Celebrate National Home Remodeling Month With Resources and Tools

National Home Remodeling Month before-and-after banner

May brings sunny skies and warmer temps—and the NAHB’s National Home Remodeling Month. This annual celebration recognizes remodelers and the remodeling industry with resource, tools, spotlights, and discussions. Westlake Royal Building Products™ is proud to sponsor this important event for the third consecutive year.

Throughout the month, remodelers can access an exclusive tool kit with marketing tools and social media templates to craft top-notch local media campaigns along with the latest industry news to help you stay ahead of market trends. NAHB also will be hosting two Shop Talk discussions May 9 and May 23 and a webinar on May 18. These sessions will include conversations with industry experts aimed at assisting professionals in developing strategic marketing plans for their remodeling businesses in addition to helping them understand how leveraging social media can expand a company’s reach.

And be sure to follow along on social media, using the hashtag #NAHBRemodelers, to share your own insights and read commentary and tips from peers and other experts.

National Home Remodeling Month graphic

Westlake Royal Building Products is the title sponsor of National Home Remodeling Month.

“We’re excited to continue our support of the remodeling industry by sponsoring this initiative for the third year in a row. Remodeling is more than just a project; it’s a pathway to happiness for homeowners looking to transform their living spaces without the stress of moving. It’s about creating more room for cherished memories, enhancing energy efficiency for a greener future and ultimately, increasing the value of one’s home,” said Steve Booz, vice president, marketing & product management at Westlake Royal Building Products. “We’re thrilled to be part of this journey and to support NAHB’s members in their dedication to excellence and customer satisfaction.”

To get started and access tools and events, visit NAHB’s National Home Remodeling Month landing page.

Stay up on industry events and resources by subscribing to our enewsletter here.

What Home Buyers Want the Most

Pergola Kleer Lumber

What features are most in demand from new-home buyers? NAHB sought the answers in its latest “What Home Buyers Want” report. Among the top and/or fastest-growing in-demand features were laundry rooms, patios, and home security.

The Top Features Home Buyers Want

In the What Home Buyers Want study, buyers were given a list of more than 200 home and community features and asked to rate them as “essential,” “desirable,” “indifferent,” or “do not want.”

According to Eye on Housing, of all the features in the study, there were 13 that ranked “essential” by at least 80% of respondents:

  1. Patio (86%)
  2. Laundry room (86%)
  3. Energy Star-rated windows (83%)
  4. Exterior lighting (82%)
  5. Ceiling fan (81%)
  6. Garage storage (81%)
  7. Front porch (81%)
  8. Hardwood (81%)
  9. Full bath on main level (80%)
  10. Energy Star appliances (80%)
  11. Walk-in pantry (80%)
  12. Landscaping (80%)
  13. Table space in kitchen (80%)
Laundry rooms are a top feature in the What Home Buyers Want report.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock

In addition, there were a handful of features that made tremendous gains in popularity over the past decade. All were in the area of technology, including security cameras (climbing 36 percentage points in 12 years), wired home security systems (35 percentage points), and programmable thermostats (31 percentage points). 

What Homebuyers Want in Exteriors

When it comes to exterior design styles, Eye on Housing found no national consensus in the study. “At best, a plurality of 34% would prefer to purchase a ‘traditional’ home (rooted in historic styles), while a smaller 26% would rather buy a ‘contemporary’ home (clean lines, sloped roofs, expansive windows),” Rose Quint reported. “Far smaller shares of 17% and 12% of buyers, respectively, would choose a ‘modern’ home (bold, boxy, flat roofs) or a ‘transitional’ home (contemporary design with traditional cues).

Delving further into in-demand exterior features, consider the results of AIA’s quarterly Home Design Trends survey. In its Q4 2023 edition, examining Neighborhood and Community Design, the survey reported that “low maintenance/durability” continue to be the most popular feature, with 59% of architects reporting increasing interest. Unlike the NAHB study, the AIA survey found contemporary styling to be most common, with 51% of architects reporting increasing interest, down just 1 percentage point from 2022.

To learn more about what’s in demand, the full “What Homebuyers Want” report is available for purchase here.

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The Hottest Color Trends for 2024

Color Trends for 2024, mood board, earthy shades

Home decor trends forecasted for 2024 focus on unique color pairings that balance joyful, attention-getting tones with timeless hues that are more subtle. This combination of dynamic and refined shades offers plenty of interior design inspiration, from paint colors and fabrics to building materials and trims.

Earthy shades will continue to spark interior design ideas but with added warmth. For instance, instead of home interiors heavy on white and beige, imagine palettes of taupe and greige, a combination of beige and gray. These colors offer a versatile backdrop for you to experiment with bolder shades and accents, injecting more personality into spaces.

Here are some other predicted color trends for home interiors and exteriors:

  • Warmer natural tones: Earthy and natural tones are still the go-to choices for creating grounded, soothing environments. But instead of just deep or light browns, look for colors such as terracotta, olive green, sage, and nutmeg—hues reminiscent of organic, natural elements such as sand, clay, wood, and stone.
  • Moody, dramatic color palettes: Adding charcoal gray, deep navy, forest green or black to cabinetry, furniture, or accent walls creates drama with coziness, experts say.
  • Lighter shades of calm: Creating a sense of tranquility at home is still top of mind, but instead of blues and greens for calm, expect more blush pink, dusty pastels and light grays.
  • Color combos: Combining autumnal and romantic hues such as mauves, browns, and greens with brighter blues, reds, and fuchsias adds a modern twist to vintage tones.
  • Bold accents: Artwork, furniture, accessories, and upholstery are prime spots for energizing colors to pop against an overall neutral color scheme. Watch for rich jewel tones such as sapphire and emerald; vibrant citrus hues such as yellow, lime, and apricot; and electric blues.
  • Jolts of joy: Whether used in accessories, upholstery, or exterior paint colors for trims and accents, designers like fiery reds, fired brick, violet, magenta, sharp green, rich purple, tropical blue, and golden green.
  • Subtle, complementary tints and tones: Look for deep forest hues, versatile tans, ethereal grays, deep grays, and fresh off-whites.

(See Also: Color Palettes Inspired by Winter)

Color trends for 2024, mood board showing shades of calm, including blushes and grays

What Is Informing Color Trends for 2024?

The pandemic inspired a desire to create more calming, restful spaces, but other factors have been driving home renovation trends recently. For instance, an interest in sustainability has spurred a yen for nature-inspired aesthetics, along with minimalist color schemes. Rapid shifts in the economy, society, and technology also play a role, with consumers craving a subtle ease and a way to balance contemporary design and timeless elegance.

Experimenting with different color pairings, such as splashes of vibrant hues with classic tones, is a way to explore creativity and infuse energy and imagination into our space.

Color Trends of 2024, mood board showing pops of joy, including rich browns and pinks

How Can I Use Color Trends for 2024 in Home Designs?

Colors set the atmosphere and tone of a space, impacting our emotions and our well-being. Some hues can even influence a space’s functionality and productivity, such as using muted blues or greens in a home office to promote concentration and focus.

Here are a few ways to incorporate 2024’s color trends into home remodeling ideas:

  • Wall paint: Creates a backdrop for other design elements with a solid foundation for an overall color scheme.
  • Furniture and upholstery: Makes a statement, creates a focal point, or adds personality and visual interest through colors and patterns.
  • Accessories and decor: Rugs, pillows, curtains, artwork, and other smaller decorative accents easily update a room’s aesthetic on a budget.
  • Cabinetry and built-ins: The finishes on cabinets in kitchens, bathrooms, and mudrooms can add depth and texture, such as covering cabinets in beadboard.
  • Accent walls and statement pieces: An armchair with vibrant upholstery can create an impact just like an accent wall in a trending color or a different finish, such as Versetta Stone or shiplap.
  • Exterior elements: Exterior remodeling elements such as paint colors, siding, trim colors, shutters, lighting fixtures, and landscaping boost curb appeal and set a cohesive design tone.

(See also: Easy Ways to Add Color to Your Home Exterior)

Whether you’re ready to jumpstart 2024 with a fresh color palette or aren’t sure where to begin, Westlake Royal’s Visualizer Tools give you an idea of what a completed project can look like before you begin. Play with colors and experiment with textures to create the perfect combo that reflects each home’s style.

Want more insights into design trends, product installation, and more? Subscribe to our enewsletter.

Sources:
https://thefashionfrill.com/fashion/key-color-trends-of-2024/

https://www.pantone.com/articles/fashion-color-trend-report/new-york-fashion-week-autumn-winter-2023-2024

https://www.builderonline.com/design/interior-finish/move-over-neutrals-color-to-make-its-return-inside-homes-in-2024_o

Dealers Ramp Up Adoption of Ecommerce, Other Technologies

ecommerce activity at home improvement store

The construction and LBM industries are notorious for their slow adoption of technology. This includes ecommerce, which has lagged behind the pace of other industries. But the pace of adoption is increasing, driven by several factors, most notably the pandemic, wider acceptance, and demand from the next generation of customers and workers. And, perhaps surprising to some, AI is also playing a role.

Dealer Surveys Show Ecommerce on the Rise

According to LBM Journal’s 2023 LBM 100 survey, 40% of dealers offered online sales in 2022, a 9.5% increase over the previous year. Of those, 27.4% of orders were for curbside pickup.

“We’re hearing from almost every dealer we talk to that there is a real awareness that ecommerce is a needed element,” said Mike Berger, managing editor for LBM Journal. “The buying habits not just of consumers but also pros have changed so much since the pandemic started.”

Consumers have gotten used to logging onto not only Amazon but also home improvement retailers like The Home Depot and Lowe’s to compare prices and make purchases; LBM dealers are realizing that they need to ramp up their own ecommerce to keep up.

“Ecommerce is here, it’s only going to increase, and dealers are going to need to make every effort they can to accommodate it,” Berger said. “Younger folks coming into the LBM industry are bringing with them patterns of commerce they’ve already developed. To them, it’s second nature to be able to go to their phone, go to an app, place their order, and be done.”

While ecommerce has lagged, LBM dealers have made strides in other areas of technology. In its 2023 Construction Supply 150 report, Webb Analytics noted that while construction suppliers continue to devote a low percentage of revenue to technology, they’ve made remarkable gains. “Online bill presentation now is common, with online payment capabilities close behind,” the report explained. “The next big trends will involve notification of delivery status and online information about whether a product is in inventory. Both are likely to be features of customer-facing apps for smartphones—another growing trend.”

Dealers have responded to customer demand for easier access to accounts and pricing by making it easier to pay bills or check inventory online, a must-have for building pros who do office work after regular business hours because they’re on the jobsite all day. Online access may also be beneficial for customers for whom English is not their first language.

“Despite spending an average of less than 1% of revenue on technology—far below most other industries—leading dealers have gotten dramatically more techie over the years, especially this decade,” the Construction Supply 150 said. “We’re at the point where more than two-thirds of responding CS150 dealers make it possible for their customers to see purchasing history and bills online, and another quarter of the dealers plan to add that capability. Over half permit online bill payment, and another 30% plan to roll out the feature.”

One reason ecommerce might be slower to adopt is because pricing and supply in the building sector isn’t always black and white. Supply chain challenges, particularly over the past few years, have made it harder to predict what is available, and pricing can be impacted by a number of factors that vary customer by customer.

But, ironically, technology is helping to address those challenges, as well. “The stock issue is gradually improving as dealers get better warehouse systems,” Webb Analytics President Craig Webb said. “The pricing is getting better in part because dealers are getting more sophisticated at being able to categorize customers.”

Webb’s Construction Supply 150 found that 35% of dealers have a warehouse management system, but another 26% want to add it. Delivery notification systems are also on the rise, the study found, with 40% of dealers offering it now; 79% of dealers have dispatch/delivery software, which means notification offerings could rise soon.

For now, Berger said, many customers are using ecommerce for smaller items or one-off items, such as a few extra 2x4s or other missing materials needed to quickly complete a job. Consumers are using it as part of their pricing research, which positions dealers to potentially earn new business if they have an item at an equal or better price as a nearby big box store.

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Dealers With Ecommerce

Webb and Berger both point to artificial intelligence (AI) as an important factor for dealers going forward.

“It looks like artificial intelligence’s ability to slice and price could be one of the very first ways AI makes an impact on dealers,” Webb said. “It’s possible to collect tons of information about customer history and purchasing patterns, to scrape the internet for what everyone else is selling for, and to look at commentaries on what’s happening with pricing trends, strikes, forest fires, etc., and make pricing recommendations in the moment for customers. [As a simple example,] it’s an automated way of seeing a winter storm coming and analyzing how many shovels you have.”

Berger said one of the biggest fears he hears from dealers is that adding ecommerce means increasing the amount of staff needed to handle it. But dealers who have found success are reporting the opposite, thanks in part to AI tools that can assist with filling out product descriptions, answering common questions, and more. “With the tools that are available, dealers aren’t having to radically ramp up their hiring.”

Ecommerce Solutions With Software

Existing and trusted software solutions also are playing a key role in getting dealers up to speed. The industry’s leading software providers offer systems that allow companies to run programs for what they want and need while adding or removing capabilities in the future.

Epicor’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, for example, has an option for an integrated ecommerce platform.

