Stone sills can be a hassle to install—from propping them up while waiting for mortar to dry to dealing with wasteful breakage. No matter what type of stone you’re installing, Versetta Stone sills can provide a simple solution.
Like Versetta Stone stone siding, Versetta Stone sills feature a panelized format that installs easily with nails or screws—no more holding them in place with mason ties while you wait for the mortar to dry.
Simply follow these steps:
Remove the alignment tab from the bottom of the Versetta Stone sill product with a masonry chisel or hammer.
Apply a layer of mortar to the top of your installed veneer stone with a mortar tube or trowel.
Secure the Versetta Stone sill to the wall with nails or screws, ensuring the bottom of the sill is in full contact with the layer of mortar below. Lap the weather barrier over the flange.
The sills’ simplicity doesn’t mean sacrificing aesthetics. Versetta Stone offers an authentic look and feel in a range of color options—Taupe, Stone Grey, and Charcoal—to perfectly accent your choice of stone veneer. And since Versetta Stone sills come in longer 3’ lengths, there are fewer seams than traditional sills.
Versetta Stone sills measure 36” by 3.5” with a 2.6” exposure and 3” thickness.
Stone Facades Made Easy
Versetta Stone sills offer the same convenience and aesthetics as Versetta Stone stone siding. Along with panelized installation accessible to siding contractors or carpenters, the lightweight stone siding panels feature a tongue-and-groove system for perfect spacing and a built-in rainscreen. The siding carries a Class A fire rating, passes freeze/thaw testing, and is wind resistant up to 110 mph.
Along with sills, Versetta Stone accessories include light and receptacle boxes, J-channels and starter strips, and universal corners. Together, Versetta Stone accessories make it simple to create a fully finished look without extra hassles or wasted time. Every component works as a system with the stone siding panels and is made with the same premium materials and in coordinating styles, colors, and textures.
Click here for more information on Versetta Stone.
When a customer reached out to Boral Building Products and Mid-America Components about finding a matching replacement for her storm-damaged shutters, Brand Manager Trisha Wagner jumped into action. “Those are the moments you live for,” she says. “You’re making a difference in someone’s home.”
When Marc Brahaney, owner of Lasley Brahaney Architecture & Construction, began remodeling his own home, an 1870s Gothic Revival, he knew preserving its unique character would be essential. In an article in a recent issue of The Journal of Light Construction, Brahaney detailed how he meticulously restored the home’s front porch to its original design using TruExterior poly-ash material.
“From the outset, I knew replicating the porch’s original moldings and trim would be a challenge; some of the Gothic-inspired shapes I needed were fairly large and chunky,” Brahaney told the magazine. “Reproducing them from rot-resistant wood (plastic products were not an option) would be difficult and expensive, so I reached out to Keith Coleman of DURATION Moulding & Millwork. Duration specializes in milling and siding from Boral [TruExterior] stock (a poly-ash material resistant to both moisture and termites). … After speaking with Keith, I concluded that milled Boral would be the best product to use, both for durability and to match the home’s unique trim work.”
DURATION crafted numerous elements of the porch using Boral TruExterior, including the columns, pilasters, decorative scroll work, crown, custom fascia, and dentil fascia. DURATION’s expertise in creating historically accurate profiles ensured the house maintained its landmark status while upgrading to a more durable material.
Elsewhere on the home, DURATION Moulding & Millwork also fabricated massive 5- to 6-inch window sills and two-piece casing to replicate the home’s original window trim.
The winter months bring cold temperatures and wet conditions—but typically not a break from work and deadlines. If your job keeps you out in the elements no matter the weather, here are a few pieces of gear that can help keep you comfortable.
High-Vis Rain Gear
Blaklader’s 4312 Hi-Vis rain jacket features a wind- and water-proof polyurethane coating; a high, fleece-lined collar; a storm closure with buttons; welded seams; and a removable, adjustable hood. The jacket’s high-vis yellow body and reflective tape on the body, sleeves, and shoulders ensures visibility.
The M12 Heated Axis Layering System from Milwaukee is designed to withstand the heaviest rain and snow conditions. The M12 Heated Axis jacket provides the primary source of heat; powered by Milwaukee’s M12 RedLithium battery technology, the jacket distributes heat across core body areas. Workers can then layer an outer shell—a Hydrobreak Rain Shell (designed for extreme wet conditions) or a Gridiron Work Shell (designed for extreme cold).
New to Ergodyne’s N-Ferno line of cold-weather gear, this soft-cuffed Beanie Hat includes a bump cap insert for added head protection. The hat is made with 100% soft dry acrylic with 40-gram 3M flex stretch insulation for both warmth and comfort. A zippered compartment holds the removable bump cap.
Ironclad’s Cold Condition Waterproof Gloves are rated to 20 degrees and are guaranteed waterproof. Still, the low-profile gloves offer high dexterity, and their Duraclad reinforcements are eight times more durable than leather, the company says. A cuff puller helps get the gloves into position faster, and reflective stripes provide visibility in low-light conditions.
Made with a blend of polyester and fleece with knit-in channels, 3 Dog Fleece Base Layer pants from Duluth Trading Company provide more warmth without a lot of bulk, along with breathability and moisture wicking. Features include a 1-1/2-inch non-chafing waistband, a seat panel that prevents bunching, and a functional fly.
Boral Building Products has added a reversible Shiplap-Nickel Gap siding profile to its TruExterior Siding & Trim poly-ash line. The new profile comes in two formats: one features smooth Nickel Gap on one side and wood-grain Shiplap on the other; the second has wood-grain Nickel Gap on one side and smooth Shiplap on the other. A rabbeted edge ensures panels fit together perfectly to create the authentic spacing—the tight joint appearance of Shiplap on one side and the nickel-sized space of Nickel Gap on the other.
contractors could select TruExterior profiles in non-reversible smooth or
wood-grain Shiplap and in smooth Nickel Gap. The addition of textured Nickel
Gap answers growing customer demand for wood-grain options. What’s more, the
reversible format combines with four different widths and two standard lengths to
offer 16 profile combinations. This means dealers can stock fewer SKUs while
builders can design more varied streetscapes with a single panel.
reversible Shiplap-Nickel Gap profile makes it easy for builders and remodelers
to create beautiful, on-trend exteriors that are both eye-catching and high
performing for a look that truly stands the test of time,” says Ben Drury,
Brand Manager for Boral Building Products.
TruExterior Siding, the new profile is made with Boral’s proprietary blend of
polymers and fly ash, which provides for a high level of dimensional stability
for reduced expansion and contraction, and durability for resistance to
warping, cracking, and splitting. As a result, the siding requires no sealing
of ends or cuts in the field, it can be used in ground-contact applications,
and it can be painted any color, including dark hues.
Nickel Gap are part of TruExterior’s Craftsman Collection, which comprises six
historically and architecturally accurate profiles that replicate the look and
feel of traditional wood siding. The panels cut and install with traditional
tools and offer workability similar to wood.
Shiplap-Nickel Gap profile comes in 4-, 6-, 8-, and 10-inch widths.
When the Dokken family decided they needed a larger home for their growing kids, Trisha Dokken knew she was going to buck the style trends of her Minnesota locale and opt for the modern farmhouse she had craved for some time.
Dokken worked closely with her builder, Nate Moran of KLS Construction, to select the products and design elements that would achieve the look she desired. The result is a cozy-yet-fresh interplay of white shiplap, weathered woods, crisp stone, and striking blacks.
On the exterior, Dokken’s vision comes to life with white board-and-batten siding and black-framed Marvin windows. Moran introduced his client to Versetta Stone, having used the product, which installs with nails or screws like traditional panel siding, on a previous project. Dokken liked the look and chose the Ledgestone profile in the Mission Point colorway, whose white-gray tones coordinated perfectly with the siding.
Along with the posts and garage, the builder wrapped the lower half of the entire house with the stone siding; because the home backs up to a golf course, the couple felt it was important to ensure the rear aesthetic was as pleasing as the front.
Inside, Moran used the same Ledgestone to create the two-story fireplace, mirroring the exterior while breaking up the shiplap on the walls. A hand-poured concrete hearth and salvaged-wood mantel complete the look.
“The fireplace worked out really well,” Dokken says. “The craftsmanship is great; no one can tell its faux stone. It really did make the fireplace the centerpiece of the room.”
Salvaged wood and local sourcing were key components throughout the house. The interior shiplap was made with real pine by a local sawmill; in the bonus room, four handmade bunks are built into the wall with weathered oak shiplap. A local craftsman handmade the barn doors with reclaimed barn wood, and the exquisite stair rails were locally hand-welded. Dokken’s co-worker made the double vanity in the master bedroom with red pine and a white oak top; layered finishes and burnishing helped create a weathered, rustic look.
