your business is using one universal password. You can also take the hassle out of juggling multiple passwords by using a free password manager such as that offered by Norton.
3. Know Where Your Data Live: A key step in helping your contracting business stay safe from cyber security threats is knowing where your sensitive data is kept. Create a list of any software or hardware that has customer and/or business data on it. This list should be where the bulk of your cyber security efforts go toward. Since most small contractors don’t have unlimited resources, this tip can help ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
You’ll also want to look for any vulnerabilities in the software or hardware where the data is held. An easy place to start is backing up this information regularly to an external hard drive. This routine process can keep your business running if the company’s main computer(s) are compromised or need to be repaired.
These are just a few of the ways you can protect your business. Be sure to consult with an IT specialist to ensure your specific systems are operating securely. For more cybersecurity tips, the Federal Communications Commission (FFC) also has a great collection of resources specifically for small businesses.
Before embarking on a remodeling project, whether large or small, most homeowners ponder not just their design preferences and lifestyle needs, but whether the renovation will add value to their home. Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford sought to bring clarity to the question with a recent study that looked into the return on investment of common remodeling projects. The data show that, resoundingly, exterior remodeling and renovation projects deliver the largest return, with garage doors leading the way.
Industry experts continue to tout the strength of the remodeling market, as homeowners elect to renovate their existing houses rather than navigate high interest rates and low inventory for new homes. “With Americans spending more time at home than ever, the total amount spent on renovations and upgrades soared by nearly 27% between 2020 and 2022,” Today’s Homeowner said.
But with material and labor costs also high, understanding which projects provide the most value is more important than ever.
The study examined data from 70,000 homes in more than 1,200 markets, analyzing the cost versus value recouped for 34 different project types. Today’s Homeowner found that the average return for all projects is 69%. But the average cost recovered for exterior remodeling projects is 23% higher than interior projects; in fact, the top 10 projects reaping the best ROI were on the exterior.
“Curb appeal really matters when selling your home,” Realtor Suzanne Coddington, of Dickens Mitchener, told Today’s Homeowner. “It’s difficult to get buyers to see a home that has little or no curb appeal.”
Garage door replacement was the only project category to reap a full 100% return on investment, followed by wood window replacement (95.5% cost recovery), screened-in porch addition (92.9%), fiber cement replacement (92.7%), and vinyl siding replacement (91.0%) and vinyl window replacement (91.0%).
“When considering new siding, look for high-quality, low-maintenance materials,” Steve Booz, Vice President of Marketing & Product Management for Westlake Royal Building Products, advised the Today’s Homeowner audience. “Some products offer insulation or locking seams for increased energy efficiency. And don’t be afraid to play with color, texture, different profiles, and contrasting trim — siding can be beautiful as well as functional.”
The remaining projects in the top 10 comprised an in-ground pool (90.1%), composite deck addition (86.9%), concrete backyard patio (86.4%), and wood deck addition (80.1%).
To view the full study results and expert commentary, click here.
When it comes to choosing products and materials for a new home or remodeling project, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choices in brand, color, profile, style, and more. Online tools that help homebuyers visualize their options can bring tremendous clarity and, perhaps most importantly, a level of confidence that can help avoid change orders down the road. Westlake Royal Building Products offers several online design platforms and most recently partnered with Pro Builder magazine to create an immersive experience for easy browsing of its siding, trim, roofing, and outdoor living product lines.
The Immersive Experience is an online 3D interactive program designed to showcase exterior products from all Westlake Royal brands. Contractors, builders, architects, and homeowners can discover the boundless array of materials and expressive color palettes available from Westlake Royal Building Products as they explore three distinct homes—a Custom Home, a Mid-Range Home, and a Multi-Builder design.
The program begins with an avatar introduction, providing an overview of each home and product selections where users can interact and select key hotspots to learn about product details and color options. Easily travel around the front and rear elevations of the houses, engaging with different interactive features along the way.
Three Unique Homes
On the Custom Home exterior, created by BSB Design out of Charlotte, N.C., the six schemes feature roofing from DaVinci® Roofscapes, TruExterior® Siding and Trim, Eldorado Stone® and Cultured Stone® sidewall treatments, Zuri® Premium Decking, and Kindred® outdoor elements. The textures and colors amplify the designs and elevate the senses.
For the Mid-Range Home exterior, also designed by BSB, Unified Steel™ Stone Coated Roofing and Newpoint™ Concrete Roof Tile options are highlighted, plus Celect® Cellular Composite Siding and Trim and Cedar Renditions™ aluminum siding. Versetta Stone® sidewall treatments, Zuri decking, Kindred outdoor elements, and Atlantic Premium Shutters® help transform the home with boundless designer options.
The Multi-Home Builder exterior, a creation from Larry Garnett Designs in Glen Rose, Texas, features Newpoint™ Concrete Roof Tile, Foundry® and Royal® Estate™ siding, plus Versetta Stone sidewall treatment. Mid-America® shutters, Royal Trim, and Kindred outdoor materials complete the home tour options.
Boundless Color Options
Coordinating the color palettes for the six schemes on each home required the special talents of Kate Smith, chief color maven at Sensational Color. Using the broad color offering available from each brand, Smith found palettes that harmonized across all products to create enticing schemes meeting the demands of today’s homeowners.
“There were boundless color options to select from within the Westlake brands,” Smith said. “According to the national and regional color trends I’ve researched, we came up with colors and styles that consumers currently find most desirable. These include contemporary dark primary colors like black, charcoal and gray. Then there’s a crisp, white modern farmhouse palette. We also relied on some classic color combinations plus timeless neutrals that shine on their own or can coordinate with the brick or stonework on the home designs.”
According to Smith, each Westlake brand’s broad color offering made it easy to find palettes that harmonize across the products. “One of my favorites is the combination of the Newpoint Saxony Slate in Cheyenne on the Multi-Home Builder,” said Smith. “When paired with the Versetta Stone in Plum Creek, the roof and stonework together work beautifully to set off against the updated deep primary and door colors. Another favorite is the DaVinci Province Slate in the European blend of colors on the Custom Home. When matched with the Eldorado Stone Ledge in Whitecap with the white, pale gray and black, it’s an elegant combination that any homeowner would love.”
