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.

6 Tips for Selling Shutters

Selling shutters, exterior shutters

Shutters are an ideal finishing touch for most home exteriors. And with countless options across price points, styles, and colors, it’s easy for pros and consumers alike to find the perfect fit for each home. But that extensive selection also can become overwhelming, especially for homeowners. Dealers selling shutters can play a key role in helping customers narrow down their options and secure the best match.

Consider these sales strategies to support pros and DIYers:

Don’t start with price: The best way to begin the selection conversation is determining the customer’s functional and aesthetic needs. What are the most important attributes they’re looking for? Low maintenance? Do they favor a wood look? What design style are they seeking? Do they want operable or fixed units? These initial discussions will help point you and the customer toward a category and profile first.

Not only will this help customers find a product they like, it also can help you avoid providing price quotes for each and every feature. Determine what they want, then discuss pricing options.

Ramp up your knowledge: Between the number of options and the requirements for proper sizing, it’s critical that retailers selling shutters understand the nuances of materials, styles, and specifications. (See some of the mistakes your customers might make here.) Leverage your Westlake Royal Building Products’ sales reps—they’re your resource for training and questions. They also may be able to accompany you on the jobsite, present to the customer, and provide measuring and installation support.

Create displays: For homeowners, seeing and touching product options can help them realize the impact of adding shutters as well as decide between materials. If space allows, create a working façade showing a few of the most popular profiles. Work with your manufacturer to get hand samples of the options you offer, not only of the shutters themselves, but also the hardware.

Leverage color guides and design tools: Consult color guides available from Atlantic Premium Shutters and Mid-America components. In addition, dealers and their customers can use online design tools such as the Virtual Remodeler to see which shutter styles and colors will look best on their home and in combination with their siding, windows, roofing, and trim.

Ask customers to bring photos and examples: Choosing the right shutter style for the home can be confusing to buyers. Encourage them to bring a photo of their home so you can help determine which profiles will be best suited to the façade. In addition, they can bring Pinterest examples and other inspiration to guide the aesthetic conversation.

Relay the process: Homeowners may not understand the extended lead times required for custom colors and that shutters are often the last thing to be installed on the home’s exterior. Make sure to manage expectations by discussing the true delivery timeline.

Ready to learn more about shutter options? Explore Mid-America shutters and Atlantic Premium Shutters.

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). 

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

Even if you’re preferred workspace is on the jobsite rather than behind the desk, it’s crucial as a building or remodeling pro to take the time to keep your website it proper working order, especially when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is how you ensure your company website will appear in Google search results (and ideally at or near the top of those results) when potential customers are looking for contractors to build their home, remodel their kitchen, or replace their siding. Appearing in search results can help increase traffic to your website, build brand recognition, and ultimately grow your leads.

While SEO is complicated enough that there are folks whose jobs are solely dedicated to the practice,  there are a few basic steps you can take right now to ensure your company’s website is checking off the basic must-have features.

1. Ensure your contact info is up to date: Make sure your website has your current company name, address, and phone number, both on the contact page and in the static footer.

2. Update your Google Business Profile: If you haven’t claimed and updated your Google Business Profile, it’s critical that you do so right away. When potential customers search for your type of business, such as “siding contractors in Fairfax, Virginia,” having an up-to-date Google Business Profile will help ensure you appear in the results and are shown in the Google Map Pack (see image below)—which also means you’ll show up before all paid and organic listings.

SEO Google Map Pack

Keep your Google Business Profile updated with as much current information as you can, including contact information, hours of operation, photos of your location, and before/after project photos. Encourage your customers to write a Google review of your company so those results show up, as well. (Click here to learn more about Google Business Profile and what it does, and check out this article for step-by-step setup instructions.)

3. Use regional language: Make sure your website banner and content include your location and region. Consider what people search for (perhaps “siding contractor in Fairfax, Virginia”) and make sure you’re specifying those keywords.

4. Create original content: Google prefers websites with organic content, so create and maintain a blog if you can (see an example from Westlake Royal Building Products customer Boston Exterior Remodeling). Even a weekly post featuring design tips, reflections on the latest industry trends and topics, descriptions and images of recently completed projects, and other educational articles can give you a boost. Weave keywords related to your business, including regional references, into the content when practical. (For instance, an article on design trends may include “While dark exterior siding colors are trending nationwide, we find that our Fairfax, Virginia-area homeowners are still preferring classic white siding with dark trim.”)

If you want to dig further into the most popular keywords for your work areas, a tool like SEMrush provides research tools along with website and SEO analysis.

5. Ask for help: If you want to get beyond the basics, it can be helpful to hire an expert. A digital marketing agency or an independent consultant can evaluate your current website and fix any key problems without requiring a huge investment, freeing up your time to do what you do best—build.

If you want to dive deeper into these tips, check out Backlinko’s Definitive Guide to local SEO here.

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.)

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.

Best Practices for Multi-Textured Facades

Chester Celect 7” Clapboard and Celect 7” Shake

One of the most enduring trends in home exteriors today is multi-textured, varied facades. Homeowners and homebuyers tired of ho-hum, cookie-cutter houses are seeking out aesthetics to add an eye-catching pop that increases curb appeal and helps differentiate them from others on the block. For production builders, these changes can create a more appealing streetscape in communities with limited elevations.

There are a range of methods to create visual texture on the exterior façade, including blending different cladding and trim materials, mixing different profiles, and incorporating variations in color. Gables and bumpouts offer a logical place for shakes, vertical cladding, or complementary colors to elevate the façade’s dimensionality. Or consider a bold color or robust stone look for added drama.

Here are a few strategies to keep in mind as you experiment with multi-textured facades.

Play with Placement

Before you select colors and materials, take some time to play with placement. We recommend adding accent cladding (often shake, board and batten, or manufactured stone) in ways that highlight an architectural feature, like gables, a bumpout, or a new addition.

Create a Color Scheme

Working within a set color scheme will help you narrow down your cladding choices. Some homeowners may prefer to use different siding profiles in the same color to create subtle visual interest. Others like the look of complementary colors, or are interested in a high-contrast color scheme.

Exterior Portfolio siding creates a multi-textured facade
Similarly toned colors and small variations in texture help differentiate this facade from other traditionally styled homes. The cladding combines Exterior Portfolio Elm Grove D4 in Cypress and Country Beige, along with Exterior Portfolio Portsmouth D7 Cedar Shingles in the same hues and a subtle nod to the color scheme with tan window frames.

Incorporate Texture

A textured look can be made literally, such as from more robust materials like stone, or visually, from movement between materials and authentic, wood-like profiles.

One of the most popular ways to elevate the facade is with a half wall of stone—such as with Versetta Stone panelized stone siding, Cultured Stone manufactured stone veneer, or Atlas Stone composite stone panels—with traditional siding above. In fact, adding a manufactured stone kneewall is so popular it offers the second-highest return on investment for renovation projects, according to the Remodeling 2022 Cost vs. Value Report.

Eldorado Stone used as a kneewall to create a multi-textured facade
A stone kneewall, such as this one created with Eldorado Stone’s Tundra Brick in Ashland, adds subtle variation while delivering high return on investment.

The lighter weight of panelized or manufactured stone also makes it easy to create two-story accent walls with for a truly dramatic look.

Consider Resale

Resale value is always a concern when incorporating homeowners’ tastes and preferences, so it’s important to balance a look they love without adding elements that are too garish or that will quickly feel dated. Craftsman and Arts & Crafts looks never seem to fade from favor, for example, but a trendy color like burnt orange or avocado green likely will.

Versetta Stone blends with vinyl siding in similar tones to create a multi-textured facade
Colors don’t have to be boldly different to make an impact. The brown-gray tones of the Foundry Split Shake siding, stone, and garage doors create layers of visual texture that unfold slowly on this home.

For homeowners who want to put their unique stamp on things, consider areas of the exterior that are easier to change out before resale, such as a chartreuse entry door or bright red shutters. Porch furniture, flower boxes, and bright flower beds are other ways to add bolder colors without making a hefty long-term commitment.

Stay Within the Home’s Style

Similarly, always consider the home’s overall style when incorporating different materials and profiles. For example, while shake gables are a popular approach, the texture will feel off-putting on a Southwest home. Modern-style homes are more likely to have multiple materials versus traditional, older homes. But the popularity of Modern Farmhouse has allowed buyers to create more varied looks while holding on to some authenticity.

Multi-textured facade created with vertical and horizontal TruExterior siding
Vertical and horizontal TruExterior Siding, along with cedar-like shakes, create visual variation across this all-white exterior.

Don’t Forget the Exterior Accessories

Trim, shutters, and columns are an excellent way to infuse style and create variation in subtle ways. Dark trim is extremely popular, adding a dramatic look against white siding without going overboard.

Leverage Online Design Tools

With so many options, it can be overwhelming for pros and consumers alike to visualize how products and colors will look on the completed façade. Free online design tools, such as Westlake Royal Building Products’ Virtual Remodeler, HomePlay, and Dream Designer, allow you to preview different product combinations on an image of the home or a similar home. Users can mix and match siding materials, profiles, colors, and accessories, helping to better ensure confident product selections and a satisfying finished façade.

With a diverse, versatile portfolio of siding, trim, stone, and roofing brands, Westlake Royal Building Products makes it easy to create multi-textured facades. Learn more here.

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

Celebrate National Remodeling Month With Helpful Tools & Tips

National Remodeling Month 2022

May is National Home Remodeling Month, the NAHB’s annual celebration that spotlights the remodeling industry, recognizes the expertise of remodeling professionals, and showcases the myriad benefits of hiring a professional remodeler. Westlake Royal Building Products is proud to be a sponsor of the 2022 event.

For National Remodeling Month, the NAHB encourages remodelers to leverage tools and tips to promote the industry through the local press, social platforms, and in-person fairs, seminars, and tours. Available resources include social media posts, web banners, press releases, fact sheets, and other materials, along with government proclamations, customizable educational articles, and op-eds. Get started with their Step-by-Step Guide here, get promotion tips here, or access downloadable promo materials here.  

As part of its sponsorship, Westlake Royal Building Products is hosting several events for NAHB members during the month of May, including:

• Shop Talk session featuring Chris “CJ” Johnson, Director – Product & Marketing – Siding, Westlake Royal Building Products, discussing the topic of product warranties.

• Webinar “Addressing Multi-Faceted Needs in AIP & UD Renovations,” May 18, which will address multi-faceted needs in aging-in-place and universal design renovations (Sign up here)

Along with professional tools, the NAHB provides a consumer resources portal, with tips on how to choose a professional remodeler, links to find a remodeler in their community, and design trends.

3 Google Ads Tips and Tricks for Contractors

When marketing your business to acquire and retaining customers, you can’t always rely on traditional marketing efforts such as print ads to get your business and brand in front of homeowners looking for your expertise. Leveraging today’s digital tools is a necessity, and adding Google Ads to your marketing toolbox can help you acquire more business.

If you’ve already taken this important step, here are three simple strategies to help boost the effectiveness Google Ads can have on your business.


1. Use More Keywords in Your Ads

Simply put, Google Ads allow you to advertise and promote your business, products, and services online when users search relevant keywords. The more keywords you incorporate into your ads, the better traffic and leads you could receive.

Think about what you and your customers use to search for products or services. Make a list and match it to what you are using today to ensure you are getting the most out of your ads.

For example, let’s say one of your services is siding installation on residential homes. Adding “Siding Installation” to your copy can help make your ad more effective. The copy should flow naturally as well.

Using negative keywords can also help optimize your campaign. For example, telling Google to exclude keywords like “DIY siding installation” helps to narrow traffic to those truly looking to hire a contractor. It also helps avoid paying for ad views by those not interested in hiring a pro.