Black accents in nearly every room, from the gridded shower door to pendant and vanity lights to cabinet hardware, contrast perfectly with the white and wood that otherwise dominate the modern farmhouse décor.
Though the home is less than two years old, the design decisions lend a decidedly vintage feel. “When you come in you get the feeling you’re being taken back to a simpler, quieter time,” Dokken says.
Like any good historic restoration project, the recently remodeled Old South Church in Boston doesn’t look refurbished—it looks like it did in 1836, just without the signs of age. But while the materials and details appear the same, some of them are much more modern and durable.
DURATION Moulding & Millwork is partially to thank for that. The company supplied numerous moulding and millwork pieces for the rehab, meticulously crafting each piece, including quoins, crown, and beaded casing, to replicate what it would replace. The only difference is that the pieces were crafted with TruExterior, Boral Building Products’ proprietary siding and trim made with poly-ash.
A blend of
polymers and recycled fly ash, TruExterior offers a look and workability nearly
identical to wood, so much so that it can be used for historic restoration
projects where manmade materials are often shunned. But unlike wood, it provides
a higher level of dimensional stability to reduce expansion and contraction and
resist warping, cracking, and splitting.
The church is one of hundreds of projects DURATION Millwork has supplied with custom molding and trim milled from TruExterior. The company began testing the product when it was first introduced, and soon after began offering 18 common profiles to its distributor network. Today, DURATION manufactures with the poly-ash material exclusively and provides not only numerous standard options but extensive custom capabilities.
“The product really combines the best attributes of the three major categories—wood, PVC, and fiber cement. You get the best of all three without any of the downsides,” says DURATION Moulding & Millwork President and CEO Keith Coleman, pointing to TruExterior advantages such as resistance to rotting and decay, the ability to be painted darker colors, and the allowance for installation in contact with the ground, cement, or metal roofing. “It’s the Holy Grail of exterior moulding products—will it last and will it look like wood. And when you combine those two things, that’s when you know you’ve got it.”
Custom Moulding & Millwork Capabilities
Over the years, DURATION has become very nimble in what it is able to offer—and how quickly. Custom pieces range from detailed crown moulding to robust porch columns to 7-inch beveled siding.
“If someone wants 12 feet of moulding to match a historic profile, we’ll do it. We’re not shying away from anything like that,” he says. “We want to be known for addressing the need for this product where suitable. If it’s suitable for a trim, we’re going to produce it.
we’re a single source and have full autonomy, if a distributor calls today and
says we need 200 pieces of DSC 009, I can walk out there and have the guys set
up and start running in three or four hours to have it ready by tomorrow,”
Coleman adds. “We can pretty much turn on a dime.”
Coleman also has a full-time AutoCAD expert on staff, which helps the team problem-solve for customers. For example, architect Glen Fries approached DURATION for the best way to clad a circular garage with vertical trim. Using the radius of the building, DURATION calculated the maximum width of shiplap it could produce to wrap the garage exterior while maintaining the round shape and avoiding looking segmented.
The main house also includes DURATION’s pre-fab corners, in which they cut the siding at a 45-degree angle and create a miter that locks the corner into place, ensuring that it won’t open up down the road. The corner combines with TruExterior’s standard horizontal Nickel Gap siding for a cool, continuous look wrapping the main house and coordinating with the garage.
Here’s a look at a few more projects demonstrating the breadth of capabilities of both DURATION Moulding & Millwork and TruExterior Siding & Trim:
For this retail shop in New Hope, Penn., DURATION Moulding & Millwork used its “wide” sheet good material. “Very few products could be painted this color and perform as needed,” Coleman says. Elsewhere, the shop features vertically installed TruExterior Shiplap siding.
DURATION milled TruExterior for nearly the entire exterior of this home, including custom brackets, shutters, columns, soffit, fascia, and window trim.
This home under construction in Kiawah Island, S.C., features custom shiplap siding, custom show sills, radius crown moulding, custom window casing with back band, and custom “thumbnail” beveled siding. DURATION crafted all of the pieces with TruExterior.
DURATION recently added this cove moulding to its standard profile offerings. This batch, the company says, is headed to “the happiest place on earth” in Florida.
The Versetta Stone family of stone siding panels is expanding with new Northern Ash, the line’s darkest color yet. A bold, dramatic look, Northern Ash is ideal for meeting today’s demand for dark colors and accent options for the exterior.
Versetta Stone siding panels provide the beauty and texture of authentic stone masonry without the added skill and time required for installation.
blends near-black and dark gray stones with subtle taupe and light gray
undertones, creating a visual texture and a varied aesthetic across the façade.
The new color is available with Versetta Stone’s Ledgestone and Tight-Cut
profiles; Ledgestone offers a traditional dry-stack look, while Tight-Cut
features the look of cut-and-fitted stone.
customers are requesting more options for darker accents, and Northern Ash
answers that call. The stone siding offers a bold look ideal for half walls,
columns, and nearly any other application, and works well in combination with
both light and dark hues elsewhere on the façade,” says Ben Drury, Brand
Manager for Boral Building Products. “And with Versetta Stone’s straightforward
panelized installation, it’s easy for traditional carpenters and siding
contractors to achieve this trendy look.”
mortarless panels install easily with nails or screws with no scratch coat or
metal lath needed, and they feature an integrated moisture management system; they
do not require additional footings for support. The stone siding carries a
Class A fire resistance rating, is wind resistant up to 110 mph, and passes
freeze/thaw testing. Coordinating accessories are available, including starter
strips, sills, and receptacle boxes. For more information, visit www.versettastone.com.
the quintessential American front porch and a few images likely spring to mind:
a rocking chair or swing, bright white railings and columns, cozy-under-foot
flooring, flag flapping in the wind. And, of course, a detailed beadboard
left bright white or painted a color complementary to the rest of the exterior,
beadboard offers a traditional style while ensuring a complete look. And the
look is easier than ever to pull off, thanks to high-performance materials that
mimic wood but save on maintenance.
Here are a
few ways contractors are using beadboard:
The architect for this Queen Anne-style home at Chautauqua Institution in New York included exquisite molding detail, including this beadboard porch ceiling made with TruExterior.
TruExterior Beadboard is made with the same proprietary poly-ash material as our trim and siding, providing an authentic appearance but without concerns about rot or insects. It comes primed and ready to paint—even dark colors. Single (4” or 6”) and double (8” and 12”) boards are available.
Kleer Lumber’s dirt resistance helps ensure the pristine white finish looks stellar for years to come. The white-on-white trim details shown here are the perfect complement to the home’s traditional brick façade.
Made with cellular PVC, Kleer Beaded Boards come in a reversible (smooth or wood-grain) bright white color and boast clean, crisp lines for an authentic look. Choose from 4×8 KLEERBeed sheets, featuring tongue-and-groove for a finished edge; KLEERLok beaded board in 4” and 6” widths, with a shiplap nailing flange that increases installation speeds; or Edge & Center beadboard for a traditional profile. The products offer moisture resistance ideal for outdoor settings as well as wet interior applications like bathrooms.
TruExterior beadboard, shown here in robin’s egg blue on a porch in West Palm Beach, Fla., comes primed and ready to paint. The material’s superior dimensional stability allows for use with dark colors.
traditional look of wainscoting without concern about how daily steam showers
may take their toll? Kleer’s PVC material withstands moisture, makes it an
ideal option for bathrooms and other wet indoor spaces.
offers workability similar to wood, allowing for straightforward cuts in the
field. What’s more, installers don’t need to worry about sealing edges and end
With consistency from board to board and availability in large sheets, Kleer beaded boards are ideal for large applications, such as this deck ceiling by California Deck Pros.
Danz, President of Boston Exterior Remodeling, being a contractor has always
been about the heart. From his first introductions to carpentry watching This
Old House to his star-powered turn on social media today, Danz developed a
passion at an early age that drives him not just to go to work, but to love
that work and commit to it wholeheartedly.
industry where you put as much effort in as you get out,” Danz says. “I was
really drawn to that. I still am.”
We asked the Massachusetts remodeler, who manages a crew of 35 and about four to five projects at any given time, to weigh in on what keeps him motivated—and why Instagram is a contractor’s best friend.
• On hiring well: Danz draws inspiration from his hard-working crews. “I love the guys that work for me,” he says. “It amazes me every single job how good they come out. I challenge them, and they come out with an end product that surpasses what we were originally expecting.”
• On embracing your social side: Danz has become something of a star on Instagram, telling stories, showcasing his company’s work, and connecting with manufacturers. “Instagram really has changed the platform, how contractors in real time can show their work, show problem solving, show products,” the remodeler says. “People are really receptive to that because they enjoy content. Homeowners can see our page and know we’re serious about what we’re doing, that we’re craftsmen, that we take pride in what we’re doing.”
