What Awaits the Remodeling Market Into 2023?

The current state of the new-home economy tends to lean toward the bleak, with falling housing starts and declining builder confidence. But the remodeling market may be feeling the challenges a bit less. Though spending slowdowns are happening or anticipated, various indicators point to homeowners investing in their current houses and continuing with project lists begun during the pandemic.

The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) is predicting a steady downturn in home improvement spending throughout the next year, Pro Remodeler reports, with year-over-year spending expected to grow just 6.5% in Q4 2023 versus an anticipated 16.1% growth in Q4 2022. Factors driving these expectations include a drop from unsustainable growth during the pandemic, higher interest rates, and higher prices for materials and labor.

Despite these contractions, reports from the field paint a picture of continued, if more measured, investment in the remodeling market, both DIY and professional.    

The U.S. Remodeler Index by John Burns Real Estate Consulting dropped from 65.7 in Q2 2022 to 62 in Q3, but remains above the index’s growth indicator line of 50. Among the report’s key takeaways, Qualified Remodeler said, is a 4.9-month average backlog among remodelers, with 56% of survey respondents having at least four months of in-progress or planned projects. Supply chain issues are improving, remodelers said, but most also said that customers are downgrading to stay on budget amid pricing concerns.

Lowe’s also conducted a survey of home improvement professionals. The Pro Pulse Survey found that pros remain optimistic despite challenges, and 73% of respondents expect to have more work next year than this year.

Homeowners Invest in Existing Houses

In a recent study of 4,000 homeowners by Houzz, only 1% of homeowners have canceled remodeling projects so far in 2022 and 23% plan to start a project in the next 12 months. “For many, conditions like limited choices of available homes and rising interest rates are driving them toward renovations and improving their current home, since the cost of moving into a house that fits their current needs has become so expensive,” said Marine Sargsyan, Houzz staff economist. “Moreover, more than half of the homeowners we surveyed have no intention of selling or moving out of their current residences in the next 20 years — or ever.”

Exterior updates and “bringing the outdoors in” were among the projects taking priority.

The Houzz study also found that 91% of homeowners planning remodels plan to hire a professional. Though the report didn’t indicate, this could be due to some DIYers reaching the end of their pandemic to-do list of items they can perform themselves.

With some positive indicators, it’s perhaps no surprise that both Lowe’s and The Home Depot are “faring better than expected,” according to CNBC. “Home Depot financial chief Richard McPhail pointed to an ‘improve in place’ mentality among current homeowners, who might have wanted to sell but changed their minds because they could no longer command top dollar,” the website reported.

That’s reflected in the NAHB’s recent forecasts, as well. “The growth rate for improvement spending will slow due to declines for existing home sales,” Robert Dietz, NAHB’s chief economist, told CNBC. “However, an aging housing stock, work-from-home trends, and a decline for household mobility all favor remodeling spending.”

Stop Selling. Start Solving Homeowners’ Pain Points.

CraneBoard board and batten siding

For many of us, we’ve been programmed to sell a certain way: Hard selling, non-stop calls, high pressure. But the old methods are problematic. For one thing, you wind up playing a pricing game, with little else to finish the deal. And, perhaps most importantly, homeowners no longer want to be sold to, and they are armed with information they didn’t have before.

What’s a better way? Become a problem solver for your remodeling clients. Take the time to understand their home, identify its pain points, and sell products that solve these issues. Paul Burleson, Westlake Royal Building Products’ National Remodeling Accounts Manager, calls this a “sick home selling system.”

Burleson travels the country training contractors and remodelers on a prescription method of selling. The remodeler serves the role of a doctor, diagnosing a home’s problems and then writing a prescription for how to fix it.

He recommends the following tactics for more effective selling:

Change your thinking: Instead of the mindset that you’re selling something, reframe your approach as helping customers buy a solution to fix a problem. One of the things that COVID and natural disasters have taught us in recent years is that we could be shut into our houses at any time. This created a sense of urgency to understand the problems in our homes that make them less safe and comfortable. Rather than selling on pressure and price, you can bring value to your customers by addressing their challenges and making their homes more livable.

Ramp up your education: Solving problems requires an intimate understanding of the products used to fix them. Knowledge of basic features and benefits is the first step, followed by deeper learning of installation best practices. Leverage your LBM dealer and manufacturers for product knowledge sessions and other education.

Understand the effects of trapped moisture and other issues: Trapped moisture is a top enemy of the home because it can create toxic mold. By knowing how exterior products work together to drain away moisture, you can help homeowners make the most appropriate decisions. For example, Westlake Royal Building Products’ CraneBoard® SolidCore® insulated siding has moisture management tracks in the foam and Versetta Stone panelized stone siding has a built-in rainscreen.

Arm yourself with the right tools: When touring the home, use moisture meters, thermal cameras, a Go Pro, and other devices to collect necessary data. Learn how to use that technology to build the case for the homeowner and help them understand the problems or potential problems. For example, a common find is a gutter pulled off the wall, which likely means water running behind the fascia and windows and into the foundation. A $600 fix now can help avoid a $10,000+ overhaul down the road. It’s not smoke and mirrors—they can see and understand your findings.

Another thing Burleson does is give the homeowner a notepad; each of them circles the house and writes down issues that need fixing. Engaging the customer in the process can help build trust and understanding.

Consider a hybrid approach: While nothing can replace the in-person tour, a virtual meeting might make sense for the follow-up discussion. Utilize virtual sessions for busy clients or your own tight schedule.

One thing to keep in in mind is that homeowners know more now than ever. With the Internet, social media sites like Pinterest, and peer reviews on everything from products to your own remodeling services, your clients are coming into the process armed with information about what they want and don’t want. To truly be a valuable resource, you need to stay ahead of them; ensure you have up-to-date knowledge on products, trends, and the latest design and installation techniques.