2. Buff Up Your Landing Page

Once your ads are working and driving potential customers to your site, it’s time to make sure they are landing exactly where they should on your website and that it’s easy for them to take a further step in the customer journey.

Let’s take the Siding Installation example again: Once they find and click on your ad, direct them to a page that talks about what makes your services unique—e.g., no callbacks, top-notch customer service, etc.—and include that at the top of the page.

And be sure to include a clear call to action. Keep a fillable form at the top of the page; making them scroll or click around the page will only create frustration. Ensuring the form is clear, concise, and short will encourage more users to fill it out. Name, contact information (email or phone), and the type of project should be all you need to get started. Asking too many questions or making the form too long and time consuming will turn off your potential customer.

3. Take Advantage of Geo-Targeting

When someone uses Google to search for a contractor, it provides location-based results in two different ways. First, if someone searches “home exterior contractors in Pittsburgh,” Google will provide a list of contractors that match that keyword phrase and sort it by their location. Alternatively, if someone just searches “home exterior contractors” without defining their location, Google will still provide a list of results based on businesses that are near the person searching.

If you’re like many contractors, you likely have specific service areas. When you’re creating Google Ads, try to include the specific city where you’re looking to acquire new customers.

Using this tactic regularly with your ads can help you get on the short list of contractors Google will offer to people who are searching in your area. You can even take this tip further by asking past customers to leave a positive Google review for added authenticity.

Once your Google Ads are set up and running smoothly, regular check ins on their performance are key to ensuring ongoing success. The great thing about digital is you can change it immediately and in real time to get the most out of your marketing investment.

Westlake Royal Building Products’ portfolio of siding, trim, stone, and roofing brands offer a diversity of styles and options to meet the needs of your buyers’ shifting tastes and needs. Learn more here.

What to See at the 2022 International Builders’ Show

After going virtual in 2021 due to the pandemic, the International Builders’ Show returns in-person, and returns to Orlando, Feb. 8-10, 2022. Once again the show is co-located with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) for Design & Construction Week.

Along with general excitement for the return of face-to-face events, here are some must-dos to help you get the most out of your show experience.

Educational Sessions

As usual, the IBS conference is packed with helpful sessions, including trends, design, installation, and business tools. Here are a few that caught our eye:

Home Trends, Buyer Preferences & Most-Likely Features for 2022
Tues., Feb. 8, 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Leveraging AI to Build the Right Home for Your Market
Tues., Feb 8, 12:15-12:45 p.m.

Fixing Old Floor Plan Faux Pas & Out-of-Date Design
Tues., Feb. 8, 1:45-2:45 p.m.

Residential Construction Industry & Materials Outlook
Tues., Feb. 8, 3:45-4:45 p.m.

From Strategy to Construction: Building Assemblies that Deliver Optimal Home Performance
Tues., Feb. 8, 3:45-4:45

A Practical Approach for Blending Custom Design Trends with High Performance Building Strategies
Weds., Feb. 9, 9:15-10:15 a.m.

Build Lean: Remove the Waste, Increase your Profit
Weds., Feb. 9, 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

What Millennials Want: Market Intelligence on Home & Lifestyle Preferences
Thur., Feb. 10, 1:45-2:45 p.m.

The New Suburban Dweller: Pandemic-Driven City Exodus & How to Remodel to Meet Their Standards
Thur., Feb. 10, 1:45-2:45 p.m.

See Hot Trends

In addition to cruising the exhibit floor and attending knowledge sessions, you can see the latest in design and product trends through show homes and tours. This year, these include:

• ProBuilder Show Village
Located just steps outside the convention center, this year’s Show Village features four homes that respond to what people value today: greater flexibility, more private outdoor space, and safety and health as a top priority. Take a self-guided tour, watch live how-to demos, view exclusive exhibits, and more. More details: https://pbshowvillage.com/

The New American Home
Each year, The New American Home showcases the newest products and design trends, as well as the latest construction practices that ensure efficient, durable homes. This year’s show home is located in Laureate Park at Lake Nona and is being designed to achieve National Green Building Standard “Emerald” certification, Energy Star Certification, Indoor airPLUS Certification, DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home Program Certification, and net-zero. Details and tour/shuttle ticket info: https://www.tnah.com/

The New American Remodel
This year’s New American Remodel is a one-story, 6,993-square-foot property featuring indoor-outdoor living, a detached guest house, and a luxurious summer kitchen. Like The New American Home, it is being remodeled to achieve National Green Building Standard “Emerald” certification, Energy Star Certification, Indoor airPLUS Certification, DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home Program Certification, and net-zero. Details and tour/shuttle ticket info: https://www.tnarh.com/

IBS Building Zone
Get the latest expertise on building more durable, energy-efficient, higher-quality homes. Across the three days, you’ll find how-to demos, presentations diving deeper into demo techniques and best practices, and full-size displays of walls, roofs, and other components for an up-close look at the details being discussed. More details: https://www.buildersshow.com/focus/focus.aspx?showPageID=21226

Outdoor Living Pavilion
Head to the South Hall for the Design & Construction Week Outdoor Pavilion, showcasing the latest outdoor/backyard products, from decking to lighting to appliances.

See What’s New From Westlake Royal Building Products at booth W2520

Boral Building Products recently joined the Westlake Exteriors family, and we’re excited to see you at IBS at the Westlake Royal Building Products booth, #W2520. IBS marks the official debut of the new Westlake Royal Building Products brand, bringing together the rich legacy of three leading North American Building Products Manufacturers: Royal® Building Products, Boral® North America building products, and DaVinci® Roofscapes.

At our booth, you’ll find a breadth of innovative exterior and interior building products, including the brand-new 5/8” Lap Siding from TruExterior. The new profile combines the coveted look and shadow lines of traditional lap siding with the high performance of TruExterior’s poly-ash material.

Get your free Builders’ Show expo pass, which includes access to the exhibits at both the International Builders’ Show and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, here: https://ibs22.buildersshow.com/928

See you at the show!

How Renderings and CGI Can Assist in Home Marketing and Sales

Renderings aren’t a new concept—architects have relied on them for decades, and builders have often employed them for marketing materials. But advancements in technology for renderings and computer-generated images (CGI) are making these tools even more relevant to home selling, both as a way to market and sell homes as well as to assist buyers with purchasing decisions. And as the pandemic accelerates virtual selling, builders who don’t get on board might find themselves falling behind with digital-savvy (and digital-expectant) younger buyers.

We checked in with Bob Masulis, president of RM Design Studio in Bartlett, Ill., about the importance of leveraging today’s visualization tools—and why they’re more important than ever.

What Are the Benefits of Using Renderings?

For those who specialize in renderings and CGI, the goal is, essentially, to make a pretty picture, Masulis says. “Whatever you’re selling—a property, a product—you come to us to create something cool for marketing.”

Drawings and renderings are not new in brochures and marketing materials, but new innovations and better imaging are elevating their use. In new master-planned communities, CGI and virtual experiences fill the void before model homes are built.

Floor plans just aren’t sufficient to help potential buyers fully understand and experience the eventual finished product, but realistic renderings and CGI give them the ability to see the kitchen, bathrooms, family room, etc., providing a better understanding of what’s being built.

This means the builders and developers are able to cost effectively show their home the day the community opens for sale, adding tremendous marketing capability that can accelerate the sales process to help save time and money in the long run.

Along with more realistic and relatable visuals compared to a flat floor plan, renderings offer the right size and scale, which makes it easier to compare the sizes of the rooms. They also can show features less visible in a plan, such as a tray ceiling, without the buyer having to decipher small words and labels.

“It gives people a feeling for what the homes in the community will look like—it gives them physical and emotional scale,” Masulis notes. “It takes undefinable numbers and measurements and turns it into something emotional.”

Renderings also can help strengthen the community approval process. RM Design Studio, for example, can take a developer’s sketch and turn it into a rendering that looks like it’s been designed and photographed, elevating presentations for public hearings and design review boards.

Rendering featuring TruExterior 6" Nickel Gap Siding painted dark grey, TruExterior 6" Nickel Gap siding painted red, and Versetta Stone panelized stone siding (Tight-Cut profile in Terra Rosa).
Rendering featuring TruExterior 6″ Nickel Gap Siding painted dark grey, TruExterior 6″ Nickel Gap siding painted red, and Versetta Stone panelized stone siding (Tight-Cut profile in Terra Rosa).

What’s Changed With Renderings?

Of course, renderings aren’t a new concept. But computers and technology have advanced rapidly over the past decade—just in time to keep up with surging demand for digital-first sales.

Builders typically can only afford to build about three models, no matter how many plans they offer, relying on floor plans for the rest. But now, with CGI, you can very affordably build out the other models in virtual mode, allowing home buyers to see them in a way they’re more comfortable with. This not only opens up all models the day sales begin, it ensures a more balanced playing field for all plans.

Rendering featuring 7" Foundry Split Shake siding in Eggshell 034, green vinyl lap siding, Versetta Stone panelized stone siding in Tight-Cut Sand, and Mid America three- and five-board spaced shutters in Tuxedo Grey 018.
Rendering featuring 7″ Foundry Split Shake siding in Eggshell 034, green vinyl lap siding, Versetta Stone panelized stone siding in Tight-Cut Sand, and Mid America three- and five-board spaced shutters in Tuxedo Grey 018.

These innovations have been especially welcome during the pandemic, as buyers have embraced virtual experiences to reduce in-person contact or shop from afar. Even as social distancing needs ease, expect these virtual selling tools to continue, particularly as Millennials and Gen Z become the chief buying demographic.

Using CGI tools provides for easier product swaps, as well. If products are discontinued or trends change over the course of a multi-year community build, they can be easily switched out in the virtual tours and renderings. It also allows builders to adjust and re-use the virtual models in other communities.

Virtual walk-throughs using computer-generated images immerse the buyer in the experience similar to touring a model home in person—they can spin around, “walk” from room to room, zoom in, learn more about features and products, and even swap out colors and materials.

You can experience this type of technology for yourself at Show Village during the upcoming International Builders’ Show. In addition to in-person tours, visitors near and far can tour the two demonstration homes via an “Immersive Home Experience” on their laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Virtual host “James” will point out key features, and visitors can click on icons for more details on various products and design elements.

The advantages don’t just benefit large builders and developers. For smaller operations selling small communities of semi-custom homes, virtual models can provide much-needed marketing relief and help sell the home before it’s completed, providing time to make changes to suit each buyer’s preferences.

Rendering featuring Versetta Stone panelized stone siding (Tight-Cut profile in Northern Ash) and TruExterior poly-ash siding (6” Channel Bevel and 10” Nickel Gap).

For custom builders, renderings and CGI help buyers visualize how certain design decisions will impact the look and livability of their home. For example, Masulis used CGI to design his own kitchen remodel, and experimenting with the colors made him realize that the all-white cabinets he’d planned needed some balance with wood grain or color on the island. (See a similar process for yourself with Boral Building Products’ Virtual Remodeler tool.)

This type of visualization provides tremendous power for builder and buyer alike. By leveraging the capabilities of CGI and virtual selling tools, builders can not only more effectively sell, but can bring welcome confidence to customers that they’ll be getting the home they envision and the home of their dreams. 

For more information on RM Design Studio, visit their website at www.rmdesignstudio.com

Whether in renderings or in person, Boral Building Products’ portfolio of siding, trim, and accessory brands offer a diversity of styles to meet the needs of your buyers and communities.