ECI announced in July a new ecommerce solution for its Spruce ERP platform. The tools allow dealers to build a professional storefront website and customer portal without the need for coding or web development expertise. “For consumers and tradespeople, this means unlocking the ability to shop online for delivery or in-store pickup, browse products, create accounts, build self-service quotes, pay invoices, and more,” John Maiuri, division president LBMH at ECI, said in an announcement of the launch. “For LBM and hardlines businesses, this means help in avoiding over-stocking since inventory counts, transactions, pricing, invoices, and other information are directly connected between systems.”

It’s clear that more and more LBM dealers are embracing the efficiencies that technology can bring—while recognizing that customers will only continue to expect such conveniences in the future. As technology solutions become more advanced and more user-friendly, there perhaps may be no better time to take the leap.

Gain more insights and stay connected with Westlake Royal Building Products® on LinkedIn.

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Image: iStock.com/gorodenkoff

3 Ways Leadership Is Evolving to Ensure Happier Employees and Customers

Leadership team on construction site

Anyone who has ever had a bad boss knows there’s at least some truth to the oft-quoted phrase “Employees don’t leave companies, they leave bad bosses.” Along with employee turnover, poor leadership on the part of managers and supervisors can impact employee morale and overall operations to a point of causing inefficiencies, costly mistakes, and, ultimately, unhappy customers.

According to Paul Burleson, Senior Account Executive of National Remodeling Accounts for Westlake Royal Building Products™, we need to see a paradigm shift in our approach to leadership—a significant change in the way leadership is viewed, practiced, and executed.

“Historically, leadership was often associated with a top-down approach where leaders made decisions and gave instructions to their subordinates,” Burleson says. “However, recently, there has been a significant swing toward a more collaborative, inclusive, and participatory style of leadership.”

Burleson describes three ways the old methods are changing:

  • A move toward servant leadership: This approach emphasizes that leaders should be servant to their subordinates and prioritize the needs of their team members above their own interests. This style involves focusing on developing and empowering team members, providing support and guidance, and creating a positive and inclusive work culture.
  • An emphasis on emotional intelligence: Leaders are expected to be empathetic and in tune with the emotions and needs of their team members. This involves actively listening, understanding individual strengths and weaknesses, and adapting one’s leadership style to meet the needs of their team.
  • A shift toward more collaborative leadership: With this approach, team members share decision-making. This method recognizes the value of diverse and multiple perspectives and involves engaging team members to ensure that all voices are heard.

Overall, these paradigm shifts are a response to the changing nature of work and the evolving needs and expectations of today’s workforce, Burleson says. By adopting more inclusive, emotionally intelligent, and collaborative leadership styles, leaders can create a more engaged and empowered team that is better equipped to navigate the complexities of the modern workplace.

Stay connected with Westlake Royal Building Products on LinkedIn.

How to Leverage AI in the Construction Industry

In a rapidly evolving world where technological advancements are reshaping industries, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a game-changer. People are already using it to create more efficient schedules, develop recipes for their leftovers, and even create code to build websites when they have no web development experience.

But what about industries that are hands-on like construction? AI can’t build a home, right? It can’t put on a roof or replace old plumbing pipes, can it?

No, but it can help make many of the processes faster and safer.

AI Will Not Replace Construction Jobs

Before delving into the details of AI in construction, it’s crucial to address a common concern: the fear of AI replacing human workers.

Rest assured, AI is not here to replace construction jobs; rather, it is here to enhance existing roles. AI technology can be a powerful tool to aid construction workers, boost their productivity, and streamline processes, leading to more efficient project execution.

AI and the Future of the Construction Industry

The future of the construction industry lies in embracing advancing technologies to unlock its full potential. By integrating AI and construction, we may see remarkable improvements in each stage of the building process, especially during planning. It can streamline processes, reduce costs, minimize errors, and optimize overall efficiency in construction projects.

Here are some of the ways AI might be used (or is already being used) in the construction industry:

AI and pre-construction

  • Pre-design – With AI tools, professionals can generate design options, analyze site conditions, and optimize building layouts. This can help to speed up the decision-making process and empower the creation of more innovative and workable designs.
  • Design development – AI can analyze large quantities of data and generate solutions based on specified parameters. Construction professionals can use AI to accelerate the design process, find potential issues, and improve the overall quality of designs.
  • Construction documents – Generating construction documents, drawings, specifications, and schedules can all be enhanced through AI automation. With these integrations, professionals can not only reduce errors but also improve document accuracy and enhance collaboration among different project participants.
  • Bidding and negotiations – AI can assist during bids and negotiations by analyzing historical data, current trends, and your project requirements. Because it can optimize cost estimates and evaluate subcontractor proposals, the decision-making steps in the process become more informed and efficient.
  • Permits and approvals – Documentation automation through AI could mean a faster process of getting permits and ensuring compliance. There are now AI-powered tools that can aid in the analysis of building codes, zoning regulations, and environmental requirements, which means fewer project delays to meet compliance.
  • Finalizing pre-construction documents – Leveraging AI when reviewing and finalizing pre-construction documents, contracts, and agreements can aid in minimizing potential risks and discrepancies.

Performance and safety during the construction process

  • Site-safety – AI-powered cameras and video analytics can detect potential hazards, monitor on-site behavior, and provide the supervisor and general contractor with real-time alerts. Surveillance at this level means improved safety for all and fewer accidents on construction sites.
  • Labor and materials management – Optimizing the allocation of labor and materials by analyzing project schedules, resource availability, and productivity data ensures that projects are executed with efficiency. That results in maximum productivity with minimal material waste.
  • Building performance analysis – AI-powered systems can help find opportunities for energy savings, predict maintenance needs, and contribute to overall sustainability and cost savings for building owners.

The Future of AI in the Construction Industry Is Bright

If we want to fully harness the power of AI in the construction industry, it’s imperative to continue collaboration between technology providers and construction professionals.

The potential benefits are emerging: streamlined processes, lower costs, improved accuracy, enhanced safety, and optimized project management, just to name a few. But the journey doesn’t stop here — continued research, development, and adoption of AI technology may be crucial to move the industry forward.

One way Westlake Royal Build Products is embracing technology is through our available Home Design Tools. Create your own home masterpiece by interacting with our design tools.

Accommodating Expansion and Contraction in Vinyl Siding Installation

Exterior Portfolio siding creates a multi-textured facade

Vinyl siding is a fairly straightforward cladding to install, but, like any building material, it’s critical to follow proper vinyl siding installation procedures outlined by your manufacturer. And the No. 1 consideration to keep in mind? Managing expansion and contraction.

Nearly every material expands and contracts. And this phenomenon is one that’s easy to accommodate by following proper vinyl siding installation instructions. Vinyl siding manufacturers have designed their systems holistically to work well together, with a pocketed system design to hide any potential expansion and contraction of the materials.

The Potential Challenges of Expansion and Contraction

Like many PVC-based materials, vinyl siding will grow when it gets warm and shrink when it gets cold. A 12-foot vinyl siding panel could see a ½- to 5/8-inch difference in length between winter and summer. This basic principle drives nearly all installation guidelines for vinyl siding, and understanding the principle is important to ensure your exterior project looks as good as it should for years to come.

When you don’t accommodate for a siding panel’s potential movement, a number of things can happen. Nail the panel too tightly and it has no room to expand; this can result in rippling (also called oil canning) as the panel forces itself outward. A similar issue can occur if panels are too long on the ends. And if you  don’t trim the siding properly, visual gaps can appear as the panels contract.

Vinyl Siding Installation Strategies to Accommodate Expansion and Contraction

Avoiding these issues is fairly straightforward. Here are best practices to keep in mind:

• Nail vinyl siding panels properly: Most vinyl siding panels come with elongated nail slots. Drive the nail in the middle of the slot. Nail it loosely—leaving about a dime’s width between the fastener and the vinyl. Both of these practices will provide room for movement as the panel expands and contracts. Standard nail spacing is 16 inches on center, or 8 or 10 inches for high-wind areas; follow manufacturer instructions for nail type and spacing.

• Maintain a gap at ends: Vinyl siding should be installed with a gap at the end of the wall to accommodate expansion and contraction; make sure there is sufficient room to grow—a ¼-inch gap when installing in temperatures above 40 degrees F, and a 3/8-inch gap when installing in temperatures below 40 degrees F. Because of this, install J-channel trim to hide the gap as the panels contract.  

• Use care with top panels: It’s tempting to cut top panels to fit and then fasten them directly to the wall without the nailing hem. But this technique won’t leave room for expansion and contraction, and it also can trap water and block air movement that’s essential for keeping the wall cavity dry. Best practice is to install finish trim (also called sill trim or utility trim) at the top, cut the vinyl siding panel to height, and use a snap-lock tool to cut lugs to snap the panel into the trim. This holds the panel in place while still allowing for movement.

• Don’t ignore vertical installations: The use of vertically installed vinyl siding across the entire wall continues to grow. The same principles apply—nail loosely and leave proper gaps at top and bottom. Hang the siding from top to bottom, with the top nail in the top of the slot and the rest in the middle.

Following these simple steps, along with the other requirements in your vinyl siding installation instructions, can provide freedom of movement for the cladding, helping to ensure aesthetics and performance that last.

For more details, download the installation instructions for each of Westlake Royal Building Products’ siding brands, starting here. Also, check out the Vinyl Siding Institute’s Certified Installer program.

Better Sales Starts With the Introduction

Technology is great. But in the midst of it taking over our lives and jobs, something has gone missing from the sales process—the power of human touch. “We’ve lost the art of connection,” says sales expert Charlie Cina. “Everyone wants to be high tech, no one wants to be high touch.”

Specializing in sales and online training, Cina is a consultant, writer, and speaker with clients around the world. He has developed a unique prospecting tool called OneTapConnect, which allows you to have immediate impact and influence by sharing your custom-branded mobile site that shares your social profiles, website, and other custom links.

Cina isn’t saying technology doesn’t have a place in sales, but the ability to build instant rapport and credibility with a potential customer that also allows you to create trust by showing your truth, authenticity and proof is paramount in any sales process.

“I believe you have to be both high tech and high touch,” Cina says.

The Power of Introduction for Sales

Cina notes that there are organic opportunities around us each and every day, and he suggests introducing yourself to five new people on a daily basis—at your child’s baseball game, in line at the dry cleaner’s, etc. “Your job as a sales professional or business owner is to introduce yourself to as many people as you can and shout from the rooftops who you are, what you do, and how you can help.”

Is every person you meet in need of your subcontracting skills or the products you sell? Not likely. But everyone knows someone who knows someone, and by introducing yourself and making an impression, you become memorable when such a need arises among the people they know.

“The whole concept is the people out in the world have two things you need: They have your money or they have your potential contact/connection with people who do want your products and services.”

Overcoming Fear of Introducing Yourself


Making an introduction can be an intimidating experience, but it’s pretty simple.

First, it helps to reframe your thinking: It’s not a “cold call,” it’s a “new call.” Follow the simple formula: Introduction, build rapport, gain credibility.

Learn how to say hello, your name, who you are, and what you do. Present yourself in a way that’s unforgettable at the first point of contact. “Stick your hand out and introduce yourself. ‘Hi, my name’s Charlie, what’s your name?’” Cina says. “As soon as they tell you their name, you’re no longer strangers.”

Just be sure to come from a place of good intention, Cina explains. “You’re out there to have a conversation. Everyone is not a prospect for what you do. But master the art of human interaction and connection, and you can sort a prospect from a suspect. It’s not always a financial transaction; it might be a friendship or a referral. The whole key is when you’re out in the world, it’s your intention to get attention. You are a brand called you.”

The more you do it, the easier it becomes, Cina promises. Rather than practicing on family and friends, who can be your harshest critics, he recommends that you practice by doing.

Much like dating, if you’re not out there, you won’t meet someone. “Activity breeds activity,” he encourages. “The more you introduce, the more you produce.”

Want to learn more skills from Charlie Cina? Check out his book Expose and Close and his website https://charliecina.com, which includes a blog and online academy. Learn more about his OneTapConnect prospecting system here.

Vinyl Siding vs. Fiber Cement Siding: Which Is Better for Your Project?

Housewrap, siding

The home’s exterior offers a host of product options, with one of the most important being which material to choose for the siding. The decision impacts not only the overall look of the house, but also its durability, upkeep, performance, and more.

Fiber cement has a reputation as a premium material, but there are many applications and situations in which vinyl is the ideal option for many homeowners.

