What Awaits the Remodeling Market Into 2023?

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

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

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

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

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

Homeowners Invest in Existing Houses

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

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

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

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

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

SturdiMount Mounting Blocks Make Exterior Details Easy

Sometimes the best finishing touch is the one you don’t realize is there. That’s often the case for SturdiMount® mounting blocks, which provide a strong, smooth mounting surface for easy installation of light fixtures, vents, plugs, address plaques, and more. It’s a detail that is often overlooked but provides for a clean, finished look that makes a dramatic difference in curb appeal.

SturdiMount mounting blocks are designed to blend in, complementing exterior finishes such as fiber cement, engineered wood, brick, stone, or stucco. The blocks are pre-finished and pre-assembled for easy installation in seconds, and can be painted with 100% acrylic paint. Made of cellular PVC, SturdiMount blocks are designed to be tough while requiring little maintenance. And because they come preflashed, they help manage water intrusion where the siding meets the block.

“SturdiMount provides a nice, flat plane you can mount to that you can easily waterproof,” says Jeff Rikard, General Superintendent for Wood Partners East, who installed SturdiMount mounting blocks for porch lights, dryer vents, and back fan vents at the Steele Creek Seniors affordable seniors housing development in Charlotte, N.C. “It helps eliminate long-term maintenance issues, and I intend to use it on all our fiber cement siding projects.”

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

Choose from seven profile options:

Oversized Mount: 8.5″ x 15″, generously sized for coach lights

Receptacle Mount:  6″ x 8.5″, ideal for electrical boxes

Universal Mount: 8.5″ x 11″, suitable for mounting standard lights and dryer vents

Split Mount: 6″ x 8.5″, designed to accommodate water spigots, gas lines, bib lines, and doorbells 

Blanks: Designed for onsite customization, blanks are available in Universal, Oversized, and Receptacle Profiles. They have a pre-cut flange.

• Horizontal Mount: 16″ x 9-1/2″, designed for use with furnace/HVAC applications and house address plaques. The face is uncut for on-site fabrication.

UL Receptacle Mount: 5-3/4″ x 7-1/2″, allows the electrical connection to be made over the house wrap. It is UL rated for light fixtures up to 10 pounds and provides 18 cubic inches of free space—exceeding IRC requirements.

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

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

Often referred to as a nice finishing touch or “icing on the cake,” interior trim & mouldings have historically not gotten the attention and recognition they deserve for pulling a design aesthetic together. But thanks to an increasing number of passionate interior design influencers around the country, everyone from pros to enthusiastic DIYers are beginning to really appreciate the power of trim as an essential element in fully expressing home design.

Defining Every Architectural Style in Every Room

In addition to creating a seamless expression of an individual home’s style, updating interior trim actually increases home value. From base trim to wainscoting to crown mouldings, it’s the tasteful, ornate flourishes of trim and mouldings that depict a Colonial, the bold, simple details that define a Craftsman, and the humble, warm touches that represent a Farmhouse.

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

Cape Cod

Cape Cod interiors exude a cozy warmth and practicality often described as New England charm. Our trim collections vary from subtly geometrical to boldly simple to clean and sophisticated. Areas to consider: transom windows, entry door sidelights, window casings, and dining room picture rails.

Use a Stop, 1×6 Trimboard, 1×4 Trimboard, Stool and Beaded Planking to achieve this look.

Colonial

Colonial home with interior trim

The Colonial home style is defined by a combination of rustic simplicity and rich detail. The symmetry and confident formality of this home style is best expressed by interior trim with a stately presence—everywhere from baseboards up to crown mouldings.

Use a Stop, 1×6 Trimboard, 1×4 Trimboard, Base Cap, Stool, Crown, and Beaded Planking to achieve this look.

Craftsman

Craftsman interior with interior trim

Noted for its honest, handcrafted look, every Craftsman-matching embellishment has a purpose and varies by small degrees of formality. It’s marked by simple, tailored door casings and minimally ornamented window casings.