7 Exterior Trends for 2022

As we embark on a new year, some familiar stories are influencing home and remodeling trends. Most notably, the pandemic, with homeowners continuing to fill their stay-at-home time with projects inside and out. Supply chain and labor challenges persist, but aren’t stopping building pros and DIYers alike from creating beautiful spaces to live and work.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest trends in home exteriors this year:

1. Remodeling Reigns

The combination of the pandemic and low new-home inventory continues to drive interest in remodeling projects, despite ongoing supply chain challenges. Everything is on the table, including exterior revitalization and interior overhauls. On the exterior, homeowners tired of looking at faded, dated facades are replacing siding with authentic-looking profiles and trendy-but-resale-friendly colors. Alternatively, they’re adding easy upgrades such as new shutters, gable vents, and mounting blocks for a quick-but-impactful refresh.

2. Outdoor Living Going Strong

Not surprisingly, the trend toward outdoor living spaces endures, as Americans seek to expand the livable footprint of their homes, crave places of respite, and desire more space to entertain. And they’re looking for the comforts they enjoy indoors to be available outside, from stylish seating areas to outdoor heaters to decked-out kitchens and TVs.

When planning the outdoor space, look for ways to create designated areas, whether via multi-level decks or by creating visual breaks with different color deck boards used as picture framing or dividers. Fire pits or fireplaces are a must-have and can be dressed up with less hassle and lower costs by using a panelized stone product.

3. Modern & Contemporary Looks

Modern styles or contemporary twists on traditional styles continue to come on strong, and are migrating from the coasts to some traditional markets in the Midwest. Think single-sloped roofs, clean lines, and less ornamentation. Part of these trending looks includes the move toward black window frames, black stone accents, and black or dark-colored trim, often paired with white siding. (TruExterior poly-ash trim is a great option for this trend, as it can be painted dark colors, even black, without worry.)

Even in areas like Charleston, S.C., where traditional styles are beloved (and often mandated), small contemporary touches are appearing, including dark trims, dark stone, and black gutters. But here, traditional siding colors of light blues and neutrals remain the norm.

Within this trend, mitered corners are growing in popularity, providing the crisp, sleek look that works well with contemporary designs or provides a nod to modern. TruExterior works well here, too, because there’s less worry about cracking and splitting, so the look stays clean over time.

4. Modern Farmhouses Are Still In

Despite some predictions, social media and community models are still dominated by interpretations of the modern farmhouse look. Along with white, vertical siding, we’re seeing wood accents that are helping to keep the styles warm and cozy.

5. Vertical Siding

Not surprisingly, the modern farmhouse craze has driven interest in vertical siding for other types of homes, as well, especially in accent gables. Board-and-batten is taking market share from shake in some traditional regions.

6. Low Maintenance

When it comes to product durability, the desire for low maintenance materials remains strong. Homeowners are willing to pay a little more for products that don’t require frequent upkeep that costs them time and money year after year. This includes turning to siding alternatives that look like wood but don’t require regular painting or staining.

7. Easy Installation

As labor shortages persist, and as stuck-at-home homeowners tackle DIY projects on their own, products that can be installed quickly and easily will continue to hold favor. For example, Versetta Stone panelized stone siding installs with nails or screws without sacrificing the sought-after look of stone, making it an easy option for exterior siding, interior accent walls, and fireplace surrounds.

With a portfolio of siding, trim, and accessory brands, Boral Building Products makes it easy to respond to the trends in your market. Learn more here.

Soothing Greens Emerge as 2022 Colors of the Year

Behr Color of the Year 2022

Three major paint manufacturers—Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, and Behr—have released their 2022 Colors of the Year. Surprisingly, all three are various shades soothing, subtle greens. Less surprising are the common adjectives and themes that guided their selections, with words like “calm,” “fresh,” “cool,” “peace,” and “hope.” After two years of the pandemic, the trending color palettes reflect not only our collective need to create a peaceful sanctuary at home, but also infuse modern creativity to find our passions and move forward. 

Here’s a closer look at the three color palettes.

2022 Colors of the Year

Benjamin Moore named October Mist as its Color Of the Year 2022. “The gently shaded sage quietly anchors a space, while encouraging individual expression through color,” the company says.

Benjamin Moore Color of the Year 2022, October Mist
Image courtesy Benjamin Moore

October Mist is one of 14 hues in a palette the company calls, “harmonious yet diverse, reliable yet whimsical, and meditative yet eclectic.” The collection includes luminous pales such as Hint of Violet and Quiet Moments, botanicals like Pale Moon, and refreshed primaries such as Wild Flower.

Sherwin-Williams’ Color of the Year 2022 is Evergreen Fog, a simple but sophisticated green-gray that the company describes as soothing and subtle. “Get a fresh start with a restorative shade that breathes freshness into modern interiors,” the manufacturer says.

Sherwin-Williams Color of the Year 2022, Evergreen Fog
Image courtesy Sherwin-Williams

Evergreen Fog pairs well with nature-inspired hues like Urbane Bronze (the manufacturer’s 2021 Color of the Year), Uber Umber, and Woven Wicker for a modern, organic feel.

Behr’s Color of the Year—Breezeway—is “a silvery green shade with cool undertones,” the manufacturer describes. “The color is inspired by naturally stunning sea glass found on the shore of salty beaches. … It evokes feelings of coolness and peace while representing a desire to move forward and discover newfound passions.”

Behr Color of the Year 2022, Breezeway
Image courtesy Behr

In its Color Trends 2022 Palette designed to inspire a hopeful start to the new year, Behr pairs Breezeway with 19 soothing shades and warm tones ranging from a muted clay-pink Sunwashed Brick to a bold terracotta red Perfect Penny.

Though the colors of the year tend to address interiors, it’s important to consider the flow from inside to out. Rather than strict lines between bold exteriors and relaxed interiors, a fluid progression is worth considering to ensure harmony as homeowners frequently blend indoor and outdoor living.

Foundry Shakes
Foundry Shakes

Ready to take advantage of the latest color trends? Boral Building Products’ exterior siding and trim products offer the perfect opportunity to incorporate similar hues to the Colors of the Year. Check out the range of muted neutrals available from Foundry Siding (like the Shakes pictured above), learn how Atlantic Shutters can be matched to nearly any color, and explore how TruExterior Siding & Trim can be painted any color, making it easy to respond to the latest preferences.

7 Winter Work Gear Picks for 2021-2022

With construction going as strong as ever and labor shortages prominent around the country, slowing down for cold, wet weather isn’t always an option for many workers. Here are a few winter work gear picks to help keep you comfortable on the jobsite as the temps start to drop. (Disclaimer: Boral Building Products is not affiliated with the following companies and does not endorse the products.)

Insulated Bomber Jacket

New from Duluth Trading Co.’s 40 Grit brand, this bomber jacket is made with durable 9.9-ounce 100% cotton twill, a quilted insulated polyester lining, metal rivets at pressure points for added durability, and a ribbed collar, hem, and cuffs to keep out the cold. The jacket includes pen sleeves, snap-close handwarmer pockets, a utility chest pocket, and an inside pocket, along with a back loop for hanging.

Duluth Trading Co. bomber jacket

Waterproof Work Boot

Combining durability and protection with cushioning and comfort engineering, CAT Footwear’s Accomplice X waterproof steel-toe work boots are ideal for everyday use, the company says. Features include a soft, breathable nylon mesh sock lining with pro-biotic odor control, a durable rubber outsole for traction, and Cement Construction for a durable-yet-lightweight feel.

CAT Footwear waterproof work boot

Base Layer Pants

Designed for mild to cold conditions, Ergodyne’s N-Ferno 6481 Lightweight Base Layer Pants are made with lightweight, breathable stretch fabric to keep you warm without overheating and without a constricting or bulky feel. For added comfort, the pants also feature an elastic waistband, moisture-wicking technology, anti-odor technology, a breathable mesh fly, flatlock seams, and a tagless interior. The pants are machine washable.

Ergodyne base layer pants, winter work wear

Heated Jackets

Milwaukee Tool has launched the next generation of its M12 Heated ToughShell jackets. Powered by the company’s M12 RedLithium battery technology, Heated Gear distributes heat across body areas via carbon fiber heating elements woven in between exterior materials and thermal insulating liners. The new M12 Heated ToughShell features Stretch Polyester with 80% more stretch and five times longer life, offering better mobility and flexibility while being lightweight and comfortable. The new jacket heats up in 2.5 minutes and allows for battery placement in the front or back depending on the situation.

Milwaukee M12 heated jacket

Hi-Vis Hoodie

This hooded sweatshirt from Blaklader offers added warmth in high-vis yellow or orange. It features a large front pocket; interior phone pocket with zipper; a fixed, adjustable hood; and a ribbed hem. The sweatshirt includes reflective tape on the body, sleeves, and shoulders.

Blaklader high-vis hooded sweatshirt

Winter Work Gloves

The Coldwork Original work glove from Mechanix is made with heavyweight fleece and C40 3M Thinsulate insulation, along with water-resistant SoftShell on the back to block out wind. The gloves’ palm side features synthetic leather with touchscreen-capable technology. Other details include a thermoplastic rubber closure for a secure fit and Armortex thumb saddle reinforcement. Five sizes are available.

Mechanix Coldwork Original work gloves

Knit Beanie

This classic beanie from Dickies features a 4-inch fold-up cuff for a customizable fit. The hat is made with soft acrylic to trap heat and keep the head warm and comfortable. Fifteen colors are available, including neon yellow (shown), neon orange, black, brown duck, aged brick, oatmeal, and white. 

Dickies knit beanie, winter work gear

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.

Architects: Outdoor Living, Home Offices, and Low Maintenance Are Must-Haves for Homeowners

TruExterior poly-ash siding, low-maintenance siding

It’s likely of little surprise to anyone that the latest American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey reveals that two of the most popular features for today’s homeowners, by a large margin, are outdoor living spaces and home offices.

In its recently released Q3 2020 Home Design Trends study, the AIA reported that within the “special function rooms/areas” category, outdoor living not only led the way, but grew since last year, with 70%  of architects reporting increasing interest compared to 61% the year before. Very close behind were home offices, with 69% of architects indicating increasing interest, which was 1 percentage point higher than 2020.

These two features far outpaced other options on the list, including “multiple offices/zoom room/space for virtual meetings” (48%), flex space (46%), and an au pair/in-law suite (42%).

Elsewhere in the survey, “low maintenance” led the Products category, with 54% of architects indicating increasing interest, down 2 percentage points from last year. (Seeking to capitalize on this trend? Check out our TruExterior Siding & Trim, which offers the authentic look of wood without the moisture and maintenance concerns.) This was followed by smart thermostats (52%) and synthetic materials (48%). Farther down the list, infrared heaters, a hot item for those looking to extend the livability of outdoor living spaces into colder months due to the pandemic, saw a big jump from 10% in 2020 to 37% in 2021.

Under technology, the survey saw a surge in interest in several categories: electric car docking stations, which jumped from 62% in 2020 to 74% in 2021; technology-friendly systems, which increased from 53% to 62%; back-up power generation, which soared from 46% to 60%; and solar panels, which saw the most dramatic change, from 37% in 2020 to 54% in 2021.

Visit the Q3 AIA Home Design Trends Survey to see all of the results, previous survey categories from this year, and an archive of past surveys.

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

Boral Celebrates 75-Year Anniversary

Boral helps its customers Build something great™ by supplying them with high-quality, innovative, sustainable building products and construction materials. It is a purpose that mirrors the company’s 75-year history.

Founded in 1946 as Bitumen and Oil Refineries (Australia) Limited, Boral has become Australia’s largest construction materials and building products company with a global reach, a reach that includes Boral North America’s portfolio of category leaders across stone veneer, roofing, siding, heavy materials, windows, shutters, and trim. The company officially rebranded in 1963 to the BORAL acronym that had been commonly used since its beginning.

Boral employees leaving for the United States in 1947.
The first employees, just before they embarked on their training trip to the United States, in 1947.