Here are some considerations when weighing vinyl siding vs. fiber cement siding:

  • Moisture resistance: Though fiber cement is durable, it’s much more prone to moisture absorption than many people realize, and if it absorbs water, over time its matrix may expand and degrade, causing its paint to fail. To avoid wicking water, fiber cement can’t be installed in contact with a range of surfaces, including the ground and masonry. Vinyl, on the other hand, does not absorb moisture, and therefore does not have restrictions about installation against the ground and other materials.
  • Affordability: As a premium option, fiber cement often falls on the higher end of the siding cost spectrum, depending on brand and product. Vinyl siding has a much broader range of pricing options, offering some of the most affordable profiles on the market up to more premium options with more robust features or insulated backing. In other words, vinyl offers a little something for every budget.
  • Authentic looks: Vinyl siding also offers wood grains and shadow lines to evoke the look of cedar. More premium vinyl siding, such as Foundry Specialty Siding™ Grayne Shingle, for example, boasts even deeper grains and richer, weathered colors for increased curb appeal.
Foundry Grayne shingle in Aged Grey
  • Painting: Some fiber cement products come with factory-applied colors, but others only come primed for painting on site. Vinyl siding is manufactured with through-body color and requires no painting throughout its life.
  • Windload: Though lighter in weight, many vinyl siding options offer high windload resistance. Exterior Portfolio Siding™, for example, comes in options with wind resistance of up to 180 mph. Fiber cement may require face-nailing to achieve certain wind resistance ratings, taking away from the aesthetic.
  • Airflow: Vinyl siding sits off of the wall, so it allows for air movement between the siding and the wall sheathing, promoting drying and reducing the chance of mold and other moisture damage.
  • Warranty: Warranties are all about the fine print, so be sure to read them closely. For example, one fiber cement paint warranty is pro-rated and the fade coverage is for only three years. Vinyl siding warranties vary, but often surpass that of fiber cement. Exterior Portfolio comes with an industry-leading double lifetime warranty. 
  • Sustainability: Vinyl siding sometimes gets a bad rap in the green building community, but the numbers tell a very different story. Throughout its life cycle, vinyl releases significantly fewer toxic chemicals into the environment than other siding materials and has a lower overall environmental impact. Based on analysis using the BEES online software, vinyl siding has 79% less impact on global warming than fiber cement. (Learn more here.)
CraneBoard Solid Core Siding

One final consideration when it comes to comparing vinyl siding to fiber cement is simply versatility. Vinyl’s diverse range of profiles, colors, textures, and performance levels means there’s a little something for every home, no matter the location, style, or budget. To see this for yourself, browse the siding and trim brands from Westlake Royal Building Products here.

How to Be a Master at Canvassing

canvassing at a home

Canvassing is an essential strategy for introducing potential customers to new products, services, and ideas. As a canvasser, you get to interact with people face to face, listen to their feedback, and help them find solutions that fit their unique needs. Being a master at canvassing requires you to have the right skills and mindset to connect with people on a personal level and close deals effectively.

Here are some tips from Paul Burleson, Senior Account Executive of National Remodeling Accounts for Westlake Royal Building Products™, to help you become a master canvasser:

1. Be confident: Confidence is key when it comes to canvassing. You need to believe in the product or service you are offering and be sure of the value that it adds to the potential customer’s life. Confidently express the benefits of your product or service, and be ready to answer any questions regarding it.

2. Know your product: To be an effective canvasser, you need to have a deep understanding of your product or service. Know its features, benefits, and limitations. Highlight the essential points and how they benefit the customer.

3. Listen actively: Listening actively is an essential skill for any salesperson. Listen carefully to your potential customer’s needs and pain points. Once you identify those, show them how your product or service will address them. People appreciate it when someone listens and offers a solution that meets their needs.

4. Use persuasive language: Master canvassers know how to use persuasive language that creates an emotional connection with customers. Use descriptive language and meaningful expressions that make your value proposition compelling. Use persuasive techniques like storytelling and use of emotions relevant to the product/service you’re selling.

5. Be personable: One of the most crucial aspects of canvassing connecting with the customer on a personal level and making them feel comfortable talking to you. Use open-ended questions to keep the conversation flowing and get to know them. Show that your concern is not only to sell but also to help them solve real problems for them.

6. Build rapport: Building rapport is crucial, especially when canvassing door-to-door. Strike a conversation with customers about their hobbies, interests, or environment. This will help to build rapport and make the customer feel more comfortable talking to you. Smiling, making eye contact, and using the customers’ names are excellent tools to create strong rapport.

7. Follow up: Follow-ups are critical to closing the deal. Whether the response you get from the customer is positive or not, be sure to thank them for their time and give them a business card or brochure. If you follow through on your commitments and regularly touch base to maintain the connection, your efforts will yield returns in the long run.

In summary, becoming a master canvasser takes practice, patience, and commitment. Confidence, product knowledge, and preparation are key.

Stay connected with Westlake Royal Building Products on LinkedIn.

Related content:
Resources for Selling and Installing Siding & Trim
Stop Selling. Start Solving Homeowners’ Pain Points.

Featured image: iStock.com/grandriver

How to Use Inspiration Boards for Siding Selection

Westlake Royal Building Products inspiration boards

With the sheer number of siding options on the market, siding selection can sometimes be difficult for homebuyers as they navigate which materials, styles, profiles, and colors are right for them. Being able to see—and feel—the choices and understand how they work together can be powerful. Physical inspiration boards at the dealer or in a builder’s showroom or model home can help customers begin to envision how products look in real-world applications, visualize how they come together in popular multi-textured facades, and determine what they like and don’t like.

An inspiration board is a three-dimensional element that serves as a miniature wall section, combining several types of cladding, trim, and accessories into a diorama of sorts. Unlike a display board showing a small sample or even a larger product section, an inspiration board gives buyers an idea of how the finished exterior will look when fully outfitted with other claddings and accessories.

Here’s are examples of some of the inspiration boards Westlake Royal Building Products™ curated for this year’s International Builders’ Show:

Westlake Royal Building Products inspiration boards

Vignettes can combine several types of cladding to show common ways of achieving the multi-textured look, such as Versetta Stone with Cedar Renditions in the center vignette above or Exterior Portfolio Market Square siding with Foundry 7” Split Shake in the right-hand vignette. Each includes coordinating accessories to complete the look, including Atlantic Premium Shutters, Royal Trim & Mouldings column wraps, and a color-matched Mid-America mounting block.

“It brings it all together, catches people’s eye, and helps them visualize how they can outfit their exterior with Westlake Royal Building Products,” said Kriss Swint, Director of Marketing Communications. “Those applications help create more of a feeling and a mood. It helps us tell our story.”

If space is a concern, inspiration boards can take the form of smaller shadow boxes, such as these boards displayed at the 2020 Builders’ Show:

Though slightly smaller, these displays still make it easy for customers to see how various products come together to make a cohesive, eye-catching look.

Here are some tips for creating inspiration boards to ease siding selection:

Seek out ideas: To put together Westlake’s inspiration boards, the team consults with product managers about the latest trends and draws on what customers are doing with the products. They also study magazines and Pinterest to keep up on new combinations and find fresh ideas.

Include signage: Be sure to identify the products in the display so that buyers know what they are looking at, that everything is available from you, and how they can replicate the exact look if they so choose.

Include images: Accompanying images showing a rendering of the look on a full home or of the home that inspired the vignette can help further increase and ease visualization.

Add decorative touches: Don’t forget the other elements one would find on the exterior, such as plants, a light fixture (with mounting block), window box, or address block.

Add QR codes: Including a QR code with a link to the products’ web pages or online brochures can make it easy for visitors to get more information on the products they’re seeing as they make their decisions, freeing up your staff in the process.

Leverage your manufacturer: Don’t be afraid to reach out to your manufacturer rep for help curating your inspirational displays. They can offer advice on what products work best together and assist with finding the right information to link to, along with providing take-home samples, fan decks, and literature.

To make inspiration boards more powerful, you can pair them with Westlake’s online design tools, including the Virtual Remodeler, the Dream Designer, and HomePlay Prime, which allow buyers to mix and match products on an image of their own home or a similar home.

Related articles:
Resources for Selling and Installing Siding & Trim
Best Practices for Multi-Textured Facades
• Why and How LBM Dealers Should Sell Exterior Packages

LBM Dealer Surveys Show Continued Strength Amid Economic Concerns

Each year, the LBM 100 from LBM Journal and the Construction Supply 150 from Webb Analytics dealer surveys provide a snapshot of the state of the lumber and building materials industry and, by default, a temperature reading on the rest of the residential construction industry. And this year’s lists, both released this month, are no exception.

“The year began with dealers enjoying the last giant swells in lumber prices that had led to unprecedented reve­nue increases in 2021,” reported Craig Webb of Webb Analytics. “By the end of 2022, those prices were down more than 60% from where they were at the start. Meanwhile, consumers’ pain over price increases and a Federal Reserve clampdown helped force a slowdown in the economy. Nevertheless, demand from builders and remodelers remained robust and product shortages still were rampant, particularly early in the year. The result was unsettled conditions.”

Webb’s Construction Supply 150 found the result to be a 9.5% increase in revenue for the list overall, as well as growth in the total number of locations and number of employees. However, the revenue increase was only 3.3% when adjusted for inflation.

“Now in its third year, the LBM 100 continues to demonstrate the strength of the lumber and building materials industry while fighting new challenges such as skyrocketing interest rates, rising inflation and fuel costs, labor shortages, and foreboding talk of recession,” LBM Journal’s James Anderson said of his publication’s rankings. “If that list of challenges faced any other industry, it is unlikely that we could see 94 of this year’s top 100 dealers reporting increases in sales in 2022.”

In fact, LBM Journal reports that nearly all of the dealers with higher sales last year saw increases in the double digits. Nine companies had sales over a billion dollars, including one that reached the threshold for the first time. (The Webb Analytics Construction Supply 150 tracks both traditional LBM dealers as well as big box stores and specialty distributors, so its ranking includes 25 members with more than a billion in sales.)

As in previous years dealer surveys, some of that growth came from continued acquisitions.

Lumber prices continued to play a role, but to the opposite effect as last year: “The impact of lumber price changes shows up most prominently when you look at one of the CS150’s five subcategories, lumberyards with manufacturing capabilities,” Webb said. “In 2021, this group’s revenues shot up 58.6%. In 2022, the gain was only 18.1%. And a good share of that increase came not from same-store sales growth, but rather from many of the 481 construction supply operations acquired and 253 locations opened by the CS150 in 2022.”

Even with the challenges, nearly half of the LBM 100 plan to expand over the next one to two years. In addition, LBM Journal said, “Many dealers have indicated that 2023 will be a year of growth, despite higher interest rates and lingering supply chain challenges.”

Other trends of note:

• The pandemic’s influence on e-commerce continued, as LBM Journal found that 40% of dealers are now offering online sales, up from 30.5% in 2021.

• Hiring is still dealers’ No. 1 challenge, LBM Journal said, though there was a notable drop from the previous year, from 84% of respondents to 68%. As with last year, drivers continue to be the hardest role to fill, followed by yard workers. Still, the threat of recession has actually helped some dealers with this issue, opting to reduce staff by eliminating open positions or hiring good employees who are leaving less-stable companies.

• Credit card fees are another growing challenge for dealers. With fees upwards of $180 million among the companies he surveyed, Webb found that dealers are pushing to limit the use of credit cards for bill paying.

View the full dealer surveys, view the LBM Journal 100 here and download the Construction Supply 150 here.

Inspiration: 6 Approaches to Create Compelling Gable Ends 

Multi-textured facades are one of the most popular trends for residential exteriors, and gable ends are an easy way to add differentiation and styling.

Foundry™ Specialty Siding and Portsmouth™ Shake & Shingles offer the warm look, deep textures, and rich colors of cedar in a range of authentic shake and shingle profiles—ideal for accents or the full façade. In addition, both are available in a single-course 7” to minimize waste in a gable application.

Consider these approaches to using shakes and shingles for more eye-catching gable ends:
Two-tone colors: Incorporate gable siding in a color one or two shades removed from the rest of the façade. The siding profile can be the same or different than the main cladding. Shown here are Portsmouth D7 Cedar Shingles in Oceanside and Indigo, as well as Exterior Portfolio™ Vinyl Trim in Aspen White.

On this home, Foundry Split Shake siding in Colonial Grey in the gables combines with a slightly darker tone on the main façade.

• Matching colors, unique profiles: Blending shakes and shingles in the gables with lap siding or other profiles on the main façade offers a subtle yet eye-catching look. This home achieves this with Foundry 7” Split Shake in Blueberry 253.

• Contrasting colors: Adding a bold color to the gable can provide a more dramatic pop of color without a huge commitment on the full façade. When choosing, select accent colors that work well with the main siding. As explained on Color Matters, “color harmony” can be achieved by using a color wheel and choosing analogous colors (three colors side by side on the wheel) or complementary colors (directly opposite each other on the wheel).

Shown here are Portsmouth D5 Cedar Shingles in Greystone above D5 Cedar Shingles in Driftwood.

This home features Foundry 10” Staggered Shake in Russet over a tan facade.

• Board and batten: For an on-trend style combination that adds a touch of distinction, incorporate board-and-batten into the gable. This Craftsman stands out and veers slightly modern with two small Portsmouth Board and Batten accents in Sand, above D7 Cedar Shingles in Storm for the main façade.

• Specialty shapes: For traditional homes, specialty shapes like Portsmouth Half Rounds (shown here in Cypress) add a touch of flair in keeping with the familiar style.

Gable vents: Easy-to-install gable vents are the perfect decorative element for gables, and come in simple shapes or designer options. Choose from a coordinating color or a bolder accent. Shown here is a Mid-America™ half-round gable vent.

For even more gable inspiration, visit Idea Galleries from Foundry Specialty Siding and Portsmouth Shake & Shingles.

Find Helpful Tools and Resources During National Home Remodeling Month

National Home Remodeling Month

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.

To get started, access a start-up guide, tips and strategies, and the array of downloadable content on NAHB’s National Remodeling Month landing page.

“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. 

To learn more about NAHB Remodeling Month and register for upcoming events, visit nahb.org/remodelingmonth.