2023 Color of the Year Selections Reflect Life After the Pandemic

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

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

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

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

Benjamin Moore: Raspberry Blush

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

Benjamin Moore 2023 Color of the Year
Photo courtesy Benjamin Moore

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

Sherwin-Williams: Redend Point

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

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

Behr: Blank Canvas

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

Behr 2023 Color of the Year
Photo courtesy Behr

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

PPG: Vining Ivy

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

PPG 2023 Color of the Year
Photo courtesy PPG

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

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

8 Quick Tips to Work Efficiently

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Habitat for Humanity MidOhio home dedication

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

Installing siding on a Habitat for Humanity MidOhio home.

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

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

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

What Pros Should Know About Siding and Housewrap

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

Cladding Material Influences Housewrap Selection

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

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

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

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

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

Pay Attention to Transitions

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

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

Flash Well

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

Consult With Experts

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

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

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 Panelized Stone Intersections

Versetta Stone panelized stone half wall

Multi-textured facades are one of the most popular trends in home exteriors. And incorporating stone—on a half wall, on columns, or on bump outs and other architectural features—is one of the most common ways to create these varied looks.

Versetta Stone panelized stone siding makes adding these accents easy, combining the look of stone with mortar-free installation using just nails or screws. Each panel interlocks together, fastens through the nailing fin, and includes a built-in rainscreen.

Panelized Stone Installation Strategies for Cladding Transitions

Achieving a truly finished look when combining Versetta Stone with other materials to create coveted multi-textured facades is fairly simple, and the manufactured stone material is compatible with nearly all other claddings.

For stone half walls, adding Versetta Stone’s wainscot cap/sill creates the ideal finish and transition from the stone to the cladding above. The wainscot includes the same nailing fin as the siding for easy installation. Install flashing over the nailing fin and then shingle the other cladding over top to ensure water sheds off of the sill. Leave a small gap between the cladding and the stone, per each cladding’s installation instructions.

For side-to-side transitions, a simple J-channel or trim piece will ensure a finished look. As with the wainscot cap, be sure to flash at the transition point.

Plan Ahead for Multiple Cladding Materials

Aesthetically, Versetta Stone requires little planning—Ledgestone and Tight-Cut profiles are made from 20 different master molds that can be flipped, allowing for 80 square feet of wall coverage without visual repetition. With Universal Corners, corner intersections also are simplified; follow the installation instructions for a staggered left-right installation to achieve an authentic look.

One thing you do need to plan for with multi-textured facades are the weather-resistive barriers (WRBs) and flashings, as each cladding type has different requirements for housewrap and drainage. Versetta Stone, for example, has a built-in rainscreen to ensure the wall dries out, so it requires at minimum only a layer of #15 felt to maintain its warranty. TruExterior poly-ash siding requires a minimum of a drainable housewrap. So when installing the two products together, you’ll need to either wrap the entire façade in the more robust drainable housewrap or, to save money, plan the wall system accordingly so that the corresponding weather barrier is positioned under each cladding and properly transitions from material to material per guidelines from the WRB and cladding manufacturers.

To learn more about installing Versetta Stone panelized stone siding, download the Installation Guide or watch our installation series on YouTube.

DIYer Transforms Dining Room With Dramatic Stone Accent Wall

Versetta Stone accent wall

Lia, aka the Southern Yankee, has made a name for herself updating her farmhouse and sharing beautiful projects on a budget via her blog, Southern Yankee DIY. And it all started with a new accent wall in the dining room, which she transformed using Versetta Stone panelized stone siding.

The original dining room’s plain cream walls felt a bit ho-hum, so Lia opted to take the space to the extreme opposite, with a dark-gray wall. Rather than just paint, the DIYer chose to add texture and dimension using stone.

“I love the look of stone, especially when it’s in an interior setting,” Lia says. “I wanted to give the room something special and give it a feature. And it was so easy.”

With a lightweight, panelized format, Versetta Stone offered the ideal opportunity to create the look Lia wanted. The pieces can be cut to size outside and easily carried in. The panels connect with a tongue-and-groove system and then attach to the wall with screws, no mortar or mess required.

See the full install process in Lia’s blog post for Hometalk.

Lia chose the Ledgestone profile, a traditional dry-stack look, in Northern Ash, a strikingly bold dark gray hue.

Versetta Stone accent wall

“A lot of people are scared of darker colors,” Lia says. “They think it’s going to make a room feel dark or small. But I’ve found the opposite—it makes everything feel larger and more grand.”

The end result was an eye-catching accent that set the tone for the rest of the remodel. The wall became the base to inspire other parts of the home, carrying over to dark bookcases in the nearby living room and other touches.

“The whole process of installation was super simple,” Lia says. “It was a really fun project. And it’s one of those that people get intimidated by, but Versetta is simple to install and the look is so grand—it’s such a great feature in our home. We’re super happy.”

All images courtesy of Hometalk.

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

Cost vs. Value Report: Exterior Projects, Including Manufactured Stone Veneer, Deliver Most ROI

Versetta Stone manufactured stone siding

Once again, exterior projects continue to deliver the best return for homeowners’ investment, according to Remodeling 2022 Cost vs. Value Report. Within that, manufactured stone offered the second-best ROI.

The 35th annual study by Remodeling compares the average costs of 22 remodeling projects with the value those investments will retain at resale. Nine of the top 10 projects delivering the best return were exterior, with manufactured stone taking the second spot, with 91.4% ROI, behind only garage doors (93.3%). Vinyl siding also performed well, with the fifth-best return of 67.2%.

For manufactured stone, 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 Westlake Royal Building Products’ Versetta Stone), along with sills, corners, and address block. Manufactured stone’s ROI was slightly lower than last year’s study, which showed a 92.1% return, but was 20 percentage points ahead of this year’s No. 3 project, minor kitchen remodel (71.2% return).

“Despite sharp cost increases in 2021, the decline in overall ROI in the 2022 report was a modest 1.2%, proving the resilience of the remodeling market,” Remodeling magazine said.