Fourth-generation custom homebuilder Albert Cummings knows a lot about two very different things: building high-performance homes and performing the blues. Cummings splits his time between his custom home business and his career as a renowned guitar player, and has performed and recorded music with his band and with music legends like Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Sheryl Crow, Susan Tedeschi, and B.B. King. Naturally, now that he and his wife and business partner Christina Cummings are building their long-planned home in the Berkshires, the couple dubbed it the “The House That Blues Built.”
The 18-acre property includes a pond and views of mountains in Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont. “We bought this site for the views, and we’ve been coming just to sit out here and relax for more than a decade,” says Christina. “We’ve been able to position our home for the sunrise and sunset views.”
The two-level post-and-beam style home, designed for relaxing, recharging, and socializing, will include more than 3,400 square feet of living space wrapped on all sides by patios and porches. The walk-out basement is designed as a tribute to music, complete with a dedicated guitar room and a guest suite set up as a place for musicians on the road to regroup and share their creativity.
The upper level will include an open kitchen, a living and dining room with a fireplace, an office, a pantry, and a family entrance with closets, storage, and powder room. The primary suite wing, which is adjacent to the laundry room, will include a bedroom, walk-in closet, and luxury bathroom.
In addition, the Cummings are dedicated to sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint, so the house is designed to meet high levels of energy and water efficiency.
“We’re eager to show how companies and products can work together to meet stringent stretch code requirements,” Albert explained. “The HERS rating must be 55, which we were able to reach based on the estimated performance of the insulation, windows, and air exchange systems. Once we included the components we plan to include in house, we were able to get to a HERS rating of 45.”
“We’ve used TruExterior for ages,” Albert said. “It’s always been our go-to material because it is highly durable and holds up in any kind of weather.”
TruExterior, a poly-ash siding product made with at least 70% recycled material, works well in any climate or environment. Since the product is moisture-resistant, it works particularly well in rainy regions or areas with high humidity.
“TruExterior is as close as you can get to working with regular wood, but without the moisture concerns and associated maintenance,” Albert explained. “It looks and feels like real wood, but it provides a better defense against the elements.”
The Cummings sometimes see golf ball-size hail in the Berkshire Mountains, Albert said, and trust this product to protect their home. TruExterior is less prone to damage from freezing rain, snow, and freeze/thaw. The composition of TruExterior makes it resistant to rot, so it can be installed all the way to grade. The product is also insect resistant.
In addition, TruExterior is easy to paint and comes in numerous styles that match historic and modern homes. “We knew we wanted this for our house right away because it has so many different kinds of trims that allow us to be creative,” said Christina. “Because this is a typical Farmhouse style, we’ll probably paint it white with different accent tones.”
TruExterior can be installed with commonly available woodworking tools and methods.
“The siding and trim can be planed, sanded, cut, milled, and glued, so you can completely customize it,” Albert said.
Easy installation, low maintenance, customization, and high performance meet the high standards the Cummings have for the House That Blues Built.
This article was written by and originally appeared on the Professional Builder website. Learn more about the House that Blues Built here.
Foundry® Specialty Siding, an exterior brand within the Westlake Royal Building Products™ portfolio, is refreshing its palette with five new Standard colors and four new Weathered colors as well as expanding the availability of colors within its Grayne profile. The new colors reflect the latest trends and consumer demand, particularly toward grays and darker tones.
Foundry Specialty Siding offers the warm look and beautiful colors of cedar without the high maintenance. A wide variety of shingle and shake siding profiles is available, including Grayne Shingle Siding, featuring custom cedar looks and true-to-life weathered hues; Perfection Shingles with deep shadow lines; dramatic Split Shake and rugged Staggered Shake; and charming Round Shingles.
The color additions comprise:
• Five new Standard colors: Available across all Foundry profiles, the new Standard colors, previously available for special order, include Moonlight, a soothing light gray; Gray Skies, a medium gray; Marine Blue, a deep blue reminiscent of a stormy sky; Modern Slate, a dark gray-taupe; and Ironstone, a trendy dark charcoal.
• Four new Weathered colors: Available for 7” Shake and 7” Staggered profiles, the new Weathered colors include Arizona Clay, a burnt orange evoking the desert West; Reclaimed Cedar (pictured below), a light rustic brown with the look of vintage wood; Midnight Cloud (pictured above), offering the feel of aged, patinaed cedar; and Denim, a gray-blue similar to weathered coastal cedar.
“More than ever, homeowners are craving wood-look exteriors without the associated maintenance, especially darker grays and rustic looks,” said Steve Booz, Vice President of Marketing & Product Management for Westlake Royal Building Products. “The nine new hues, part of our approach to continually refresh options to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers, reflect these growing preferences while delivering the rich authenticity of beloved cedar.”
In addition, Foundry Specialty Siding now offers both sizes of its Grayne Shingle Siding—5”, with the look of white cedar shake, and 7.5”, with the look of red cedar shakes—in all nine Weathered colors. Two of the colors, Lakeside Blue and Aspen Brown, have been updated to provide even more dimension.
Westlake Royal Building Products™ has added the Celect 11” Board & Batten profile to the Celect® Cellular Composite Siding line. This new vertical profile can accentuate different sections of the house, including full walls, gables, and bump outs.
Celect 11” Board & Batten is easy to install via a one-piece application that will fit with any Celect product. It’s available in 9” board x 2” batten strip x 10’ length, and is sold with 11 pieces (1 square) per box. This product is available in all 15 fade-resistant Celect colors and in Celect Canvas, ready to paint.
“We are thrilled to add another anticipated product to our high-performing Celect line,” said Steve Booz, vice president, marketing at Westlake Royal Building Products. “The Celect 11” Board & Batten has been a highly-anticipated and requested addition to our portfolio of innovative exterior products and we are expecting a great response from designers, architects, builders and remodelers.”
The Celect siding line replicates the beauty and aesthetics of wood while remaining low maintenance and durable for a lifetime. Celect features a patented interlocking seam design, which keeps moisture out and almost completely eliminates seams. All Celect products are backed by a limited lifetime and 25-year color-protection warranty, have a wind resistance of over 210 mph, use Kynar® Aquatec coating for superstar UV protection that reduces energy demands, and resist dirt, seasonal staining and insects.
For nearly 30 years, North Iowa Area Community College’s (NIACC) Building Trades Diploma Program has been jumpstarting students into a career in construction. Westlake Royal Building Products is helping boost their efforts with a Tapco Tools brake donation to train the students in the craft of custom exterior trim.