Resources for Selling and Installing Siding & Trim

Westlake Royal Building Products Royal siding

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.

Selling Resources

  • 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.

Design Resources

  • 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.

–Color Combinations: Start with a base color and mix-and-match coordinating accent colors. Click to access Royal Color Combinations, Exterior Portfolio Color Combinations, and Celect Color Combinations.

  • 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.

Installation Resources

  • 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.
  • Social media: Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for project showcases, installation tips, and product information, including content from top customers and field experts.

And of course, you can reach out to us at any time. Connect with your local rep or contact Westlake Royal Building Products here.

Exterior Remodeling Projects Deliver Greatest Return on Investment, Study Says

Royal Siding, vinyl siding remodeling ROI

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.

Looking to elevate your exteriors with high-ROI materials? Browse Westlake Royal Building Products’ extensive selection of vinyl siding and accessories.

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.”

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.

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.

Westlake Royal Building Products Celebrates 300th Home with Habitat for Humanity 

Together with Habitat for Humanity – MidOhio, Westlake Royal Building Products recently celebrated a historic milestone with the dedication of the 300th home to feature the company’s donated siding and trim materials in the Ohio region. On Thursday, Sept. 15, the three-bedroom, two-bath single family home was dedicated and keys were turned over to the partner family in the South Linden neighborhood of Columbus.

Habitat for Humanity MidOhio home dedication

The dedication of this house marks the 300th siding donation that Westlake Royal has made to Habitat for Humanity – MidOhio over the last 20 years. For this home, Westlake Royal donated 20 squares of siding, including Exterior Portfolio® Vinyl Siding and Portsmouth™ Shake & Shingles Siding, as well as Royal® Shutters, Mounts and Vents accessories. Westlake Royal’s Columbus-based employees also donated their time and skills to help with installing the building products during the construction of the home this summer. 

Installing siding on a Habitat for Humanity MidOhio home.

“Amid inflation and rising costs, the need for affordable housing today is greater than it’s ever been. Westlake Royal is proud to be part of the solution in donating building products for good quality, single-family homes,” said Steve Booz, VP of Marketing & Product Management, Westlake Royal Building Products. “Our partnership with Habitat MidOhio dates back through several company name changes and decades, but our commitment to this organization and the community of Columbus remains unchanged.” 

“When we invest in housing, we invest in the future of the entire community. Thanks to the contributions of Westlake Royal, Habitat MidOhio has brought the dream of homeownership to 300 families,” said E.J. Thomas, President and CEO, Habitat MidOhio. “We are grateful for the generous support of our donors and volunteers, and look forward to continuing our work of providing quality, affordable housing to our family partners.” 

In January 2021, Habitat MidOhio celebrated the dedication of its 1,000th home. The organization works to bring people together to inspire hope, build homes, empower families, and develop communities. For the past 35 years, Habitat MidOhio has served families through new home builds/rehabs (437), owner-occupied home repairs (350), and tithe support to its sister affiliates in Africa (331). 

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.

Improve Curb Appeal With High-ROI Exterior Upgrades

vinyl siding with stone accent wall

The home exterior can say a lot about the occupants within while also making a first impression on guests (and potential buyers). Because of the impact curb appeal has on the amount prospective buyers are willing to spend on a home, it’s important for homeowners to look beyond simply choosing the right siding color and consider different siding materials and profiles, adding accents like stone veneer and researching other high-ROI exterior upgrades that can both increase beauty and deliver performance over time.

In fact, exterior remodeling projects top the list of projects that add the most resale value to homes. According to Remodeling’s 2022 Cost vs. Value Report, nine of the top 10 projects delivering the best return on investment were exterior renovations.

Consider these high-ROI exterior upgrades from the experts at Westlake Royal Building Products that can improve aesthetics and increase resale value for your customers.

Front Door

If replacing the front door isn’t necessary, adding a fresh coat of paint is a simple way to refresh the home’s exterior. You can take the “dated” door and make it modern again with a bold, on-trend color. Take it a step further by adding artistic house numbers, a new light fixture, or a door knocker in an unexpected shape for inexpensive pops of style.

Vinyl Siding

Updating the home’s exterior with vinyl siding yields a 67.2% return upon sale, according to the Cost vs. Value report. When considering new siding, look for high-quality, low-maintenance materials. Depending on location, insulated vinyl siding can add additional protection against the elements, as well as increased energy efficiency. While function is important, don’t be afraid to make bold choices with color, texture, different profiles, and contrasting trim to make a true statement.

For example, Westlake Royal Building Products offers a wide range of vinyl siding options in the latest shades, including five new on-trend colors recently added to its Royal Siding and Exterior Portfolio lines. Inspired by colors found in nature, the gray, blue-gray, brown, and green tones reflect the latest trends in modern exterior home design. Both lines feature patented color protection technology to resist fading, which is especially important for darker shades.

Shutters

Adding or replacing shutters is another easy way to add a bit of flair and can be a key finishing touch in creating the perfect exterior. With the potential to play beautifully alongside windows and siding as well as with architectural style and the surrounding landscaping, it’s important to make thoughtful choices and install them properly to ensure they look and function as designed. (See installation mistakes to avoid here.)

Atlantic Premium Shutters in a bold, contrasting color

Composite Decking

Another exterior remodeling project with a high ROI (62.1%), according to the report, is replacing your home’s existing wood deck with composite decking. An option like Zuri Premium Decking combines the natural beauty and warmth of exotic hardwood with the durability and low-maintenance requirements of PVC (cellular polyvinyl chloride), which resists stains, scratches, fading, and moisture, for a deck that will last for years with minimal upkeep.

Manufactured Stone Accent Wall

Manufactured stone veneer on the bottom third of a home’s front façade delivered the second-highest return in this year’s Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, with 91.4% ROI. Versetta Stone panelized stone siding makes it easy to achieve this look—the mortarless format attaches to the wall using nails or screws, and each lightweight panel features a built-in rainscreen.

Column Wraps

Give the front porch an instant facelift by wrapping the existing columns with PVC wraps. This is an easy way to achieve a cleaner and more modern, updated look. Resistant to moisture, PVC column wraps prevent issues found in traditional wood columns, such as warping, rotting, and insect damage. Available in a variety of ready-to-install styles, they can also be painted to complement your home’s exterior color palette.

Find more ideas to increase a home’s beauty and resale values at westlakeroyalbuildingproducts.com.

(Remodeling 2022 Cost vs. Value Report: © 2022 Zonda. Complete data from the Remodeling 2022 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at www.costvsvalue.com.)

New Vinyl Siding EPDs Deliver Sustainability Transparency in User-Friendly Format

Three new EPDs from Vinyl Siding Institute

For building and design pros looking to maximize the sustainability of their homes, the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI) has added another tool to help make greener product choices for the home exterior. VSI, of which Westlake Royal Building Products is a member, recently published three Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) outlining the life cycle story of polymeric siding. The EPDs’ user-friendly package makes it easier to understand the sustainability specifications of vinyl siding.

The three EPDs—covering industry-averaged vinyl siding, insulated vinyl siding, and polypropylene siding—were developed in accordance with standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Each outlines the environmental impact of the product over the course of its life, including raw material extraction and transport, manufacturing, and waste generation. By offering data in a transparent and standardized way, EPDs allow product specifiers to make apples-to-apples comparisons between different products and material types. This helps provide transparency and authenticity in sustainability research.

However, these newest EPDs forgo the typical numbers-heavy report that can feel too complex and unapproachable. Instead, VSI says the marketing-style guides feature easy-to-read text and graphics, along with an organized chronology of features and benefits that make the data more accessible and understandable for both pros and their customers.

Each EPD includes:

• A summary of vinyl siding advantages

• Detailed measurements outlining the siding’s carbon footprint, from the efficient manufacturing process to end-of-life recyclability

• A look at vinyl siding’s recyclability

• An overview of vinyl siding’s 50+-year life span

• Material elements

• A list of green building programs offering credits for vinyl siding

• Accessible metrics outlining environmental data and life cycle

Though vinyl siding has sometimes been overlooked for green buildings in the past, data reveal that vinyl outperforms almost all other common cladding materials in total environmental impact. This includes in the areas of waste, toxic chemicals, overall environmental impact, recyclability, and longevity. (Read more about vinyl siding’s green attributes.)

Download the new EPDs from VSI here:

Vinyl siding EPD

Insulated Vinyl Siding EPD

Polypropylene Siding EPD

Ready to explore vinyl siding options for your next green-built home? Check out the options from Royal® Vinyl Siding, Exterior Portfolio® Vinyl, and Foundry™ Specialty Siding.

Tips and Trends for Choosing Exterior Colors

Royal Siding and Atlas Stone on farmhouse

Whether styled in classic colors that never fade from favor or featuring trendy pops of color, the exterior façade sets the tone—and critical first impression—for the home. With tastes changing at a near-constant rate, what’s the best way to choose exterior color combinations that meet today’s needs without feeling dated quickly? We checked in with Kate Smith, color expert and president of Sensational Color, to get the latest tips and tricks for exteriors.

What Colors Are on Trend?

As often happens with exterior trends, some familiar looks remain popular amid a few emerging options.

“We’re seeing so much interest in very dark paints, which is surprising,” Smith says, including black, deep gray, olive green, and blue gray, as well as colors with dark undertones, such as green-black.

Smith says that classic grays and other timeless neutrals continue to trend, along with bright white or off-white for the popular Modern Farmhouse look.

Material colors are coming into play, as well, she notes, with stained wood accents, such as beams, appearing on homes where they may not have in the past. Metal is popping up in similar ways, from steel beams to glass-and-metal contemporary-style garage doors.

And, of course, mixing materials, textures, and colors continues to be popular, offering homeowners the opportunity to differentiate their façade and add an extra touch of personality.

Best Practices for Combining Exterior Colors

Indeed, multi-color and -texture facades are a key trend right now, but pulling it off well isn’t always easy. Smith recommends starting with the fixed elements—the roof and any brick or stone materials—and ensuring they work together.

“When those harmonize, it’s harder to go wrong with siding and trim,” she says.

From there, select exterior colors that work well alongside them. For example, if the stone façade has a lot of grays or browns, choosing a paint or pre-finished siding color that coordinates will ensure a more cohesive look.

When considering neutrals, keep in mind that not all beiges and grays are the same. They likely have undertones, such as brown or even purple, that alter their look. When in doubt, look at the grout, which can clue you in to a coordinating neutral hue.

“Your house is telling you what color to paint it, you just have to listen,” Smith says.

Another thing to keep in mind is the role of light in the appearance of the home exterior. Color in the paint store will likely look very different—from washed out to more vibrant—in daylight. When narrowing down color selections, advise your customers to take samples to the project site to see how the colors look in the environment in which they will be used.

Avoiding Common Mistakes With Exterior Colors

Smith is quick to note that “there are no bad colors, just some unfortunate combinations.”

Here are a few ways to avoid an exterior façade that stands out for the wrong reasons:

• Don’t go too vibrant: Jewel tones and other vibrant colors are beautiful, but can be overwhelming in large amounts on the home’s exterior. Choose a toned-down or grayed-out version of the hue to avoid an over-the-top, dated look.

• Don’t go too bold: Similarly, a full façade of purple or chartreuse may stand out too much and even affect resale value. The entry door, shutters, and other accents are great spots for those bolder hues and personalized style expressions, adding that pop of color without feeling overwhelming.

• Don’t aim for the perfect match: It might be tempting to precisely match the siding color to the brick, stone, or roof. But it’s nearly impossible to do and can create an off-putting look. Even if perfectly matched, materials weather differently over time and likely won’t look the same for long. If similar colors are desired, go for a lighter or darker shade to create a blended look instead.


When in doubt, consider timeless combinations. These might include white siding with black trim and a red door or gray walls with a black slate roof. Neutral hues are always a safe bet, as well. “A great gray or a great beige will never go out of style,” Smith says. She notes that neutrals are particularly helpful for multi-textured facades, acting as a bridge between materials and helping draw attention to visual focal points like a stone bump-out or dramatic copper gutters. “If color blends well, it becomes the backdrop.”

Also, be sure to leverage Westlake Royal Building Products’ color tools, including:

Royal® Vinyl Siding Color Combinations guide

Exterior Portfolio® Color Combinations guide

Celect® Cellular Composite Siding Color Combinations guide

•  Virtual Remodeler, HomePlay, and Dream Designer online visualizers that allow you to preview different product and color combinations on an image of the home or a similar home.

To learn more strategies for choosing exterior colors, download Smith’s e-book.

Top LBM Dealers See Dramatic Growth Alongside Supply and Labor Challenges

LBM dealers, lumberyard, warehouse

The 2022 LBM 100 from LBM Journal and the Construction Supply 150 from Webb Analytics are not just lists of the leading LBM dealers in the country—they’re a reflection of the state of the greater construction industry and its challenges and opportunities. As such, it’s not surprising that dealers reported dramatic sales increases all while navigating a series of unprecedented obstacles.

“Though the nation’s dealers continued to navigate the pandemic in 2021, the challenges that accompany it were slightly different,” LBM Journal said. “Pandemic-amplified labor shortages and continued supply chain constraints and price hikes have only worsened and have recently been joined by rising inflation and fuel costs, due in part to the war in Ukraine. At the same time, booming residential construction activity continued throughout 2021, forcing dealers to channel their problem-solving even more as they tried to keep materials in customers’ hands, deliveries on time, and expenses down.”

