New Standard, Weathered Colors Added to Foundry Specialty Siding Portfolio

Foundry Specialty Siding Midnight Cloud

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. 

Reclaimed 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.

To see all of the products and colors, visit www.foundrysiding.com.

Westlake Royal Building Products Adds 11” Board & Batten Profile to Celect Cellular Composite Siding Line

Celect 11" Board and Batten siding

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. 

To learn more about Celect Siding and Trim products from Westlake Royal Building Products, visit https://royalbuildingproducts.com/celect

Tapco Tools Brake Donation Will Support Students and Construction Trades in Iowa

Tapco Tools donation

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.”

Westlake Royal Building Products Adds Board & Batten Profile to Cedar Renditions Siding

Cedar Renditions Board and Batten

Westlake Royal Building Products announced the addition of a Board & Batten siding profile to its award-winning Cedar Renditions by Royal® aluminum siding line

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.

Show Village Cottage Showcases Innovations in Compact Footprint

Pro Builder Show Village Impresa cottage, Celect siding

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 premium siding on Show Village Impresa cottage

• 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 RoughCut

• 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.

Westlake Royal Roofing, United Steel stone-coated steel roofing

• 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.

What to See at the 2023 International Builders’ Show

2023 International Builders' Show

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.

Education Sessions

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:

• What’s Next for Exteriors
Tues., Jan. 31, 2-3 p.m.

Super Session: A Complete Guide to Housing Trends, Forecasts & Insights for 2023
Tues., Jan. 31, 1:30-4 p.m.

8 Strategies for Leading Your Custom Building or Remodeling Company Through Challenging Times
Weds., Feb. 1, 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Learning Lab: 23 Digital Marketing Tools & Trends for 2023
Weds., Feb. 1, 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Shifting Demographic Trends: What’s Next for the U.S. Housing Market
Weds., Feb. 1, 1-2 p.m.

Trends, Forecasts & Key Indicators: What Custom Builders & Remodelers Need to Know in 2023
Weds., Feb. 1, 3-4 p.m.

Beer & Banter: Designing Homes to Optimize Health & Happiness (sponsored by Westlake Royal Building Products)
Weds., February 1 at 4:15-5 p.m.

From Outside to In: A Walk Through of the Latest Design Trends
Thurs., Feb. 2, 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Real-Time Experiences

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.

We can’t wait to see you there!

Image credit: Oscar Einzig Photography

10 Home Exterior Trends for 2023

CraneBoard siding

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).

Cedar Renditions, mixed facades
Cedar Renditions Design Series 6″ Siding in Cedar Bark

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.

Zuri premium decking, composite decking
Zuri Premium Decking in Weathered Gray

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.

copper accents, DaVinci roofing, home exterior trends
DaVinci Multi-Width Slate roofing and copper accents on an estate in Naperville, Ill.

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.

TruExterior poly-ash trim board and batten
TruExterior poly-ash trim in a board-and-batten style.

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.

For cladding, Cedar Renditions siding is non-combustible. TruExterior® Siding & Trim is certified by the California Building Commission for inclusion on the Wildland-Urban Interface Zone (WUI) Products Listing. Versetta Stone® panelized stone siding has a flame spread index of zero. And all Westlake Royal Building Products’ vinyl siding products are Class A fire rated.

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.

United Steel Stone-Coated Steel Roofing, 2023 home exterior trends
United Steel Stone-Coated Steel Roofing in the Barrel-Vault style in Charcoal

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.

For a darker option that can create contrast with lighter elements on the exterior, consider Ironside TundraBrick from Eldorado Stone or Carbon Handmade Brick from Cultured Stone. Both brands also offer bright colorways that have become quite prevalent among builders looking to achieve a modern farmhouse aesthetic. Those include Canvas Handmade Brick from Cultured Stone and Chalk Dust TundraBrick from Eldorado Stone. Finally, for anyone looking to engage a distinctive neutral palette for an upcoming project, Latigo TundraBrick from Eldorado Stone provides a stunningly unique colorway with cool undertones and warm overtones, while Titanium Handmade Brick from Cultured Stone offers a lustrous gray.

Eldorado Stone Tundra Brick, stone veneer
Eldorado Stone’s Chalk Dust Tundra Brick

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.

Low-maintenance materials: The desire for low-maintenance materials continues as homeowners grow older or too busy to bother with painting and staining their siding and decks. In fact, “low-maintenance/durable exteriors” was the most in-demand home exterior feature in AIA’s latest Home Design Trends Survey, with 62% of architects reporting increasing interest. Westlake Royal Building Products makes it easy to get authentic wood looks without the associated maintenance: look to clean-and-bright Kleer® and Royal® PVC trim, innovative and authentic TruExterior poly-ash siding and trim, high-performance Celect® Cellular Composite Siding, or any number of vinyl siding options including Exterior Portfolio®, Royal® Vinyl, and Foundry® Specialty Siding, among others.

Contemporary stone looks: Modern styles or contemporary twists on traditional styles remain popular, even away from the coasts. Clean lines, single-sloped roofs, and little ornamentation abound. 

How Are Color Trends Shifting Into 2023?

Westlake Royal Roofing Solutions

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.

Westlake Royal Roofing Solutions
The pandemic has dramatically shifted home architecture preferences as consumers needed to use their homes in more ways than ever before. Photo courtesy of Westlake Royal Roofing Solutions.

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.”

Stone Siding Provides Varied Streetscapes in Albany

Versetta Stone on Hodorowski Homes project

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.”

What Awaits the Remodeling Market Into 2023?

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.”

SturdiMount Mounting Blocks Make Exterior Details Easy

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.”

SturdiMount mounting blocks
SturdiMount dryer vents on the Steele Creek Seniors project

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.

Learn more about SturdiMount mounting blocks at https://sturdimount.com/.

Defining a Home’s Architectural Style Using Interior Trim & Mouldings

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.

Every room in a home has its own voice. Here’s how Westlake Royal Building Products™ 100% cellular PVC interior trim and mouldings fill out the character of six signature home styles.

Cape Cod

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.

Colonial

Colonial home with interior trim

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.

Craftsman

Craftsman interior with interior trim

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

Ecelctic interior with interior trim

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.

Farmhouse

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.

Modern

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.

Stop Selling. Start Solving Homeowners’ Pain Points.

CraneBoard board and batten siding

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.

5 Basic Steps Contractors Can Take to Jump-Start Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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.

SEO Google Map Pack

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 out this 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.

3 Google Ads Tips and Tricks for Contractors

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.

How Contractors Can Leverage Instagram and TikTok

Boston Exterior Remodeling

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:

Also, revealing new approaches, including this use of Kleer PVC trim:

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:

Like Boston Exterior, RR Buildings also seizes the opportunity to showcase its attention to detail and expert craftsmanship (click to play):
https://www.tiktok.com/@rrbuildings/video/6877352098212613381

And within that, tool tests, as shown while Stumpenhorst was installing Boral’s Versetta Stone siding:
https://www.tiktok.com/@rrbuildings/video/6864727432121830661

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

@rrbuildings

Installing the standing seam panels… no visible fasteners #tight #satisfying #ceoofconstruction #metalroof #metalart

♬ original sound – RR Buildings

Equipment manufacturer Doosan is an expert at this, choreographing its machines and people to the tune of trending songs, as seen here:
https://www.tiktok.com/@doosantok/video/6983437574379539717

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

Love social media? Be sure to follow Boral Building Products on Facebook and Instagram. And check out our 11 exterior brands at www.boralbuildingproducts.com.