Designed for students interested in a career in residential, commercial, or industrial construction, NIACC’s one-year Building Trades Diploma Program combines classroom instruction (to teach safety, blueprint reading, and craft work processes), manipulative lab projects (a mock jobsite setting where students learn at their own pace), and eight-week mentored jobsite internships. “NIACC Building Trades students will have opportunities for nationally recognized certifications including NCCER, OSHA, and other optional industry-related certifications,” the school explains. “The Building Trades Lab is a state-of-the-art facility where students learn in an individualized, competency-based setting, mastering skills by constructing manipulative projects.”
Though most of the students are just starting their careers—recent high school grads or high school students earning dual credit—the school has participants of all ages. The Diploma Program spans 37 semester hours across three semesters. A Certificate Program (two semesters) and a Fundamentals of Construction (45 hours) also are available, among other related courses.
Part of the program’s current hands-on training is work on a local Habitat for Humanity house. A few years ago, the students participated in an episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition.
Gregg Helmich, a building trades instructor who leads the NIACC program, says that sometimes graduates go directly into the construction workforce, often by being hired through their internships. For others, it’s a springboard to other programs or more intensive training opportunities. Either way, he notes, the diploma typically leads to a higher starting wage, which helps them stick with it.
Tapco Tools Brake Donation Will Have Immediate Impact
During the 2023 International Builders’ Show, Westlake Royal Building Products handed off the Tapco Tools brake donation, a PRO 14 brake, to Helmich for the NIACC Building Trades Diploma Program. The PRO 14 allows for easy, efficient crafting of high-quality custom trim pieces for siding and roofing applications, including soffit, fascia, brickmold, sill trim, window casing, chimney flashing, and more.
Tapco Tools also donated a Snap Stand; a Side-Winder, which secures the coil to the brake; a PRO Cut-Off for safer, single-pass cutting; and a Brake Buddy, which allows the user to elevate trim work with more style and originality.
“The sky’s the limit to be able to use this in different ways,” Helmich says. “Students love to get hands-on—a video can only do so much.”
Along with fundamentals of custom bending, Helmich says the brake connects students with building science principles. “We’re embracing the building science community … often it asks for flashings that aren’t available in stores, so using the brake is great to create kickout flashing and other things to keep water away,” he explains.
For recruiting purposes, the brakes and other innovative tools come in handy for design/build events at local high schools, where students can see how a simple roll of coil becomes an intricate piece of trim.
The NIACC program has had another Tapco Tools brake for about 20 years that is still going strong. The new brake will allow for the original brake to be used by the program’s regional academies without sacrificing budget.
“I can’t thank you enough,” Helmich says. “It humbles me and gives me an attitude of gratitude to the company to be able to see the value and the importance of skills education.”
The feeling is mutual: “The NIACC Building Trades Diploma Program is doing important work in training the next generation of contractors and preserving the construction craft,” said Adam Clark, Product Manager at Westlake Royal Building Products. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to support their efforts with a new Tapco Tools brake, and we look forward to seeing the students learn and grow in the trades.”
The Cedar Renditions™ Board & Batten siding has a unique woodgrain look that can be used as an accent to enhance any exterior facade. The Board & Batten profile can also be a beautiful complement to the existing Cedar Renditions siding, together with the trim and accessories.
“With the previous success of this line with architects in both the U.S. and Canada, we are thrilled to now include a Board & Batten profile that enables designers and builders to easily achieve a modern or classic design exterior with premium aluminum products,” said Steve Booz, Vice President of Marketing for Westlake Royal Building Products.
In addition, and exclusive only to the Canadian market, two new on-trend dark blue shades, Marine Blue and Midnight Surf, will also be added to the Cedar Renditions trim coil color options.
Cedar Renditions is a sleek and modern aluminum accent siding that provides exceptional curb appeal without the maintenance or flammability issues of wood. In addition to offering a modern-looking, distinctive and unique appearance, it offers several benefits:
• Unique traditional woodgrains and premium multi-tonal woodgrain designs • Vertical siding alternative to complement a façade’s design • PVDF paint technology for exceptional fade resistance and durability • Moisture proof • Easy to install • Non-flammable
Cedar Renditions by Royal is backed by a 25-year Prorated Limited Warranty and can be purchased through select distributors across the U.S. and Canada. For more information about product specifications and warranty terms, or to locate a distributor, visit https://royalbuildingproducts.com/cedarrenditions.
Pro Builder’s Show Village returns to the International Builders’ Show this year, featuring five homes demonstrating the latest innovations in design and technology. Several Westlake Royal Building Products are featured on the Impresa Home, a compact, adaptable cottage designed as a lakeside retreat.
The 1,066-square-foot, two-bed/two-bath Impresa Home is designed to live large, with an open floor plan emphasized by dramatic vaulted ceilings, a spiral staircase to a loft flex space, and covered front and rear porches that extend the footprint and provide added relaxation and entertaining space. It’s designed as an ideal option for a first-time home buyer or a vacation/second home.
The house was manufactured off site by Impresa Building Systems in a factory/assembly line setting that decreases variability and increases speed and efficiency.
Impresa includes a tankless water heater, foam insulation, and wood flooring, along with several innovative products are several from Westlake Royal Building Products:
• Celect® Cellular Composite Siding and Trim: The Celect premium siding featured on Impresa is made from recyclable, state-of-the-art cellular material that faithfully reproduces the texture, look, and solid heft of real wood, but is unaffected by mold, mildew, weather, and time. Celect insulates 70% better than wood, stands up to impact even under the harshest weather conditions, features a fade-resistant Kynar Aquatec® coating that withstands all weather conditions and climates, and is backed by a 25-year color protection warranty.
• Eldorado Stone®: Eldorado Stone’s RoughCut mimics limestone with embedded, fossilized artifacts and a roughly cleaved, pronounced face. Shaped for bold, traditional statements with clean contemporary lines, the color Loire Valley resents a sophisticated gradient of ivories and muted creams with touches of sand and rust.
• Kindred™ Outdoors + Surrounds The Angelo Mantel Shelf from Kindred Outdoors + Surrounds boasts elegant, sweeping curves. The mantels are available in four colors representing natural limestone and in a smooth or textured surface.
• Unified Steel™ Stone Coated Metal Roofing: The Unified Steel stone-coated steel roofing offers Class 4 hail impact resistance and a hurricane wind-performance rating. It comes in five distinct profiles and is 100% recyclable.