Growth indeed. The magazine reported that all but one dealer on the list experienced sales gains in 2021, with 29 growing 50% and 10 companies experiencing gains of 75% or more. Some of the growth was driven by acquisition, but much of it can be attributed to booming construction activity.

Skyrocketing lumber prices also played a role, Webb Analytics noted. “Largely because of softwood lumber’s 116% price increase between January 2020 and January 2022, according to the Producer Price Index, lumberyards with manufacturing operations saw their revenues shoot up 58.6% in 2021 from the year before,” the analysis said. “This group—one of five subcategories tracked in the CS150—gets a lion’s share of its revenue from sales of framing lumber as well as from manufacturing wood-based components. Thus, a huge amount of what these dealers stock sold for drastically more than it did just a few years ago.”

Here are other notable trends from this year’s LBM Journal 100 and Construction Supply 150:

Ongoing labor woes: Not surprisingly, LBM dealers are feeling the labor strain like elsewhere in the construction industry and the rest of the country overall. “This year, 84% of companies indicated that recruiting, hiring, and retaining employees is a challenge, up 7 percentage points from last year,” LBM Journal reported. “The most difficult positions to fill, by a significant percentage, were drivers and yard workers.”

In response, dealers said they are implementing a number of efforts, from mentoring programs to pay and benefit increases.

Price and supply: Also expected, dealers cited price hikes and tight supply as another top hurdle. “Our biggest challenge currently is extended lead times and the constant rising costs,” Charlie Parks, owner and vice president of Parks Lumber & Building Supply, told LBM Journal. “Both of these challenges make it extremely difficult to play a consistent and reliable role in our customers’ attempt to get jobs under contract.”

Yet dealers still came through for their customers. “Priority customer retention was over 95% during extremely unprecedented times in which keeping the customer fulfilled was more difficult than ever,” Parks said.

Acquisitions abound. The trend of dealers gobbling each other up continued. Webb Analytics reported 156 deals covering 693 facilities in 2021. At the same time, 167 new facilities opened.

Ecommerce growth: Webb Analytics said that 72.7% of the Construction Supply 150 are allowing customers to access bills online, and 58.6% are allowing online payment, a significant increase from 56.7% and 42.3% the previous year, respectively.

On the other hand, online sales are still sluggish, LBM Journal found. “Compared to 2020, fewer LBM 100 dealers—just 31%—say they conducted sales online last year. However, among those companies, more are seeing greater chunks of sales online: 3.9% are seeing 25% to 49% of sales take place online, up from 0% the year before, and 3.9% are seeing 10% to 24% of sales take place online.”

View the full LBM Journal 100 here and download the Construction Supply 150 here.

Image: iStock.com/Foryou13

Vinyl Siding: A Surprising Way to Go Green

Exterior Portfolio vinyl siding

Most people don’t consider vinyl an eco-friendly building product, but data show it actually is. There are misconceptions that vinyl siding doesn’t have sustainable design, production, or operations. But vinyl outperforms almost all other common cladding materials, including fiber cement and brick, in total environmental impact.

While the classic look of wood is forever timeless, new developments in design allow vinyl siding to look and feel like real wood, down to the actual grain. With vinyl, you can eliminate the cost and maintenance of wood and choose a sustainable, durable, and affordable alternative. If you, your company, or your customers are dedicated to greener construction and building practices, then vinyl siding is for you.

Less Waste

From production to construction, vinyl siding produces less waste than other building materials, such as brick and cement. Vinyl siding products require minimal raw material and produce virtually no waste. They also require less water and energy to produce than other building materials.

Lower Impact

Vinyl siding also maintains a low environmental impact over its lifespan. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) software to measure specific environmental concerns such as air pollution, acidification, and global warming potential in the environmental life cycle of products.

Throughout its life cycle, vinyl releases significantly fewer toxic chemicals into the environment than other siding materials and has a lower overall environmental impact.

Compared to vinyl siding, construction materials like fiber cement contribute 4x to global warming potential, 2x times to acidification, and over 3x to air pollution. Compared to other common sidings, vinyl performs amazingly well. According to the NIST, vinyl has a lower environmental impact than brick, and even rivals some wood siding.

Infographic courtesy Vinyl Siding Institute

Westlake Royal Building Products uses PVC resin as the backbone of Royal and Exterior Portfolio vinyl siding. This is derived from components in nature, such as common salt and natural gas, that make PVC weather-resistant, chemically stable, and lightweight.

Recyclable

While some argue that wood is a more eco-friendly siding option because it is biodegradable, vinyl siding lasts longer and is recyclable. Vinyl siding is recycled with post-consumer recycling, post-industrial recycling, and closed-loop recycling, meaning every part of its production and lifespan lends it to being easily reused.

Recycling reduces waste disposal and extraction of new materials while reducing landfill accumulation and incineration. Both lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Because of the nature of PVC, vinyl is a thermoplastic that can be ground up repeatedly, re-melted and formed into various new products even after the life expiration of the original product.

According to the Vinyl Siding Institute, 99% of scrap in manufacturing is recycled into other products rather than being sent to the landfill.

Longevity

The longevity of vinyl siding is part of what makes it so eco-friendly. Although recycling is an important component of sustainability, vinyl lasts such a long time it is unlikely to end up in the waste stream anytime soon. Many warranties on vinyl siding last for 40 years or more, meaning it doesn’t have to be ripped out and replaced very often.

Not only is vinyl long-lasting, but it’s low maintenance. Exterior siding that requires less care saves resources and reduces emissions and chemicals.

Thanks to innovative technology and sustainable practices, PVC vinyl siding is perfect for giving homeowners the aesthetic and performance they are looking for, while offering the peace of mind that our products were purpose-built to support a sustainable alternative and future.

Learn more about vinyl siding’s sustainability properties on the Vinyl Siding Institute’s website.

Videos: How to Install Foundry Grayne Shingle Siding

Foundry’s Grayne Shingle Siding not only offers a beautiful aesthetic that replicates the look of cedar, it’s easy to install with minimal waste.

How easy? Check out our new three-part video series where contractor and educator Mike Sloggatt outlines the steps and best practices along the way.

Chapter 1: Getting started

Learn how to mark reference lines, including using a story pole to reference off the control line, preparing outside and inside corners and flashing, and installing the starter strip

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNnAAU2e0ao

Chapter 2: Layout

In this part, learn how to offset the panels to avoid repeating patterns and best practices for cutting panels.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrfJ7BpiLGE

Chapter 3: Installing the Panels

Learn how to install the panels, including preserving the offset pattern, proper gapping, locking in the panels, and proper nailing and nail placement, as well as installing inside corners and starting on an adjacent wall.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8i7egtIwAw

Learn more about Foundry Grayne shingle siding here.

Trends in Multifamily Exteriors

Whether they own or rent, people want to be proud of where they live and feel good coming home. And whether it’s a custom single-family bungalow or a condo in a three-story multifamily building, first impressions are everything and comfort is paramount. Multifamily dwellers don’t want to sacrifice simply because they share walls and common areas—and savvy developers and builders are responding by paying closer attention to exterior facades and outdoor amenities.

Multi-Textured Facades

Many trends trickle over from single-family design, and that’s certainly the case with the drive toward multi-textured facades. The days of building a 120-unit monotone apartment building with plain block under gray vinyl are fading fast. Like single-family homes, more multifamily properties are emerging with a blend of cladding materials and colors, such as stone and siding, EIFS and stone, or stone and brick. Leveraging multiple textures adds visual interest while adding dimension and differentiation between buildings, while accents and trimwork provide essential finishing touches. The resulting looks lean more home-like and comfortable instead of industrial and one-note.

Three-story multifamily

Versetta Stone and TruExterior Siding offer an ideal combination for achieving these looks. Versetta Stone siding offers the look of stone but with a panelized format that installs like traditional siding along with a built-in rainscreen. Made with poly-ash technology, TruExterior Siding comes in a range of authentic profiles and can be painted any color, including dark hues that look great in multifamily buildings in urban or suburban areas.

Versetta Stone on multifamily building

Along similar lines, we’re seeing variation in dimension, with more balconies, decks, recesses, and bumpouts. Along with adding aesthetic appeal and differentiation, these features can help define individual units.

Because multiple materials also often means multiple trades, it increases the risk of failure in the wall system. Extra caution should be taken to ensure everyone works together and plans ahead collaboratively and schedules thoughtfully to ensure the integrity of the air and water barriers.

In fact, it’s wise to create a small-scale mockup, which will allow for more careful planning and upfront identification of problem areas.

Three-story contemporary multifamily building

Outdoor Amenities

COVID-19 lockdowns were harder on multifamily dwellers, who don’t have spacious yards to escape to, and further brought attention to the need to incorporate outdoor features into condo and apartment buildings. Creative incorporation through balconies, roof decks, courtyards, and pocket parks should be top of mind for builders, as the desire for these spaces isn’t likely to fade even as the pandemic does. Shared outdoor areas with fire pits and lounge seating are an ideal way to not only provide more room to move, but also build a sense of community that may keep tenants in place for longer.

The pandemic also saw a significant increase in pet ownership, so incorporating dog parks or dog-friendly areas also can be beneficial to residents and property managers alike.

On the transportation front, the impact of both electric bikes and electric cars shouldn’t be ignored. Consider not just space for bicycle parking, but covered areas that can protect electric bikes. And factor in spaces in your parking facilities that can accommodate car charging.

Fannie Mae expects the trends that helped multifamily turn around in 2021, following the impact of the pandemic, to continue elevating demand for the next five years. Ensure your properties are at the top of buyers’ and renters’ lists by keeping aesthetics, performance, and occupant comfort top of mind.

Creating multi-textured facades is easy with Boral Building Products’ portfolio of siding, trim, and accessory brands. 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.

5 Trends and Insights from LBM Journal’s 2021 Siding Review

As the building industry navigated the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 18 months, siding, like many categories, weathered the ups and downs—from uncertainties at the beginning to booming demand a short time later to the subsequent ebb and flow of supply challenges. The continued story is the strength of the new construction and remodeling markets, with particular focus on homeowners revamping exteriors and other areas of their homes.

But even in a year unlike any other, the trends we’ve witnessed and the core demands of building pros and their customers has, in many ways, also held steady, with familiar trends remaining at or near the forefront. LBM Journal explored what’s new, and what’s not, in its annual In Depth feature on siding, published this month.

Here are a few of the things they found:

Pandemic Increases Demand

As stuck-at-home homeowners refreshed their spaces, siding surged. “Many homeowners spent quarantine finally tackling their to-do lists, and the exterior was a great place to start,” Boral Building Products’ Brand Manager Ben Drury told the magazine. “We saw an increase in interest from DIYers, particularly in simple exterior projects that make a big impact, such as replacing aging siding, adding gable vents or decorative mounting blocks, or installing decorative trim.”

The magazine says the combination of a robust housing market and low interest rates is creating a positive outlook for siding in the coming months, too.

Supply Challenges

Continued success, of course, relies on manufacturers’ ability to meet the current challenges of supply and demand, said writer Mike Berger. One manufacturer noted that the industry could be taking 20% to 30% more orders daily if not for material and labor shortages.

Above all else, manufacturers said, keeping inventory stocked will be a critical factor and, alongside that, clear communication with customers is essential. “What we’re experiencing is unprecedented demand coupled with a 10-year undersupplied market,” manufacturer RoyOMartin noted. “Builders need to pre-order what they can; those who wait for prices to come down have lost contracts.”

Classic Looks

Perhaps in conjunction with creating homes that are sanctuary spaces of respite, manufacturers report that clean lines and authentic details are still very much in demand. Within this, Modern Farmhouse and Craftsman looks continue to thrive, Berger noted. “Vertical and board-and-batten siding are quite popular right now,” Boral’s Drury explained in the article, with other manufacturers noting similar trends. “These installation approaches are an easy way to add dimension and visual interest to the home exterior. Vertical applications also can help elevate gables and other accent areas.”

Modern Farmhouse with TruExterior poly-ash siding
Modern Farmhouse looks, such as this one featuring TruExterior Siding, continue to be popular.

Low Maintenance Rules

Low-maintenance has become so trendy it hardly bears being called a trend anymore, with “manufacturers report[ing] it as one of the single biggest differentiators when it comes to purchase decisions,” LBM Journal noted.

Products that mimic wood but without the associated upkeep continue to attract attention from older and younger buyers alike, neither of whom want to spend their summer weekends painting and staining but still cherish a natural, authentic aesthetic. (Try TruExterior Siding, made with a proprietary poly-ash material to combine authentic looks with high performance, or Foundry’s Grayne Shingle Siding, which perfectly replicates the look of cedar.)

Foundry Grayne shingle siding and Versetta Stone combine for authentic looks and low maintenance.

The Supply Channel Is Adapting

Even before the social distancing brought by the pandemic, the industry was facing pressure to be more innovative and more willing to switch to technology-based inventory and purchasing solutions. “For years, physical displays have been a mainstay of product information and a key method for conveying how a product will look once installed,” Berger wrote. “But that was then—this is now. In addition to the tried and true, the successful LBM dealer will avail themselves of virtual tools to help impart product knowledge.”