For those just starting out on social, Danz encourages a jump-in-and-stick-with-it approach. “It doesn’t matter how many followers you have or how many likes you get,” he advises. “You just want to show your company in a good way. If you do that and stay with it, you’ll get noticed. It does validate your company.”
• On putting quality first: Since the beginning, Danz has sought to keep quality high. “I’m always afraid someone would notice poor quality. And if a homeowner doesn’t see it, a contractor will,” he says. “We never wanted to be that company that didn’t do anything one hundred percent to the best of our abilities and with the best products we could find.”
One of the ways Boston Exterior pulls this off is in the products they choose. In particular, Danz says, he seeks out engineered materials that don’t look engineered. “We need to keep the authenticity of our products high,” Danz explains. “The engineered shingle from Grayne is by far the most realistic pure composite I’ve ever worked with.”
• On letting good products guide your style: A Northeast remodeler, Boston Exterior Remodeling naturally does a lot of Victorians, Craftsmans, and Colonials. But his love of certain products has led to a distinctive style all their own. “Ultimately, we’ve done so many houses using Grayne engineered siding, Kleer trim, and Versetta Stone, it gives our houses a look,” Danz says. “You can basically drive by a home and recognize it as my company. I hear that our houses have a look to them.”
• On loving the job: One of the reasons Boston Exterior Remodeling thrives is because there’s a true love of the work—so much so they try not to label it as such. “I enjoy craftsmanship and I enjoy watching people make my designs and ideas come alive,” Danz says. “When you have four or five projects going, there’s always progress, every day is new. Being in a job like this keeps things fresh and interesting. I’m lucky to be in it.”
Perhaps not surprising to anyone active in the housing industry, outdoor living continues to dominate as one of the most sought-after features of home exteriors.
Outdoor Living Spaces Remain Popular
In AIA’s Q2 2019 Home Design Trends survey, released in late June, 68% of architects said interest in outdoor living space among their clients is increasing, up slightly from 67% in 2018. The upward trend includes the blending of spaces, of which interest rose 5 percentage points to 57% in 2019.
this year, in the association’s Q1 survey, architects indicated outdoor
kitchens also continue to remain popular, with 49% reporting increasing
interest in those spaces versus 45% in 2018.
craving more outdoor space, lot sizes appear headed down, with -28% of survey
respondents reporting an increase in lot size for 2019.
Home Sizes Shrinking
According to architects, overall home size is on the decline, with a -8% differential between designers reporting increasing vs. decreasing, a drop from 7% in 2016. However, there’s a distinct difference when broken down by home type: the survey found a 15% differential of architects saying size for custom and luxury homes is increasing, while -31% indicated the same for entry-level/affordable homes.
On a more
unexpected note, demand for open floor plans declined from 56% in 2018 to 45%
this year. Single-floor living, however, remained relatively steady around 50%.
Late last year, AIA’s Q3 poll on other exterior trends found durability and low maintenance the No. 1 popular feature, with 60% of architects reporting increasing interest. This trend is ideally suited to a number of Boral products, including TruExterior Siding & Trim, which offers the look and authenticity of wood with long-lasting durability resulting in minimal regular maintenance, and Grayne engineered composite shingles, featuring the warmth of real cedar with no painting or staining required.
in that quarter’s survey, architects pinpointed Contemporary home styles as the
most popular, with 41% of respondents indicating increasing interest.
Among the most popular neighborhood and community features were infill development (63%), higher-density development (56%), an increase in tear-down projects (55%), and mixed-use facilities (54%).
To see the
full AIA Home Design Trends survey, including an archive of previous quarterly
results, click here.
lifestyle blogger Maggie Kern bought her 1960s ranch home in Charlotte, N.C.,
its old red-orange brick and rotting teal shutters simply didn’t suit her
style. “I like everything clean and simple with a Boho flair to it,” she says.
With an active toddler underfoot, Kern needed a fast, easy fix that better fit
her aesthetic. To freshen up the façade, she paired new shutters and paint in a
A Clean Slate To create a light, modern underlay, Kern, the blogger behind Polished Closets, first had the home’s entire exterior painted white. “With a white background, you can change up the accessories to keep a simple feel with added interest,” she says. Classic black dresses up the ironwork and gutters while also creating contrast. The deep emerald green of the front door was inspired by the color of her grandmother’s door when she was growing up.
tried-and-true Southerner, Kern wanted shutters both to keep to the local
architectural aesthetic and to infuse a pop of personality. “I think shutters
add a cool design detail to any house—they can really change the look and
feel,” she says.
most of their neighbors had open-louver or raised-panel styles, she and her
husband, Neil, chose pre-colored Vantage board-and-batten shutters with spacing. “It’s
fun to peek through the boards and see the [home’s] paint underneath,” Kern says.
Made of easy-care PVC with a wood-grain effect, the shutters shouldn’t crack, peel, or fade. “I already have too many things to maintain in my life—this is one less thing to worry about,” she says.
Painless Process From start to finish, the work took a week. Professional painters from Beyond the Paint in Waxhaw spent three days prepping and painting the exterior. The next Saturday, Kern had the shutter company help with the shutters, though she was able to do most of the installation herself.
shutters were surprisingly lightweight, Kern lifted them into place to align
with the brickwork. She then drilled holes through the shutters and into the
mortar between the bricks, hammered in matching fasteners, and hung the shutters. “It was so easy,”
she says. Putting up nine sets of shutters took just a few hours.
Seamless Style Throughout Inside the home, black accents, flashes of emerald, and a clean, airy white palette happily harmonize with the exterior. “It looks nice and clean and modern outside, then you walk in and it feels the same,” Kern says. Warm wooden furniture beckons people to sit a spell, cats Gracie and Olive lounge lazily in sunny spots, and tall plants wave their fronds pleasantly at guests.
The End Result These days the house presents a crisp and cheerful face to the street. “It now makes a good first impression,” Kern says. The paint gleams and, thanks to their durable material, the shutters still look bright. “It’s always the details that make a whole look come together. And the shutters were the perfect finishing touch.”
A home is a compilation of hundreds of decisions and thousands of products. So when it comes to the exterior, dealers that focus sales approaches on the whole cohesive package—and showing builders, remodelers, and their homeowners what those packages look like—may improve opportunities to increase upgrades, boost efficiencies, and further satisfy customers.
Here are a
few factors to consider:
Instill buyer confidence: When the exterior is sold as a
package, buyers can see what they’re getting as a whole and how it works
together, rather than a sum of individual parts. Builders can send buyers to your
store to view available products in combination, which is less overwhelming
than choosing siding, then trim, then windows. They can get a vision for what
the finished product will look like on their home and likely feel better about
their decision. This in turn may help reduce change orders down the road that
can create hassles for both you and the contractor.
Keep business in-house: Consulting with your manufacturer partners about what you sell versus what more they can provide may help fill gaps in your product offering. For example, stone has historically been a material most dealers do not offer, but Versetta Stone stone siding, which installs like traditional panel siding, offers the opportunity to keep that stone business in house. And by incorporating those products into a systems approach to selling, you can sell the builder on trying that new siding to ensure a cohesive look and to meet buyer demand for multi-textured facades.
Better-looking exteriors: Considering the full façade and thinking of the whole palette collectively may help create more varied, engaging streetscapes and avoid cookie-cutter looks. It also allows for visualization and experimentation with on-trend colors, texture blending, and materials using stocked products.
More upgrades: Similarly, if buyers can see the
possibilities of how different products blend on their home, it’s likely they
might fall in love with the look—and the upgrades used to make that look—even
if it means upping their budget.
Single source: Though portfolios can be created
across manufacturers, selling multiple lines from a single manufacturer or
brand can add economies of scale because you’re working with the same rep, the
same contacts for the PO, and a familiar process. This also means it’s easier
to expand to additional product lines, with less paperwork or hoops to jump
through at the beginning. In addition, contractors may be more willing to try
something new if it’s from a company they already know, use, and trust.
Promoting Exterior Packages The easiest way to focus selling on the whole façade instead of one-off product selection is to create packages that are easy to choose from and customize. Here are a few ways to do that:
Develop product palettes: Collaborate with your manufacturers to create product portfolios of coordinated product lines and colors that can be sold as is, with stock modifications, or with upgrades. Coordinate this process between different manufacturers, such as your siding/trim supplier and your window vendor, to ensure cohesive looks and material compatibility.
Inspire customers: Showcase those palettes and
portfolios in a way that reveals how end products will look on the home,
whether via simple binders with images, glossy lookbooks, wall vignettes, or inspiration boards. This makes
it easy for them to choose an overall look they want instead of trying to
visualize and piece together individual parts.