Learn more about Impresa and the other homes in Show Village here.
Another year has come and gone, and that can only mean one thing: The 2023 International Builders’ Show and Design & Construction Week are right around the corner. The show returns to Las Vegas this year and is more jam-packed than ever—along with co-exhibiting with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, the NAHB announced that the National Hardware Show, the Las Vegas Winter Market, and The International Surface Event (consisting of Surfaces, StonExpo, and TileExpo) will all co-date with IBS.
With so much to see, here’s a look at some of our picks and previews for IBS to help you get organized.
The 2023 International Builders’ Show features more than 100 education sessions and more than 225 speakers, so whether you’re looking for business strategies, installation know-how, or the latest trends, there’s something for everyone. Here are a few that caught our eye:
See the latest trends and products in person through these at-show opportunities:
• Immersive Experience Westlake Royal Building Products is excited to have our products featured in Pro Builder’s Immersive Experience. At our booth (C3819) or on your laptop or phone, virtually explore three unique home exteriors in this fun tool. Tour the homes and experiment with styles and colors while learning about product details.
• Pro Builder Show Village See the latest innovations, products, and design trends across five site-built homes at the Pro Builder Show Village at the exterior exhibits. Westlake Royal’s products will be featured on the Impresa Home: Unified Steel Stone Coated Metal Roofing, Celect Cellular Composite Siding and Trim, Royal® Trim Post Wraps, and Eldorado Stone & Kindred Outdoors + Surrounds.
• ProTradeCraft LIVE Stage ProTradeCraft’s Jobsite Training Portal comes to life across three stages. Be sure to check out live demos of our Tapco Tools brakes!
• The New American Home Celebrating its 40 anniversary, The New American Home showcases the newest products and design trends, as well as the cutting-edge innovation and energy efficiency. This year’s project, located in Henderson, is a 7,575-square-foot, two-story contemporary house designed to be an entry-level home for the luxury market. Features include a spa, game room, outdoor fire features, and roof deck with Vegas and mountain views.
• New Product Zone See a handful of the show’s product introductions at the New Product Zone on the exhibit floor.
What’s New From Westlake Royal Building Products?
In addition to Show Village, the ProTradeCraft Live stage, and the Immersive Experience, you’ll find Westlake Royal Building Products at one of the Central Hall’s largest exhibit booths—C3819. Our entire exterior portfolio—Siding, Trim, Roofing, Stone, Windows, and Outdoor Living—resides under one space this year, so there’s much to see.
We’re introducing an array of new products across our brands, including new vinyl colors, new column wraps, Cedar Renditions™ Board & Batten siding, new profiles from Eldorado Stone, and many more!
In addition, Westlake Royal is proud to be a supporting sponsor of the NAHB Remodelers & Remodeling Central and the NAHB Professional Women in Building & PWB Headquarters, both at IBS.
As we move from 2022 into 2023, home exterior trends aren’t so much about what’s in and what’s out, but rather what continues to be in demand and what’s fading slowly from the spotlight. Not surprisingly, pandemic-fueled projects like outdoor living are still going strong, as are styles that differentiate like multi-textured facades and board-and-batten looks. Also continuing to be top of mind: resiliency, durability, and low maintenance. Even so, there’s room for a few new surprises, as well.
Here are 10 home exterior trends we’re seeing as the new year begins:
Varied facades: Using multiple textures across the façade remains popular, whether by blending materials (such as stone and vinyl), profiles (such as lap siding with shake gables), or geometries (traditional forms with modern bumpouts and roofing components).
An evolution of outdoor living: The dramatic increase in demand for outdoor living spaces during the pandemic hasn’t slowed, as homeowners not only seek to create a sanctuary space, but an expanded footprint for entertaining. Decks are no longer just a place to hang out during the summer, they have become an extension of the home. Homeowners want to walk seamlessly from interior to the exterior deck and not sacrifice any elements of comfort.
As such, we’re seeing requests for things like outdoor heaters, fire pits, storage, interior-like furniture, retractable windows, screening systems—anything to make the deck more comfortable all year long. Extending its longevity is also imperative as people are staying in their homes longer and integrating the deck as a commonly occupied space. Using composite materials, like Zuri® Premium Decking, ensures a longer life and weather resistance for this bonus living room.
In addition, requests for pergolas are on the rise. Pergolas work well next to pools or as shade for an outdoor kitchen. With a pergola, you can install heating elements or a ceiling fan for comfort through all seasons. Pergolas are a good alternative to a gazebo in regions where you can’t get the roof zoned as well.
Copper: Homeowners who love the look of composite roofing are increasingly personalizing their home with copper accents, including gutters, caps, finials, and snow guards.
Black window frames: The Modern Farmhouse craze drove interest in black and dark window frames, and even as this home style begins to fade from favor (depending on whom you ask), the sleek, sophisticated look of black windows is sticking around.
Board-and-batten: With or without the Modern Farmhouse style, vertical and board-and-batten siding remains one of the popular home exterior trends for the full façade or as an accent.
Wildfire resistance: The rate of wildfires in the United States is growing rapidly (NOAA expects up to a six-fold increase in risk in some parts of the country by the middle of the century), so exterior roofing and cladding products that are more fire resistant are growing in importance. For example Class A fire-resistant DaVinci composite roofing, especially shakes, is continuing to see growth of sales in different areas. Westlake Royal Roofing Solution’s Unified Steel® stone-coated roofing, Newpoint® concrete roof tile, and US Tile® clay roofing also carry a Class A fire-resistance rating and many are WUI certified.
Darker colors: Dark colors have been trending for a few years, both alone and in contrast with whites creams. According to color expert Renee Labbe, some of the black is giving way to dark greens that evoke a rustic natural feel.
Brick Is Back: In truth, there are a number of regions where brick never fell out of favor within the design/build community. Over the past several years, however, even areas throughout the Southeast—where brick has been a dominant selection for both residential and commercial construction—have seen a marked increase in the demand for contemporary and unique brick options. This includes a surge in interest for monochromatic light and dark colorways with varying degrees of color saturation, as well as more balanced and nuanced neutrals that incorporate subtle undertones and overtones of other hues.
In addition, brick also provides options for connecting the exterior with various interior spaces as well. From fireplace accent walls to kitchen backsplashes, there are a number of ways to establish continuity between a home’s indoor and outdoor living areas.