While Boral officially entered North America in 1979, many of the companies and brands that have since become part of Boral have longer histories here. For example, Cultured Stone began in 1962 when two brothers, Garrett and Floyd Brown, saw the need for a new kind of building material, one that resembled natural stone but was much lighter and would adhere to most surfaces.

This commitment to answering customers’ unmet needs and helping builders and other specifiers grow their business with new product and technology solutions remains an integral part of Boral. Customers and partners can see that innovation come to life at the Boral Discovery Center in San Antonio, Texas. Opened in 2016, the state-of-the-art Discovery Center is home to scientists and engineers keenly focused on developing the future of building materials.

Sydney Opera House under construction
The forecourt of the Sydney Opera House during construction. Boral supplied and laid the asphalt.

Boral has been involved in many iconic building projects over the past 75 years, from the Sydney Opera House and Olympic stadium to the Fisherman’s Wharf Pier in San Francisco and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa, Florida, not to mention some of the most important projects of all — the places people call home.

Boral North America’s Brands

Boral North America comprises numerous product brands you sell every day:

Boral Building Products

AtlanticPremium Shutters • Builders Edge • Foundry Specialty Siding • Kleer Lumber • Mid-America Siding Components • SturdiMount • Tapco Tools • TruExterior Siding & Trim • Vantage • Versetta Stone • Wellcraft Egress Systems

Boral Roofing

Boral Roof Tile and Components • Boral Steel – Stone Coated Steel • Inspire by Boral • Roof System Components • US Tile by Boral

Boral Stone

Cultured Stone • Drain-N-Dry Lath • Dutch Quality Stone • Eldorado Stone • Kindred Outdoors + Surrounds • ProStone • StoneCraft Industries • Versetta Stone

Boral Windows

Fly Ash + Synthetic Gypsum

Cost vs. Value Report: Exterior Products, Manufactured Stone Veneer Deliver Leading ROI

Versetta Stone in Ledgestone Mission Point

Manufactured stone once again has shown its ability to recoup homeowners’ remodeling investment. According to the Remodeling 2021 Cost vs. Value Report, an annual study by Remodeling magazine, manufactured stone veneer offers a 92.1% return on investment. That ROI is second only to garage door replacement.

The Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares the average costs of 22 remodeling projects with the value those investments will retain at resale. The study looked at the cost recouped from replacing a 300-square-foot band of vinyl siding from the bottom third of a home’s front façade with manufactured stone veneer (such as Boral Building Products’ Versetta Stone), sills, corners, and address block.

Manufactured stone veneer’s place in the study is slightly down from 2020, where it reached No. 1 with an ROI of 95.6%. Still, manufactured stone was 20 percentage points higher than the third project on the list, minor kitchen remodel.

Along with manufactured stone and garage doors, exterior products dominated the top of the Remodeling 2021 Cost vs. Value Report list, claiming 11 of the top 12 spots: fiber cement siding replacement (69.4% cost recouped); vinyl window replacement (68.6%); vinyl siding replacement (68.3%); wood window replacement (67.4%); wood deck addition (67.4%); steel entry door replacement (65.0%); composite deck addition (63.2%); fiberglass grand entrance (60.9%); and asphalt shingle roof replacement (60.7%).

“The trend of exterior replacements outperforming larger discretionary remodeling projects has been accelerated, no doubt, by a year in which COVID has made people reluctant to have contractors inside their homes, but yearning to improve outdoor spaces,” the Remodeling editors said. “It’s been a year when we’d expect decks to reign supreme, but the data doesn’t track what’s most popular. The Cost vs. Value report tracks the ratio of value over cost for 22 common remodeling projects, and in that ratio lies the rub: Material costs, especially for decking and pressure-treated framing lumber, went through the roof in 2020, bringing down the return despite the project’s value.”

Manufactured Stone Delivers Most ROI in Two Regions

Manufactured stone maintains a similar level of ROI when broken down geographically, with 90% or more of cost recouped across all regions. In two regions, however, manufactured stone came out on top: West North Central (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri), with 94.1% ROI, and South Atlantic (Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida), with 94.1% ROI.

See the full study and evaluation of trends at www.costvsvalue.com.

(Remodeling 2021 Cost vs. Value Report: © 2021 Zonda. Complete data from the Remodeling 2021 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at www.costvsvalue.com.)

NAHB Study Reveals ‘What Home Buyers Really Want’

Foundry staggered shake

The NAHB recently released the 2021 edition of its “What Home Buyers Really Want.” The study, conducted after the pandemic began last year, surveyed 3,247 recent and prospective home buyers.

Here are some of the findings:

The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced some home buyers

Though the majority of buyers (67%) said the pandemic didn’t impact what they look for in a home, 21% indicated they desire a larger home because of it; the demand is higher for those with at least one teleworker and one virtual student.

The pandemic also increased preferences to buy in an outlying suburb from 26% in previous studies to 30% this year.

Home style preferences vary

In a new question this year, participants were shown pictures of four exterior designs. The NAHB reports that preferences are diverse, with no one style garnering a majority at a national or regional level. Traditional homes led the way with 32%, followed by Contemporary (24%), Transitional (16%), and Modern (14%). Traditional styling was the top option in all regions except the Pacific, where Contemporary came out on top.

Shift in new vs. resale preferences

The majority of respondents—60%—desire a new home, the largest percentage in 14 years. “The increase may be due in part to buyers’ concerns about touring occupied homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, the severe lack of inventory of existing homes on the market, and the higher likelihood that new homes are located where buyers want to buy—the suburbs,” the NAHB explained.

Most desired home features include a laundry room, exterior lighting, patios

Home buyers were given a list of more than 200 home features. Of those, the most desired elements were a laundry room (87%), exterior lighting (87%), ceiling fans (83%), Energy Star-rated windows (83%), and a patio (82%).

On the exterior, home buyers additionally ranked front porches (81%), rear porches (75%), and a deck (75%) high on the list.

For the greater community, survey respondents indicated they want walking/jogging trails, a “typically suburban” neighborhood, a park, proximity to retail, and walkability.

Among the features that 40% of respondents indicated they don’t want were elevators, glass walls, a community daycare center, a wine cellar, and a pet washing station. 

Open layouts still in demand

Despite some speculation to the contrary, most home buyers still desire open layouts.

Open layouts, such as the one shown here with a Versetta Stone fireplace, are still high in demand with home buyers.

Green homes must have ROI

There was a significant difference between home buyers being concerned about the impact of their home on the environment (78%) and those (15%) willing to pay more for an environmentally friendly home. “However, significantly more buyers are willing to pay extra for a home if they understand it will lead to annual savings in utility costs,” the NAHB said. “In fact, 57% are willing to pay $5,000 or more, on top of the price of the home, in order to save $1,000 a year in utilities.”

To get more insights, download a summary of the results or order the full “What Home Buyers Really Want” 2021 edition at BuilderBooks.

Architects: Low-Maintenance Exteriors Continue to Pique Homeowners’ Interest

TruExterior siding, modern house

Even though they spent much more time at home in 2020—and spent much of that time improving those homes—homeowners continue to have little desire to waste time cleaning, painting, and staining their exteriors.

In its recently released Q4 2020 Home Design Trends study, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) found low maintenance and durability to be the exterior detail homeowners were most interested in, with 62% of architects reporting increasing interest, nearly the same as the year before. (Data is calculated by the percentage of architects reporting “increasing” minus percentage reporting “decreasing.”) Products that offer the look of wood without the associated maintenance, such as TruExterior poly-ash siding, can combine authenticity and a natural look with high performance and resistance to rotting, warping, and cracking.

Though farther down the list, fire-resistive design and materials saw growing interest, with 32% of architects reporting increased popularity in 2020, up from 29% in 2019.

When it comes to home styles, contemporary looks were the most popular feature, with 50% of architects reporting popularity increasing, down slightly from 54% the year before. Modern Farmhouse saw a perhaps not surprising decline, with 33% of respondents reporting increasing popularity versus 41% in 2019.

Interest in front porches is growing, with 38% of architects seeing increasing popularity in 2020 compared to 31% the year before.

Among neighborhood/community options, infill housing was the most popular, with 61% of architects reporting increasing interest (slightly less than 64% the year before), followed by multi-generational housing, which rose sharply from 41% in 2019 to 54% in 2020. Also noteworthy was high-density housing, which plummeted from 55% of architects reporting increased interest in 2019 to just 34% in 2020. The dramatic drop may be a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, with homeowners desiring outdoor space and places to grow their own food.

In AIA’s Q3 2020 Home Design Trends study, the association reported a continued softening in home size, with -11% of architects reporting home square footage increasing minus those reporting it decreasing. Interest in larger homes dropped even farther, to -22%, for entry-level/affordable homes. Custom home sizes stayed steady.

And of course, outdoor living continues to be popular, with 53% of architects reporting increasing interest; however, there was a large drop versus 2019, when 68% reported increasing interest. Interest in blended indoor/outdoor spaces also hovers near 50%

To view the full quarterly reports, as well as an archive of the studies from the past few years, visit the AIA Home Design Trends Survey.

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.

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.

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.

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

Trends and Products From the 2020 International Builders’ Show

International Builders' Show 2020

Attendee numbers—and attendee attitudes—remained strong at the 2020 International Builders’ Show Jan. 21-23. NAHB reports that nearly 65,000 attendees converged on Las Vegas, just a few thousand short of last year’s total. When combined with the co-located Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, attendee numbers soared to about 90,000. Not too shabby considering it was the show’s second consecutive year in Sin City.

“The strong attendance at this year’s show reflects the positive outlook for the home building industry and the enthusiasm that our attendees have for the future,” NAHB Senior Vice President of Exhibitions and Meetings Geoff Cassidy said in a statement. “Attendees continue to seek the innovative products, education sessions, and networking opportunities that only IBS can provide.”

If you weren’t able to attend, read on for a look at the trends, news, and highlights from the show floor and beyond.

IBS Trends: Easy Installation, Dark Windows, Smooth Siding

Visit enough booths and talk to enough people, and trends start to emerge. Here’s a bit of what our team saw on the show floor:

Labor: The labor shortage continues to dominate conversations about builders’ and remodelers’ biggest business challenges, and manufacturers touted products accordingly. (Be sure to check out our Versetta Stone stone siding, which installs like a traditional siding panel with nails and screws.) In addition, the Home Builders Institute and The Home Depot announced a half-million-dollar grant to fund student training in home construction careers. Meanwhile, Fine Homebuilding continued its mission to #KeepCraftAlive.

Versetta Stone stone siding, manufactured stone veneer

Black windows: Like last year, black window frames were everywhere. We also noticed an uptick in black window trim—coinciding with a decline in white window trim. (If you’re jumping on board this trend, be sure to consider TruExterior trim, which can be painted dark colors, including black.)

Bookend colors: Along with dark accents, exterior siding, stone, and trim products are trending to both sides of the scale—lots of darks and, in direct contrast, lots of whites. Warm neutrals were scarce to nonexistent.

Smooth siding: Smooth siding appears to be on trend as more manufacturers jump on board. Love texture still? Try our new TruExterior Reversible Shiplap/Nickel Gap, which comes in both smooth and wood-grain.

• Outdoor living: No surprise, outdoor living is here to stay, and manufacturers are responding with more options than ever to deck out the space with all the comforts of the interior. As just one example, our sister company, Kindred Outdoors+Surrounds, launched at the show with fire bowls, fire pits, fireplaces and surrounds, and outdoor kitchens.

Kindred outdoor living fire bowls

For even more prognosticating, check out NAHB’s latest trend report, released at the show. Top “most likely” features include walk-in closets, low-E windows, and laundry rooms.

Show Houses Reveal Consumer Preferences

Each year, a handful of showhouses offer a look at what today’s homeowners are, or will be, looking for, from the practical to the extravagant. This year was no exception:

The New American Home, the show’s centerpiece demonstration home combined wow factor with “ahhh” factor, with water and fire features, flooring that resembles drifting sand, and a soothing color palette. Professional Builder walks you through it here.