The other exterior projects in the top 10 were fiber cement siding replacement (68.3% cost recouped); vinyl window replacement (67.5%); wood window replacement (66.3%); wood deck addition (64/8%); steel entry door replacement (63.8%); and composite deck addition (62.1%).

“‘Curb appeal’ and ‘first impressions’ are strong concepts in real estate because they have a surprisingly big impact on how much money prospective home buyers are willing to pay for a home,” the magazine explained. “Prospective buyers who see a ‘buttoned up’ exterior form the impression that the house is in good shape—or, as we all like to say, ‘has good bones’—and they proceed to fit all the new information they learn once they walk through the front door around these positive impressions.”

Manufactured Stone Delivers Most ROI in Two Regions

When the Remodeling 2022 Cost vs. Value report is broken down geographically, manufactured stone shows similar levels of ROI as on a national level. In two regions, however, manufactured stone delivers the most return among all projects: South Atlantic (Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida), with 92.5% ROI, and West North Central (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri), with 93.6% ROI.

Versetta Stone offers remodelers an easy way to leverage the ROI opportunity of manufactured stone. The siding panels provide the beauty and texture of authentic stone masonry in a panelized, mortarless format that can be installed easily by traditional carpenters and siding contractors using nails or screws. Each lightweight panel covers 2 square feet and features a built-in rainscreen. Browse profiles and colors here.

See the full Remodeling 2022 Cost vs. Value Report study and associated trends at www.costvsvalue.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.)

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.

6 Lifestyle Shifts Influencing Exterior and Interior Design

Exterior Portfolio siding in blue

The last two years brought significant change to all aspects of our lives. To make their homes more comfortable, functional, and beautiful, homeowners—now more than ever—are willing to spend more on home renovations, both interior and exterior.

As the pandemic shifted lifestyles and altered our overall sense of what’s important, so followed consumers’ approach to the design and livability of their homes. Here’s a look at how these new realities translate into key exterior and interior design trends and changing product designs and innovations.

1. Biophilic Design

Biophilic design—the use of natural or nature-inspired materials and textures within a space—remains one of the hottest design trends for both residential and commercial properties. This allows them to feel connected to the natural world even when they’re indoors, and it has a marked benefit to people’s physical and mental health.

Incorporating natural colors and textures—including greenery, accent pieces such as water or fire features, and light wells and stone veneer statement walls—into the built environment can provide inhabitants with multisensory components and connections with the outside world. Natural light is key to any space, and research suggests incorporating more sunlight can help with everything from reducing overall stress levels to encouraging healthier sleep patterns.

2. More Is More: The Resurgence of Maximalism in Design

Many homeowners are stepping back from the “less is more” movement and embracing Maximalism instead, where “more is more.” The beauty of Maximalism is that it allows their space to be as unique and expressive as they are. Designers and building pros should start the process by asking the client to consider, quite simply, themselves.

One of the true joys of Maximalism is the freedom to be bold in their color choices, in terms of color selection, layering, and juxtaposition. For example, an accent wall with architectural stone veneer in a lighter, more neutral color palette provides the ideal backdrop for incorporating bold colors. With those bolder colors, an overarching scheme will help maintain a sense of cohesiveness and intention.

Cultured Stone manufactured stone veneer Echo Ridge Old Country Fieldstone
Cultured Stone’s Echo Ridge Old Country Fieldstone

The key to achieving a Maximalistic masterpiece is the incorporation of both patterns and textures. Consider scale and pair larger patterns with small prints. A large-scaled stone or brick accent wall is a clever way to achieve this look and find balance by incorporating depth and texture without overpowering the eye and taking away from the unique appeal of the space.

For exteriors, choose bold and darker colors of siding and/or trim, wider siding profiles, and Craftsman-style trim. 

Westlake Royal Building Products’ Atlas Stone in Sierra and Cedar Renditions 6" Aluminum Siding in Timberline
Westlake Royal Building Products’ Atlas Stone in Sierra and Cedar Renditions 6″ Aluminum Siding in Timberline.

3. Optimizing Your Outdoor Space

More than ever before, the outdoors has provided us with our most favorite bonding experiences. Making memories under a canvas of stars can happen without needing to travel any farther than our own backyards.

Outdoor spaces allow homeowners to expand their living area without adding interior footprint, and they’ve continued to blur the lines with designated activity areas and inclusion of interior comforts from entertainment to furniture. Outdoor dining was already on the rise for years, and it’s now more attainable than ever before. Today, there are more options at varying price points for elevating the outdoor space, including rapid-install outdoor kitchen “building blocks” that can be custom ordered and configured to match the exact appliances and countertops they prefer.

Zuri Premium Decking in Weathered Grey
Zuri Premium Decking in Weathered Grey

For kids, creating a unique play space, such as with a play structure or treehouse, provides ample opportunities for them to be physically active while spending time in an outdoor space that is primarily “theirs.”

And, of course, nothing complements an evening outside better than the warmth and glow of a fire. An intentional conversation space anchored with a fire bowl or fire pit elevates the ambience as they build and reinforce personal connections.

Sherwood wood-burning fireplace from Kindred Outdoors + Surrounds
Sherwood wood-burning fireplace from Kindred Outdoors + Surrounds

4. A Dash of Rustic Allure: Unique Accents in the Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home, yet so much of what we think about during the kitchen design process is focused solely on function over form. For a space as universal and iconic as the kitchen, there is more we can explore to infuse character into its walls.

Tile backsplashes provide an immensely versatile range of options for incorporating colors and patterns, but for those looking to incorporate a touch of texture on the walls, brick veneer remains your best bet. (A “brick-splash,” if you will.) And nothing complements the vibrancy of natural light quite like other natural textures, so a light stone accent wall could be ideal when pulling off a kitchen transformation; stone or brick veneer offers a transitional style, providing a contrast to sleek, modern cabinetry, fixtures, and appliances.