Leverage software: Our Virtual Remodeler tool allows homeowners to select the siding, trim, shutters, and stone, and then see how the combinations will look on their homes. Once a group of products is chosen, the dealer often can get a material list for easy ordering.
With so many moving parts, it’s easy for the product selection process to become stressful for customers, pro and consumer alike. Considering exterior packages collectively, rather than a sum of parts, can ease the process while offering direct benefits to your bottom line.
is a low-maintenance alternative to wood. But not all PVC trim is created
equal. Over time, some PVC trim products will collect dirt in the edges,
leading to a grimy, gray, aged look that can dull the exterior façade.
Lumber is different. Kleer trimboards feature TruEDGE technology—smoother edges
that help the boards resist dirt and, when they do get dirty, make them easier
to clean. The result is brilliant white trim that looks great for the long
But don’t take our word for it. Check out this video, in which we put Kleer trim and two other PVC trim brands through a dirt intrusion test to see how they stack up:
As you can
see, dirt doesn’t permanently embed itself into the edges of Kleer trimboards,
ensuring easier cleaning and a more beautiful finish compared to other PVC trim
Kleer trimboards also contain UV inhibitors to prevent yellowing, so no painting is required to maintain the original white appearance. Not interested in white? Kleer trim can be painted easily with 100% acrylic latex paint.
ensure Kleer trimboards maintain their pristine appearance, they’re wrapped and
shipped in KleerPaks. With KleerPaks, dealers can sell smaller quantities
without leaving the remaining stock exposed in the lumberyard or warehouse, and
builders and remodelers can use the boards they need on the jobsite without
worrying about the rest of their product getting scuffed, dinged, or dirty.
trimboards come in eight widths and in lengths up to 20 feet. And while it
offers the look of wood, Kleer trim is resistant to splitting, warping, and
checking; it’s straight with no need for culling the pile; and it resists
extreme weather conditions.
One of the hottest trends in exteriors right now is mixed-texture façades, in which stone, varying colors and textures of siding, and trim combine to create unique looks that set homes apart, highlight key features, and vary the streetscape.
With multiple brands under one portfolio, Boral Building Products makes it easy to mix and match cladding and trim to create one-of-a-kind exteriors that stand out while also standing the test of time. Even better, you can see what the home will look like before making a commitment with our new Virtual Remodeler tool. Simply upload a photo of the house, or use a similar home from our image gallery, select products and colors from Boral’s collection of brands, and get a real-time view of how the home will look. Give it a try here.
Looking for inspiration? Here are a few ways builders, remodelers, and designers are blending textures to create one-of-a-kind exterior facades:
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.
A small section of light-gray stone, along with the juxtaposition of horizontal and vertical TruExterior siding, give this L-shaped home a unique pop for a modern take on the popular Farmhouse look.
Combining Versetta Stone and Grayne engineered siding with a unique porch roof adds visual interest to this seemingly simple, smaller home.
Bumpout accents with TruExterior siding and stone block set this home apart from the plain stucco next door.
Foundry siding combines with rich stone and gable accents to evoke a cozy vibe.
Vertical and horizontal TruExterior siding, along with cedar-like shakes, create a visual feast across this all-white exterior.
Versetta Stone in the Ledgestone profile plays both a primary and secondary role in this exterior by Canadian Stone Interiors.
Shutters were originally used to protect homes from harsh elements or provide shade. Today, they are more commonly installed as an accent, to add color to exteriors and increase curb appeal. This shift from functional to decorative use has diminished the authenticity of many home designs, leaving many to wonder: Which shutters capture the authentic look of popular home styles?
Here are a few guidelines to consider:
Craftsman The appeal of Craftsman-style homes is that they can be customized to create truly one-of-a-kind designs. These homes take pride in their high quality and craftsmanship, but also have a humble simplicity with clean lines and timeless architectural details. Craftsman-style homes have experienced a resurgence because of their versatility and emphasis on quality.
Although Shaker shutters are one of the most frequently used styles for Craftsman homes, this type of home works with virtually any shutter style. Board-and-batten shutter designs are popular for exteriors that have more rustic details, while flat and raised panel options offer a clean look similar to the Shaker style.
Urban Farmhouse With its down-to-earth comfort, the Farmhouse style is regaining popularity among homeowners who seek the charm of country style with modern touches. These homes often feature wraparound porches, vertical siding similar to barn house siding, and minimalist design features. Shutters add an interesting architectural detail on an otherwise simple exterior.
Board-and-batten shutters capture an authentic Farmhouse style and create an inviting country exterior. They have a range of style options, including spaced or joined boards, and two or three cross battens. For a less rustic take on the Farmhouse style, louvered shutters are another popular option due to their versatile, traditional design.
Colonial A true American classic, Colonial homes reflect the earliest home styles of the first European settlers. These homes feature square, symmetrical designs with refined, formal details like dentil moulding.
Traditional Colonial shutter styles vary across regions due to differences
in climate. Colonial homes in the north are often equipped with paneled
shutters, which were originally used as a defense against harsh elements like
wind and snow in the New England region.
Southern Colonial homes, on the other hand, typically feature louvered shutters. The angled slats of louvered shutters helped keep the interior of the home cool by blocking sunlight while allowing airflow. Many Southern regions, such as Charleston, S.C., honor the traditional design and feature classic louvered shutters, both in paneled louvered and full-length styles.
Cape Cod Inspired by New England Colonial style designs, Cape Cod homes feature clean, symmetrical designs and dormers. However, these home styles are less formal and have cozier, more cottage-like floor plans and exteriors.
Homeowners can achieve an authentic Cape Cod design with any
shutter style. These homes often feature raised panel, louvered, and board-and-batten
shutters. Still, many homeowners are shifting toward paneled shutters because
they do not collect dirt as easily as other styles and are less susceptible to
nuisances like insect nests.
Atlantic and Mid-America shutters are designed with authenticity in mind, with architecturally accurate designs and more depth and dimension. View the full line of Mid-America shutters and Atlantic shutters to capture the right look.
Stone is a sought-after material for exteriors, but its rich texture is also an ideal option for injecting cozy warmth into interior spaces. Case in point: Debbie Merica’s spa-like bathroom, where a Versetta Stone stone siding accent wall provides the perfect backdrop for her luxury soaking tub.
Versetta Stone siding wasn’t always in the plan. The focal point of the room is by far the ample tub designed to accommodate Merica’s 6-foot-4 husband. “Once I picked it out, I told him we had to do something awesome with the wall behind it,” she says. “Having just plain drywall there was going to look boring.”
Merica reached out to her boss at Jenkins Lumber & Hardware, owner Dave Jenkins, for ideas. He suggested using rock, and Merica quickly thought of Versetta Stone. A call with Jenkins’ distributor, Boise Cascade, confirmed that it was suitable for use in a bathroom environment. Next up: convincing her husband, who was swayed after seeing its straightforward installation in a YouTube video.
Indeed, Versetta Stone’s mortarless, panelized format makes it easier and less messy for indoor installations, including in tight spaces like a bathroom. The panels install with nails or screws and feature a tongue-and-groove profile that ensures proper spacing. The lightweight aggregate makeup helps reduce installer fatigue.
Merica chose the Ledgestone profile, which offers a traditional look of narrow, dry-stack stones; combined with the rich Plum Creek color, the stone expertly complements the bathroom’s rustic vibe alongside the knotty wide-plank wood floors, earthy-tone walls, deep red accents, and wood console table.
“It turned out amazing. All my family and friends love it,” Merica says. “We plan on using it in other areas of our house as we do more remodeling.”
Along with bathrooms, Versetta Stone makes a great accent in bedrooms, family rooms, under bars, wine cellars, and around fireplaces. Check out our Idea Gallery for inspiration.
When used well, bold colors can add a tasteful pop of life to a home’s exterior. When used poorly, you can end up attracting negative attention.
Here are five tips from Trisha Wagner, senior product manager and an authority on color at Boral Building Products, to ensure your use of bold is gorgeous, not gaudy.
1. The best place for bold color is in a home’s decorative details
While it always depends on the house, bold colors are generally best used in a home’s accents, such as the shutters and front door. It’s one of the fastest ways to have a large impact and can completely transform a home’s look and feel. Even better, these details are often the easiest—and most affordable—to change later with either a fresh coat of paint or replacement.
2. Remember to coordinate One of the first things to consider when picking bold accents is the home’s siding color. You want to select accent colors, such as on the trim, shutters, and front door, that work well with the siding, so consult the color wheel for reference. As explained on Color Matters, “color harmony” can be achieved by choosing analogous colors (three colors side by side on the wheel) or complementary colors (directly opposite each other on the wheel). This can be especially helpful in moving beyond traditional colors. For example, instead of the typical pale yellow, try a deep maize yellow paired with red, coral, or cobalt accents.