Color permeates every aspect of our lives, sometimes temporarily and sometimes permanently, and often plays a critical role in our emotional, mental, and even physical state. Few places is that more evident than in our homes: inside, color sets a mood and makes a personal statement; outside, it sets the tone and nurtures a lasting impression.
Perhaps that’s why we as a society are so invested in color trends. Each year, paint manufacturers and color specialists release their “Colors of the Year,” a bit of a pulse on the consumer psyche (see our coverage of this year’s announcements here).
Color trends for homes don’t move as fast as industries like fashion and automotive. But they still ebb and flow, delivering a look into the tastes and preferences of new-home buyers and DIYers alike.
We checked in with two color experts—Renee Labbe, director of design strategy at Los Angeles-based Broadside Studios, and Kate Smith, color expert and president of Sensational Color—to see what’s on the mind of American consumers as we head into 2023.
Ongoing Macro Trends
Labbe notes that we’re under the umbrella of three ongoing macro trends, with each evolving in its own right. (These trends are based on research conducted by Labbe and Broadside focusing on roofing as a core element as part of an extensive Westlake Royal Roofing Solutions research initiative to understand what is influencing home design and roofing preferences today, so as to refine roofing offerings and respond directly to customer wants/needs.)
• Naturalism: Naturalism represents how we connect to the environment and comes through in natural colors and palettes you might expect. But within that, Labbe is seeing a trend toward more nourishing colors that are rural-inspired and create a contemporary escape. The simplicity and elegance of trendy blacks isn’t going away, for example, but is making room for dark greens, weathered looks, and rustic reds.
• Ease: Emerging around 2015-2016, Ease represents a move toward simplicity as a real-life antidote to our hectic online lives and frenzied social media airs. “If you’re getting constantly hit with images and details and you look up from your phone and see a space that’s clean and simple … the palette is one to two colors as opposed to five to six,” Labbe says. “This trend is a way for your eye to take in the totality of a look without having the take in all the bits and pieces of a design because it was so simplified. … And your brain relaxes.”
• Glamour of Opposites: Around 2016, we started to see a simultaneous trend that was a bit more in your face, a mish-mash of traditional and modern, with blocky and curvy existing side by side. This aligns with a time when consumers began making their voices heard as well as business disrupters like Uber and Door Dash. “We’re seeing this ability to change the old guard, change the system and reinvent it in a way that works for the people,” Labbe explains. “Design became this place where we could express an explosion of creativity.” On the exterior, this trend is coming through in the form of what Labbe describes as disruption and merged aesthetics. For instance, in a “clean traditional” or “quiet modern” style, the elevation remains traditional, but in a way that’s ornamented and with a palette of color choices that’s more modern or contemporary. There’s also more neutrality in color, with a two-color palette versus a traditional Craftsman home that may have three to five saturated tones. Today’s neutrals are high contrast, such as white with a strong black, brown, or gray.
This also shows in a blending of styles, such as a traditional façade with modern elements built in, a home with gabled roofs but a box-shaped entry, or a remodeled home with a traditional style original paired with a modern shape with similar colors to ensure cohesiveness.
Tips For Using Color Trends
When considering color trends, Smith explains that it’s important to approach reports like a menu—browse, pick a color as shown, or customize it to suit your tastes. “Use the color as your inspiration point,” she says. “If you want to use it exactly, that’s fine, but there may be similar tones that fit your home better.”
As Labbe mentioned, color trends last longer than we often think, especially in the home space. Gray, Smith points out as an example, isn’t as “hot” as it was a few years ago, but remains popular. Blue-green continues to attract the eye (and can be found in PPG’s Color of the Year Vining Ivy) and goes great with neutrals as an accent on the exterior or front door.
In fact, Smith says consumers don’t need to be overly concerned about using a trending color for fear it will become quickly dated. What puts a timestamp on it, she explains, is the combinations of colors. Think chocolate brown and aqua from a few years ago—it was the way that everyone was using them. “When looking at how to use these trends, use them in a way that no one else is using them, and then you won’t have to worry about looking dated,” she advises.
Trends are fun, Smith adds, but consumers are much more willing to go their own direction today. “In the end, trust your gut.”
At the Legends Preserve of Bethlehem in Bethlehem, N.Y., residents can enjoy walking trails, picnic spaces, and just a short five-minute commute to the state’s capital, Albany. They also benefit from eye-catching, varied streetscapes across the community’s cottages and townhomes, with on-trend facades showcasing multiple materials, profiles, and colors.
The curb appeal comes in part from the addition of stone to the façade: Hodorowski Homes uses Versetta Stone panelized stone siding in a variety of ways to add texture and interest to its homes in Bethlehem and its other communities, says Vice President Kristan Hodorowski. These include half walls, gables, and bumpouts.
The builder switched from traditional stone veneer to stone siding about five years ago and now offers it as a standard exterior feature for every residential project. “It dresses up our houses,” Hodorowski says. “It speaks of longevity to me.”
In addition, Hodorowski notes that one of the reasons the builder relies on Versetta Stone is its panelized installation, which requires just screws or nails but no lath or mortar. This means it can be installed well into upstate New York’s cold winter season without requiring tenting and heaters. “The product is easy to install,” she says. “I have my siding installer put it up; I’ve had carpenters install it as well.”
At the Legends Preserve, home buyers can choose their stone colors—which include Terra Rosa, Sterling, Sand, Mission Point, Plum Creek, and Northern Ash—with enough options to provide plenty of choice but not too much to overwhelm.
“We’re very happy with it,” Hodorowski notes. “We’ve never had any service issues, we’ve never had any customer complaints, and I think our homes look wonderful clad in it.”
The current state of the new-home economy tends to lean toward the bleak, with falling housing starts and declining builder confidence. But the remodeling market may be feeling the challenges a bit less. Though spending slowdowns are happening or anticipated, various indicators point to homeowners investing in their current houses and continuing with project lists begun during the pandemic.
The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) is predicting a steady downturn in home improvement spending throughout the next year, Pro Remodeler reports, with year-over-year spending expected to grow just 6.5% in Q4 2023 versus an anticipated 16.1% growth in Q4 2022. Factors driving these expectations include a drop from unsustainable growth during the pandemic, higher interest rates, and higher prices for materials and labor.
Despite these contractions, reports from the field paint a picture of continued, if more measured, investment in the remodeling market, both DIY and professional.