Use a Craftsman Casing (11/16”x2-¼”), Craftsman Casing (11/16”x5-¼”), Craftsman Casing (11/16”x3-¼”), Craftsman Stool, Square, and Craftsman Base to achieve this look.

Eclectic

Ecelctic interior with interior trim

Eclectic homes take their design cues from a little of each architectural style. Interior trim that fits with this style does the same, adding a layer of ornamentation while retaining a clean formality.

Use a Casing to achieve this look.

Farmhouse

Interior trim that embraces the humble practicality of the Farmhouse home style is represented by cleanly projecting rule lines along the header and side jambs. Flatter rule lines put a contemporary take on this trim style.

Use a Reversible Wainscot Beaded/Nickel Gap, Stop (¾”x1”), 1×2 Trimboard, 1×4 Trimboard, 1×6 Trimboard, Stool, 5/8×6 Trimboard, and a Stop (⅝”x1-½”) to achieve this look.

Modern

Interior trim collections that reflect the Modern home style’s cleanly expansive function and flow range from understated to extroverted. Go the minimalist route and use trim to protect walls and floors from scuff marks and handprints. Amp up a neutral-colored dining room with contrasting and complementary colors. Like light mocha accents over cream-colored walls, for example.

Use a Stop, 1×6 Trimboard, Drip Cap, 1×4 Trimboard, Stool and Reversible Wainscot Beaded/Nickel Gap to achieve this look.

High Style and Low Maintenance

Westlake Royal Building Products Trim and Mouldings come in enough variations to accentuate any home style. And because they’re made from PVC, they’re built to last with minimal maintenance. The trim is ready to cut and install, is dent- and scratch-resistant, and won’t crack, split, or warp.

Stop Selling. Start Solving Homeowners’ Pain Points.

CraneBoard board and batten siding

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

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

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

He recommends the following tactics for more effective selling:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2023 Color of the Year Selections Reflect Life After the Pandemic

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

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

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

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

Benjamin Moore: Raspberry Blush

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

Benjamin Moore 2023 Color of the Year
Photo courtesy Benjamin Moore

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

Sherwin-Williams: Redend Point

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

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

Behr: Blank Canvas

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

Behr 2023 Color of the Year
Photo courtesy Behr

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

PPG: Vining Ivy

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

PPG 2023 Color of the Year
Photo courtesy PPG

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

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

Cedar Renditions: Modern Cedar Meets Low Maintenance

Cedar Renditions aluminum siding

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Cedar Renditions here.

Southern Living Idea House Offers an Escape to Coastal Living

Nestled on a peninsula in the protected waterways of North Carolina’s east coast, the River Dunes master-planned resort community exudes the relaxing ambience of outdoor-oriented living, maritime roots and timeless architecture. So it’s only fitting that the concept of this year’s Southern Living Idea House, recently completed across from the community’s marina, is “The Great Escape.” With a waterfront locale, cozy coastal vibe and ample outdoor space, there’s no question the show home lives up to its name.

With that theme in mind, architect William Court, of Bluffton, S.C.-based Court Atkins Group, designed the home as a getaway—both visually and functionally—for homeowners and guests alike.

Flexible space and multiple structures allow for up to five bedrooms without the main house feeling too large or inefficient. Along with a primary suite and two traditional guest suites, there is a carriage house with a garage and bonus space above that serves dual purpose as an office and a guest bedroom with an en suite bathroom. A third structure functions as an art studio but converts into an additional guest suite when needed.

“The home will work as a getaway property or as a permanent home where extended family can gather,” Court says. “The design allows you to open up spaces as needed for different tasks or when people show up.”

Furthering the home’s effortless accommodations is an abundance of porch space wrapping the main house, including a large two-story porch for the entry and primary bedroom suite as well as an adjacent dining porch. “That gave us extended gathering space,” Court explains. “What you’re creating is not oversize rooms, but pockets of space where people can congregate comfortably.”