And for more “TNAH,” check out Products magazine’s summary of 7 Design Ideas to Steal From The New American Home.

Photo courtesy Jeff Davis Photography (c) 2020

• The designers behind this year’s The New American Remodel leveraged advances in home performance technology to help demonstrate to showgoers how to achieve true net zero. Follow along with Professional Remodeler.

• The pre-fabricated, multi-million-dollar Sekisui Showhouse home renovation concept showcased Japanese homebuilding innovation to highlight the future of building. Las Vegas Review Journal provides a peek.

New From Boral

Boral Building Products’ portfolio of exterior products means you can find the perfect whole-house solution for any home, any design, and any budget. Check out our newest options to inspire your work:

• Versetta Stone Northern Ash: The easy installation and beautiful look you love about Versetta Stone stone siding in a dramatic new hue. This bold head-turner meets consumer demand for darker colors and accents on the exterior. See it here.

• Kleer Lumber Extruded Beadboard: Our new beadboard is extruded as one piece and sealed on all four sides to eliminate the open cells that may be prone to dirt intrusion—ensuring a brilliant white out of the box and on the jobsite. Learn more here.

Kleer Lumber, beadboard, cellular PVC trim

• TruExterior Reversible Shiplap/Nickel Gap: Two looks in one! The newest profile in our high-performance TruExterior Siding & Trim lineup comes in two formats: one features smooth Nickel Gap on one side and wood-grain Shiplap on the other; the second has wood-grain Nickel Gap on one side and smooth Shiplap on the other. Check it out here.

Boral TruExterior Reversible Shiplap Nickel Gap

Foundry Grayne Shingle Siding Colors: Foundry’s Grayne shingle siding now comes in Mountain Ash, a sandy white, and Rustic Slate, a bluish gray, both a perfect complement to the sidings’ distinctive graining patterns and sharp, crisp edges. 

Foundry Grayne shingle siding

Want to stay up on the latest industry trends and product news? Subscribe to our enewsletter!

How Color Trends Are Shifting—and Staying the Same—in 2020 and Beyond

The dawn of a new year—and a new decade—naturally brings out the predictions for what trends will dominate the landscape. But when it comes to color, it’s not always that simple. While some colors heat up and cool down quickly (perhaps bold hues sparked by pop culture), for the most part, shifts in color preferences happen more gradually, easing in and fading out over a number of years or even decades. 

Still, it’s important to know what’s happening, so we checked in with strategist and trend forecaster Renee Labbe, Director of Foresight Strategy at Broadside Studios, to find out what we can expect in exterior color trends during the upcoming year and beyond.

New Neutrals

Neutral hues that began trending three, five, even eight years ago are still around as early adoption has merged into mass market appeal. And “neutral” doesn’t simply mean beiges and grays, it can mean subtle colors that are quite muted. Where colors in the ’80s and ’90s were heavily saturated, today classic yellows and creams and oranges lean closer to neutrality on the color wheel. Similarly, white is still a leading house color, but it’s a softer white, a trend Labbe says we’ll see more of this year. She also expects the appeal of contrasting whites and blacks to continue.

One of the reasons for a shift toward neutrality is lifestyle: Americans have become overwhelmed by technology and social media, resulting in sensorial chaos. Neutral tones are less busy and not as distracting, allowing the eye to rest and the brain to relax.

This is also likely the driver of home style trends like the Gabled Modern. This style represents simplicity, with limited use of color, material, and ornamentation, creating a sense of peace and a contrast to the “pinnacle of success” approach that has dominated real estate in recent decades. 

“Design imitates emotion,” Labbe says, noting that society is shifting as we emerge into a new decade focusing on solutions instead of division. “Neutrality is necessary as we slow down our focus. The healthy palettes start to trickle in.”

Foundry Staggered Shake in Harvest Wheat

The Rise of “Healthy” Color Palettes

Indeed, the popularity of neutrals will influence increasing interest in colors derived from nature, though Labbe says it’s too soon to know how the hues within those colors are going to evolve. “I think healthy palettes are part of a bigger trend toward ‘entanglement,’” she explains, “where we see the built environment and the natural environment literally beginning to grow into each other.”

Changing Grays

While gray has been a mainstay for a number of years, classic gray is starting to fade from favor. Instead, it’s finding its way into other colors, such as an undertone for brown that makes the rustic hue more suitable for contemporary designs without losing its warmth.  Tinted grays also are becoming more important, Labbe notes, such as gray with a hint of blue or green.

Foundry Perfection Shingle in Vintage Taupe

Reds Fading

Labbe says red undertones for exteriors, such as siding, roofing, brick, and pavers, have been downtrending and will continue to downtrend, in favor of undertones that create a more neutral feel.  For example, a brown that had a lot of red undertone will now see a gray undertone replace it; a tan would be less warm and more muted (gray undertones). 

Black Shifting

Similarly, though classic black has been popular for progressive neighborhoods, Labbe predicts some blacks with a bit of tint, such as brown-black or bluish-black. 

Above all, it’s crucial to use color correctly. A color is rarely completely “out,” but in her research Labbe often sees popular colors integrated in the wrong way. For example, combining three different grays on a contemporary house will come off stark and cold, but pairing a smooth gray stucco with wood elements can create something warm and beautiful. Gray with tan is another effective combination. 

As you design your homes and develop your streetscapes, consult with a color expert who can ensure you’re selecting hues that are on trend yet timeless and are integrated in combinations and configurations that elevate, rather than detract from, your exteriors. 

What to See at the 2020 International Builders’ Show

Builders' Show, Boral Building Products booth

The 2020 International Builders’ Show (IBS) is right around the corner, being held in Las Vegas Jan. 21-23. Check out our must-dos as you prep your schedule. 

Get Educated

As usual, the IBS conference is packed with helpful sessions, from trends and design predictions to small business strategies. Here are a few that caught our eye:

“Missing Middle Housing: The Perfect Bridge to the Missing Millennial & More”
Tues., Jan. 21, 9:15-10:15 a.m.

“Growing Your Remodeling Business: Smashing the Barriers to Increased Profits”Tues., Jan 21, 11:00 a.m. – noon

“Appealing to the Next Generations: Current Patterns, Behaviors & Preferences of Gen Z & Millennials”
Tues., Jan. 21, 12:45-1:45 p.m.

“Timeless to Trendy: What’s Next in Curb Appeal & Elevations”
Tues., Jan. 21, 12:45-1:45 p.m.

“Attainability: Design Strategies to Keep Costs Down & Meet Consumer Demand”
Weds., Jan. 22, 1:45-2:45 p.m.

“Home Trends, Buyer Preferences & Must-Have Features for 2020”
Thurs., Jan. 23, 8:30-9:30 a.m.

“From Swinging the Hammer to Running a Business: Strategies for Taking Your Remodeling Company to the Next Level”
Thurs., Jan. 23, noon-1:00 p.m.

See Hot Trends

In addition to browsing the 2020 International Builders’ Show exhibit floor and attending knowledge sessions, one of the best ways to see what’s hot in home design are the handful of show houses on and off site. This year, these include:

The New American Home: Always an attendee favorite, this year’s New American Home is located in the Ascaya community in Henderson, Nev. Designed to be a tranquil sanctuary, the home boasts a modern aesthetic, with clean lines, minimal décor, abundant light, and flat rooflines against a mountainous desert backdrop. See a sneak preview here. Sign up for a tour on site at the convention center. 

The New American Remodel: The New American Remodel has transformed a 2,170-square-foot, one-level 1977 home into a 7,523-square-foot two-story masterpiece showcasing innovation, exceptional design, and net-zero construction. Click here for a preview. Sign up for a tour on site at the convention center.

Show Village: Located in the parking lot outside the Las Vegas Convention Center, this year’s  Professional Builder Show Village will comprise four innovative modular homes addressing the issues of affordability, lifestyle sustainability, and labor. Catch a sneak peek here

55+ Housing Community Tour: Take a tour of two of Las Vegas’ up-and-coming 55+ communities, visiting models, sales centers, and community amenities. Click here for details and registration/tickets. 

Builder Chowa Concept Home: This show house “brings together Japan-based Sekisui House and its wholly owned home building company, Woodside Homes, to introduce technologies, best practices, and a new approach to improving society through housing to the U.S.,” says Builder magazine. “This house will engage with a growing preference for homes that support health and well-being, highlighting the balance between indoor living and outdoor life, between technology and privacy, between comfort and simplicity, and between themselves and their community and the natural environment.” Click here for more information. 

See What’s New From Boral Building Products

There’s lots to see at our booth, C4519, this year! 

• Check out TruExterior Siding’s new reversible Shiplap/Nickel Gap profile

• See new colors of Foundry’s Grayne shingle siding 

• Experience the Versetta Stone wall featuring our dramatic new Northern Ash and new accessory colors

• See new accessories for Tapco Tools’ professional brakes

• Watch installation demonstrations by trim wizard Mike Sloggatt

Plus, get inspired by exterior vignettes and displays comprising new and classic products from multiple Boral Building Products brands.  

Click here to get your free pass.

See you at the show!

5 Winter Workwear Options to Keep You Warm and Dry

The winter months bring cold temperatures and wet conditions—but typically not a break from work and deadlines. If your job keeps you out in the elements no matter the weather, here are a few pieces of gear that can help keep you comfortable. 

High-Vis Rain Gear

Blaklader’s 4312 Hi-Vis rain jacket features a wind- and water-proof polyurethane coating; a high, fleece-lined collar; a storm closure with buttons; welded seams; and a removable, adjustable hood. The jacket’s high-vis yellow body and reflective tape on the body, sleeves, and shoulders ensures visibility. 

Blaklader High-Vis Jacket

Heated Jacket

The M12 Heated Axis Layering System from Milwaukee is designed to withstand the heaviest rain and snow conditions. The M12 Heated Axis jacket provides the primary source of heat; powered by Milwaukee’s M12 RedLithium battery technology, the jacket distributes heat across core body areas. Workers can then layer an outer shell—a Hydrobreak Rain Shell (designed for extreme wet conditions) or a Gridiron Work Shell (designed for extreme cold).

Milwaukee Tools heated jacket

Cold-Weather Headgear

New to Ergodyne’s N-Ferno line of cold-weather gear, this soft-cuffed Beanie Hat includes a bump cap insert for added head protection. The hat is made with 100% soft dry acrylic with 40-gram 3M flex stretch insulation for both warmth and comfort. A zippered compartment holds the removable bump cap.  

Ergodyne work hat

Cold-Weather Gloves

Ironclad’s Cold Condition Waterproof Gloves are rated to 20 degrees and are guaranteed waterproof. Still, the low-profile gloves offer high dexterity, and their Duraclad reinforcements are eight times more durable than leather, the company says. A cuff puller helps get the gloves into position faster, and reflective stripes provide visibility in low-light conditions.

Ironclad winter work gloves

Fleece Underlayer

Made with a blend of polyester and fleece with knit-in channels, 3 Dog Fleece Base Layer pants from Duluth Trading Company provide more warmth without a lot of bulk, along with breathability and moisture wicking. Features include a 1-1/2-inch non-chafing waistband, a seat panel that prevents bunching, and a functional fly. 

Duluth Trading Co. fleece underwear for construction

Why and How LBM Dealers Should Sell Exterior Packages

A home is a compilation of hundreds of decisions and thousands of products. So when it comes to the exterior, dealers that focus sales approaches on the whole cohesive package—and showing builders, remodelers, and their homeowners what those packages look like—may improve opportunities to increase upgrades, boost efficiencies, and further satisfy customers.