Eldorado Stone’s Lucera Hillstone veneer adds rustic warmth to this otherwise modern-leaning kitchen.
Eldorado Stone’s Lucera Hillstone veneer adds rustic warmth to this otherwise modern-leaning kitchen.

When updating the accent wall, consider tying in some of the other color tones in the space. And don’t rule out the power play of white-on-black or gray-on-white.

5. Balancing Modern with Traditional

Design styles are shifting from minimalist and clean lines toward something with more personality and character. When it comes to stone, consumers are looking for traditional-style stone with a modern, clean color palette. On the exterior, the Modern Farmhouse continues to trend, in part for its blending of comforting traditional elements with modern accents, mixed materials, and a subtle contemporary vibe.

Architect Michael McKinley’s modern interpretation of the traditional farmhouse, featuring TruExterior Nickel Gap siding and InSpire Roofing in Olive, Ash Grey, Evergreen, and Red Rock.

6. Metro Mojo: Urban Aesthetics for the Sophisticated Suburbs

Since early 2020, numerous surveys show a significant bump in the number of people moving from the cities to the suburbs or rural areas. Transitioning from one environment to another in this way can be emotional, especially if you’ve acclimated to a metropolitan vibe. As a significant portion of the population shifts from one setting to another, it’s likely that some of the most prominent design trends and other aspects of city life will soon take root in suburban areas as well.

To help your clients bring a chic, cosmopolitan feel to their new abode, consider accents such as brass hardware on kitchen cabinets, a statement lamp in the entryway, or dark, industrial-like windows.

Versetta Stone siding panels in the Ledgestone profile and Sand color.

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.

Exterior Cladding for Interior Applications

Versetta Stone stone veneer fireplace

Siding, trim, and accessories are designed primarily for the home exterior, but the properties that make some materials ideal for those traditional uses can sometimes carry over to benefit the inside of the house.

Consider these applications in which exterior materials can bring aesthetic or performance value on the inside of the home.

Fireplaces

The beauty of a stone fireplace never falls out of favor, but installation challenges make it a prohibitive option for some projects. Panelized stone offers an easier path to creating eye-catching fireplace surrounds, combining the look and feel of stone with easy installation to deliver the dramatic look of a stone fireplace within reach.

For example, Versetta Stone panels install quickly without mortar and require no special tools. Each panel can be cut with a diamond blade and fastens to the wall with screws through the integrated nailing fin. As such, it does not require a mason for installation and can be installed by traditional siding contractors and carpenters.

The Northmade Farmhouse, shown below, features a soaring two-story fireplace made with Versetta Stone Ledgestone in the Mission Point colorway, perfect for the new home’s modern-farmhouse vibe.

Because the panelized stone eliminates the messiest parts of masonry installation—with no lath, no scratch coat, and no mortar—they’re particularly helpful for remodeling projects. Cut the panels outside and pass them through the window.

And while stone fireplace surrounds require an artisan’s touch to lay out the stones so they look perfect and fit well together, panelized stone comes pre-configured in beautiful, authentic patterns. Corner pieces also make it easy to create a clean, finished look.

Accents and Backsplashes

Panelized stone also can provide a lightweight solution for kitchen backsplashes, adding a more rustic look in contrast to the contemporary aesthetic of subway tiles.

Versetta Stone stone veneer kitchen backsplash

The same opportunity can be found for creative accent walls—use the lightweight panels under or behind a home bar, add a cozy feel behind a freestanding tub, or create an eye-catching accent wall in the great room.

Versetta Stone stone veneer bathroom accent wall

Bathroom Trim and Moulding

For wet areas such as the bathroom, cellular PVC trim provides a moisture-resistant option that will help avoid the potential for cracking, chipping, or even rot. Along with crown moulding, PVC beadboard, such as that from Kleer Lumber, is ideal for creating clean, crisp wainscoting. The material also resists dirt and is easy to wipe clean if needed.

Kleer Lumber cellular PVC wainscoting in bathroom

Décor & Accessories

Even shutters can play a role in sprucing up the interior. A custom color such as that from Atlantic Premium Shutters or a reclaimed vintage piece can create a unique artpiece or be used to craft a one-of-a-kind mail holder.

Contemporary Stone Looks Made Easy

Versetta Stone Carved Block in Sea Salt on home

Love the look of stone for your projects but looking for a more modern aesthetic? Carved Block combines the mortar-free installation benefits of Versetta Stone with a split-stone look perfect for contemporary and commercial designs.

Like all Versetta Stone profiles, Carved Block offers a panelized format that installs easily with screws or nails, suitable for traditional siding contractors or carpenters; no metal lath or scratch coat needed.

Carved Block comes in two colors: Midnight, featuring gray, black, and subtle tones of brown for darker applications, and Sea Salt, with lighter tones of taupe and white for the crisp appearance of split block stone. 

Here are a few projects featuring Carved Block’s contemporary stone look to spark the imagination:

Versetta Stone Carved Block in Sea Salt on home

Carved Block in Sea Salt lends a contemporary edge to this traditional home, perfectly complementing the brick and large windows and shutters.

Versetta Stone Carved Block in Midnight in residential entryway

Carved Block in Midnight provides an eye-catching accent for this home’s entryway while complementing the modern feel of the large, crisp cladding panels.

Versetta Stone Carved Block in Midnight on industrial project

With the look of chiseled stone, Carved Block offers an ideal alternative to traditional concrete blocks for commercial applications, with fast, easy installation.

Versetta Stone Carved Block in Midnight on commercial project

As seen in this commercial project, Versetta Stone in Carved Block installs anywhere without the need for additional footings for support.

Ready to learn more about the possibilities of Carved Block? Visit the product page here.

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

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

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

Here are a few of the things they found:

Pandemic Increases Demand

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

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

Supply Challenges

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

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

Classic Looks

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

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

Low Maintenance Rules

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

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

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

The Supply Channel Is Adapting

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

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

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

How Are Housing and Pandemic Trends Impacting LBM Dealers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image: iStock.com/ArnoMassee

Versetta Stone Offers an Easy Way to Create Stunning Fireplace Surrounds

The beauty of a stone fireplace never falls out of favor, but installation challenges make it a prohibitive option for some projects. Versetta Stone panelized stone offers an easier path to creating eye-catching fireplace surrounds, combining the look and feel of stone with easy, panelized installation to deliver the dramatic look of a stone fireplace within reach.