The design team used Zuri® Premium Decking on all of the porches and the rear terrace, selecting the Chestnut hue for its natural look and fresh, warm feel.

Along with its exotic wood aesthetics, Zuri composite decking offers scratch and stain resistance, requires little maintenance and comes with a 25-year Colorfastness Warranty, ideal features for a coastal environment prone to high humidity and ample amounts of both intense rain and intense sun. “When maintenance will be an ongoing issue, we want to limit that as much as we can, and Zuri fulfills that need,” says Court.

The architect intentionally kept the porch floors simple, forgoing decorative inlays and patterns while leaving the nosing exposed. “We wanted everything outdoors to feel warm and have some thickness and heft.”

To create a seamless transition from indoors to out, the Idea House features large sliding and French doors with transoms above to let in plenty of daylight. The interior wood flooring is similar in tone to the Chestnut Zuri decking.

Because the home is on a heavily foot-trafficked corner of the walkable community, privacy was top of mind when designing some of the outdoor spaces. Most notable is a rear courtyard created by the three structures; a brick wall, gate and trellis fill in the gaps to create a zone almost entirely invisible from neighboring properties. On the exposed dining porch, a panel of interweaving squares shields guests while adding an extra decorative touch. 

Indeed, the River Dunes community is known for its timeless architectural detail, and the Southern Living Idea house upholds that tradition. The home deftly blends two prominent local styles—historic Lowcountry and nautical. “Our challenge was to capture both of those but also make it current and relevant,” Court says. “Our details are proportionally in keeping with the Lowcountry vernacular—two-story porches, overhangs, exposed rafter tails. But we’ve made them current with a cleaner, streamlined feel.” This includes opting for flush shiplap with mitered corners instead of a more traditional lap siding, overscaled windows and roof overhangs, and simplified brackets.

The result is a home that combines the best of Southern, coastal living in both form and function. The architectural stylings will endure for years to come, while the thoughtful and purposeful design encourages a relaxing lifestyle alongside impeccable hospitality.

Read more about this year’s Southern Living Idea House here.

8 Quick Tips to Work Efficiently

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Tips for Selling Shutters

Selling shutters, exterior shutters

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

Consider these sales strategies to support pros and DIYers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Habitat for Humanity MidOhio home dedication

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

Installing siding on a Habitat for Humanity MidOhio home.

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

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

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

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.)

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

Three new EPDs from Vinyl Siding Institute

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

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

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

Each EPD includes:

• A summary of vinyl siding advantages

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

• A look at vinyl siding’s recyclability

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

• Material elements

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

• Accessible metrics outlining environmental data and life cycle

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

Download the new EPDs from VSI here:

Vinyl siding EPD

Insulated Vinyl Siding EPD

Polypropylene Siding EPD

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

Tips and Trends for Choosing Exterior Colors

Royal Siding and Atlas Stone on farmhouse

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

What Colors Are on Trend?

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

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

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

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

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

Best Practices for Combining Exterior Colors

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avoiding Common Mistakes With Exterior Colors

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Royal® Vinyl Siding Color Combinations guide

Exterior Portfolio® Color Combinations guide

Celect® Cellular Composite Siding Color Combinations guide

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

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

7 Installation Mistakes with Exterior Shutters—and How to Avoid Them

Atlantic Premium Shutters exterior shutters

Exterior shutters are one of the easiest ways to give the home the perfect finishing touch or to freshen up a dated, ho-hum façade. But good-looking shutters don’t just depend on choosing high-quality products. Style selection and installation techniques can play a key role in how the shutters appear—and whether they look authentic.

Here are a few mistakes to avoid when choosing and installing Atlantic Premium Shutters:

Improper Sizing

Even if the shutters will remain fixed, they need to appear as if they properly open and close; the eye can tell the difference even when the shutters are open. This is why shutter size is so important. When specifying a shutter size, don’t replicate the window exactly. We recommend allowing 1/4” on all sides so the shutters will “fit” into the window opening if they were closed.

