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.”

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.

2023 Color of the Year Selections Reflect Life After the Pandemic

Each year in late summer and fall, major paint companies release their “Colors of the Year” for the following year. These hues represent how each company’s in-house experts interpret the consumer pulse—our emotions, design motivations, influences, and more—and how color selection influences our lives and lifestyles.

While the color reveals are interesting in and of themselves, they provide our industry with a view into the hearts of our customers and a look at how their color choices may shift, or need to be shifted, in the process of navigating the latest trends and tastes.

Not surprisingly, the pandemic has had a tremendous influence on the color trends of the past few years, with many choices seeming to focus on relaxation and tranquility, or perhaps a little brighter for a feeling of positivity and optimism. This year’s selections continued to feel that global impact, but with varied interpretations of how consumers will feel going forward. Of the four colors shown below, two are bold and two are soothing. And perhaps both approaches are appropriate today, as Americans continue to navigate a post-pandemic norm in very different ways.

Here’s a look at a few of the Colors of the Year for 2023.

Benjamin Moore: Raspberry Blush

Benjamin Moore made a big move this year, shifting from 2022’s subtle October Mist, a silver green, to 2023’s vibrant Raspberry Blush. “A vivacious shade of coral tinged with pink, Raspberry Blush enlivens the senses with an electric optimism,” the manufacturer says. The “charismatic,” “unapologetic” shade is saturated and impactful, designed to be bold and make a statement.  

Benjamin Moore 2023 Color of the Year
Photo courtesy Benjamin Moore

The remainder of Benjamin Moore’s Color Trends 2023 palette, including Conch Shell (a dusty but rich pink), Savannah Green (a rich ochre with balanced green and yellow undertones), and North Sea Green (a deep teal with gray undertones) “was chosen for its distinct presence and personality,” the company says.  “Each of these eight confident hues offer inspiration and creativity, while encouraging a push beyond the traditional to experience truly exceptional color.”

Sherwin-Williams: Redend Point

In contrast to Benjamin Moore’s bold color, Sherwin-Williams’ 2023 Color of the Year leads with “warmth and intrigue.” Redend Point, an earthy brownish-pink reminiscent of clay earth and walls of the desert west, is described as “soulful yet subtle.” And while a more calming hue, the company says it represents moving forward and looking ahead, connection and care.

Sherwin Williams 2023 Color of the Year
Photo courtesy Sherwin-Williams

Behr: Blank Canvas

Behr’s 2023 Color of the Year is Blank Canvas, a “hopeful, warm, and welcoming white” the company says will answer homeowners’ need to create retreat-like spaces that feel restorative. At the same time, the company says the color is designed to be versatile. “The color works in both private and shared spaces and can work as a focal color or a foundation to build on for more layered spaces,” Behr says.

Behr 2023 Color of the Year
Photo courtesy Behr

Research showed that the hue would be in demand in 2023: “According to a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. homeowners, 63% of people agree that the color white is mood-boosting, and 77% say it makes them feel positive,” Behr reports. “Homeowners also say they want their home to be a space where they can unwind and destress, according to the survey, needs warm whites like Blank Canvas can help fulfill.” 

PPG: Vining Ivy

PPG joined Benjamin Moore with a saturated statement hue, Vining Ivy, a deep Caribbean aqua, as its 2023 Color of the Year. The manufacturer says the color is classic and elegant, and it works with a variety of styles.

PPG 2023 Color of the Year
Photo courtesy PPG

“Resilience, the need for connection, and inspiration from nature were recurring themes at the Global Color Workshop,” PPG says. “This annual event brings together more than 30 global color stylists from the automotive, consumer electronics, aerospace, and home paint and stain industries. Over the course of several days, the stylists analyze the runway, lifestyles, demographics, geographies, global events, and cross-cultural societal inspirations to determine what colors will resonate and represent that year, including the 2023 Color of the Year.”

Along with predictions from paint manufacturers, the design community highly anticipates the annual announcement of Pantone’s Color of the Year, which is due out in early December. What will follow the color expert’s hopeful yellow-gray duo in 2021 and this year’s creativity-inducing Veri Peri (a dark lavender)? Stay tuned.

Cedar Renditions: Modern Cedar Meets Low Maintenance

Cedar Renditions aluminum siding

It’s the combination every homeowner craves: The beautiful look of stained cedar without the hassles or maintenance. Cedar Renditions™ siding delivers these attributes and then some to the benefit of consumers, builders, and architects alike.

The modern-looking, high-end siding comes in a variety of woodgrain colors with a robust, fade-resistant PVDF top coat. Along with three traditional hues, the siding comes in four premium colors boasting multiple tonalities for an even deeper woodgrain look. Unlike some competing materials, the panels’ unique overlap helps achieve longer lengths for a seamless appearance. This along with the flat face panel and clean horizontal joints help create a truly contemporary look.

Cedar Renditions is available in 6-inch siding ideal for accents alongside stone, stucco, and brick, and in a complementary soffit for the perfect finishing touch. A wide range of matching accessories and trim coil further enhance the project.

Moisture-proof and rust-resistant, Cedar Renditions is suitable for any market, but is especially desirable in coastal areas including Seattle, Chicago, and New England. The siding is impervious to cold, insect-proof, is non-flammable, and withstands winds up to 200 mph. It’s also 100% recyclable.

For contractors, Cedar Renditions offers simple, straightforward installation similar to other panel-style claddings. Corner posts and J-channels provide starting points, then panels install easily with a drop-in interlock system. Available graphic guides help ensure pattern randomness for a truly authentic look.  

Cedar Renditions carries a 25-year pro-rated limited warranty.

Learn more about Cedar Renditions here.