The U.S. Remodeler Index by John Burns Real Estate Consulting dropped from 65.7 in Q2 2022 to 62 in Q3, but remains above the index’s growth indicator line of 50. Among the report’s key takeaways, Qualified Remodeler said, is a 4.9-month average backlog among remodelers, with 56% of survey respondents having at least four months of in-progress or planned projects. Supply chain issues are improving, remodelers said, but most also said that customers are downgrading to stay on budget amid pricing concerns.
Lowe’s also conducted a survey of home improvement professionals. The Pro Pulse Survey found that pros remain optimistic despite challenges, and 73% of respondents expect to have more work next year than this year.
Homeowners Invest in Existing Houses
In a recent study of 4,000 homeowners by Houzz, only 1% of homeowners have canceled remodeling projects so far in 2022 and 23% plan to start a project in the next 12 months. “For many, conditions like limited choices of available homes and rising interest rates are driving them toward renovations and improving their current home, since the cost of moving into a house that fits their current needs has become so expensive,” said Marine Sargsyan, Houzz staff economist. “Moreover, more than half of the homeowners we surveyed have no intention of selling or moving out of their current residences in the next 20 years — or ever.”
Exterior updates and “bringing the outdoors in” were among the projects taking priority.
The Houzz study also found that 91% of homeowners planning remodels plan to hire a professional. Though the report didn’t indicate, this could be due to some DIYers reaching the end of their pandemic to-do list of items they can perform themselves.
With some positive indicators, it’s perhaps no surprise that both Lowe’s and The Home Depot are “faring better than expected,” according to CNBC. “Home Depot financial chief Richard McPhail pointed to an ‘improve in place’ mentality among current homeowners, who might have wanted to sell but changed their minds because they could no longer command top dollar,” the website reported.
That’s reflected in the NAHB’s recent forecasts, as well. “The growth rate for improvement spending will slow due to declines for existing home sales,” Robert Dietz, NAHB’s chief economist, told CNBC. “However, an aging housing stock, work-from-home trends, and a decline for household mobility all favor remodeling spending.”
Sometimes the best finishing touch is the one you don’t realize is there. That’s often the case for SturdiMount® mounting blocks, which provide a strong, smooth mounting surface for easy installation of light fixtures, vents, plugs, address plaques, and more. It’s a detail that is often overlooked but provides for a clean, finished look that makes a dramatic difference in curb appeal.
SturdiMount mounting blocks are designed to blend in, complementing exterior finishes such as fiber cement, engineered wood, brick, stone, or stucco. The blocks are pre-finished and pre-assembled for easy installation in seconds, and can be painted with 100% acrylic paint. Made of cellular PVC, SturdiMount blocks are designed to be tough while requiring little maintenance. And because they come preflashed, they help manage water intrusion where the siding meets the block.
“SturdiMount provides a nice, flat plane you can mount to that you can easily waterproof,” says Jeff Rikard, General Superintendent for Wood Partners East, who installed SturdiMount mounting blocks for porch lights, dryer vents, and back fan vents at the Steele Creek Seniors affordable seniors housing development in Charlotte, N.C. “It helps eliminate long-term maintenance issues, and I intend to use it on all our fiber cement siding projects.”
Choose from seven profile options:
• Oversized Mount: 8.5″ x 15″, generously sized for coach lights
• Receptacle Mount: 6″ x 8.5″, ideal for electrical boxes
• Universal Mount: 8.5″ x 11″, suitable for mounting standard lights and dryer vents
• Split Mount: 6″ x 8.5″, designed to accommodate water spigots, gas lines, bib lines, and doorbells
• Blanks: Designed for onsite customization, blanks are available in Universal, Oversized, and Receptacle Profiles. They have a pre-cut flange.
• Horizontal Mount: 16″ x 9-1/2″, designed for use with furnace/HVAC applications and house address plaques. The face is uncut for on-site fabrication.
• UL Receptacle Mount: 5-3/4″ x 7-1/2″, allows the electrical connection to be made over the house wrap. It is UL rated for light fixtures up to 10 pounds and provides 18 cubic inches of free space—exceeding IRC requirements.
Often referred to as a nice finishing touch or “icing on the cake,” interior trim & mouldings have historically not gotten the attention and recognition they deserve for pulling a design aesthetic together. But thanks to an increasing number of passionate interior design influencers around the country, everyone from pros to enthusiastic DIYers are beginning to really appreciate the power of trim as an essential element in fully expressing home design.
Defining Every Architectural Style in Every Room
In addition to creating a seamless expression of an individual home’s style, updating interior trim actually increases home value. From base trim to wainscoting to crown mouldings, it’s the tasteful, ornate flourishes of trim and mouldings that depict a Colonial, the bold, simple details that define a Craftsman, and the humble, warm touches that represent a Farmhouse.
Cape Cod interiors exude a cozy warmth and practicality often described as New England charm. Our trim collections vary from subtly geometrical to boldly simple to clean and sophisticated. Areas to consider: transom windows, entry door sidelights, window casings, and dining room picture rails.
Use a Stop, 1×6 Trimboard, 1×4 Trimboard, Stool and Beaded Planking to achieve this look.
The Colonial home style is defined by a combination of rustic simplicity and rich detail. The symmetry and confident formality of this home style is best expressed by interior trim with a stately presence—everywhere from baseboards up to crown mouldings.
Use a Stop, 1×6 Trimboard, 1×4 Trimboard, Base Cap, Stool, Crown, and Beaded Planking to achieve this look.
Noted for its honest, handcrafted look, every Craftsman-matching embellishment has a purpose and varies by small degrees of formality. It’s marked by simple, tailored door casings and minimally ornamented window casings.
Use a Craftsman Casing (11/16”x2-¼”), Craftsman Casing (11/16”x5-¼”), Craftsman Casing (11/16”x3-¼”), Craftsman Stool, Square, and Craftsman Base to achieve this look.
Eclectic homes take their design cues from a little of each architectural style. Interior trim that fits with this style does the same, adding a layer of ornamentation while retaining a clean formality.
Use a Casing to achieve this look.
Interior trim that embraces the humble practicality of the Farmhouse home style is represented by cleanly projecting rule lines along the header and side jambs. Flatter rule lines put a contemporary take on this trim style.
Use a Reversible Wainscot Beaded/Nickel Gap, Stop (¾”x1”), 1×2 Trimboard, 1×4 Trimboard, 1×6 Trimboard, Stool, 5/8×6 Trimboard, and a Stop (⅝”x1-½”) to achieve this look.