Berger pointed to virtual design tools that show customers how products will look on their homes (such as the Virtual Remodeler tool) as one method. But even as technology infiltrates the buying process, nothing negates the need for dealers to understand the products they sell and the value they bring to customers in helping find the ideal solution for each project.

Read more about the latest siding trends by reading the full LBM Journal article here.

How Are Housing and Pandemic Trends Impacting LBM Dealers?

Each May, some of the industry’s supply channel-focused publications release annual reports, listing the industry’s leading LBM dealers and distributors as well as the economic trends that have shaped their businesses the previous year.

This year saw the release of two new lists—the LBM Journal 100 and the Construction Supply 150 from Webb Analytics—which were published in May following one of the most unprecedented years in construction history. From the uncertainties at the onset of the pandemic to the housing and remodeling boom that soon followed to the supply and pricing challenges going on now, the building supply industry has been challenged in ways most had never seen before. And many dealers navigated extremely successfully.

Here are a few observations from LBM Journal and Webb Analytics for how dealers and distributors weathered 2020 and what trends are shaping up in 2021.

• Acquisitions continued: LBM dealers continued to scoop each other up. The most high-profile was Builders FirstSource purchasing BMC, growing from 440 locations to 550 locations in the process. But the moves weren’t limited to the big players, with dealers of all sizes taking advantage of opportunities to expand in size and geography via acquisition.

• Retail sales big, commercial suffers: With the surge in home improvement and DIY projects, it’s not surprising that home centers and dealers with heavy percentages of retail customers posted some of the biggest growth last year, as reported by the Construction Supply 150. Unfortunately, companies selling commercial-heavy inventories, such as steel studs and ceiling systems, saw declines. “It’s pretty clear that homebuilding will remain strong, and surveys suggest big-ticket remodeling will rebound as homeowners become less fearful of having remodelers working in their kitchens and baths,” Craig Webb wrote in the CS150.

In looking ahead to this year, a majority of CS150 respondents believe new construction and remodeling will continue to grow, but most expect retail sales, as well as multifamily and commercial, to remain the same.

• Labor remains a challenge: 77% of the LBM Journal 100 reported challenges with recruiting, hiring, and retaining employees, with drivers and yard workers the hardest-to-fill positions.

• The power of relationships: LBM dealers have always touted the importance of employees and customer relationships, but the pandemic drove that home even more. “The silver lining of the pandemic for us has definitely been relationships,” Charlie Parks, co-owner and vice president of Parks Lumber & Building Supply told LBM Journal. “We have developed stronger relationships with our customers, suppliers, and even with other supply houses in the area that we have done some dealing back and forth with during the shortage.”

• Installed sales: More than half of the Construction Supply 150 conduct installed sales. The most popular product categories include entry doors, cabinets, countertops, interior doors, and bathroom vanities.

• E-commerce expanding…slowly: The construction industry is notorious for slow adoption of technology, but the pandemic helped speed things along. LBM Journal found that while only 33% of leading dealers are offering online sales, 78% said online sales were significantly or slightly higher than the year before. As Webb noted in the Construction Supply 150, “true online shopping is unlikely to become ubiquitous until dealers figure out how to automatically adjust a price based on the customer.”

View the full LBM Journal 100 here and down the Construction Supply 150 here.

Image: iStock.com/ArnoMassee

Inspiration Gallery: Foundry Siding Elevates 9 Exterior Facades

With so many options to mix and match siding styles, textures, and colors, there’s no excuse for a ho-hum façade. And Foundry Siding makes it simple, delivering the warm look and beautiful colors of cedar to enhance curb appeal.

Combine Foundry’s variety of shingle, shake, and stone profiles with each other and with other materials to create compelling, varied exteriors that stand out and ensure each home looks unique. And while Foundry offers the authentic looks of natural materials, its innovative PVC makeup requires little maintenance.

Here are just a few ways builders and remodelers are using Foundry to create distinctive homes.

Foundry siding

Foundry 10” staggered shake in Snow and stone combine perfectly on this home to create a dramatic yet elegant look.

Foundry Staggered Shake, Foundry Split Shake

Foundry’s extensive color selection offers ample opportunity to create eye-catching color contrast in gables and accents, as seen here with Staggered Shake in Russet and Split Shake in Lite Khaki.

Foundry Staggered Shake

Alternatively, try complementary colors for a more subtle contrast, as seen here with a combination of stone and Foundry Staggered Shake in Eggshell.

Here’s another example, as Foundry combines with a similar-toned vinyl on the lower level for a soothing coastal vibe.

multifamily

The expansive façade of this multifamily project could easily have turned staid, but a combination of stone, Foundry siding, and white trim, along with a pop of black in the shutters, create eye-catching variety while helping to define individual units.

Foundry siding

At this foster home in Michigan, accent walls and gables clad in Foundry siding combine with lighter blue horizontal and vertical siding profiles elsewhere on the façade.

Roslyn Ridge

Foundry shakes in a Pacific Northwest-friendly blue are the perfect backdrop for the bold trim accents on this facade in Morningstar Homes’ Roslyn Ridge development. (Photo: @boral_trev_westerncanada⁠)

Boston Exterior Remodeling, Foundry siding

Also consider how siding and other exterior elements combine, as seen here in this Boston Exterior Remodeling project featuring Foundry Grayne Shingles in Rustic Slate on equal footing with the bold, attention-grabbing yellow door.

Explore more Foundry projects in our Inspiration Gallery.

Best Practices for Ongoing COVID Safety on the Jobsite

jobsite safety, COVID-19, construction site

Our lives have been forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, directly or indirectly, and home building and remodeling jobsites are no exception. As the pandemic unfolded last year, tackling safety on the jobsite quickly became paramount to continuing to work, and many building professionals had to implement at least some COVID safety best practices, depending on local requirements, from social distancing to PPE to limiting the number of workers on site at a time.

Here’s an overview of the latest recommendations—and some insights from the field.

The Official Word on COVID Safety

The Centers for Disease Control’s page dedicated to construction workers and safety best practices during COVID-19 is continually updated as new information comes in, as methods of protection change, and as we continue to learn more about how the virus works. OSHA also continues to maintain a detailed page chock full of COVID worker safety information to help you conduct a job hazard analysis and make decisions on best practices for workers.

These conversations and decisions must be made daily for everyone’s safety, particularly because, as Professional Builder reports, construction workers are one of the highest groups of people who get COVID—even higher than healthcare workers. In addition, a large percentage of construction workers intend to refuse the vaccine.

Along with keeping workers safe on the job, taking precautions also sends a visual message to clients that we’re doing everything we can to operate safely in every capacity.

As the vaccine rolls out slowly across the country, it may become a requirement by your employer that you get the COVID vaccine to continue going to your workplace—that includes people in the building industry. Regardless, until more people have been vaccinated and we eventually reach “herd immunity,” COVID safety measures must continue to be taken wherever and whenever possible, particularly if you have workers who do not wish to get vaccinated.

COVID Jobsite Best Practices

A year into these changes, most builders and remodelers have adopted best practices and procedures to keep team members safe and ensure their companies are in compliance with local requirements.

Joe Danz of Boston Exterior Remodeling is not only a home remodeling professional, he’s a former nurse, so he’s taken COVID seriously from the start. Danz says he takes a customized approach to each jobsite and situation. Early on, he found problems in requiring complete PPE when it wasn’t necessarily needed—his workers generally stay a safe distance apart while working together anyway. In some cases, the suggested protection could do more harm than good. “If [workers] have a mask on and wear glasses or need to put on safety goggles, the lenses can fog up, which can be dangerous,” said Danz. “So instead we keep workers separate, a safe distance apart. Fortunately, on exterior projects like ours, that’s usually easy to do.”

Whenever workers are physically close together, he does make sure they are masked. “There’s a margin of tolerance we have with making people safe. The optics can be important to our clients. It’s a balancing act.” To that end, Danz puts on his mask and shield before meeting with clients and texts them to let them know he has arrived so they can meet him outside where there is fresh air. He maintains a safe distance from clients even with the PPE on so they feel reassured.

Boston Exterior Remodeling, Grayne, Kleer
This recent project by Boston Exterior Remodeling combines the two newest colors of Foundry’s Grayne shingle siding, Mountain Ash and Rustic Slate, and Kleer window trim.

Danz has implemented other safety procedures to serve as a daily reminder that compliance is necessary—but uses common sense as to whether or not every single measure is warranted. For example, in the early months, he instituted a sign-in sheet procedure where each worker has to state at the start of each day that they feel physically well and that they have a normal temperature before they can start working. This requirement has lessened as his team knows the drill—and knows not to show up for work if they feel sick or have a temperature. Knowing your clients and thinking about how many workers are on the job and where they will be placed while working is a key part of using your best judgment. “We definitely make sure to use the sign-in sheet on big jobs where there will be a lot of people, including inspectors,” Danz says.

Boston Exterior also added a foot-operated hand-washing station when possible, or at minimum a hand sanitizing station with sanitizer, paper towels, and buckets to ensure hands stay clean.

No matter what, all building professionals should refer to the requirements of their local jurisdictions and follow procedures as required, as they vary greatly from area to area.

One growing issue is “COVID fatigue,” something building companies must tackle if they want to continue to keep their teams safe. The NAHB expressed concerns about this phenomenon in January, Builder magazine reported, and pushed for a second safety stand-down (the first was held last April) to keep best practices top of mind. If your company wasn’t able to participate, NAHB offers guidance and steps here. The association provides additional resources on its website, including a downloadable jobsite safety poster.

COVID-related best practices for worker safety are here to stay—at least for the time being. Many of these changes are easy to implement and smart, regardless of COVID. Studies have found that other illnesses like the flu sharply declined this season, and regular hand washing, social distancing whenever possible, and wearing masks have helped spur that trend.

Depending on the willingness of your workers to get vaccinated and the changing nature of the virus, safety measures like this may need to be in place permanently to help keep workers from making each other sick with any type of illness. For your safety, the safety of your clients, and the safety of your workers, staying consistent with COVID-smart practices on the jobsite is good for everyone.

Hero image: iStock.com/Juanmonino

Are Siding Materials Fire Resistant?

TruExterior Siding

From higher frequency of wildfires to an overall focus on safety as more Americans work and school from home, fire safety is top of mind. How do Boral Building Products’ siding and trim materials compare to others when it comes to fire resistance?

Here’s a guide:

Fire Resistance of TruExterior Siding & Trim

All thicknesses, widths, and profiles of the TruExterior Siding & Trim product line are certified by the California Building Commission for inclusion on the Wildland-Urban Interface Zone (WUI) Products Listing, one of the strictest regulations on building products, systems, and assemblies in the country. The product line is part of a relatively small group of cladding materials approved for WUI-designated buildings. This means that architects and contractors can confidently specify the product for use throughout all areas of California, regardless of WUI restrictions.

Fire Resistance of Versetta Stone siding

Versetta Stone offers the look of stone and the ease of panelized installation—and a Class A fire rating meeting the requirements of the ASTM E 84 – fire spread & smoke test.

Versetta Stone can be used for interior fireplace surround applications.

Fire Resistance of Foundry Siding

Not only does Foundry Siding’s authentic looks separate it from other similar siding products, Foundry shakes and shingles contain PVC, which contributes to a 1A fire resistance rating. Siding made with polypropylene does not carry a 1A rating.

In addition, Foundry’s Grayne Shingle line is included on California’s WUI building materials listing.

As with any material, use of Boral Building Products’ siding and trim materials beyond the parameters to which they are designed could impact fire resistance. Have questions? Contact our customer service team today.

What do the 2021 Colors of the Year Mean for Your Exteriors?

One of the most fun reveals at the end of each year are the various Colors of the Year announcements from manufacturers and color experts. They’re a unique reflection of the current moods of the populace and perhaps also a nudge toward where we expect to be headed in the coming 12 months.

This year was no exception, as three of the major Color of the Year announcements seemed to deliver on a similar theme of calm, hope, and grounding.

Here’s a look at the colors, what they symbolize, and how you can leverage them on your homes.

2021 Colors of the Year

For only the second time in 22 years, Pantone selected two Colors of the Year: Ultimate Gray (17-5104) and Illuminating (13-0647). The two hues “highlight how different elements come together to support one another,” the company says. “Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, the union of Pantone 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and Pantone 13-0647 Illuminating is one of strength and positivity. It is a story of color that encapsulates deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the promise of something sunny and friendly.”

(Check out ArchDaily’s collection of projects featuring similar colors.)

Pantone 2021 Colors of the Year, Iluminating, Ultimate Gray
Pantone’s Illuminating and Ultimate Gray (Image courtesy Pantone)

Sherwin-Williams named Urbane Bronze (SW 7047 (245-C7)), a rich, enveloping gray-brown, its Color of the Year. “Nature at its simplest and most elemental—embodying the richness of the Earth’s stone, metal, and wood—forges a feeling that’s grounded, meditative, and serene,” the paint manufacturer describes. “Let a color rooted in nature create a feeling of calm and bring all you cherish together.”

Sherwin-Williams 2021 Color of the Year, Urbane Bronze
Sherwin-Williams’ Urbane Bronze (Image courtesy Sherwin-Williams)

Paint manufacturer Benjamin Moore went for a richer neutral as well with its selection of Aegean Teal 2136-40, “a blend of blue-green and gray … an intriguing midtone that creates natural harmony,” as its Color of the Year. The hue, along with the other colors in the company’s Color Trends 2021 Palette, celebrates the simple pleasures of home, eliciting a feeling of calming positivity that embraces the viewer in its warmth. The aesthetic feels traditional but much more modern in tone. 