One of our favorite examples is the Northmade Farmhouse, which features a soaring two-story fireplace made with Versetta Stone Ledgestone in the Mission Point colorway, perfect for the home’s modern-farmhouse vibe. (Read more about this project here.)

Versetta Stone fireplace by Northmade Farmhouse

Versetta Stone offers a range of benefits for fireplace surrounds:

• Easy, straightforward installation: Versetta Stone panels install quickly and require no special tools. Each panel can be cut with a diamond blade and fastens to the wall with screws through the integrated nailing fin. As such, it does not require a mason for installation and can be installed by traditional siding contractors and carpenters. It’s also within reach of advanced DIYers.

• No artistry required: Stone fireplace surrounds require an artisan’s touch—laying out the stones so they look perfect and fit well together and then replicating that layout on the wall. With Versetta Stone, those steps are taken care of. Simply fasten the panels to the wall, and the pattern looks beautiful without much creativity. And yet it still has the look of hand-crafted stone. Corner pieces also make it easy to create a clean, finished look.

Versetta Stone fireplace surrounds offer a tremendous array of design possibilities, such as this two-sided column fireplace shown here, made with Ledgestone in Sand.

• Less mess: Versetta Stone eliminates the messiest parts of masonry installation—no lath, no scratch coat, no mortar. This is especially helpful for remodeling projects, eliminating concerns about tracking in mud or ruining manicured lawns washing off tools and mud buckets. Versetta Stone panels require cutting that generates dust, but this can be done outside over a tarp, with cut pieces handed in through the window.

• Lightweight: Versetta Stone weighs 17 pounds per panel, or 8.5 pounds per square foot.

Two-sided outdoor fireplace made with Versetta Stone
Versetta Stone makes outdoor fireplaces easier too. Switala-Berner Construction crafted this two-sided unit with Ledgestone in Mission Point.

• Suitable for fireplaces: Versetta Stone is safe for use as a fireplace surround for gas and electric fireplaces and does not require distance from the firebox like some non-combustible materials do. (However, it cannot be used inside the firebox.) Still, installers should always follow fireplace manufacturer instructions and guidelines for surround materials.

Indoor fireplace made with Versetta Stone Ledgestone in Plum Creek.
This bold fireplace was made with Versetta Stone Ledgestone in Plum Creek.

Find more Versetta Stone design inspiration for interiors in our Idea Gallery.

Simple Strategies to Upgrade Outdoor Living Spaces

Outdoor living spaces are one of the biggest trends in home building and remodeling, and demand has only grown during the pandemic.

As the demand for outdoor living moves from growing trend to must-have status, simply adding on an ordinary deck isn’t going to be enough. Building pros can elevate outdoor spaces in numerous ways, and they don’t have to break the bank.

Here are a few simple and relatively inexpensive details to consider to add the finishing touch to your outdoor living spaces and take them to the next level.

Create Indoor-Outdoor Connections

Not every home can have an eight-panel opening glass wall, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create those connections that let in more light and expand the entertaining space.

As Andersen Windows points out in a recent article, the standard French patio doors with sidelight windows can easily be replaced by a small multi-panel door with one or two sliding panels, helping to expand the clear opening to preserve views and create that desired indoor-outdoor connection.

Another more budget-friendly option is to include pass-through windows to create an indoor-outdoor bar, such as this project by Denny Sturgis Construction.

Detail the Deck

No matter the size of the deck, there are a few simple strategies to make it look more finished and polished.

• Rather than leaving deck planks exposed, add fascia board around the perimeter to create a more finished look. TruExterior poly-ash trim can be painted or stained any color and can be used in contact with decking material.

• For composite decks, hidden fasteners cost a little more but make a big difference in the look and feel of the deck. For grooved-edge boards, clip-style hardware stays completely hidden; for face-fastening, a plug system is the most hidden option, or, at minimum, choose color-matched screws.

• Add flair to composite decks with inlays and picture framing. These techniques can be used to add a decorative perimeter, break up long expanses, or create an outline around different areas, such as a sitting area or outdoor kitchen.

• Don’t neglect lighting, which can add ambience, make the space safer, and extend its use later into the night and farther into colder months. Integrated post cap, railing, or stair lights can be easy and economical to add on or integrate.

• Add an accent wall or elevate the grill area with stone, such as panelized stone siding from Versetta Stone.

Versetta Stone grill surround
Ledgestone Mission Point

Amp up your outdoor buildings

A beautiful backyard can be the perfect spot for a studio, she shed, or ADU. But make sure it’s got style. A rickety wood shed or wobbly plastic structure can bring down the aesthetic of the whole outdoor space. Use real siding and trim, include accessories, and add landscaping.

This beautiful tiny house ADU by Koncept Design/Build, for example, looks just as good as a main house, with beautiful craftsmanship, on-trend black-framed windows and doors, and meticulous trimwork using TruExterior poly-ash trim

Koncept Design/Build tiny house ADU

This garage/man cave by Adam Hass Fine Homebuilding also could pass for a main living space, with its traditional forms and well-thought-out details.

Adam Hass Fine Homebuilding man cave/garage

Even a storage shed can look a bit more refined, as seen with this example from Zuccon Works, which features richly colored siding and Kleer cellular PVC trim and window casings.

Zuccon Works shed

Don’t Neglect the Accessories

It’s easy to leave the aftermarket accessories up to the homeowner, but why not complete the look or at least show them how?

For example, this flower box made with Kleer Lumber PVC trim not only offers a cleaner, more stylish look than run-of-the-mill planters, it’s durable and can be used in contact with the ground without moisture concerns.