3. Pay attention to the entire home exterior The front of the home isn’t the only area people see. Don’t forget to decorate the back and sides of a house, particularly since outdoor living is more important to buyers than ever before. A bare side or rear home exterior looks and feels unfinished; shutters and accents on these walls will add dimension and complete the look.
4. Find what works for you If clients are uncertain about incorporating bolder colors, encourage them to experiment with different tones before making their final selection. If a home’s style doesn’t support shutters, consider using just a bold trim color. You can also soften a home’s look by pairing white or cream trim with one or two bold accents. For a less-permanent option, incorporate bold colors into the landscape design, such as bright-red or -purple flowers and plants, a jewel-toned bird bath, or even a painted fence.
5. Don’t discount the power of white In the sea of tans and beiges that dominate today’s exteriors, white becomes a stark contrast that is a bold choice in and of itself. A crisp white trim against a richer-toned cladding is eye-catching and stands out from homes with cream accents.
The look of mitered corners never goes out of style: The continuous line around the house delivers a professional, finished appearance, and the overall classic look appeals to American homeowners’ love of historic, timeless exterior facades.
But mitered corners have also always been a challenge when it comes to siding installation. It’s a tough application to master even with wood, and it is extremely difficult to pull off with some fiber cement products. Fiber cement offers a 5/16” lap, which doesn’t leave much material to work with and creates a difficult angle to boot. And some material is simply too brittle for the application.
Mitered Corners with TruExterior
TruExterior Siding, on the other hand, is an ideal option for creating mitered corners. Because it boasts a similar workability to wood, TruExterior can be cut on angles using the same techniques. Unlike fiber cement, TruExterior siding sits flat against the wall, so installers can measure to the corner of the wall, set the saw at 45 degrees, and not worry about other calculations or accommodations.
Made with a proprietary blend of polymers and fly ash, TruExterior Siding also offers benefits over wood products for mitered corner applications: Because wood is prone to shrinkage after installation, it may start to gap and require more gluing and pinning. TruExterior Siding is more dimensionally stable and less prone to movement, so it’s easier to put up and can be trusted to stay put without unsightly gaps. In addition, TruExterior does not require sealing of end cuts in the field, further speeding up installation time.
As with all mitered applications, a level playing field is essential. Take your time during installation to keep each row of siding straight and level to ensure corners don’t look crooked or otherwise off-kilter.
The numbers are in: The 75th annual International Builders’ Show marked its largest draw in a decade, with more than 67,000 attendees. Combined with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, collectively referred to as Design & Construction Week, more than 100,000 people flocked to Las Vegas Feb. 19-21. We felt the enthusiasm at the Boral booth, where a steady flow of builders, remodelers, and designers were eager to get inspired, learn about products and trends, and gather new strategies to positively impact their business.
Couldn’t make it to the show? Here is just a handful of the noteworthy trends and products.
Dark colors: The preference for dark colors has been building for the last few years, and that was clear at nearly every exterior product manufacturer’s booth, from black window frames to rich brown trim to deep blue siding panels. If you’re loving this trend, too, check out TruExterior® Siding & Trim, whose superior dimensional stability makes it an ideal choice for darker hues.
Smooth siding: Even with the push for authenticity, smooth siding was prominent in many displays. In fact, we saw many instances of contemporary panels and traditional wood grain siding used in combination.
Industry Experts Weigh In
As usual, journalists from around the industry were out in force at the Builders’ Show reporting on the latest trends and new products. A few of the highlights:
Professional Builder: The New American Home
Always a show-stopper, this year’s demonstration home boasts jaw-dropping views and an outdoor living area that rivals Sin City’s hottest rooftop bars.
New From Boral
Boral Building Products showcased our breadth of exterior products at the Builders’ Show, including several new options to spruce up your facades:
Virtual Remodeler: This online home design tool makes it easy for contractors and homeowners alike to create eye-catching exteriors. Users simply upload a photo of their home (or choose one from an online gallery) and then select from Boral’s siding, trim, and shutter lines to update the image in real time. Color Harmony palettes are available to further simplify the process. Learn more about the Virtual Remodeler here.
Versetta Stone Carved Block: We’re giving our popular stone siding a contemporary edge with this new larger-format profile that’s reminiscent of split-face stone. Carved Block features the same easy-to-install format pros love: simply nail or screw the panels to the wall—no mortar required. Choose from dark gray Midnight or creamy Sea Salt. Click here to learn more.
Kleer Lumber 10” Post Wraps: Our KLEERWrap cellular PVC post wraps, which conceal treated posts for a beautiful, finished look, are now available in a 10” version. Even with their robust size, these wraps install with just one person—simply apply adhesive to the three-sided piece, secure around the post, snap the fourth side into place, and fasten. Complete the look with accompanying cap and base moldings. See the wraps here.
Protecting against moisture damage not only requires a dependable siding product, but also smart design behind it. Whether through leaks or condensation, water infiltration is nearly impossible to avoid, so taking the steps to eliminate moisture throughout the entire building process is essential.
As all pros know, when water does accumulate, it can wreak havoc on a home’s structure. Wood products, including framing elements, can degrade from excessive water exposure, insulation can soak up moisture, and rot and mold will occur.
How to Avoid Moisture Damage
It is key to have or create an airflow cavity on the back side of the siding you’re installing in addition to proper flashing and weather-resistive barriers (which is designed into most polymer-style siding products like Foundry and Grayne). This stops moisture from getting trapped and causing potential issues during freeze/thaw and/or mold issues.
Here are a few steps to take to help protect the wall cavity from moisture. (Note: Always consult your local building code for the installation requirements for weather-resistive barriers, caulking, etc.)
Step 1: Properly install flashing
Flashing prevents water intrusion around any penetrations through the siding, including channels, corner posts, windows, and vents. Before installing flashing, ensure the wall surface is flat and level.
If you are working on an exterior with existing siding, the best practice is to strip away the old siding for a smooth surface—even when working with vinyl that is designed to be installed directly over wood.
When installing flashing around a window, follow these steps to prevent water leakage:
1. Apply flashing on the underside of the window first.
2. Follow this application with flashing on the sides of the window. Make sure to overlap the bottom flashing.
3. Finally, apply the flashing at the top of the window.
It is crucial that flashing extends past the nailing flanges of any accessory to prevent water infiltration through the opening. The flashing should be long enough to direct water over the nail flange of the last course of siding. This installation method can also be used for applying flashing to other openings, such as electrical outlets and doors.
Step 2: Install a weather-resistive barrier
After properly installing flashing, you should next apply a weather-resistive barrier (WRB). Installed between the sheathing and siding, a WRB blocks any water that penetrates the siding and helps it drain away from moisture-sensitive materials like wood structural sheathing and studs.
Not only do WRBs drain water away from the building, they also allow wall assemblies to dry out naturally. Because standard vinyl siding hangs loosely on the sheathing, air is able to flow behind it, creating a drainage gap and method for drying.
To properly install the weather-resistive barrier for maximum protection, the material should be installed shingle fashion by overlapping successive layers behind the exterior finish and over the structural sheathing. Installers should begin installation from the bottom up.
Each overlap should be several inches long. If heavy winds and rain are common in your region, overlap approximately 6 inches at horizontal joints and 8 to 12 inches at vertical joints.
Step 3: Caulk siding correctly
Many professionals rely on caulking to fix mistakes and speed installation time, but caulking can break down over time and eventually even hold water in rather than aid in keeping it out.
To ensure the caulking aids in moisture protection, avoid these three common mistakes:
1. Caulking the top cladding board to trim boards. This traps humidity in the walls.
2. Relying on caulking to fill in gaps. Cut siding to the precise measurements necessary to avoid gaps.
3. Caulking underneath the bottom flange when installing windows. Caulk here will trap moisture inside.
Boral Building Products has launched the Virtual Remodeler, an online home design tool providing contractors and homeowners with a simple way visualize how their facade will look with different profiles, textures, and colors from the company’s comprehensive lineup of siding and trim products.
With Virtual Remodeler, launched during the 2019 International Builders’ Show, users upload a photo of an existing home or select a similar house from an online gallery. Using the program’s product interface, the user then selects from Boral’s siding, trim, and shutter lines, including Versetta Stone®, Kleer® Lumber, TruExterior® Siding & Trim, and Mid-America Siding Components®; the image updates in real time, revealing how the exterior will appear with each product and color selection. To further ease the process, the home design tool includes Color Harmony coordinating color families, each of which can be further changed and updated to suit the homeowner’s tastes and needs.