Benjamin Moore’s Aegean Teal (Image courtesy Benjamin Moore)

“Every year, the Colors of the Year reflect what’s happened over the past 12 months, and that is very apparent in this year’s selections,” says Trisha Wagner, National Accounts Manager for Boral Building Products. “People have changed a lot in how they view their surroundings; it’s taken a turn from looking at home from outside in. And these colorscapes demonstrate that.”

How to Apply Trending Colors to the Home Exterior

Wagner points out that home aesthetics are no longer just about curb appeal. With the pandemic, home is also a workspace, vacation space, and much more—so how colors live is important. They need to be much more fluid, with a flow from inside to out, rather than a bold exterior color with a more neutral interior or vice versa.

Trending colors have a feel of the “new neutral,” with a natural tone but with a richness that keeps them feeling modern. In siding, Foundry’s Deep Granite color is one example.

“When I look at new construction projects, it’s not just siding and stone; it’s shake in the gable, multiple textures, but they’re all tonal. Texture and color fold and weave into this calm, serene space,” says Wagner. “It’s the same on the interior. We’re seeing less of the stark contrast, such as a single accent wall in a bold red. It’s more of a blend. It’s not just about one room, it’s about the palette throughout the home.”

Foundry siding
Foundry siding on the second floor blends with the first-floor hues to create a soothing-yet-elegant look.

There’s still a place for bold, but there’s an elegance to it. The bright red is still around, but in a deeper, earthier version that feels calm instead of overpowering. On the exterior, a neutral palette may pair with black-framed windows or a half wall of Versetta Stone’s Northern Ash hue. “That’s the foundation for some of these modern neutrals. We’re not going back to the boring hues. These are elevated, richer, calmer,” Wagner explains.

Versetta Stone in Northern Ash offers an opportunity to add a bold look without feeling overpowering.

The Colors of the Year themselves can be easily weaved into a front door, shutters, and other accents, areas that showcase a trend without having to make a dramatic change.

Atlantic Shutters, Bahama Shutters, green shutters
Shutters and doors offer homeowners an opportunity to experiment with trendy colors, whether the Colors of the Year or a bright green as seen here, without making too much of a commitment.

“Colors are an absolute reflection of where we are this year,” Wagner says. “Color inspires. We shouldn’t be afraid of it, but it has to work with you.”

Ready to take advantage of the latest color trends? Atlantic Shutters can be matched to nearly any color, offering a perfect opportunity to incorporate similar hues to the Colors of the Year. And TruExterior Siding & Trim can be painted any color, making it easy to respond to the latest preferences.

7 Exterior Trends for 2021

Kleer Lumber, outdoor living, retaining wall, pergola

The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced many aspects of our lives, and home design and exterior trends are no exception. As stay-at-home orders stretched out into months, homeowners turned to home improvement projects to keep themselves busy and whittle down neglected to-do lists. At the same time, many homeowners chose to relocate to new or existing homes in search of more space or outdoor-friendly properties.

Those shifts will likely continue to influence home trends in the months to come. Alongside those changes, there are some existing exterior trends that remain top of mind with pros and homeowners alike.

  • Easy upgrades: Staying at home means more time staring at ho-hum exteriors or facades in need of a facelift. Simple updates to the exterior, such as replacing aging siding, adding gable vents or decorative mounting blocks, or installing decorative trim, can go a long way to improving curb appeal while still remaining affordable and in reach of DIYers.
  • Outdoor living, elevated: Outdoor living has been trending for years, but the need for great exterior space is stronger than ever with the pandemic. For homeowners stuck in the house, the outdoors have become a much-needed place of respite. Making outdoor living areas even more inviting—with everything from integrated seating to warm lighting to a flashier grill—has become even more desirable.

Along with the deck and patio surfaces, your customers should consider how the surrounding façade looks, adding trim and other accents to make the space feel more refined and complete.

Awnings and overhead coverings, as well as fire pits and outdoor heaters, can help to extend the useability of those outdoor spaces during colder temperatures.

Kleer Lumber, outdoor living, retaining wall, pergola
Warm lighting, ample seating, and a covered area made with Kleer trim and column wraps help make this outdoor space inviting .
  • Updated offices: With more workers logging in remotely, creating home offices that are welcoming and well-designed is top of mind, and exterior siding products can make a perfect decorative element. Shiplap siding or panelized stone siding is an easy way to add an accent wall to elevate a guest bedroom into a cozy home office.
TruExterior, office
This office space features a shiplap accent wall made with TruExterior Siding.
  • Window options and placement: More time at home means even more need for better indoor air quality and comfort. For windows, this means paying attention to placement to maximize both daylighting and cross-ventilation. Sound control options also should be considered to minimize disruptions during the work day.
  • Authenticity: Authentic siding and trim profiles, like TruExterior’s Craftsman Collection, offer the nostalgia of tradition and the comfort of the tried-and-true, fueling a greater sense of normalcy in a world that is anything but.
  • Multi-textured facades: Multi-textured facades continue among leading exterior trends. Blending multiple cladding types, such as a stone siding half wall with vinyl or poly-ash siding above, and incorporating shingles or vertical accents on gables and bump-outs helps distinguish homes along the streetscape and adds warmth and curb appeal.
  • Vertical and board-and-batten siding: Vertical and board-and-batten siding can add dimension and visual interest to the home exterior, particularly to meet demand for multi-textured façades and Modern Farmhouse looks. Vertical applications also can help spice up accent areas, such as gables. (Learn more about vertical siding here .)
exterior inspiration, vertical siding, siding, TruExterior, poly-ash siding
Vertical siding, such as this look created with TruExterior Siding, remains a popular trend for home exteriors.

Even after the restrictions of COVID-19 fade into memory, the idea of the home as a place of escape and sanctuary is likely to remain for some time. Simple touches can add physical and aesthetic comfort to secure the feeling of home.

Virtual Learning Opportunities for Builders, Remodelers, and LBM Dealers

As the industry has continued to navigate life during the COVID-19 pandemic, masks and temperature checks on jobsites have become the norm as face-to-face sales calls and travel to trade shows have disappeared. But with many projects still moving forward, in some cases with more urgency than before the pandemic, what hasn’t changed is the need to stay educated on new products, selling strategies, and installation best practices.

Luckily, manufacturers, publications, and other entities in the construction industry have adapted fast, and there are ample virtual learning opportunities to learn via computers and tablets.

At Boral Building Products, our customer representatives are able to provide product knowledge and installation training sessions via online platforms. Simply contact your rep to set up a time.

In addition, here are some virtual learning options you can take advantage of now and in the near future:

ProTradeCraft
This robust online learning portal isn’t new, and it’s chock full of videos and podcasts covering construction best practices, from detailing siding to building high-performance walls. You’ll find content from the site’s team of experts as well as product knowledge and installation sessions from manufacturers.

Browse the videos.

The Weekly
The folks behind Pro Builder and Pro Remodeler magazines stream a new video series each week, interviewing building pros of all types on everything from modular homes to recruiting strategies to Facebook marketing.

Catch up on past shows and subscribe here.

The Remodeling Show Reimagined (Nov. 16-18)
In its new virtual space, this year’s Remodeling Show is focusing on both business and installation topics. Live and on-demand sessions include a state of the industry, kitchen design trends, creating transitional trim details, digital marketing, lead generation, window installation, and much more. 

Details and registration here.

LBM Sales Podcast
Dealers can brush up on their sales strategies with LBM Journal and sales trainer Rick Davis, a longtime contributor to the magazine. Not only will Davis share his expertise, but also sales strategies from LBM leaders as well as experts from outside the industry.

Find the podcasts here.

NAHB Online Learning
The association’s new portal features live and on-demand courses, on-demand modules, and live and recorded webinars. Tracks include business management, building techniques, architecture and design, land development, project management, trends, and sales and marketing.

Visit the portal.

National Housing Outlook Webinars
Metrostudy’s weekly live webinars provide real-time data and insights to help guide your decision-making.

Browse the schedule.

NKBA Webinars
Hone your kitchen and bath design chops with the association’s lengthy list of live and recorded webinars. Topics range from a broad look at trends to details such as bio-adaptive lighting.

Peruse the library.

Census: Vinyl Siding One of Leading Residential Cladding Materials

Foundry siding, vinyl siding

As first reported in Eye on Housing, data from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction indicate stucco and vinyl were the most common siding material for new single-family homes in 2019, accounting for 27% and 25% of the total, respectively. Stucco was installed on 245,000 home starts and vinyl on 228,000 home starts last year.

Digging deeper into the four regional sectors of the Census data, vinyl siding was far and away the leading material in two regions—the Northeast, at 46,000 homes (74%), and the Midwest, at 71,000 homes (59%). Not surprisingly, stucco and brick were the most-used material in the south, though vinyl still captured 21% of the market there.

Further analysis of nine submarkets by Eye on Housing finds that vinyl was the leading material in four submarkets and the second-leading material in two submarkets. In the Mid-Atlantic region encompassing New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, vinyl accounted for 75% of housing starts, with the next most-used material, brick, at just 9%. In New England, 68% of new homes in 2019 used vinyl, with wood as the secondary material at 19%.

It’s no wonder vinyl siding is the go-to option for new homes—for most products, it offers low maintenance and optimal durability. Foundry Specialty Siding takes those advantages even further, offering the warm, rich look of shake or shingle cedar along with an extensive palette of standard and custom colors. Plus, its profiles virtually eliminate visible seams, furthering the authenticity and enhancing aesthetics versus similar products.

Get inspired in our Idea Gallery or find your local supplier here.

Foundry Offers a Range of Opportunities for Multifamily Projects

Foundry Specialty Siding

The appeal of Foundry Specialty Siding—the warm, rich look of cedar without the maintenance concerns—makes it not only an ideal option for single-family homes, but particularly desirable for multifamily apartment and condo projects.

Whether you’re building two-story garden apartments or a four-story mid-rise building, here a few things to consider about selecting Foundry:

• Budget-Friendly: Along with an affordable price point, Foundry offers several inherent properties that make it a valuable option. This includes a low scrap rate, and therefore less waste, easy installation with fewer crew members, and no required special tools or accessories.

• Low Maintenance: While Foundry offers the sought-after look of wood, apartment maintenance teams won’t have to deal with the typical maintenance or durability issues that come with natural siding. Foundry stays looking new with no need to paint and stain each year or concerns about insect infestation or moisture absorption.

• Color Options: For projects looking to move away from the typical creams and tans, Foundry comes in a variety of standard and weathered hues, plus more than 400 color-matched solids. This makes it easy to blend or coordinate with other siding products and accents and also to combine siding and trim colors into eye-catching looks.

• Diversity of Looks: Even in multifamily projects with multiple buildings, renters and buyers like their homes to feel different than their neighbors. Foundry is easy to combine with other siding materials, brands, and textures to create a varied façade. For example, start the wall with Versetta Stone stone siding, then transition to Foundry for the upper floors. Another common approach is a double-4, double-5, or triple-3 vinyl siding transitioning to Foundry. For an upscale look, blend brick with Foundry above. Foundry’s own shingle and shake profiles, including its Grayne Shingle Siding line, also combine to create an enticing exterior.

• Easy Installation: In large multifamily projects with tight construction schedules, Foundry’s ease of handling and installation can provide much-needed time and labor savings. At 5 feet, the panels can be carried and hung by one crew member, versus a two-person approach required for typical 12-foot panels. In addition, there’s no need to set up a two-person cutting station. A single installer can use a tape measure and snips to cut to size on the fly. Foundry also uses the same accessories as traditional vinyl siding, so it locks in without the need for special transitions while working up high on multi-story projects.

• Ordering Flexibility: Builders have tremendous flexibility in ordering Foundry in small or large quantities, so it’s ideal for any size job, depending on the façade design and desired aesthetic.

• Fire Rating: Foundry carries a 1A fire rating, stronger than some other vinyl options and ideal for multifamily projects.

Ready to learn more? Find your local supplier here.

7 Tips to Improve Your Website’s SEO

search engine optimization, website analytics

When customers are looking for information on the internet, it tends to always start with a simple search.

Search engines are the “middlemen” that work to connect businesses to customers who are in need of their goods and services. And there are ways you can help the search engine’s artificial intelligence (AI) find your websites, facilitating potential customers to connect with you faster.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a strategic way of positioning content on websites to ensure higher rankings in search engines. The higher you rank, the more likely your website is to land in front of potential customers.

Here are 7 tips for improving your website’s SEO to rank higher on search engine inquiries.

1. TEST THE WEBSITE SPEED

When ranking websites, speed is one of the first things Google and other search engines look at. Speed matters because users will leave sites that take too long to load.

And keep in mind that SEO AI will look at both the mobile and desktop speed. Your site must run fast on both to rank higher.

There are tools offered to help check speed; one is Google Developer.

2. ADD VIDEO AND IMAGES

Having videos and images on a website will always rank the site higher—provided you use them where they make sense. The AI will favor your site when the videos and images help elevate the content. AI does not favor pictures over videos or videos over pictures, which provides tremendous flexibility.