To properly size the shutters, measure the width of the window opening to where the shutters would close, then deduct 3/4”, then repeat the measurement for the height and deduct 1/2”. This will give you 1/4” on all sides, enough to ensure the shutters close easily with a little left over to accommodate any mistakes.

Improper Shapes

Similarly, square exterior shutters won’t fit into arch-top window openings, so be sure to specify shutters in the same shape as the window. In addition, for round-top shutters, make sure the tops arch away from the window when open so that they would match the shape when closed.

Mismatched Rails

Some may prefer to center the shutters’ horizontal rail within the window. This technique is fine and a matter of preference, but to be historically accurate, you’ll want to measure the shutters so that the mid-rail drops slightly below the window’s meeting rail. In the past, homeowners would raise the window for ventilation but close the shutters, so positioning the mid-rail in this way ensured they could reach the latch or slide bolt to lock the shutters closed.

Misaligned Exterior Shutters

Prior to fully securing the shutters, close them to ensure they sit at an even height. If the window is slightly askew, the shutters may appear uneven. You may need to shim the shutters into the opening before mounting the pintles on the trimboard.

Upside-Down Louvers

A surprisingly common mistake is to hang shutters upside down, particularly louvered shutters. When the shutters are open, the louvers should slope down toward the wall, so that when closed, they would slope away from the window to shed rainwater.

Choosing Improper Hardware for Exterior Shutters

When selecting hardware, take both the shutter style and the home’s cladding into consideration. For example, brick exteriors will require you to attach shutter hardware to the brickmold to ensure the shutter can close fully. How the window sits also comes into play—most windows are recessed, but in some modern styles vinyl windows will protrude past the siding.

Hardware orientation matters, as well. For example, acorn-style holdbacks are designed to sit unseen behind the shutter to lock it in place, making these holdbacks an ideal option for tall shutters to help avoid rattling. S-style or rattail holdbacks go in front and should not be fastened too tightly to avoid marring the shutter finish.

(For more on choosing the right hardware, see our previous blog post.)

If you have any doubts about hardware calculations and sizing, talk to an experienced dealer or your manufacturer’s representative for assistance.

Improper Pintle Placement

The pintle, where the shutter attaches to the house, is typically installed with the pintle pin facing upward to make it easy to set the shutters in place. However, this makes the shutters more prone to blowoff in a storm. Install one pintle pin upside down (either the bottom or the top if there are two, or the middle if there are three) to lock it in place and avoid blowoff.

For more best practices and full instructions for Atlantic Premium Shutters, download the installation guide.

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.

How On-Site Trim Fabrication Can Save Contractors Money

Tapco Tools Brake Buddy

With the cost of materials continuing to be volatile, you may be looking for ways to save money on the jobsite. On-site trim fabrication using a Tapco Tools brake and trim coil can not only provide those savings, but can also be a way to bring in extra money.

Tapco Tools offers a range of brakes suitable for everything from small remodeling shops to commercial projects, helping you achieve a high-quality finish no matter the size of the job. A full line of accessories provides even more versatility.

For example, the Brake Buddy allows you to elevate your on-site trim fabrication with more style and originality, including producing brickmold trim and decorative ribs in just seconds. Suitable for any Tapco Tools portable brake, the Brake Buddy features a measurement guide and quick-twist handle that provide for quick adjustments and simple, efficient operation.

Tapco Tools Brake Buddy
Brake Buddy

For cutting, the Pro Cut Off for Tapco Tools Pro Series brakes provides factory-quality, single-pass cuts of heavy-duty sheet metal, eliminating the need for utility knives and shears. It features an easy-adjust mechanism for versatility and an ergonomic grip for smooth operation.