Interior trim collections that reflect the Modern home style’s cleanly expansive function and flow range from understated to extroverted. Go the minimalist route and use trim to protect walls and floors from scuff marks and handprints. Amp up a neutral-colored dining room with contrasting and complementary colors. Like light mocha accents over cream-colored walls, for example.
Use a Stop, 1×6 Trimboard, Drip Cap, 1×4 Trimboard, Stool and Reversible Wainscot Beaded/Nickel Gap to achieve this look.
High Style and Low Maintenance
Westlake Royal Building Products Trim and Mouldings come in enough variations to accentuate any home style. And because they’re made from PVC, they’re built to last with minimal maintenance. The trim is ready to cut and install, is dent- and scratch-resistant, and won’t crack, split, or warp.
For many of us, we’ve been programmed to sell a certain way: Hard selling, non-stop calls, high pressure. But the old methods are problematic. For one thing, you wind up playing a pricing game, with little else to finish the deal. And, perhaps most importantly, homeowners no longer want to be sold to, and they are armed with information they didn’t have before.
What’s a better way? Become a problem solver for your remodeling clients. Take the time to understand their home, identify its pain points, and sell products that solve these issues. Paul Burleson, Westlake Royal Building Products’ National Remodeling Accounts Manager, calls this a “sick home selling system.”
Burleson travels the country training contractors and remodelers on a prescription method of selling. The remodeler serves the role of a doctor, diagnosing a home’s problems and then writing a prescription for how to fix it.
He recommends the following tactics for more effective selling:
• Change your thinking: Instead of the mindset that you’re selling something, reframe your approach as helping customers buy a solution to fix a problem. One of the things that COVID and natural disasters have taught us in recent years is that we could be shut into our houses at any time. This created a sense of urgency to understand the problems in our homes that make them less safe and comfortable. Rather than selling on pressure and price, you can bring value to your customers by addressing their challenges and making their homes more livable.
• Ramp up your education: Solving problems requires an intimate understanding of the products used to fix them. Knowledge of basic features and benefits is the first step, followed by deeper learning of installation best practices. Leverage your LBM dealer and manufacturers for product knowledge sessions and other education.
• Understand the effects of trapped moisture and other issues: Trapped moisture is a top enemy of the home because it can create toxic mold. By knowing how exterior products work together to drain away moisture, you can help homeowners make the most appropriate decisions. For example, Westlake Royal Building Products’ CraneBoard® SolidCore® insulated siding has moisture management tracks in the foam and Versetta Stone panelized stone siding has a built-in rainscreen.
• Arm yourself with the right tools: When touring the home, use moisture meters, thermal cameras, a Go Pro, and other devices to collect necessary data. Learn how to use that technology to build the case for the homeowner and help them understand the problems or potential problems. For example, a common find is a gutter pulled off the wall, which likely means water running behind the fascia and windows and into the foundation. A $600 fix now can help avoid a $10,000+ overhaul down the road. It’s not smoke and mirrors—they can see and understand your findings.
Another thing Burleson does is give the homeowner a notepad; each of them circles the house and writes down issues that need fixing. Engaging the customer in the process can help build trust and understanding.
• Consider a hybrid approach: While nothing can replace the in-person tour, a virtual meeting might make sense for the follow-up discussion. Utilize virtual sessions for busy clients or your own tight schedule.
One thing to keep in in mind is that homeowners know more now than ever. With the Internet, social media sites like Pinterest, and peer reviews on everything from products to your own remodeling services, your clients are coming into the process armed with information about what they want and don’t want. To truly be a valuable resource, you need to stay ahead of them; ensure you have up-to-date knowledge on products, trends, and the latest design and installation techniques.
Even if you’re preferred workspace is on the jobsite rather than behind the desk, it’s crucial as a building or remodeling pro to take the time to keep your website it proper working order, especially when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is how you ensure your company website will appear in Google search results (and ideally at or near the top of those results) when potential customers are looking for contractors to build their home, remodel their kitchen, or replace their siding. Appearing in search results can help increase traffic to your website, build brand recognition, and ultimately grow your leads.
While SEO is complicated enough that there are folks whose jobs are solely dedicated to the practice, there are a few basic steps you can take right now to ensure your company’s website is checking off the basic must-have features.
1. Ensure your contact info is up to date: Make sure your website has your current company name, address, and phone number, both on the contact page and in the static footer.
2. Update your Google Business Profile: If you haven’t claimed and updated your Google Business Profile, it’s critical that you do so right away. When potential customers search for your type of business, such as “siding contractors in Fairfax, Virginia,” having an up-to-date Google Business Profile will help ensure you appear in the results and are shown in the Google Map Pack (see image below)—which also means you’ll show up before all paid and organic listings.
Keep your Google Business Profile updated with as much current information as you can, including contact information, hours of operation, photos of your location, and before/after project photos. Encourage your customers to write a Google review of your company so those results show up, as well. (Click here to learn more about Google Business Profile and what it does, and check outthis article for step-by-step setup instructions.)
3. Use regional language: Make sure your website banner and content include your location and region. Consider what people search for (perhaps “siding contractor in Fairfax, Virginia”) and make sure you’re specifying those keywords.
4. Create original content: Google prefers websites with organic content, so create and maintain a blog if you can (see an example from Westlake Royal Building Products customer Boston Exterior Remodeling). Even a weekly post featuring design tips, reflections on the latest industry trends and topics, descriptions and images of recently completed projects, and other educational articles can give you a boost. Weave keywords related to your business, including regional references, into the content when practical. (For instance, an article on design trends may include “While dark exterior siding colors are trending nationwide, we find that our Fairfax, Virginia-area homeowners are still preferring classic white siding with dark trim.”)
If you want to dig further into the most popular keywords for your work areas, a tool like SEMrush provides research tools along with website and SEO analysis.
5. Ask for help: If you want to get beyond the basics, it can be helpful to hire an expert. A digital marketing agency or an independent consultant can evaluate your current website and fix any key problems without requiring a huge investment, freeing up your time to do what you do best—build.
If you want to dive deeper into these tips, check out Backlinko’s Definitive Guide to local SEO here.
When marketing your business to acquire and retaining customers, you can’t always rely on traditional marketing efforts such as print ads to get your business and brand in front of homeowners looking for your expertise. Leveraging today’s digital tools is a necessity, and adding Google Ads to your marketing toolbox can help you acquire more business.