“Designing a home with fantastic curb appeal requires navigating an endless array of options, from the shape of the siding to the color of the trim to the size of the shutters. Boral’s new Virtual Remodeler tool eases the process for homeowners—and their remodelers—by helping them visualize how products will look on their house, much more than a small sample ever could,” says Becky Duffy, Director of Marketing for Boral Building Products. “Remodelers can ensure customers are happy with their home exterior before products are ordered and installed, leading to fewer surprises and greater satisfaction when the project is complete.”
Virtual Remodeler users can save multiple projects to work on later and compare. For a small fee, pros can have their image professionally mapped by Boral, which will increase the accuracy of the rendering’s appearance. And once a finished look is chosen, Virtual Remodeler will generate a product list for easy ordering through Boral dealers and distributors.
Remodelers and homeowners can once again count on exterior stone and siding to provide a solid return on investment, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value report.
An annual survey released in January, the Cost vs. Value report provides insights into which remodeling projects deliver the highest perceived return in resale value. Manufactured stone veneer, such as Boral Versetta Stone® stone siding, continues to be a safe bet, with a 94.9% recoup of investment at the national level. Though this is a small drop from last year, manufactured stone veneer ranks second-highest in ROI, after garage doors.
The 94.9% ROI for manufactured stone veneer is based on replacing a 300-square-foot continuous band of existing vinyl siding from the bottom third of the home’s front façade and replacing it with adhered manufactured stone veneer, sills, corners, and an address block, along with an entry archway with keystone and soldier course of flats on each side.
As in 2018, manufactured stone veneer offered the highest returns in the Pacific region (Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Hawaii), at 110.4%. Returns were also particularly high in the East South Central region (Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky), at 107.7%.
Manufactured stone veneer offered the highest ROI out of all categories in the East South Central, South Atlantic (91.4%), West North Central (93.5%), and West South Central (98.3%) regions.
Exterior Investments Deliver Biggest Paybacks
Siding overall finished strongly, as well, with a fifth-best return on investment at 75.6%, just shy of the 76.7% recoup in 2018. In fact, out of the 10 projects with the highest returns, nine were exterior categories, including a wood deck addition, steel entry door replacement, vinyl window replacement, a fiberglass grand entrance, wood window replacement, and a composite deck addition.
“The reason for high returns on exterior projects, and especially façade facelifts, stems from the valuations set by the real-estate community. … ‘Curb appeal’ and ‘first impressions’ are central to a real-estate professional’s estimation of resale value,” Remodeling says. “The impact these impressions make is critical in setting the stage for what a buyer is willing to pay for a home.”
What’s more, projects like kitchen and bathroom renovations tend to be more individualized, which can mean some buyers may not like the look.
The overall percentage of investment recouped across all categories on average decreased slightly year over year. The magazine attributes the decline to the sharp increase in material costs over the summer, including those driven by tariffs.
When it comes to the outside of the home, what does this year hold? A few familiar looks as well as some emerging exterior trends. Here’s what to expect:
• Outdoor living: Demand for outdoor living spaces isn’t abating. In AIA’s annual Home Design Trends survey, architects named the outdoors as the No. 1 specialty room increasing in popularity.
• Low maintenance: This one will also sound familiar—home buyers, particularly younger buyers, simply don’t want to deal with painting, staining, and cleaning their façades and decks. In fact, the AIA survey lists low maintenance as the top product feature increasing in popularity. Expect composites and other low-maintenance materials for decks to continue to grow alongside demand for easy-to-maintain siding materials like TruExterior Siding & Trim, Kleer Lumber, and Grayne engineered siding.
• Darks and lights: Move over, earth tones. Consumers are increasingly drawn to the contrast of dark-colored siding against bright white trim. Trying to achieve this look? TruExterior Siding’s dimensional stability makes it an ideal fit for the darkest of paints, while Kleer trimboard’s TruEDGE technology and UV inhibitors ensure the trim stays brilliant white for years to come.
• Black trim: When trim isn’t white, look to black and dark browns. (Try TruExterior Trim, which can be painted dark hues, including black, without concerns about expansion or warping.) Also increasingly popular—the streamlined, sophisticated look of black window frames.
• Grays (for now): Gray is still a go-to hue, but its popularity could finally be waning. Boral Senior Product Manager Trisha Wagner reports seeing more reds creeping in and believes it may be one of the colors to affect gray’s go-to status.
• Match game: The coordinated look of a matching entry door, garage door, and window trim is in.
• Blending textures: The varied streetscapes created by blending stone and siding textures across the façade continue to dominate. As in 2018, the transitions between textures are a bit more seamless than in years’ past. Versetta Stone siding makes this trend easy, with a panelized format that installs with screws or nails.
• Authenticity: Also returning for 2019 is demand for historic looks brought by siding profiles such as nickel gap, shiplap, and board and batten.
• Modern farmhouse: Like it or not, the modern farmhouse style is sticking around for at least a little longer. Some designers are tiring of the look, but it’s still going to be popular among homeowners both inside and outside the house. “White [board-and-batten] siding delivers a ‘homey look’ and can provide texture and interest to an otherwise flat façade,” the Washington Post reports.
Shutters seem pretty straightforward. But do you know the lingo well enough to sell them confidently to your customers? Here are a few common terms you should know.
Open Louver The angled slats of open louver offer a timeless design.
Raised Panel Raised panel units feature a traditional design with one or more raised center panels with chamfered edges.
Board and Batten Board and batten shutters are vertically oriented boards typically featuring a minimum of two wide strips, called battens, horizontally fixed with narrow trim in between.
Bahama Rather than swinging in from two sides, Bahama shutters install singly and swing upward. As their name implies, this style is used frequently in the Caribbean because it blocks UV rays while allowing in ambient light and breezes. A sophisticated privacy solution for coastal locations or homes with a coastal-style exterior.
Storm Shutters These specialty units are made specifically to withstand the impact of wind-driven debris. Open, they look no different. During a storm, they close and lock into place with storm bars to protect the shutter leaf, the window, and the home’s interior. Before buying, verify that your storm shutters meet the Large Missile Impact Test requirement as specified in the IRC and IBC 2006.
Operable vs. Decorative Historically, shutters were more than just a decoration. They were used to block out sun, control temperature, and provide privacy. But, as Fine Homebuilding explains, those uses were less needed when drapes and blinds became the norm. Today, most shutters are purely decorative, or inoperable. Operable shutters, like those from Atlantic, still offer those same benefits as well as an extra dose of authenticity.
Holdbacks Holdback hardware does just what it says: holds operable units in place but is easily turned to release the panel for closure. Common styles include the elegant S holdback, a simple dog post holdback, or a scrolling rat-tail holdback. They’re not just for operable units: Use holdbacks for decorative shutters to ensure an authentic look.
A beautiful photo of a beautiful home can attract customers more than nearly anything else. And if you’re like most building and design pros, you have had many of your projects professionally photographed (and if not, it’s time to start). But are you just using those images in brochures, on your website, and on the walls of your conference room?
Here are a few more low-cost ways to use your projects and photos to market your company.
Write a case study: What makes your home stand out in addition to looking pretty? What challenges did you have to overcome? How did you meet the needs of the client? Write a short story about your stand-out projects that explains what makes that home—and your company—special. Here’s an example. Once it’s written, you can:
–Post the case study with images to your website and/or blog; link to it from your e-newsletter
–Send the case study to your local news media (regional lifestyle magazines, the home section of your newspaper, etc.) as well as to the national trade magazines (Remodeling, Professional Builder, Qualified Remodeler, etc.) for their consideration for coverage.
–Turn it into a video walk-through to share on your web site and social media.
Showcase your skills: When photographing your projects, don’t just take pictures of the overall home and rooms. Zero-in on the details that make it special—whether it’s a unique gable end detail, a hidden storage compartment in the kitchen, or an advanced-framed wall that will save energy costs.
–Share individual photos of those elements on social media calling attention to what’s unique.
–Share those photos/details with local and national media. Many publications not only cover full projects, but also like to highlight simple details or installation techniques. For example, NKBA magazine has a “Details” page for this exact purpose.
Share everywhere: Take advantage of every free platform at your disposal—Houzz, Instagram (posts and stories), Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest. And use each platform’s unique written space wisely: Instagram is photo-heavy, so make captions catchy and to the point. LinkedIn is geared toward for pros, so think about what that audience cares about. Pinterest is a mecca for search, so be sure to use keywords when tagging those items. Facebook’s slide shows offer a chance to show a handful of pictures with meaty captions. Adjust accordingly!
Offer advice: Installing a unique detail or using a method that consumers can learn from? Take a video as you do so to educate viewers. This showcases your work while also positioning you as a leader.
Create an infographic: Does the exterior of the home or one of its rooms have a lot of unique elements or features that set your company apart? Create an infographic pointing out those elements and how they contribute to your and your client’s vision.