How Much Can a Brake Save in Material Costs

Crafting your own trim can save up to 36% of the cost of premade trim. Here’s a breakdown:

This spring, the cost of a 6” by 12’ aluminum cedar texture fascia trim from a big box store came to $14.98.

To craft that same fascia in a Tapco Tools brake and the Brake Buddy would cost $9.52 per piece. This includes a 24” by 50” trim coil at $119, which provides 12.5 6” fascia per roll. This results in a savings of $5.46 per piece vs. premade trim.

In addition, bending trim can take place off site and indoors, allowing contractors to work well past dark during winter months or to generate extra income.

Click here to find the right brake for your operation.

How to Achieve Popular Board-and-Batten Siding Looks

One of the biggest go-to trends in exteriors is board-and-batten siding. Due in part to the ongoing popularity of Modern Farmhouse styles, board-and-batten siding brings both charm and a modern edge, allowing some traditional designs to lean a bit more contemporary and fresh.

It’s also versatile: Apply board and batten to the full façade for a true Modern Farmhouse take, or use as an accent on a gable or bump out to add texture and dimension. For a nod to the style without the commitment, consider board-and-batten shutters in a bold color.

Celect Board and Batten Cellular Composite Siding in Carriage Red
Celect Board and Batten Cellular Composite Siding in Carriage Red.

Extensive Board-and-Batten Options

The good news for builders and homeowners alike is that achieving board-and-batten looks is easy and accessible, with a range of options across materials and price points. Many traditional panel siding manufacturers offer board-and-batten profiles, combining authentic looks without the associated maintenance of wood. For example, Exterior Portfolio® Board & Batten vinyl siding features a distinctive vertical pattern profile that conveys the genuine curb appeal of real wood while delivering as a streamlined, contemporary accent. The siding features Chromatix™ technology that helps keep colors from fading. Celect® cellular composite siding offers the look alongside wind resistance up to 210 mph and a Kynar Aquatec coating for enhanced UV protection.

For styles calling for wider or customized spacing than a panel product can provide, it’s easy to create the board-and-batten look with trim, such as TruExterior poly-ash trim, which provides the look of wood alongside high performance and dimensional stability to stand up to extreme weather, ground contact, and insects.

Board-and-batten siding, TruExterior Siding, exterior trends, poly-ash siding
Board and batten siding made with TruExterior poly-ash trim.

Board-and-Batten Installation Considerations

Unlike traditional vinyl and aluminum panel installation, vinyl and aluminum board-and-batten profiles install vertically. Installation instructions may vary from product to product, so be sure to follow manufacturer instructions, including requirements or recommendations for water-resistant barriers. Installers will need to account for some expected expansion and contraction, so the nails should not be driven completely flush.

Pre-planning is important for board-and-batten styles—you can’t just start on one side and go across, otherwise the look may appear off-center or you may end up with a small sliver at the end. Find the wall center and plan your layout accordingly.

Creating Board and Batten Siding With Trim

For wider or custom looks, create the board-and-batten façade using TruExterior Trim. Here’s how:  

• Due to the vertical installation, be sure to use a drainable housewrap between the siding and the wood sheathing to ensure moisture has a pathway to escape the wall cavity.

• Choose 1X, 5/8”, or 5/4” trim thickness. Which one is simply a preference for the homeowner and installer.

• For a traditional board-and-batten look, use 1×12 trimboard as the board and 1×3 trimboard as the batten.

• Find center on the wall and plan your layout to determine if it’s best to start with a batten or a board at that center point; you want to avoid having only a sliver of board when you reach the outer edges.

• Once you’ve chosen center board or center batten, start by installing a board first. If it’s a center board, mark the center of the wall, line up the board, and put it in place using 6D or 8D stainless steel or hot-dipped ring shank nails every 16” (and no less than 3/4” from the board edge) directly into the plywood or OSB.

• Install boards, moving away from center, leaving 3/4” of space between each board.