Here are a few factors to consider:

Instill buyer confidence: When the exterior is sold as a package, buyers can see what they’re getting as a whole and how it works together, rather than a sum of individual parts. Builders can send buyers to your store to view available products in combination, which is less overwhelming than choosing siding, then trim, then windows. They can get a vision for what the finished product will look like on their home and likely feel better about their decision. This in turn may help reduce change orders down the road that can create hassles for both you and the contractor.

Keep business in-house: Consulting with your manufacturer partners about what you sell versus what more they can provide may help fill gaps in your product offering. For example, stone has historically been a material most dealers do not offer, but Versetta Stone stone siding, which installs like traditional panel siding, offers the opportunity to keep that stone business in house. And by incorporating those products into a systems approach to selling, you can sell the builder on trying that new siding to ensure a cohesive look and to meet buyer demand for multi-textured facades.

Better-looking exteriors: Considering the full façade and thinking of the whole palette collectively may help create more varied, engaging streetscapes and avoid cookie-cutter looks. It also allows for visualization and experimentation with on-trend colors, texture blending, and materials using stocked products. 

More upgrades: Similarly, if buyers can see the possibilities of how different products blend on their home, it’s likely they might fall in love with the look—and the upgrades used to make that look—even if it means upping their budget.

Single source: Though portfolios can be created across manufacturers, selling multiple lines from a single manufacturer or brand can add economies of scale because you’re working with the same rep, the same contacts for the PO, and a familiar process. This also means it’s easier to expand to additional product lines, with less paperwork or hoops to jump through at the beginning. In addition, contractors may be more willing to try something new if it’s from a company they already know, use, and trust.

Promoting Exterior Packages
The easiest way to focus selling on the whole façade instead of one-off product selection is to create packages that are easy to choose from and customize. Here are a few ways to do that:

Develop product palettes: Collaborate with your manufacturers to create product portfolios of coordinated product lines and colors that can be sold as is, with stock modifications, or with upgrades. Coordinate this process between different manufacturers, such as your siding/trim supplier and your window vendor, to ensure cohesive looks and material compatibility.

Boral Building Products Color Harmony exterior inspiration boards
Creating façade displays, or even inspiration boards like these, can help buyers visualize how products come together on their homes. This display shows how Boral Building Products’ Color Harmony portfolios of siding, trim, shutter, and stone brands combine for on-trend looks.

Inspire customers: Showcase those palettes and portfolios in a way that reveals how end products will look on the home, whether via simple binders with images, glossy lookbooks, wall  vignettes, or inspiration boards. This makes it easy for them to choose an overall look they want instead of trying to visualize and piece together individual parts.

Leverage software: Our Virtual Remodeler tool allows homeowners to select the siding, trim, shutters, and stone, and then see how the combinations will look on their homes. Once a group of products is chosen, the dealer often can get a material list for easy ordering.

Boral Building Products Virtual Remodeler design tool
Boral Building Products’ Virtual Remodeler online design tools allows dealers, their customers, and homeowners to visualize what homes will look like with different products from across the company’s siding and trim portfolio. Once a design is determined, a materials list makes ordering simple.

With so many moving parts, it’s easy for the product selection process to become stressful for customers, pro and consumer alike. Considering exterior packages collectively, rather than a sum of parts, can ease the process while offering direct benefits to your bottom line.

Inspiration Gallery: Mixed-Texture Façades

One of the hottest trends in exteriors right now is mixed-texture façades, in which stone, varying colors and textures of siding, and trim combine to create unique looks that set homes apart, highlight key features, and vary the streetscape.

With multiple brands under one portfolio, Boral Building Products makes it easy to mix and match cladding and trim to create one-of-a-kind exteriors that stand out while also standing the test of time. Even better, you can see what the home will look like before making a commitment with our new Virtual Remodeler tool. Simply upload a photo of the house, or use a similar home from our image gallery, select products and colors from Boral’s collection of brands, and get a real-time view of how the home will look. Give it a try here.

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few ways builders, remodelers, and designers are blending textures to create one-of-a-kind exterior facades:

Foundry split shake siding

Colors don’t have to be boldly different to make an impact. The brown-gray tones of the Foundry Split Shake siding, stone, and garage doors create layers of visual texture that unfold slowly on this home.

Boral TruExterior Siding and stone

A small section of light-gray stone, along with the juxtaposition of horizontal and vertical TruExterior siding, give this L-shaped home a unique pop for a modern take on the popular Farmhouse look.

Grayne engineered siding and Versetta Stone mortarless stone veneer

Combining Versetta Stone and Grayne engineered siding with a unique porch roof adds visual interest to this seemingly simple, smaller home.

Boral TruExterior siding with stucco

Bumpout accents with TruExterior siding and stone block set this home apart from the plain stucco next door.

Foundry siding with stone

Foundry siding combines with rich stone and gable accents to evoke a cozy vibe.

Boral TruExterior Siding

Vertical and horizontal TruExterior siding, along with cedar-like shakes, create a visual feast across this all-white exterior.

Versetta Stone mortarless stone veneer, manufactured stone

Versetta Stone in the Ledgestone profile plays both a primary and secondary role in this exterior by Canadian Stone Interiors.

Ready to see how mixed-texture façades will look on your homes? Try our new Virtual Remodeler tool.

How to Select Authentic Shutters for Popular Home Styles

Atlantic Premium Shutters louver shutters

Shutters were originally used to protect homes from harsh elements or provide shade. Today, they are more commonly installed as an accent, to add color to exteriors and increase curb appeal. This shift from functional to decorative use has diminished the authenticity of many home designs, leaving many to wonder: Which shutters capture the authentic look of popular home styles?

Here are a few guidelines to consider:

Craftsman
The appeal of Craftsman-style homes is that they can be customized to create truly one-of-a-kind designs. These homes take pride in their high quality and craftsmanship, but also have a humble simplicity with clean lines and timeless architectural details. Craftsman-style homes have experienced a resurgence because of their versatility and emphasis on quality.

Boral Building Products shutters Craftsman

Although Shaker shutters are one of the most frequently used styles for Craftsman homes, this type of home works with virtually any shutter style. Board-and-batten shutter designs are popular for exteriors that have more rustic details, while flat and raised panel options offer a clean look similar to the Shaker style.

Urban Farmhouse
With its down-to-earth comfort, the Farmhouse style is regaining popularity among homeowners who seek the charm of country style with modern touches. These homes often feature wraparound porches, vertical siding similar to barn house siding, and minimalist design features. Shutters add an interesting architectural detail on an otherwise simple exterior.

Boral Building Products shutters farmhouse

Board-and-batten shutters capture an authentic Farmhouse style and create an inviting country exterior. They have a range of style options, including spaced or joined boards, and two or three cross battens. For a less rustic take on the Farmhouse style, louvered shutters are another popular option due to their versatile, traditional design.

Colonial
A true American classic, Colonial homes reflect the earliest home styles of the first European settlers. These homes feature square, symmetrical designs with refined, formal details like dentil moulding.

Boral Building Products shutters for Colonial homes

Traditional Colonial shutter styles vary across regions due to differences in climate. Colonial homes in the north are often equipped with paneled shutters, which were originally used as a defense against harsh elements like wind and snow in the New England region.

Southern Colonial homes, on the other hand, typically feature louvered shutters. The angled slats of louvered shutters helped keep the interior of the home cool by blocking sunlight while allowing airflow. Many Southern regions, such as Charleston, S.C., honor the traditional design and feature classic louvered shutters, both in paneled louvered and full-length styles.  

Cape Cod
Inspired by New England Colonial style designs, Cape Cod homes feature clean, symmetrical designs and dormers. However, these home styles are less formal and have cozier, more cottage-like floor plans and exteriors.

Boral Building Products shutters for Cape Cod homes

Homeowners can achieve an authentic Cape Cod design with any shutter style. These homes often feature raised panel, louvered, and board-and-batten shutters. Still, many homeowners are shifting toward paneled shutters because they do not collect dirt as easily as other styles and are less susceptible to nuisances like insect nests.

Atlantic and Mid-America shutters are designed with authenticity in mind, with architecturally accurate designs and more depth and dimension. View the full line of Mid-America shutters and Atlantic shutters to capture the right look.

5 Best Practices for Going Bold With Exterior Color

Kleer trim

When used well, bold colors can add a tasteful pop of life to a home’s exterior. When used poorly, you can end up attracting negative attention.

Here are five tips from Trisha Wagner, senior product manager and an authority on color at Boral Building Products, to ensure your use of bold is gorgeous, not gaudy.

1. The best place for bold color is in a home’s decorative details
While it always depends on the house, bold colors are generally best used in a home’s accents, such as the shutters and front door. It’s one of the fastest ways to have a large impact and can completely transform a home’s look and feel. Even better, these details are often the easiest—and most affordable—to change later with either a fresh coat of paint or replacement.

2. Remember to coordinate
One of the first things to consider when picking bold accents is the home’s siding color. You want to select accent colors, such as on the trim, shutters, and front door, that work well with the siding, so consult the color wheel for reference. As explained on Color Matters, “color harmony” can be achieved by choosing analogous colors (three colors side by side on the wheel) or complementary colors (directly opposite each other on the wheel). This can be especially helpful in moving beyond traditional colors. For example, instead of the typical pale yellow, try a deep maize yellow paired with red, coral, or cobalt accents.

3. Pay attention to the entire home exterior
The front of the home isn’t the only area people see. Don’t forget to decorate the back and sides of a house, particularly since outdoor living is more important to buyers than ever before. A bare side or rear home exterior looks and feels unfinished; shutters and accents on these walls will add dimension and complete the look.

4. Find what works for you
If clients are uncertain about incorporating bolder colors, encourage them to experiment with different tones before making their final selection. If a home’s style doesn’t support shutters, consider using just a bold trim color. You can also soften a home’s look by pairing white or cream trim with one or two bold accents. For a less-permanent option,  incorporate bold colors into the landscape design, such as bright-red or -purple flowers and plants, a jewel-toned bird bath, or even a painted fence.

TruuExterior trim bold colors
White can be a bold choice against a neutral cladding.

5. Don’t discount the power of white
In the sea of tans and beiges that dominate today’s exteriors, white becomes a stark contrast that is a bold choice in and of itself. A crisp white trim against a richer-toned cladding is eye-catching and stands out from homes with cream accents.

For more design inspiration, visit www.kleerlumber.com and www.truexterior.com

2019 Builders’ Show Wrap-Up: Dark Colors, Blended Textures, and Fun New Products

International Builders Show Boral Building Products

The numbers are in: The 75th annual International Builders’ Show marked its largest draw in a decade, with more than 67,000 attendees. Combined with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, collectively referred to as Design & Construction Week, more than 100,000 people flocked to Las Vegas Feb. 19-21. We felt the enthusiasm at the Boral booth, where a steady flow of builders, remodelers, and designers were eager to get inspired, learn about products and trends, and gather new strategies to positively impact their business.

Couldn’t make it to the show? Here is just a handful of the noteworthy trends and products.

Exterior Trends: Dark, Vertical, and Blended

In touring the Builders’ Show floor, the Boral team spotted a few common design threads, including several we highlighted earlier this year.

  • Dark colors: The preference for dark colors has been building for the last few years, and that was clear at nearly every exterior product manufacturer’s booth, from black window frames to rich brown trim to deep blue siding panels.  If you’re loving this trend, too, check out TruExterior® Siding & Trim, whose superior dimensional stability makes it an ideal choice for darker hues.