Kleer Lumber flower box

Kleer is also a fun choice for these Adirondack chairs. The teal offers a fun pop of color to the porch without too much commitment or concern over resale value.

Kleer Lumber, Adirondack chairs

And don’t forget to finish the porch. Here, installers used TruExterior Beadboard in a soft robin’s egg blue to add to the vintage vibe of this wide porch.

TruExterior Trim poly-ash beadboard on porch ceiling

Post wraps, such as these from Kleer, are a simple way to enhance the porch or deck without adding extra maintenance needs.

KleerWrap post wraps on porch

Get more ideas for beautiful outdoor spaces in our TruExterior Idea Gallery and Versetta Stone Idea Gallery.

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.

Best Practices for Ongoing COVID Safety on the Jobsite

jobsite safety, COVID-19, construction site

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

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

The Official Word on COVID Safety

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

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

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

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

COVID Jobsite Best Practices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hero image: iStock.com/Juanmonino

Are Siding Materials Fire Resistant?

TruExterior Siding

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

Here’s a guide:

Fire Resistance of TruExterior Siding & Trim

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

Fire Resistance of Versetta Stone siding

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

Versetta Stone can be used for interior fireplace surround applications.

Fire Resistance of Foundry Siding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 Colors of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Apply Trending Colors to the Home Exterior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 Exterior Trends for 2021

Kleer Lumber, outdoor living, retaining wall, pergola

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Triangle Shape, Blended Textures Add Drama to Indiana Orthodontist Office

MKM architecture + design, Versetta Stone, TruExterior

It’s not every day that an orthodontist office wins rave design reviews. But that’s just the case with a recent project completed by MKM architecture + design, which turned a challenging site into a unique space highlighted by modern geometric forms and eye-catching textures.

The property along the Jefferson Corridor in Fort Wayne, Ind., was difficult to say the least: a pie-shaped lot wedged between two major roadways. A connector to downtown and close to schools, the corridor is a high-traffic area that’s convenient to patients—but also high profile and highly visible. Rather than feeling daunted, Dr. Parrish was drawn to the property, finding inspiration in its similarities to the Flatiron Building in New York. He seized the opportunity to work with MKM to create a design that was distinctive yet still complementary to the neighborhood. 

In addition to the oddly shaped lot, the office’s location just outside the city’s commercial core necessitated balancing the feel of heading downtown while staying true to the aesthetic of nearby residential areas. 

MKM architecture + design, Versetta Stone, TruExterior siding

Dr. Parrish’s eye toward style and forward-looking approach allowed MKM architecture + design Principal Matt Sparling, AIA, LEED AP, to explore different forms as well as different materials. A square building was out of the question due to the lot shape and the limitations of required parking and driveways. Instead, MKM designed the building with a triangle shape extending into the lot, coming to a steep point with a dramatic 20-foot overhang where the building faces the street corner.

Pulling off the shape required a more intensive and lengthy review process; any changes to the square footage of the building meant reworking the plan and proportions of the triangle. The skin of the roof took its own shape and form over the triangular footprint and simultaneously had to balance the design and scale of the building exterior. To achieve this design, all the trusses were unique in size and length with no one alike.

MKM architecture + design, Versetta Stone, TruExterior

To maximize the floor plan and allow space for parking, MKM had to petition for a variance to extend past the building setback line. This allowance also saved seven well-established trees during construction, helping the building appear as if it had been there for years. 

MKM architecture + design, Versetta Stone, Tight-Cut stone, TruExterior siding, Channel siding

Along with its shape, the project is visually distinctive in its use of color and texture. The lower areas of the exterior feature TruExterior 8” Channel Siding in two shades of gray and taupe. The product’s workability was essential for creating the crisp mitered corners and clean lines, as well as for navigating the trickier points of the triangle. Made with poly-ash, TruExterior offers dimensional stability ideal for the fluctuations of temperature and weather in Indiana, and its authentic wood look adds dimension to the flat surfaces. 

Just as striking is the stone cladding along the sides of the triangle and the broad overhang. To pull off this look in a somewhat challenging area of the façade, contractor Steve Desmond installed Versetta Stone panelized siding in a Tight-Cut profile and Plum Creek colorway. Because of Versetta Stone’s lighter weight compared to brick, it could be used for the overhang without adding tremendous structural costs. Its panelized format, requiring just screws to hang, simplified what could have been a time-consuming and costly traditional masonry installation. 

MKM architecture + design, Versetta Stone, TruExteruor

The stone carries over to other areas of the façade, including half walls and planter boxes, completing the multi-textured look. 

Using TruExterior and Versetta Stone eases the building’s sharper geometries, where previously considered metal options would have been too severe. “You can make it look unique for the area and still be complementary to your neighbors,” Sparling says.

TruExterior also could be installed in the winter, helping to avoid construction delays, he adds. “Contractors around here really favor it because it’s a no-nuisance product.”

MKM architecture + design, Versetta Stone, TruExterior siding

Inside the office, the building’s shape created dead space in corners, so MKM used those areas for infrastructure, like a vertical chase, as well as for countertop display areas. 

MKM architecture + design, Versetta Stone, TruExterior siding

The Mid-Century Modern décor, featuring stone and wood finishes and a feature wall made with plank flooring, maintains a contemporary appeal while keeping the space inviting. Sparling incorporated two setback windows into the layout for the always-on nightlights. Outside, can lights on the underside of the overhang provide emphasis while highlighting the angles. Like the rest of the building, and the design approach overall, the effect is both strikingly modern and comfortably warm. 

Inspiration Gallery: Versetta Stone in Northern Ash

Versetta Stone, Northern Ash, Pacific Northwest Exhibition

Not only is Versetta Stone easy to install, with a panelized format that goes up with nails or screws, it adds the perfect aesthetic touch to homes, multifamily projects, and light commercial spaces. Versetta Stone’s authentic look is ideal for adding an elegant or rustic touch to exterior walls, chimneys, and columns, while inside it can easily enhance the visual appeal to fireplace surrounds and walls without the added weight of real stone. 