Generate engagement: Got an in-progress project? Why not have your fans weigh in with their thoughts? On Facebook or through an Instagram story, post the exterior before the paint is chosen and offer a poll with two options for the paint color. Offer up two faucet choices to vote on. The more your fans interact with your social posts, the more they’ll get seen by non-followers, and polls are a great way to do that.
Assemble trends: If you have a blog or newsletter, use your own projects (or combine your projects with some you find on Houzz) to assemble trend stories for your readers. For example, “6 Ways to Incorporate Red into Your Exterior” or “Tesla’s Solar Roof Tiles: We Tried Them.”
Enter contests: All of the national trade magazines have design contests that, if you win, provide lots of great, free publicity in addition to prestige and bragging rights. Professional Builder’s Design Awards are just one example.
Create a look book: Follow the lead of fashion designers and create a look book that shows off your best work in an elegant, sophisticated way. Tie the theme of the look book back into your company’s mission statement and keywords.
Partner with your favorite manufacturer: Project photos are also one of the best ways for manufacturers to market their products and, trust us, they’re always looking for good images to use in their own publicity. Reach out to your rep about sharing your project stories and photos with their marketing department; they could be perfect for the manufacturer’s own case studies, advertising, editorial, and social media—which means free publicity and recognition for you.
Want to share your Boral projects with us for consideration in our marketing efforts? Email Becky Duffy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professionals know it’s not only the quality of the product that determines how polished a home’s siding looks, but also how well it is installed.
While having on-site experience can develop the skills for top-notch installation, sometimes even the most experienced builders make mistakes. Here are four tips to ensure your Grayne and Foundry siding projects are beautiful every time.
1. Use the Right Tools Before you begin the installation process, it’s essential to be equipped with the right tools. Accidentally using the wrong tools can have consequences.
To cut the siding, use either a vinyl siding blade or a fine-toothed blade. If using a fine-toothed blade, be sure to install the blade in reverse for the best cuts.
Other tools to include on your checklist:
• Utility knife
• Caulking gun (to seal J-channel)
• Vinyl siding snips (to cut or trim siding panels)
• Siding removal tool
• Snap lock punch (to cut snap lock tabs and allow cut panels to be snapped into utility trim)
• Nail hole slot punch (to add nail holes if a panel must be face nailed)
• Trim nail punch (to add nailing holes if a panel must be face nailed)
2. Start with a Smooth Surface If the surface beneath the siding is uneven, even the best siding installation may be compromised. Take appropriate precautions to ensure a smooth, continuous surface.
For new construction, avoid using green lumber as the underlayment, as it typically has high levels of moisture. As the wood dries, it will shrink, leading to cracking and warping. These flaws in the wood can make the siding look uneven and poorly installed.
If you are re-siding a building, furring or complete removal of uneven original siding may be required to create a smooth surface. While this process may seem like a nuisance, it will help to ensure straight, stable replacement siding.
3. Plan for Expansion and Contraction To accommodate expansion, see siding manufacturers’ guidelines, as many panels install differently.
Always leave a minimum of 1/8″ gap at the nailing hem to accommodate changes from temperature shifts. If you’re installing siding in temperatures of 75 degrees F or higher, lessen the clearance slightly to at least a 1/16″.
4. Apply Panels Correctly One of the most common mistakes installers make when applying panels is driving the head of the fastener tightly against the nail hem. Allow approximately 1/32″ (roughly the thickness of a dime) clearance between the fastener head and the siding nail hem.
During installation, avoid face-nailing or stapling through siding. Face-nailing can not only cause ripples in the siding, but also prevents proper expansion and contraction.
When installing a siding panel, push up from the bottom until the lock engages, then let the panel relax down against the ledge of the previously installed panel. Without stretching the panel, reach up and fasten it into place. Again, be wary of tightness—the panels should not be under tension or compression when they are fastened. Once fastened, allow the butt edge to rest on the top edge of the course below.
The use of fly ash as the primary component in Boral TruExterior products is about more than sustainability: Fly ash is what helps make TruExterior a high-performing, dimensionally stable, long-lasting product for a range of exterior applications.
Scientists and researchers in Boral’s Innovation Factory, which takes its physical form at a laboratory in San Antonio called the Discovery Center, spent years developing Boral TruExterior, including seeking the ideal raw material that would provide the look of wood with properties superior to not only natural products but what was available in manmade products.
The answer lay in fly ash, a byproduct of coal-combustion power generation that typically is sent to the landfill but in recent years has been discovered as a beneficial material for products including brick and concrete. Our scientists discovered a number of properties that contributed to fly ash being the ideal raw material.
First, fly ash offers an ideal shape and size for balancing inexpensive inorganic material with expensive polymer adhesives. When manufacturers create the base material for their product, which for siding is a mixture that flows into molds or is extruded, they typically combine several ingredients, one or more of which is a glue or resin to hold everything together and fill in the “gaps” between the ingredient particles. In the case of TruExterior, fly ash is bound with a polymer. Ideally, formulations use as much inorganic material as possible, and therefore less polymer filling in the gaps, to keep costs down. Fly ash is ideal because it is spherically shaped and comes in several particle sizes. The spherical shape, rare in natural materials available in such abundance, exposes less surface areas for a given volume to be covered by a polymer. And with many different particle sizes, smaller fly ash particles will fill in the gaps between larger particles, much like if you poured sand into a jar of pebbles. Both of these properties mean less polymer is needed to fill the space and coat the particles.
The spherical shape also helps the material flow more easily.
From a performance standpoint, fly ash material is inert and inorganic. And because it is stable, it doesn’t react significantly with the environment, which is what helps TruExterior Siding & Trim remain dimensionally stable amid changes in moisture and temperature.
The scientists in the Innovation Factory were able to harness these discoveries and create a completely new category of building products—poly-ash. The resulting siding and trim products in the TruExterior family offer the look and workability of wood, while offering exceptional durability; resistance to cracking, rotting, splitting, and insects; and a high level of dimensional stability during periods of moisture and temperature change.
Finally, the use of fly ash does offer an important sustainability story: Seventy percent of TruExterior products use the recycled material, which would otherwise be bound for the landfill.
To learn more about the benefits of TruExterior Siding & Trim, click here.
The first thing you see when you enter the Boral Discovery Center in San Antonio, Texas, is what you can’t see—no clutter, no chaos, no extraneous noise. Because while nearly 30 people, including scientists, engineers, and support staff, work throughout the facility’s labs with numerous machines, hundreds of materials, and thousands of samples, a concentrated focus on safety and efficiency guides each step.
Assisting in those efforts is a facility-wide adherence to LEAN principles, much like you would find at some manufacturing plants.
“We are a lab with many, many projects and many samples,” notes Sarah Fortenberry, a Discovery Center research technician who also leads the facility’s LEAN programs. “So you have to manage not only the individual projects as well as the amount of materials coming in and going out. LEAN principles help us do that.”
Fortenberry notes that following LEAN guidelines also is key to maintaining a safe, healthy environment.
Here are a few of the LEAN tools the Discovery Center has implemented:
• Shadow Board: In areas with tools and equipment, storage areas are outlined and labeled, as shown in this photo. This includes everything from duct tape rolls to a hammer to extension cords. “There’s no wasted time trying to find an item,” Fortenberry notes. “It’s labeled, it’s where it should be.”•The 5 S’s:
Sort: Frequently determine what you actually use and get rid of the rest. This helps keep work areas clutter-free and safe.
Set in order: Label everything and where it goes. The most important items should be the closest.
Shine: Keep work areas clean.
Standardize: Have a standard method for tools and equipment. Everything is labeled—every tool, every shelf, every drawer. This also pertains to samples, which ensures every test is tracked and identifiable. The process of managing samples is the primary reason that LEAN is essential at the Discovery Center.
Sustain: Establish how you keep the workplace clean and a cleaning schedule.
• 3C Board: The three Cs stand for Concern, Cause, Countermeasure. In each work area, the team has a 3C board. If something is wrong in the area, it goes up on the board, what’s causing the problem, and, eventually, what is being done to fix the problem.
• Total Productive Maintenance: Broken machines lead to costly downtime, so each machine has a list of maintenance steps needed to keep it running properly.
• 5S Fridays: At the end of every Friday, the team convenes to address problems on 3C boards. “We work as a team to get to and maintain a sustaining level of production,” Fortenberry notes.
• Kaizen: Kaizen is Japanese for “continual improvement.” The team hosts kaizen events in which they visit areas of the lab and track team members’ steps to see where there is wasted movement and how those steps can be consolidated. Bringing in team members who don’t work in that area provides a fresh perspective and out-of-the-box thinking.