3. FIND AND FIX BROKEN LINKS

There is nothing more disappointing to a website visitor than clicking on a link that doesn’t work. As such, Google and other search engines will rank websites with broken links lower.

Fewer broken links also will result in lower bounce rates and exits from your website. There are tools that can help you find broken links for free, or it can be done manually .

4. ANSWER THE QUESTIONS PEOPLE ARE ASKING

If you can figure out and understand the questions your customers are asking, and then provide the answers to those questions, your website will rank higher in search engines.

When customers search the internet, they are asking questions that may not directly link to your services or products but are related. If you can create content that answers relevant questions, your brand can be put in front of the consumers, and you can gain their business.

For example, remodelers might create content around common homeowner questions such as “What siding is best for my home” or “How do I improve my home’s curb appeal?” Having blog posts or other content on your website that answers common questions can help lead potential customers to your site.

Also, every good question has a follow-up question. Try your best to understand and answer the next question that comes after the first set of questions.

5. HAVE A STRONG CALL-TO-ACTION

A strong website will have an even stronger call-to-action (CTA). When a customer lands on your site, you should always have a goal in mind. It could be having them sign up for your newsletter, getting them to schedule a discovery session, or encouraging them to follow you on Instagram.

You want to make sure you have a clear task for them to complete. Google and other search engines will rank websites with higher task completions (such as subscribing to your newsletter) better than those with lower completion rates. 

If the customer does not complete the task and ends up back in the search results, the search engine will rank your site lower because it is an indication that your website does not answer the customer’s questions or needs.

6. DON’T FRET TOO MUCH ABOUT KEYWORDS

When SEO rules and ranking first became a hot topic for businesses, keywords became the focus.

As search engines continue to evolve, focus on keywords is not as essential. Customers are using long-form questions with tools like talk-to-text, and AI is becoming more sophisticated. Instead of focusing content on specific words, spend the time making sure you are providing the best content for your customers and answering the right questions.

The search engines will rank you higher for better content versus using a keyword over and over.

7. EARN INCOMING LINKS TO YOUR WEBSITE

Another way to earn higher rankings on search engines is to have other sites link to yours.

It is not necessarily about the number of links to your site, but the overall quality of those links. For example, if a big media outlet links to your site compared to a low-traffic blog, the big media outlet has a higher reputation and a more powerful link.

Keep in mind that Google and other search engines do not allow websites to buy links to their website; in fact, you can land on the “bad” list and lower your ranks drastically. Don’t do it.

It is better to work on networking and tasking PR professionals to publicize your content to help earn links to your site.

Though ranking can be challenging, the reward of being ranked higher in search engines is worthwhile.

A strong SEO strategy can help ensure potential customers can find you and that search engines put your business in front of those customers as the best solution for their needs.

5 Insights from LBM Journal’s Siding Review

LBM Journal magazine, siding trends

In many ways, it’s business as usual in the siding market—authenticity is in demand, low maintenance is a must, and the Modern Farmhouse continues to reign. And while the pandemic shifted the way most of the industry is doing business, many homeowners are using the extra time at home to improve their exteriors.

LBM Journal’s annual In Depth feature on siding takes a look at the current trends in siding and siding sales. Here’s some of what they found:

Siding Market Remains Strong

While the pandemic has created challenges for so many, it’s also driven many homeowners to embark on improvement projects, particularly as they embrace the home’s role as sanctuary. “During stay-at-home orders, many Americans have been making wish lists for the ways they will have professionals make improvements once that’s allowed in their areas,” Boral Building Products’ Vice President of Sales Jack Delaney told LBM Journal. “Siding replacement is a perfect way to give existing homes an instant facelift.”

Siding also has the distinct advantage of offering outside work, which is isolated from the homeowner and is easier to do safely as the pandemic continues, making it an ideal option to consider for a facelift.

Popular Siding Trends Continue

Multi-textured facades continue to be in demand, manufacturers say, combining traditional siding with stone and accents to help the home stand out and catch the eye.

And despite some predictions that the Modern Farmhouse style has run its course, the look remains popular, as homeowners desire the authenticity blended with clean lines and a contemporary vibe.

“Authenticity has been in demand for the past few years, and we think that desire will only get stronger as Americans look to their homes as a sanctuary,” Delaney said. “The draw of tradition, of the tried-and-true, is likely to continue as homeowners look for any sense of normalcy in these times.”

TruExterior Siding & Trim’s Craftsman Collection, offering the look of wood in seven authentic profiles such as Shiplap and Channel Bevel, is one way to deliver on that preference.

Low Maintenance a Must

The demand for low-maintenance materials is here to stay, as older and younger homeowners alike eschew the idea of painting their exterior every year. Two products to consider are TruExterior poly-ash siding and Foundry Specialty Siding, each offering a combination of durability and little upkeep.

Easy Installation in Demand

As the labor shortage continues, straightforward, speedy installation is key to maintaining schedules and ensuring long-term performance. (Try Versetta Stone stone siding, which has a panelized format that can be installed by traditional carpenters and contractors.) Building pros also are looking for a partner in their suppliers, one that can be both a single source of materials and provide value and knowledge.

Virtual Training Takes Off

With demand still high but face-to-face meetings off the table in many areas of the country, manufacturers have quickly implemented online training sessions. Boral Building Products, for example, has been hosting product knowledge workshops and live installation demonstrations. Check out some recorded classes on our YouTube channel or contact your rep to arrange a live session.

Learn more about the latest siding needs and trends by reading the full LBM Journal article here.

Idea Gallery: 5 Gable Ends

Foundry split shake, gable ends

Dressing up gable ends can add a pop of interest to the home—and isn’t hard to pull off, whether with a new siding texture, a simple window, or a decorative louver.

Here are a few approaches to gable ends from projects around the country:

Foundry Split Shake siding, vinyl siding, gable end

Multi-textured facades are in big demand, and switching up the gable’s cladding, such as this home featuring Foundry 7” Split Shake siding, is a great way to do that.

TruExterior Siding, poly-ash siding

Small windows on these two gables, featuring TruExterior Siding, add just enough to keep the gable from feeling too staid. At the same time, they maintain the home’s clean look and avoid diverting attention away from the exterior’s more compelling configurations and shapes.

gable end, gable vent, Mid-America

The bright white color and decorative elements on this Designer Round Vent with Keystone from Mid-America Components brightens up the façade and pairs perfectly with the brilliant white soffit and trim above.

Half-round gable vent, Mid-America

Gable vents don’t have to be dramatic to bring a touch of class. This Half Round gable vent is just a few shades away from the off-white siding, lending a subtle, elegant style.

TruExterior Trim, board-and-batten, gable end

Board-and-batten cladding, made with TruExterior Trim, and three simple windows infuse a Modern Farmhouse appeal to this gable. Learn how to replicate this look here.

Want more inspiration for gable ends? Follow our Instagram page for frequent updates and project images.

Vertical Siding Installation and Inspiration

exterior inspiration, vertical siding, siding, TruExterior, poly-ash siding

Vertical siding installation is on trend for a reason—blended with horizontal siding or other materials, it’s an ideal way to add dimension and visual interest to the home exterior, particularly as homeowners clamor for multi-textured façades. Vertical applications also are a great way to make accent areas a bit more interesting. 

But installing vertical siding has some nuances both designers and installers should keep in mind. Here are a few things to consider when using TruExterior Siding in vertical installations. 

Choose the right style and profile: Vertical siding is most often used with Channel or V-Rustic profiles, but also can be achieved with Nickel Gap or Shiplap

Complement the home style: Vertical installations are commonly seen on both modern and traditional styles. If used across the full expanse of the façade, the look will decidedly lean modern or, depending on the other design elements, modern farmhouse; traditional exteriors should stick to accents, such as a gable or around an entryway.

Vertical siding, exterior inspiration, TruExterior Siding
Vertical siding made with TruExterior channel siding is ideal for dormers and complements the lines of the metal roofing.

• Follow installation instructions: Keep in mind that vertical installations of TruExterior Siding will require a few different steps than horizontal applications. These include: 

–Make sure to install flashing above windows, doors, and roof lines as usual. 

–If the height of the home requires more than one piece of siding installed vertically, create a belly band trim joint with a piece of 1×4, 1×6, or 1×8 trim (depending on preference) and Z-flashing above and below (see diagram). In vertical applications, the belly band is the best strategy for optimal moisture management and is usually more visually effective versus having random seams. 

–Fasten each piece of TruExterior Siding at the tongue and on the face no less than 3/4″ from the edge and no more than 12″ along the length of both sides of the siding. 

–Install a frieze board trim piece with flashing along the top edges of the siding under the soffits.

Vertical siding, exterior inspiration, siding, TruExterior siding, poly-ash siding
Combining horizontal and vertical siding is a great way to add interest and dimension to larger walls. 

Click here to see more exterior project inspiration featuring TruExterior Siding.

Safety and Business Resources for Contractors During COVID-19

residential construction

The safety of employees, partners, customers, and visitors has long been a key mission for the residential construction industry. That focus is even more critical now as builders, remodelers, and contractors navigate the COVID-19 crisis while keeping both their businesses and their team members healthy.

Knowledge is power, and one of the best steps to take is to arm yourself with information from the experts. Here are a few resources from around the industry to help you determine the best practices and procedures to implement on your jobsites—and at your office. 

National Association of Home Builders
NAHB offers a host of extensive resources on jobsite safety during the pandemic, including a response plan template, jobsite checklist, a toolbox talk, jobsite posters, and more, each in English and Spanish.  

On April 16, construction sites across the country participated in the NAHB’s COVID-19 Job Site Safety Stand Down, a 10-minute work stoppage devoted to educating employees on staying safe and helping to flatten the curve. If you weren’t able to participate, click here to access the NAHB’s guide to the Stand Down, including a toolbox talk outlining prevention measures, jobsite best practices, and worker responsibilities.

OSHA
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s COVID-19 portal is robust, with guidelines on everything from identifying potential sources of exposure to prevention strategies and decontamination procedures.

Pro Remodeler
Pro Remodeler’s COVID-19 Resources portal has links to tools from the CDC, OSHA, and SBA, as well as a state-by-state tracker. In addition, you’ll find a range of business tools, including Build Aid, a free online joint conference featuring expert speakers presenting on everything from management to material procurement, as well as first-hand accounts and advice from fellow remodelers.

National Association of the Remodeling Industry
NARI also has a COVID-19 portal, featuring links to CDC and OSHA guidelines, the Dept. of Commerce’s Essential Workforce Tracker, and the Construction Industry Safety Coalition’s prevention and response plan. The website also offers updates on the association’s efforts to ensure construction is deemed essential, business-themed webinars, and loan guidance.

Builder magazine
Builder’s COVID-19 dashboard offers state-by-state tracking of limits to construction and building material supply. The publication is also hosting weekly webinars from Meyers Research. View a recap of the most recent webinar, discussing how builders are adjusting to the new normal, here.

Image: iStockphoto.com/photovs

In Life Cycle Analysis, Vinyl Siding Outperforms Fiber Cement

Foundry staggered shake siding, vinyl siding

Vinyl siding is a go-to product for many builders and remodelers, thanks to its affordability, durability, and eye-catching aesthetics. And pros concerned about sustainability can rest assured that vinyl ticks that box, as well.

According to the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI), analysis by BEES, a tool from the National Institute of Standards and Technology that measures the environmental performance of building products using life-cycle assessment, vinyl siding’s life cycle outperforms that of fiber cement by two times and also has lower global warming impact and ecological toxicity ratings. In addition, fiber cement is responsible for more than 200 times the human health impact, while vinyl creates virtually no manufacturing waste, has significantly lower toxic emissions, and has only 19% of fiber cement’s ozone depletion impact.

These and other findings in the report support the vinyl siding industry’s long-held assertions about the sustainability attributes of vinyl, VSI says, including lighter weight for increased fuel efficiency during shipping, minimal material waste from installation, and durability, as well as the fact that vinyl doesn’t need paint, stain, or caulk. 

These advantages don’t come with sacrifice to aesthetics, which remains a top priority for most consumers. Foundry siding profiles capture the warm look and sought-after curb appeal of cedar. Choose from the charm and custom sophistication of shingles or the bold statement of staggered or split shakes, all with low maintenance and long-term durability.

Dive deeper into the BEES findings in a second report by VSI here.

Foundry Adds Mountain Ash, Rustic Slate to Grayne Shingle Siding Lineup

Foundry Grayne shingle siding, vinyl siding

Foundry has added two new colors—Mountain Ash, a sandy white, and Rustic Slate, a bluish gray—to its Grayne shingle siding line. Each color was selected based on research by Renee Labbe, a leading color foresight strategist.

Foundry Grayne shingle siding, Rustic Slate, vinyl siding
Rustic slate

Consumer preferences today are landing on both ends of the color spectrum—whites and darks—with less demand for the in-between. Mountain Ash and Rustic Slate respond to these trends without feeling like a fad—they’re colors that will remain classic for years to come.

Foundry Grayne shingle siding, Mountain Ash, vinyl siding
Mountain Ash

Mountain Ash and Rustic Slate also are a perfect complement to Grayne shingle sidings’ distinctive graining patterns and sharp, crisp edges, which create natural depth and shadow lines for the authentic look of natural cedar without the associated maintenance. The new colors are available in the 7.5” Red Cedar profile.

Click here for more information on Grayne shingle siding.