• After several boards are in place, chalk a single line 7/8” from the edge of the board left or right, which will designate the edge for the batten. This results in a 9-1/2” reveal between each batten.

• Apply a bead of caulk along each side of the batten or under each side of the batten.

• Install the battens using 6D or 8D stainless steel or hot-dipped nails every 16”.

• Repeat the process, moving outward from center.

Keep in mind that paying attention to your layout, and planning it out ahead of time, is important, particularly for small areas like gables. You want the surface to be as symmetrical as possible; if you have uneven board reveals on either side, it will be very noticeable, particularly on smaller surface areas.

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.

Video: How to Make Common Trim Bends on a Tapco Tools Brake

Tapco Tools trim bend

Brakes and saw tables from Tapco Tools offer the utmost precision to create high-quality trim bends for the finished look of custom exterior trim. As the industry leader in premium professional-grade contractor brakes for more than 50 years, our tools and accessories are efficient, durable, portable, and easy to use. Plus, we back it up with robust training and unparalleled customer support.

Here’s a step-by-step look at some of the most common trim bends you can complete on a Tapco Tools brake.

The 4 Most Basic Shapes of Trim Bends:

Some of the most common bends on a brake that can get you nearly anywhere you need to go are hemming an edge, a sill seam, simple (3/4”) step flashing, and tight (1/2”) step flashing.


J-Channel and L-Bends

Making a J-channel on a Tapco brake is straightforward, and creating a window head flashing is a very similar process.

Bending Bay Window Corner Posts

Often, installers will try to stretch a vinyl siding corner at a 22- or 45-degree bay window. Here’s a better solution.

Ready to learn more about trim bends? View more how-to videos on our YouTube channel and click here to find the right brake for your operation.

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.

Inspiration Gallery: Crafting Custom Exterior Trim

One of the many benefits of working with Kleer cellular PVC trim, Royal cellular PVC trim & mouldings, and TruExterior poly-ash trim is that they not only offer lower maintenance and fewer hassles than wood, but also provide authentic looks and similar workability. Depending on the look of your exterior project or outdoor space, the materials can be milled and routed to meet authentic, architecturally correct custom exterior trim.

Here’s a look at some of the ways builders and remodelers have used Kleer, Royal, and TruExterior trim to deliver unique looks alongside long-term performance.

Intricate Details

When it comes to Kleer, Royal, and TruExterior, the limits of workability for custom exterior trim are bound solely by one’s imagination. Nearly any look can be achieved, all with the peace of mind of long-term durability and low maintenance.

For example, TruExterior trim can be fabricated into an array of profiles typical of wood, from crown molding and gingerbread to columns and balusters to custom siding profiles.

DURATION Moulding & Millwork uses TruExterior to craft an array of standard trim profiles, including base cap, casing, quarter round, panel mould, and cove.

Cove moulding crafted from TruExterior by DURATION Moulding & Millwork.

The company also custom-engineers solutions for any need using TruExterior, including balustrades, columns and wraps, arches, and pre-assembled window surrounds.

A pre-assembled window surround made with TruExterior by DURATION Moulding & Millwork.

 

DURATION Moulding & Millwork used TruExterior to recreate Gothic columns, pilasters, decorative scroll work, crown, custom fascia, and dentil fascia, for an 1870s remodel. (See more about this project here.)

Royal Sheet Board is made for specialty projects, cutting cleanly for applications ranging from simple and modern to elegant and ornate.

Fabricators used Royal Sheet Board to craft the unique detailing on this church.

Kleer trim is often used to make pergolas, corners, fascia, soffits, rakes, casings, cornices, and all kinds of other applications.

Kleer trimboard also can be used to create curves and arches using heat-bending techniques.

TruExterior’s workability was ideally suited for a Queen Anne-style home by Architect David Williams McKee in the historic resort community of Chautauqua, N.Y. Using TruExterior for the detail work, including turned porch posts, decorative millwork, brackets, balusters, and gingerbread trim, ensured both an accurate look and high performance.