If you’ve already taken this important step, here are three simple strategies to help boost the effectiveness Google Ads can have on your business.
1. Use More Keywords in Your Ads
Simply put, Google Ads allow you to advertise and promote your business, products, and services online when users search relevant keywords. The more keywords you incorporate into your ads, the better traffic and leads you could receive.
Think about what you and your customers use to search for products or services. Make a list and match it to what you are using today to ensure you are getting the most out of your ads.
For example, let’s say one of your services is siding installation on residential homes. Adding “Siding Installation” to your copy can help make your ad more effective. The copy should flow naturally as well.
Using negative keywords can also help optimize your campaign. For example, telling Google to exclude keywords like “DIY siding installation” helps to narrow traffic to those truly looking to hire a contractor. It also helps avoid paying for ad views by those not interested in hiring a pro.
2. Buff Up Your Landing Page
Once your ads are working and driving potential customers to your site, it’s time to make sure they are landing exactly where they should on your website and that it’s easy for them to take a further step in the customer journey.
Let’s take the Siding Installation example again: Once they find and click on your ad, direct them to a page that talks about what makes your services unique—e.g., no callbacks, top-notch customer service, etc.—and include that at the top of the page.
And be sure to include a clear call to action. Keep a fillable form at the top of the page; making them scroll or click around the page will only create frustration. Ensuring the form is clear, concise, and short will encourage more users to fill it out. Name, contact information (email or phone), and the type of project should be all you need to get started. Asking too many questions or making the form too long and time consuming will turn off your potential customer.
3. Take Advantage of Geo-Targeting
When someone uses Google to search for a contractor, it provides location-based results in two different ways. First, if someone searches “home exterior contractors in Pittsburgh,” Google will provide a list of contractors that match that keyword phrase and sort it by their location. Alternatively, if someone just searches “home exterior contractors” without defining their location, Google will still provide a list of results based on businesses that are near the person searching.
If you’re like many contractors, you likely have specific service areas. When you’re creating Google Ads, try to include the specific city where you’re looking to acquire new customers.
Using this tactic regularly with your ads can help you get on the short list of contractors Google will offer to people who are searching in your area. You can even take this tip further by asking past customers to leave a positive Google review for added authenticity.
Once your Google Ads are set up and running smoothly, regular check ins on their performance are key to ensuring ongoing success. The great thing about digital is you can change it immediately and in real time to get the most out of your marketing investment.
Westlake Royal Building Products’ portfolio of siding, trim, stone, and roofing brands offer a diversity of styles and options to meet the needs of your buyers’ shifting tastes and needs. Learn more here.
By now, many builders and remodelers have a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page, and perhaps a Twitter account. But should you be doing more to stay on trend?
We chatted with two contractors who are continually pushing the envelope on social media—one who’s grown to influencer status on Instagram and another who has built a massive follower base on TikTok—to see why they’re finding success staying on top of the hottest platforms.
Why Is Social Media Important for Construction Businesses
Remodeler Joe Danz, owner of Boston Exterior Remodeling, has become something of a star on Instagram, telling stories, posting his company’s work, and connecting with manufacturers. “Instagram really has changed the platform, how contractors in real time can show their work, show problem solving, show products,” Danz says. “People are really receptive to that because they enjoy content. Homeowners can see our page and know we’re serious about what we’re doing, that we’re craftsmen, that we take pride in what we’re doing.”
Danz says social media content also helps provide validation. “If someone is looking up ideas and they see the same company over and over, and their friends are following you, they start to vet you. It’s another form of word of mouth.”
In fact, Danz says social media has become an essential lead generator for the company. “I would say 60% of our business comes from social media at this point.”
Plus videos and imagery on social media also provide a more detailed look at quality and craftsmanship, allowing a remodeler to charge more for their work.
In this traditional Instagram post, Boston Exterior Remodeling showed in-progress and completed images of an 1870s Victorian featuring Boral’s Foundry Grayne siding in Rustic Slate (click to scroll through the album on Instagram).
Kyle Stumpenhorst, owner of Rural Renovators (aka RR Buildings) in Franklin Grove, Ill., has 1.7 million followers on TikTok, eschewing the notion that it’s an app for youth doing dances.
On the short-video app, participants use shared music and sounds (or their own original audio) to create content. While widely known for dances and music, it’s quickly become a place for education, demonstrations, and idea sharing. As a result, creative contractors, trades, and manufacturers in the building industry have been jumping on the trend.
Stumpenhorst uses the app from the jobsite to show craftsmanship and installation techniques, both in straightforward videos as well as leveraging the app’s unique features and trends.
“I just want to bring awareness to the trades, to cool tools, and overall post-frame construction,” he says.
Strategies for Social Media Success
For those just starting out on social, Danz encourages a jump-in-and-stick-with-it approach. “It doesn’t matter how many followers you have or how many likes you get,” he advises. “You just want to show your company in a good way. If you do that and stay with it, you’ll get noticed. It does validate your company.”
Danz also cautions that you need to enjoy doing social media to get the most success out of it. “What you put into it is what you get out of it.”
“I think a big reason for my success was consistently creating unique content that was positive and educational,” he adds. “People could learn something while also being inspired or motivated to do something themselves.”
Boston Exterior’s posts include tips and tricks, such as using the water tube approach to leveling:
The type of content varies greatly based on what your audiences respond to as well as the style of platform. For example, Instagram is great for showcasing finished projects or before-and-afters, and Instagram stories offer an opportunity for quick videos of your craftsmanship and process.
And showing the people doing the work is important, too. “They want to see the faces behind it, not just the pretty pictures,” Danz advises.
And, of course, creating pictorials of completed projects:
And be sure to adapt your content based on the unique features of the app. TikTok is a platform that thrives on using songs and keeping up with trends. Along with more traditional videos, RR Buildings makes videos to trending sounds or, in this case, playing on viewers’ love of “satisfying” sounds and actions while simultaneously showing its roofing prowess: https://www.tiktok.com/@rrbuildings/video/7025047484443397381
Like other platforms, TikTok is interactive and thrives on engagement, allowing viewers to comment, share, and even “duet” your videos to make them their own. You can respond to questions as a comment or with another video, as RR Buildings did here regarding its timber framing techniques: https://www.tiktok.com/@rrbuildings/video/6935528335183187206