Boral Building Products International Builders' Show

Boral Building Products International Builders' Show Home Exteriors

  • Vertical siding: Whether a traditional board-and-batten for Farmhouse-style exteriors or a more simple approach for modern-style homes, vertical installations attracted a lot of attention during IBS.
  • Authenticity: Historic profiles, such as Shiplap, Nickel Gap, and V-Rustic, were prevalent. We’re partial to our TruExterior Siding Craftsman Collection.
  • Smooth siding: Even with the push for authenticity, smooth siding was prominent in many displays. In fact, we saw many instances of contemporary panels and traditional wood grain siding used in combination.

Industry Experts Weigh In

As usual, journalists from around the industry were out in force at the Builders’ Show reporting on the latest trends and new products. A few of the highlights:

New From Boral

Boral Building Products showcased our breadth of exterior products at the Builders’ Show, including several new options to spruce up your facades:

  • Virtual Remodeler: This online home design tool makes it easy for contractors and homeowners alike to create eye-catching exteriors. Users simply upload a photo of their home (or choose one from an online gallery) and then select from Boral’s siding, trim, and shutter lines to update the image in real time. Color Harmony palettes are available to further simplify the process. Learn more about the Virtual Remodeler here.

Boral Building Products Virtual Remodeler Remodeling Exterior Design

  • Versetta Stone Carved Block: We’re giving our popular stone siding a contemporary edge with this new larger-format profile that’s reminiscent of split-face stone. Carved Block features the same easy-to-install format pros love: simply nail or screw the panels to the wall—no mortar required. Choose from dark gray Midnight or creamy Sea Salt. Click here to learn more.

Versetta Stone Carved Block stone siding mortarless stone veneer

  • Kleer Lumber 10” Post Wraps: Our KLEERWrap cellular PVC post wraps, which conceal treated posts for a beautiful, finished look, are now available in a 10” version. Even with their robust size, these wraps install with just one person—simply apply adhesive to the three-sided piece, secure around the post, snap the fourth side into place, and fasten. Complete the look with accompanying cap and base moldings. See the wraps here.

Kleer Lumber cellular PVC post wraps

Want to stay up on the latest industry trends and product news? Subscribe to our new newsletter!

Virtual Remodeler Tool Makes It Easy to Customize Home Exteriors

Boral Building Products has launched the Virtual Remodeler, an online home design tool providing contractors and homeowners with a simple way visualize how their facade will look with different profiles, textures, and colors from the company’s comprehensive lineup of siding and trim products.

With Virtual Remodeler, launched during the 2019 International Builders’ Show, users upload a photo of an existing home or select a similar house from an online gallery. Using the program’s product interface, the user then selects from Boral’s siding, trim, and shutter lines, including Versetta Stone®, Kleer® Lumber, TruExterior® Siding & Trim, and Mid-America Siding Components®; the image updates in real time, revealing how the exterior will appear with each product and color selection. To further ease the process, the home design tool includes Color Harmony coordinating color families, each of which can be further changed and updated to suit the homeowner’s tastes and needs.

Boral Building Products Virtual Remodeler Exterior Products Siding Trim

“Designing a home with fantastic curb appeal requires navigating an endless array of options, from the shape of the siding to the color of the trim to the size of the shutters. Boral’s new Virtual Remodeler tool eases the process for homeowners—and their remodelers—by helping them visualize how products will look on their house, much more than a small sample ever could,” says Becky Duffy, Director of Marketing for Boral Building Products. “Remodelers can ensure customers are happy with their home exterior before products are ordered and installed, leading to fewer surprises and greater satisfaction when the project is complete.”

Boral Building Products Virtual Remodeler Exterior Products Siding Trim

Virtual Remodeler users can save multiple projects to work on later and compare. For a small fee, pros can have their image professionally mapped by Boral, which will increase the accuracy of the rendering’s appearance. And once a finished look is chosen, Virtual Remodeler will generate a product list for easy ordering through Boral dealers and distributors.

Give Virtual Remodeler a try at https://boral.chameleonpower.com/.

Cost vs. Value Report: Manufactured Stone Veneer, Siding Projects Offer High Returns

Remodelers and homeowners can once again count on exterior stone and siding to provide a solid return on investment, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value report.

An annual survey released in January, the Cost vs. Value report provides insights into which remodeling projects deliver the highest perceived return in resale value. Manufactured stone veneer, such as Boral Versetta Stone® stone siding, continues to be a safe bet, with a 94.9% recoup of investment at the national level. Though this is a small drop from last year, manufactured stone veneer ranks second-highest in ROI, after garage doors.

Boral Versetta Stone manufactured stone veneer Cost vs. Value report
Manufactured stone veneer, such as Versetta Stone in this Ledgestone profile, offers the second-highest return on investment for remodeling projects.

The 94.9% ROI for manufactured stone veneer is based on replacing a 300-square-foot continuous band of existing vinyl siding from the bottom third of the home’s front façade and replacing it with adhered manufactured stone veneer, sills, corners, and an address block, along with an entry archway with keystone and soldier course of flats on each side.

As in 2018, manufactured stone veneer offered the highest returns in the Pacific region (Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Hawaii), at 110.4%. Returns were also particularly high in the East South Central region (Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky), at 107.7%.

Manufactured stone veneer offered the highest ROI out of all categories in the East South Central, South Atlantic (91.4%), West North Central (93.5%), and West South Central (98.3%) regions.

Exterior Investments Deliver Biggest Paybacks

Siding overall finished strongly, as well, with a fifth-best return on investment at 75.6%, just shy of the 76.7% recoup in 2018. In fact, out of the 10 projects with the highest returns, nine were exterior categories, including a wood deck addition, steel entry door replacement, vinyl window replacement, a fiberglass grand entrance, wood window replacement, and a composite deck addition.

“The reason for high returns on exterior projects, and especially façade facelifts, stems from the valuations set by the real-estate community. … ‘Curb appeal’ and ‘first impressions’ are central to a real-estate professional’s estimation of resale value,” Remodeling says. “The impact these impressions make is critical in setting the stage for what a buyer is willing to pay for a home.”

What’s more, projects like kitchen and bathroom renovations tend to be  more individualized, which can mean some buyers may not like the look.

The overall percentage of investment recouped across all categories on average decreased slightly year over year. The magazine attributes the decline to the sharp increase in material costs over the summer, including those driven by tariffs.

To read more analysis and see results down to metro area, visit the Remodeling 2019 Cost vs. Value portal on Remodeling’s website.

9 Exterior Trends to Expect in 2019

When it comes to the outside of the home, what does this year hold? A few familiar looks as well as some emerging exterior trends. Here’s what to expect:

• Outdoor living: Demand for outdoor living spaces isn’t abating. In AIA’s annual Home Design Trends survey, architects named the outdoors as the No. 1 specialty room increasing in popularity.

• Low maintenance: This one will also sound familiar—home buyers, particularly younger buyers, simply don’t want to deal with painting, staining, and cleaning their façades and decks. In fact, the AIA survey lists low maintenance as the top product feature increasing in popularity. Expect composites and other low-maintenance materials for decks to continue to grow alongside demand for easy-to-maintain siding materials like TruExterior Siding & Trim, Kleer Lumber, and Grayne engineered siding.

• Darks and lights: Move over, earth tones. Consumers are increasingly drawn to the contrast of dark-colored siding against bright white trim. Trying to achieve this look? TruExterior Siding’s dimensional stability makes it an ideal fit for the darkest of paints, while Kleer trimboard’s TruEDGE technology and UV inhibitors ensure the trim stays brilliant white for years to come.

• Black trim: When trim isn’t white, look to black and dark browns. (Try TruExterior Trim, which can be painted dark hues, including black, without concerns about expansion or warping.) Also increasingly popular—the streamlined, sophisticated look of black window frames.

TruExterior Siding black window frames exterior trends
The sleek look of black window frames against white or light trim is very in.

• Grays (for now): Gray is still a go-to hue, but its popularity could finally be waning. Boral Senior Product Manager Trisha Wagner reports seeing more reds creeping in and believes it may be one of the colors to affect gray’s go-to status.

• Match game: The coordinated look of a matching entry door, garage door, and window trim is in.

• Blending textures: The varied streetscapes created by blending stone and siding textures across the façade continue to dominate. As in 2018, the transitions between textures are a bit more seamless than in years’ past. Versetta Stone siding makes this trend easy, with a panelized format that installs with screws or nails.

TruExterior Siding Stone Siding exterior trends
Blending stone and vertical and horizontal siding is an ideal way to boost curb appeal and make homes stand out from the rest.

• Authenticity: Also returning for 2019 is demand for historic looks brought by siding profiles such as nickel gap, shiplap, and board and batten.

• Modern farmhouse: Like it or not, the modern farmhouse style is sticking around for at least a little longer. Some designers are tiring of the look, but it’s still going to be popular among homeowners both inside and outside the house. “White [board-and-batten] siding delivers a ‘homey look’ and can provide texture and interest to an otherwise flat façade,” the Washington Post reports.

Looking for the perfect product to meet this year’s in-demand styles? Contact your Boral representative today.

Shutters 101: Common Terms

Shutters seem pretty straightforward. But do you know the lingo well enough to sell them confidently to your customers? Here are a few common terms you should know.

Open Louver
The angled slats of open louver offer a timeless design.

Atlantic Shutters, open louver shutters
Atlantic open louver shutters

Raised Panel
Raised panel units feature a traditional design with one or more raised center panels with chamfered edges.

Atlantic Shutters, Raised-panel shutters
Atlantic raised panel shutters

Board and Batten
Board and batten shutters are vertically oriented boards typically featuring a minimum of two wide strips, called battens, horizontally fixed with narrow trim in between.

Atlantic Premium shutters board and batten shutters
Atlantic board and batten shutters.

Bahama
Rather than swinging in from two sides, Bahama shutters install singly and swing upward. As their name implies, this style is used frequently in the Caribbean because it blocks UV rays while allowing in ambient light and breezes. A sophisticated privacy solution for coastal locations or homes with a coastal-style exterior.

Atlantic Premium Shutters Bahama shutters
Atlantic Bahama shutters

Storm Shutters
These specialty units are made specifically to withstand the impact of wind-driven debris. Open, they look no different. During a storm, they close and lock into place with storm bars to protect the shutter leaf, the window, and the home’s interior. Before buying, verify that your storm shutters meet the Large Missile Impact Test requirement as specified in the IRC and IBC 2006.

Operable vs. Decorative
Historically, shutters were more than just a decoration. They were used to block out sun, control temperature, and provide privacy. But, as Fine Homebuilding explains, those uses were less needed when drapes and blinds became the norm. Today, most shutters are purely decorative, or inoperable. Operable shutters, like those from Atlantic, still offer those same benefits as well as an extra dose of authenticity.

Holdbacks
Holdback hardware does just what it says: holds operable units in place but is easily turned to release the panel for closure. Common styles include the elegant S holdback, a simple dog post holdback, or a scrolling rat-tail holdback. They’re not just for operable units: Use holdbacks for decorative shutters to ensure an authentic look.

Shutter accessories holdback Atlantic Premium Shutters
Rat-tail holdback

Ready to learn more? Download a product brochure

How to Leverage Completed Projects in Your Marketing Efforts

A beautiful photo of a beautiful home can attract customers more than nearly anything else. And if you’re like most building and design pros, you have had many of your projects professionally photographed (and if not, it’s time to start). But are you just using those images in brochures, on your website, and on the walls of your conference room?

Here are a few more low-cost ways to use your projects and photos to market your company.