Cozy Accessories

Both Kleer and TruExterior make it easy to add fun to backyard settings, with easy crafting into chairs, planters, and even cornhole boards.

Kleer Lumber, Adirondack chairs
Kleer Lumber was used to craft these Adirondack chairs.
Balcony planters, brackets, and trim make with Kleer Trim.

TruExterior can be painted any color, including dark hues, and also can be stained. This rustic planter box was made with trim scraps and a custom finish to create the look of old barn wood.

Learn more about the extensive range of trim options from Kleer, Royal, and TruExterior here.

Vinyl Siding: A Surprising Way to Go Green

Exterior Portfolio vinyl siding

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

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

Less Waste

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

Lower Impact

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

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

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

Infographic courtesy Vinyl Siding Institute

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

Recyclable

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

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

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

Longevity

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

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

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

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

3 Tips for Painting Exterior Trim

TruExterior poly-ash siding and trim

The exterior of any home is its first impression, introducing its unique style to any potential buyer or visitor. Peeling, faded, or streaked paint on the trim may evoke feelings of poor quality and can lower the curb appeal. Breathing new life into exterior trim with paint—and ensuring its fresh look lasts—is easy to do if you follow a few simple strategies.  

Whether you’re installing new trim or rehabbing the trim of an existing home, consider these tips for an enduring appearance.

1. Prep the Exterior Trim for Painting

Before you grab a brush and start painting, there’s some essential prep work to do first. Start by taking a close look at all the exterior trim you’re going to paint. Make note of and fix any imperfections and problem areas. For example, if there are spots where old paint is peeling, scrape it off before putting on a fresh coat.

Next, pressure wash the areas you’re going to paint to remove dirt and debris. Be careful not to use too much pressure; if you notice damage to the surface, pull the nozzle farther back. Be sure to power wash every area you expect to paint, even if there’s no visible debris.

For the last stage of prep, fill any holes or gouges in the exterior trim with caulk (make sure the caulk is suitable for exterior applications and for the specific trim material). After you fill the holes, wait for the caulk to dry, and then sand off any excess until it is flush with the rest of the trim.

2. Choose the Right Paint for the Job

Once the trim is prepped, make sure you use a paint that is compatible with the trim material. For example, with Westlake Royal’s Kleer PVC Trim, use an acrylic latex paint for the best results; TruExterior poly-ash siding can be painted with any high-grade exterior paint per the paint manufacturer’s instructions.

Once you’ve figured out what type of paint is needed, the next step is choosing the right color. Selecting a paint color comes down to a number of factors, including the home’s style, current trends, and homeowner preferences. Check out our previous blog post for advice on making confident color choices.

Keep in mind that not all materials are suitable for all colors. For example, vinyl or PVC products painted in dark hues may absorb more heat, causing them to expand and contract. Using urethane construction adhesive along with mechanical fastening may help minimize this for Kleer trimboards. Conversely, TruExterior poly-ash trim, which has a higher level of dimensional stability, can be painted dark hues, even black.

3. Use Proper Exterior Trim Painting Technique

Whenever you dip your brush into the paint, be sure to fully immerse the bristles. This makes the project more efficient and spreads the paint out more evenly. When it’s time to reapply paint to the brush, avoid wiping it along the rim of the can. Instead, tap the brush on the inside of the paint can to lessen the risk of paint drips for a more polished look.

For the best appearance, apply the paint in long single strokes. It’s also a good idea to have a variety of brush sizes ready in case you encounter narrower surfaces or tight spots.

Finally, you’ll want to apply multiple coats to the exterior trim. Wait until the first coat is completely dry, then lightly sand it and begin a second coat.

Have questions about painting Kleer trim or TruExterior trim? Our customer service team is ready to help. Reach them here or by calling 800.521.8486.

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.