8 Quick Tips to Work Efficiently

As labor challenges abound and schedules remain tight, trimming inefficiencies out of your installation processes can add up to critical time and money savings. Every contractor has their tricks for eliminating wasted steps without sacrificing a quality install. Here are a few best practices to work efficiently.

1. When installing vinyl siding, be sure to leverage available accessories that can reduce detail work while ensuring a finished look. These include:
• Dual undersill trim: This is used the same way as standard finish trim, such as under windows or at the top of the wall, but because it has two slots instead of one, there’s no guesswork as to whether you need to bump out the finish trim to keep the siding angles correct.

• Board and Batten Trim: Use this to separate the courses of vertical siding since the profiles can’t overlap at the seam. The Board and Batten Trim has built-in flashing, making installation easy as well as functional.

• Shake Finish Trim: Designed for Westlake Royal Building Products’ Portsmouth Shake Panel, Shake Finish Trim secures ripped panels under windows and doors or at the top of a wall. Use a snap-lock tool to create snap lugs about every 6” to 8”, then snap the panel into the Shake Finish Trim and lock the snap lugs into place securely.

2. If you have a damaged vinyl corner, you can replace it without removing any siding. Cut and remove the existing face, leaving the channels. Cut and remove the face of the new corner, leaving the return. Then snap the new corner over the channel of the old.

3. When installing CraneBoard® Solid Core Siding® insulated vinyl siding, keep the ends of the foam no more than ¼” from each other to retain the insulation value, while giving the panels enough room to expand and contract. Pull and use your measurements from the foam instead of the panel. Both the panel and the foam will be the correct length.

4. For deck stairs, Fulton Fine Woodworks created a wooden jig that fits between the deck boards and shows precisely where to pre-drill for screw placement, eliminating the need to measure. See it here.

5. Need to find center but working with an uneven number? Simple rotate your tape measure, like so: https://www.instagram.com/p/CfnFg3lJAHT/

6. Tim Uhler, lead carpenter at Pioneer Builders, often creates makeshift tools that can do tasks more quickly while reducing user strain and fatigue. For example, instead of bending to cut sheathing while framing walls on the ground, he mounted a floor scraper to a router with spiral bit: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CcuBh83gBzS/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

7. To lift heavy beams into place, Uhler made a beam wrench out of plywood: https://www.instagram.com/p/CZIt_NnKiU3/

8. When painting trim, Robert Cripps Construction sprays aerosol hairspray on the painters tape, helping to prevent bleed-through.

Want more pro tips to work efficiently? Check out our compilation on Instagram. Have a tip that can help others in the trades? Post it to Instagram and tag us at @WestlakeRoyalPros.

What Pros Should Know About Siding and Housewrap

The wall system is one of the most critical areas for preserving the home’s durability and longevity. And it’s just that—a system. Each part of the wall, from the cladding to the housewrap to the flashing, plays a role in keeping the wall system protected and dry. As such, it’s important to note that different types of siding may require different drainage systems behind them and, therefore, work best with specific types of weather resistant barriers (WRBs).

Cladding Material Influences Housewrap Selection

At minimum, one of the first steps in ensuring your wall works as a system is to follow local code requirements as well as instructions from your housewrap manufacturer and guidelines from your siding manufacturer for the specific cladding or claddings. The siding’s material and how it installs on the wall both factor into the decision of what WRB to choose.

For example, a wood or wood-based siding is much more prone to moisture absorption and will require a robust rainscreen system to ensure bulk water drains away quickly instead of absorbing into the siding, which can lead to premature failure. TruExterior® poly-ash siding, which is resistant to moisture but installs flat against the wall, is recommended to be paired with at minimum a drainable housewrap, which provides more drainage than a flat housewrap but less than a full rainscreen.

The Vinyl Siding Institute requires installing vinyl siding, such as that from Royal® Siding or Exterior Portfolio® with a weather resistive barrier. Because vinyl and polypropylene sidings are designed to allow the material underneath to breathe, they can be installed over a flat housewrap unless local codes require otherwise.

Housewrap, siding
This home features Royal® Vinyl’s Woodland siding in Heritage Blue and Portsmouth® Shake & Shingle accents.

Some cladding types feature a rainscreen already built in, as is the case with Versetta Stone® panelized stone siding. Because of this, the minimum recommendation is one layer of #15 felt.

Pay Attention to Transitions

With the growing trend of multi-textured facades, you’ll need to accommodate each type of cladding. When installing two products together that have different recommendations for housewraps and rainscreens, you’ll need to either wrap the entire façade in the more robust system or plan the wall system accordingly so that the corresponding weather barrier is positioned under each cladding and properly transitions from material to material per guidelines from the WRB and cladding manufacturers.

housewrap at transitions between vinyl siding and stone veneer
Versetta Stone’s wainscot cap/sill creates an ideal transition between the Versetta Stone panelized stone half wall and the Foundry Grayne siding above. Install flashing over the wainscot cap’s nailing fin and then shingle the other cladding over top to ensure water sheds off of the sill. Leave a small gap between the cladding and the stone, per each cladding’s installation instructions.

Flash Well

Follow all recommendations for flashing, as well, as some materials may require or recommend more robust flashing at the seams to prevent bulk water intrusion. Your installation instructions may also provide guidelines for step flashing along roof and wall lines to ensure water drains away rather than becoming trapped in the wall system.

Consult With Experts

Siding materials will shed the bulk of the water before it can reach the underlying wall assembly, but their main job is to make the house look good. Work closely with your housewrap and flashing manufacturer to ensure the wall system can properly manage any liquid water that may end up behind the siding so that the wall structure stays dry. Designing and installing a proper wall system can help protect the structure and its occupants while safeguarding the longevity of the home. 

Have questions about your siding installation and exterior wall system? Connect with us here.

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.