  • Write a case study: What makes your home stand out in addition to looking pretty? What challenges did you have to overcome? How did you meet the needs of the client? Write a short story about your stand-out projects that explains what makes that home—and your company—special. Here’s an example. Once it’s written, you can:
    –Post the case study with images to your website and/or blog; link to it from your e-newsletter
    –Send the case study to your local news media (regional lifestyle magazines, the home section of your newspaper, etc.) as well as to the national trade magazines (Remodeling, Professional Builder, Qualified Remodeler, etc.) for their consideration for coverage.
    –Turn it into a video walk-through to share on your web site and social media.
  • Showcase your skills: When photographing your projects, don’t just take pictures of the overall home and rooms. Zero-in on the details that make it special—whether it’s a unique gable end detail, a hidden storage compartment in the kitchen, or an advanced-framed wall that will save energy costs.
    –Share individual photos of those elements on social media calling attention to what’s unique.
    –Share those photos/details with local and national media. Many publications not only cover full projects, but also like to highlight simple details or installation techniques. For example, NKBA magazine has a “Details” page for this exact purpose.

    Instagram TRG Home Concepts
    TRG Home Concepts showcases its custom capabilities and creativity by showing—and explaining—project details on Instagram.
  • Share everywhere: Take advantage of every free platform at your disposal—Houzz, Instagram (posts and stories), Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest. And use each platform’s unique written space wisely: Instagram is photo-heavy, so make captions catchy and to the point. LinkedIn is geared toward for pros, so think about what that audience cares about. Pinterest is a mecca for search, so be sure to use keywords when tagging those items. Facebook’s slide shows offer a chance to show a handful of pictures with meaty captions. Adjust accordingly!

    GH Buildings Instagram TruExterior
    GH Buildings Inc. showcases its projects on Instagram.
  • Offer advice: Installing a unique detail or using a method that consumers can learn from? Take a video as you do so to educate viewers. This showcases your work while also positioning you as a leader.

    Video Peter Brown Design Patio Roof YouTube
    Peter Brown Design creates animated YouTube videos detailing installation techniques, including “How to Attach a Patio Roof to an Existing House”
  • Create an infographic: Does the exterior of the home or one of its rooms have a lot of unique elements or features that set your company apart? Create an infographic pointing out those elements and how they contribute to your and your client’s vision.
  • Generate engagement: Got an in-progress project? Why not have your fans weigh in with their thoughts? On Facebook or through an Instagram story, post the exterior before the paint is chosen and offer a poll with two options for the paint color. Offer up two faucet choices to vote on. The more your fans interact with your social posts, the more they’ll get seen by non-followers, and polls are a great way to do that.
  • Assemble trends: If you have a blog or newsletter, use your own projects (or combine your projects with some you find on Houzz) to assemble trend stories for your readers. For example, “6 Ways to Incorporate Red into Your Exterior” or “Tesla’s Solar Roof Tiles: We Tried Them.”

    Design Build Pros blog post Midcentury Modern
    Design Build Pros offers trends and design advice on its blog.
  • Enter contests: All of the national trade magazines have design contests that, if you win, provide lots of great, free publicity in addition to prestige and bragging rights. Professional Builder’s Design Awards are just one example.
  • Create a look book: Follow the lead of fashion designers and create a look book that shows off your best work in an elegant, sophisticated way. Tie the theme of the look book back into your company’s mission statement and keywords.
  • Partner with your favorite manufacturer: Project photos are also one of the best ways for manufacturers to market their products and, trust us, they’re always looking for good images to use in their own publicity. Reach out to your rep about sharing your project stories and photos with their marketing department; they could be perfect for the manufacturer’s own case studies, advertising, editorial, and social media—which means free publicity and recognition for you.

Want to share your Boral projects with us for consideration in our marketing efforts? Email Becky Duffy at becky.duffy@boral.com.

LEAN Principles That Increase Efficiency

LEAN principles shadow board

The first thing you see when you enter the Boral Discovery Center in San Antonio, Texas, is what you can’t see—no clutter, no chaos, no extraneous noise. Because while nearly 30 people, including scientists, engineers, and support staff, work throughout the facility’s labs with numerous machines, hundreds of materials, and thousands of samples, a concentrated focus on safety and efficiency guides each step.

Assisting in those efforts is a facility-wide adherence to LEAN principles, much like you would find at some manufacturing plants.

“We are a lab with many, many projects and many samples,” notes Sarah Fortenberry, a Discovery Center research technician who also leads the facility’s LEAN programs. “So you have to manage not only the individual projects as well as the amount of materials coming in and going out. LEAN principles help us do that.”

Fortenberry notes that following LEAN guidelines also is key to maintaining a safe, healthy environment.

Here are a few of the LEAN tools the Discovery Center has implemented:

• Shadow Board: In areas with tools and equipment, storage areas are outlined and labeled, as shown in this photo. This includes everything from duct tape rolls to a hammer to extension cords. “There’s no wasted time trying to find an item,” Fortenberry notes. “It’s labeled, it’s where it should be.”LEAN principles shadow board The 5 S’s:
Sort: Frequently determine what you actually use and get rid of the rest. This helps keep work areas clutter-free and safe.

Set in order: Label everything and where it goes. The most important items should be the closest.

Shine: Keep work areas clean.

Standardize: Have a standard method for tools and equipment. Everything is labeled—every tool, every shelf, every drawer. This also pertains to samples, which ensures every test is tracked and identifiable. The process of managing samples is the primary reason that LEAN is essential at the Discovery Center.

Sustain: Establish how you keep the workplace clean and a cleaning schedule.

• 3C Board: The three Cs stand for Concern, Cause, Countermeasure. In each work area, the team has a 3C board. If something is wrong in the area, it goes up on the board, what’s causing the problem, and, eventually, what is being done to fix the problem.

• Total Productive Maintenance: Broken machines lead to costly downtime, so each machine has a list of maintenance steps needed to keep it running properly.

• 5S Fridays: At the end of every Friday, the team convenes to address problems on 3C boards. “We work as a team to get to and maintain a sustaining level of production,” Fortenberry notes.

• Kaizen: Kaizen is Japanese for “continual improvement.” The team hosts kaizen events in which they visit areas of the lab and track team members’ steps to see where there is wasted movement and how those steps can be consolidated. Bringing in team members who don’t work in that area provides a fresh perspective and out-of-the-box thinking.

“It’s made us more of a team, working as a group to improve our areas,” Fortenberry says. “Through the kaizen events and 5S Fridays, we can do something in a short period of time that would take someone weeks to do alone.”

LBM Journal: Texture, Authenticity Lead Today’s Siding Trends

A growing diversity of innovative products is helping to fuel the latest exterior trends, according to LBM Journal’s annual In Depth feature on siding. Homeowners are clamoring for color and variety in their façades, while builders are not only trying to meet those aesthetic needs but also are seeking out easy-to-install solutions and product knowledge support.

Here’s an overview of trends and industry observations from LBM Journal’s report:

  • Mix and Match: A diversity of materials is contributing directly to one of today’s hottest façade trends: mixing materials. “Gone are the days when houses tended to be rather homogenous in terms of colors and textures,” magazine contributor Mike Berger writes. “In today’s siding market, it’s all about mixing and matching textures and products.”
  • Darker Colors: The magazine notes that darker colors are in growing demand, a trend that aligns well with TruExterior Siding, which can be painted any color, even black, thanks to its high levels of dimensional stability.
  • Authenticity: Buyers are craving products that offer the look of wood without the maintenance. “There’s an authenticity people want with products today,” TruExterior Siding & Trim Product Manager Aaron Sims tells the magazine. “They want it to look like wood. They want it to feel real. They want the details to be right. They want it to look very authentic to replicate a traditional Craftsman-style or Farmhouse-style home.”
  • Resilience: The increasing rate of natural disasters, from hurricanes to wildfires, is driving code changes in certain areas of the country. “To meet these needs, manufacturers are developing products to withstand the rigors of storm and fire,” Berger explains. The writer pointed to products like Grayne engineered siding and TruExterior Siding, which both meet California’s Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) code for fire and the Florida Building Code for wind.
  • Labor: The ongoing labor shortage continues to be top of mind and, according to the NAHB, is currently builders’ No. 1 concern. This is driving demand for products that are easy and straightforward to install. Versetta Stone mortarless stone veneer, the magazine notes, offers the stone look without requiring the skill of a stone mason.
  • Training: Dealers and distributors can no longer just stock products, the magazine says, they have to be knowledgeable about those products, how they work, and how they compare to competitors’ offerings.

To read more trends and insights into today’s siding market, view the LBM Journal article in its entirety here.

Best Practices for Combining Exterior Colors

It takes less than 10 seconds for someone to form an impression about a house. One of the most important factors in that impression? Color.

And with a lifespan of 10 to 15 years or more, siding and accent color choice is important.

“When selecting colors, follow the 60-30-10 rule of decorating,” advises color expert Trisha Wagner, senior product manager at Boral Building Products. “Sixty percent of your color will be siding; then your accent, which may be the trim, will be near 30%; and, finally, 10% will go into shutters or another element such as a stone façade.”

When looking at a home, think about what you want to see first and where you want to have the biggest impression.

Here are general rules and factors to consider when choosing and combining colors:

Work With Home Style and Period
To achieve the right look and feel, it’s important to understand the limitations of a home’s style and choose colors that align with the architecture and time period.

For a home with natural-finish cedar siding, for example, a more neutral trim and shutters will help maintain a traditional Colonial style, while bolder accent colors such as green or brown will give it a Craftsman-like look.

Take Cues From Existing Design Elements
For homes with existing stone or brick or those looking to add this element, Wagner offers this tip: To highlight or make the stone stand out, pair with a paint color that incorporates minor undertones from the stone. This will help draw it out and give a more dynamic appearance. Conversely, to make the stone or brick blend in, find a siding color that is more similar in tone.

Further tie these elements into a home’s look by matching the trim to the grout color of the stone or brick.

TruExterior Siding and Trim
Complementary colors in the siding and stone help the stone stand out without one element overwhelming the other.

Consider the Role of Nature and Lighting
Consider how landscaping will contrast and complement the look of a home. Houses with mature landscapes and shrubs with vibrant greens and other colors will draw the eye down. Be aware of what colors you or the homeowner will plant and how that relates to the colors you’re selecting for the home.

For homes that don’t have a lot of landscaping, consider brighter siding. For those with a denser landscape, you may want to consider darker colors for more contrast.

Landscaping can also influence lighting if a home is heavily shaded by trees or natural topography. Wagner advises to look at the direction the home faces and where the sun hits at various times of day to understand how the color may change.

TruExterior Siding Fine Homebuilding ProHome
On the 2016 Fine Homebuilding ProHome, the entry area offered the perfect place for a pop of bold color, modernizing the look without taking away from the farmhouse vibe. It also provides a focal point since the home has limited landscaping.

Consider What’s Trending
For the last five years, shades of gray have been the most popular choices for a home’s exterior. Homeowners inspired by the versatile neutral are frequently selecting varieties and combinations like green-gray, greige, and blue-gray.

Dark, rich jewel tones, such as sapphire blue, are another common selection for home exteriors. Colors in this family are typically paired with white trim, particularly on the ever-popular Craftsman-style homes.

For the indecisive homeowner or buyer, Wagner says neutral bases and black and white accents are a safe option that will stand the test of time.

Another growing trend on new construction home exteriors has been mixing textures, such as combining shake and traditional siding with brick and stone for a variegated look.

Grayne siding
Gray is a trendy choice that never goes out of style and pairs perfectly with crisp white trim.

Avoid Common Mistakes
The easiest way to avoid color mistakes is to consult the color wheel.

“It’s the same color wheel you played with in kindergarten,” Wagner says. “There are still complementary and contrasting colors, and that should be your ultimate guide.”

But you have a lot of flexibility, she adds, with the variety of tones available.

Before committing, get sample pieces of the siding colors being considered. Have your buyers put them up for a few days—perhaps on the weekend when they can see in the light at multiple points across the day—to see how they look.

TruExterior siding
When in doubt, black and white is always a classic combination.

In the end, “personal preference is the ultimate guide,” Wagner says. “A home’s color is highly personable and a definition of the homeowner’s style, so give it the time and attention it needs.”