This is especially the case with Northern Ash, the newest colorway and the boldest yet. The dramatic, near-black hue is perfect for today’s trends favoring dark colors—to add a pop to the exterior or create the perfect accent wall.

Need inspiration? Here are a few early applications of this new color:

Versetta Stone, Northern Ash, Pacific Northwest Exhibition
Image Courtesy Pacific Northwest Exhibition

This beauty was the prize home for the Pacific Northwest Exhibition, a non-profit organization in British Columbia that funds local community, agriculture, and arts programs. The 3,188-square-foot mountain home boasts a rustic-modern look, a perfect fit for first-floor walls made with Versetta Stone in Northern Ash. Project participants included Gentek Building Products in Kelowna (dealer), Freeport Industries (builder),  Chartwell Exteriors & Standard Insulation and Siding (installers), and Canadian Stone Industries (distributor). 

Versetta Stone, Northern Ash, multifamily design

For this multifamily project, Northern Ash added the perfect accent on the corners, providing contrast to the lighter hues elsewhere on the façade and providing a multi-textured look that’s tremendously popular right now. 

Versetta Stone, Northern Ash, fireplace, two-sided fireplace
Image courtesy Construction in the Creek

Bold and modern, this beautiful two-sided outdoor fireplace by Construction in the Creek is clad in Versetta Stone Northern Ash. The dark hue perfectly coordinates with the space’s black-and-white color scheme.

RR Buildings, Versetta Stone, outbuilding
Image courtesy Rural Renovators

A half wall of Versetta Stone Northern Ash adds an aesthetic touch to this outbuilding by Rural Renovators, Inc., combining with the shutters and porch to provide a slight residential appeal suitable for the property. 

Versetta Stone, lobby design

Northern Ash is just as suitable for interiors and for light commercial spaces, as shown here in a lobby waiting room.  

Excited by Northern Ash? See all the Versetta Stone profiles here.

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.

Versetta Stone Elevates Post-Frame Outbuildings

RR Buildings, Versetta Stone, outbuilding

Rural Renovators (or RR Buildings, for short) in Franklin Grove, Ill., specializes in custom post-frame outbuildings, with a reputation for quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. Founder Kyle Stumpenhorst’s love of the job shows through in every project in the company’s extensive portfolio, which includes an array of residential, agricultural, and commercial buildings.

As you look through RR Buildings’ project gallery and Instagram page, it’s hard not to be struck by the aesthetics. Rather than being staid or ordinary, the builder’s rural outbuildings catch the eye with pops of color on the roof or accent walls, interesting overhangs, and texture.

In some of the outbuildings, Stumpenhorst has added Versetta Stone stone siding to achieve a varied look and add a touch of softness to the metal facades. This building is just one example.

RR Buildings, Versetta Stone, outbuildings

A warehouse-like interior accommodates a Crossfit gym, along with a small storage area for the owner’s work truck and professional plumbing equipment. Using post-frame construction with open-span trusses provided not only installation efficiencies but also kept the interior space free of excess load-bearing beams that may have hindered workout equipment. Large rolling doors on the rear provide fresh air to gym-goers in warmer months.

RR Buildings, Versetta Stone, outbuildings

RR Buildings built the structure on a full foundation footing wall to avoid installing posts in the ground. On the exterior, Versetta Stone panelized stone siding in a dark Northern Ash color pops against the white metal cladding for an on-trend look. The stone, dark shutters, and timber frame porch add a touch of residential styling ideal for the building’s location on a family property. 

RR Buildings, Versetta Stone, outbuildings

See more from RR Buildings at https://rrbuildings.com/.


7 Tips to Improve Your Website’s SEO

search engine optimization, website analytics

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

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

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

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

1. TEST THE WEBSITE SPEED

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

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

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

2. ADD VIDEO AND IMAGES

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

3. FIND AND FIX BROKEN LINKS

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

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

4. ANSWER THE QUESTIONS PEOPLE ARE ASKING

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

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

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

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

5. HAVE A STRONG CALL-TO-ACTION

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

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

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

6. DON’T FRET TOO MUCH ABOUT KEYWORDS

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

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

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

7. EARN INCOMING LINKS TO YOUR WEBSITE

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Insights from LBM Journal’s Siding Review

LBM Journal magazine, siding trends

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

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

Siding Market Remains Strong

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

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

Popular Siding Trends Continue

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

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

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

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

Low Maintenance a Must

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

Easy Installation in Demand

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

Virtual Training Takes Off

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

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

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

How to Install Versetta Stone

Versetta Stone installation

Versetta Stone offers the best of both worlds: The beautiful, timeless look of stone along with panelized installation that’s within reach of nearly any contractor or experienced DIYer.

Much like a traditional siding panel, Versetta Stone siding features an integrated nailing flange so it can simply be nailed or screwed into the wall. And unlike regular stone, there’s no need for mortar, scratch coat, or metal lath.

How easy is it to install Versetta Stone? It breaks down into the basic steps below:

  1. Gather your tools: You’ll need a hammer or screw gun, a circular saw, hand grinder, level, chalk line and tape measure, tin snips, brush, small screwdriver, masonry chisel, and a chop saw with continuous diamond turbo blade. You’ll also want to wear safety glasses or goggles, an N-95 mask, gloves, ear plugs or muffs, steel toe boots, and a hard hat.
  2. Estimate materials: Using provided formulas, calculate the area to be covered and how many panels are needed, along with corners, starter strips, and fasteners.
  3. Inspect and prep the area
  4. Mark your starting point and level lines
  5. Install the starter strip and, where needed, J-channel
  6. Install panels:
    • Install panels from the bottom to the top, one row at a time, lapping in a shingle fashion so the tongue seats completely in the groove.
    • Use screws with 3⁄8″ minimum head diameter and ⅛” shank with a length to penetrate the framing at least 1”.
  7. Install universal corners
  8. Install wainscot cap/sill and receptacle/light boxes if needed for the application. Use flashing, metal lath, and adhesive to affix receptable and light boxes.
  9. Clean dust with water and nylon bristle brush

Be sure to follow full manufacturer instructions to install Versetta Stone. For the complete step-by-step guide, download the Versetta Stone Installation Instructions here.

Watch a Versetta Stone wall installation:

Versetta Stone comes in three profiles—Ledgestone, a traditional dry-stack look; Tight-Cut, which features the look of cut-and-fitted stone; and modern Carved Block, offering the look of split-face stone.

Ready to buy Versetta Stone? Find a retailer here. Have installation questions? Contact our customer service department here.

Simple Ways to Spruce Up Your Home With Versetta Stone

Stone is a sought-after material for home exteriors and interiors, thanks to a rich, eye-catching look that’s both beautiful and timeless. And Versetta Stone stone siding, with its panelized format, makes it easier than ever to add the beloved material nearly anywhere inside and outside the home.

Versetta Stone panels install easily with nails or screws—no mortar, scratch coat, or metal lath needed like traditional stone. The installation method is straightforward and approachable, so much so that experienced DIYers can create projects of their own.

Available in three profiles—Ledgestone, a traditional dry-stack look; Tight-Cut, which features the look of cut-and-fitted stone; and modern Carved Block, offering the look of split-face stone—Versetta Stone is well suited to traditional, transitional, and contemporary styles.

Here are a few easy projects to elevate your home using Versetta Stone:

• Bathroom wall: Want to make your master bath even more like a spa? Add warm stone behind the soaking tub for the cozy, rustic feel of a mountain lodge. (See more images from this bathroom here.)

Versetta stone bathroom, manufactured stone

• Mailbox: Wrap your mailbox post for a touch of literal curb appeal.

• Fireplace: The beauty of a stone fireplace is undeniable, but can be pricey. Versetta Stone makes it easier than ever to create that sophisticated look, whether through a simple surround or from floor to ceiling, like Northmade Farmhouse did.

Versetta stone fireplace

• Accent wall: Nothing adds a pop to a home office, living room, or bedroom like an accent wall. Instead of the once-trendy red wall, try adding stone for a fresh take.

Versetta Stone accent wall, Versetta Stone fireplace

• Porch columns: Wrap the bottom portion of porch posts for an instant, welcoming boost. We love this look from Erdmann Exterior Designs in Illinois:

Versetta Stone porch posts, Versetta Stone wall, manufactured stone

• Shed: A ho-hum storage structure can bum out your backyard. Versetta Stone panels can add contrast and interest to this seemingly simple outbuilding or bring pizazz to Cheryl’s she-shed. Oak Lane Structures in Indiana is an expert at elevating sheds with shutters, windows, and stone, as seen here:

Versetta Stone she-shed

• Kitchen backsplash: Tired of tile? Versetta Stone adds a unique twist to the kitchen backsplash. Try Ledgestone in Plum Creek for a traditional feel behind warm wood cabinets, Tight Cut in Northern Ash for a modern backdrop to an all-white kitchen, or blend whites with warm tones as this builder did:

Versetta Stone kitchen backsplash, stone backsplash

• Freestanding bar: Basement bars can feel a bit pedestrian. Add a professional touch by wrapping the bar in Versetta Stone panels.

• Deck accents: Have an awkward wall on your deck? Turn it into stone like this Mid-Century home:

Ready to try Versetta Stone? Find a retailer here.

Cost vs. Report: Manufactured Stone Brings Largest Return on Investment Among Remodeling Projects

Remodeling 2020 Cost vs. Value Report

Remodelers and homeowners seeking the biggest bang for their buck will find it with manufactured stone veneer, according to the Remodeling 2020 Cost vs. Value report.

The annual Cost vs. Value Report examines which remodeling projects deliver the highest perceived return in resale value. In 2020, manufactured stone (such as Boral Building Products’ Versetta Stone), was the retrofit project with the highest ROI at the national level—95.6%, an increase from 94.9% last year. The only other project with an ROI in the 90% range was garage door replacement, coming in second at 94.5%.

The 95.6% ROI for manufactured stone is based on replacing a 300-square-foot continuous band of existing vinyl siding from the bottom third of the street-facing façade with manufactured stone veneer, sills, corners, and address block, along with outlining the entry archway and adding a keystone and a soldier course on either side.

Manufactured stone also offered the highest ROI of all categories in five out of nine regions: Pacific (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California), with a whopping 119.5% return; Mountain (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico), with a 100.0% return; South Atlantic (Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida), at 94.0%; West South Central (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana), at 91.1%; and East North Central (Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio), at 88.0%.

Exterior Facelifts Continue to Deliver

As with the 2019 report, the 2020 Cost vs. Value study found that exterior projects dominated all others, capturing nine of the top 10 spots for ROI. Following manufactured stone and garage door replacement, those projects comprised fiber cement siding replacement, vinyl siding replacement, vinyl window replacement, wood deck addition, wood window replacement, steel entry door replacement, composite deck addition, and asphalt roofing replacement. Only minor kitchen remodels ranked as high, at 77.6%.

“The reason for high returns on exterior projects, and especially façade facelifts, stems from the valuations set by the real estate community,” Remodeling reported. “In order to make the best use of the Cost vs. Value tool, a remodeler has to think like a real estate broker. ‘Curb appeal’ and ‘first impressions’ are central to a real-estate professional’s estimation of resale value. Granted, a home’s exterior will only persuade potential buyers to see more, and first impressions can vary from one individual to the next. But the impact these impressions make is critical in setting the stage for what a buyer is willing to pay for a home.”

To read more analysis and see results, including those broken down to metro area, visit the Remodeling 2020 Cost vs. Value portal on Remodeling’s website.

Cost vs. Value Report note: © 2020 Hanley Wood, LLC. Complete data from the Remodeling 2020 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at www.costvsvalue.com.

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

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