“It’s made us more of a team, working as a group to improve our areas,” Fortenberry says. “Through the kaizen events and 5S Fridays, we can do something in a short period of time that would take someone weeks to do alone.”
The creation of TruExterior Siding & Trim, with its industry-leading combination of performance and aesthetics, was the result of years of research, development, and testing. Today, that work continues at Boral’s Discovery Center in San Antonio, Texas, where chemists, engineers, and other scientists are continually studying existing products while innovating to uncover the next big thing in building materials.
For example, to ensure TruExterior performs as promised in both cold and hot climates, our scientists studied (and studied and studied) the product’s reaction to thermal extremes using several high-tech machines. These machines include:
• Thermal Gravimetric Analysis (TGA): This machine decomposes a material thermally. As the machine ramps up the heat, scientists monitor the material’s weight as its organic compounds break down, either producing or consuming gases. From the weight change and temperature, the active reaction can be extrapolated. For the end-user, this ensures a siding product won’t produce toxic gases or other hazardous compounds in extreme temperature situations, such as fires.
• Calorimeter: Similar to monitoring calories in food, this machine tracks the energy of chemical reactions. By understanding the processes involved in the formation of a material, scientists and engineers can optimize them to create the best possible finished products at competitive prices.
• Thermochemical Analysis: This machine observes how a material reacts under thermal stress by heating the material up and cooling it down. Our scientists use this machine to calculate a material’s coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), i.e., how much it expands and contracts in the heat and the cold. This test was essential in the development of TruExterior, which experiences very little thermal expansion and contraction.
• Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC): This machine is used to study what happens to polymeric materials as they are cooled and heated. By tracking changes in heat rate as energy is applied, the heat capacity, glass transition temperature, heat of melting, percent crystallinity, and other properties can be evaluated. These are carefully controlled to create an end-product that won’t adversely react under heat or cold.
Ready to put our efforts to the test? Request a sample of TruExterior Siding & Trim here.
The home at 604 Second St. in Brentwood, Calif., is looking a little spiffier these days—but it hasn’t lost its historic charm. The Bungalow-style house was the latest renovation project for James and Morris Carey, aka The Carey Brothers, a remodeling team and hosts of the On the House radio show and podcast. The pair sought to update the house to modern standards while still preserving the look and feel of its storied past.
And what a story it has: The original two-bedroom structure was built in a nearby mining town in the early 20th century, likely from a kit. At some point, the house and a few others were relocated to Brentwood’s now quaint downtown.
The brothers’ goals for modernizing the 1,177-square-foot home were significant yet thoughtful: add 341 square feet to make room for a third bedroom and to convert one existing bedroom into a master suite; replace the deteriorating front porch; repair the foundation; redo the plumbing, heating, electrical system, and insulation; and completely remodel the bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry room.
The team also replaced nearly every exterior component, including the windows and doors, siding, trim, decking, railings, roofing, and patios. Finally, they removed the single-car detached garage and added a 960-square-foot freestanding garage that also includes an office and storeroom.
The home’s original wood siding had extensive rot and pest damage, and its removal was further necessitated by the need for earthquake retrofitting and waterproofing upgrades to the core structure. The Carey Brothers selected TruExterior Siding & Trim for the cladding because it offered the authentic look to replicate the original façade along with high performance and low maintenance.
“We sought to find an attractive, durable, and cost-effective alternative for this special project, and we discovered TruExterior Siding & Trim,” James Carey says. “Their V-Rustic siding profile matches to a T the siding that was originally used to side this charming home’s exterior.”
The homeowners liked it too: “The thing I like about the siding is that it exactly matches the old-time siding that was on our house,” says Mike McClennan. “And it’s made from eco-friendly products. Being a recycled material that gives the old-time look that we wanted, it really fit our project wonderfully.”
To learn more about the use of TruExterior on 604 Second Street, watch this short video:
See more products and videos about the renovation of 604 Second Street here.
A growing diversity of innovative products is helping to fuel the latest exterior trends, according to LBM Journal’s annual In Depth feature on siding. Homeowners are clamoring for color and variety in their façades, while builders are not only trying to meet those aesthetic needs but also are seeking out easy-to-install solutions and product knowledge support.
Here’s an overview of trends and industry observations from LBM Journal’s report:
Mix and Match: A diversity of materials is contributing directly to one of today’s hottest façade trends: mixing materials. “Gone are the days when houses tended to be rather homogenous in terms of colors and textures,” magazine contributor Mike Berger writes. “In today’s siding market, it’s all about mixing and matching textures and products.”
Darker Colors: The magazine notes that darker colors are in growing demand, a trend that aligns well with TruExterior Siding, which can be painted any color, even black, thanks to its high levels of dimensional stability.
Authenticity: Buyers are craving products that offer the look of wood without the maintenance. “There’s an authenticity people want with products today,” TruExterior Siding & Trim Product Manager Aaron Sims tells the magazine. “They want it to look like wood. They want it to feel real. They want the details to be right. They want it to look very authentic to replicate a traditional Craftsman-style or Farmhouse-style home.”
Resilience: The increasing rate of natural disasters, from hurricanes to wildfires, is driving code changes in certain areas of the country. “To meet these needs, manufacturers are developing products to withstand the rigors of storm and fire,” Berger explains. The writer pointed to products like Grayne engineered siding and TruExterior Siding, which both meet California’s Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) code for fire and the Florida Building Code for wind.
Labor: The ongoing labor shortage continues to be top of mind and, according to the NAHB, is currently builders’ No. 1 concern. This is driving demand for products that are easy and straightforward to install. Versetta Stone mortarless stone veneer, the magazine notes, offers the stone look without requiring the skill of a stone mason.
Training: Dealers and distributors can no longer just stock products, the magazine says, they have to be knowledgeable about those products, how they work, and how they compare to competitors’ offerings.
To read more trends and insights into today’s siding market, view the LBM Journal article in its entirety here.
It takes less than 10 seconds for someone to form an impression about a house. One of the most important factors in that impression? Color.
And with a lifespan of 10 to 15 years or more, siding and accent color choice is important.
“When selecting colors, follow the 60-30-10 rule of decorating,” advises color expert Trisha Wagner, senior product manager at Boral Building Products. “Sixty percent of your color will be siding; then your accent, which may be the trim, will be near 30%; and, finally, 10% will go into shutters or another element such as a stone façade.”
When looking at a home, think about what you want to see first and where you want to have the biggest impression.
Here are general rules and factors to consider when choosing and combining colors:
Work With Home Style and Period
To achieve the right look and feel, it’s important to understand the limitations of a home’s style and choose colors that align with the architecture and time period.
For a home with natural-finish cedar siding, for example, a more neutral trim and shutters will help maintain a traditional Colonial style, while bolder accent colors such as green or brown will give it a Craftsman-like look.
Take Cues From Existing Design Elements
For homes with existing stone or brick or those looking to add this element, Wagner offers this tip: To highlight or make the stone stand out, pair with a paint color that incorporates minor undertones from the stone. This will help draw it out and give a more dynamic appearance. Conversely, to make the stone or brick blend in, find a siding color that is more similar in tone.
Further tie these elements into a home’s look by matching the trim to the grout color of the stone or brick.
Consider the Role of Nature and Lighting Consider how landscaping will contrast and complement the look of a home. Houses with mature landscapes and shrubs with vibrant greens and other colors will draw the eye down. Be aware of what colors you or the homeowner will plant and how that relates to the colors you’re selecting for the home.
For homes that don’t have a lot of landscaping, consider brighter siding. For those with a denser landscape, you may want to consider darker colors for more contrast.
Landscaping can also influence lighting if a home is heavily shaded by trees or natural topography. Wagner advises to look at the direction the home faces and where the sun hits at various times of day to understand how the color may change.
Consider What’s Trending
For the last five years, shades of gray have been the most popular choices for a home’s exterior. Homeowners inspired by the versatile neutral are frequently selecting varieties and combinations like green-gray, greige, and blue-gray.
Dark, rich jewel tones, such as sapphire blue, are another common selection for home exteriors. Colors in this family are typically paired with white trim, particularly on the ever-popular Craftsman-style homes.
For the indecisive homeowner or buyer, Wagner says neutral bases and black and white accents are a safe option that will stand the test of time.
Another growing trend on new construction home exteriors has been mixing textures, such as combining shake and traditional siding with brick and stone for a variegated look.
Avoid Common Mistakes The easiest way to avoid color mistakes is to consult the color wheel.
“It’s the same color wheel you played with in kindergarten,” Wagner says. “There are still complementary and contrasting colors, and that should be your ultimate guide.”
But you have a lot of flexibility, she adds, with the variety of tones available.
Before committing, get sample pieces of the siding colors being considered. Have your buyers put them up for a few days—perhaps on the weekend when they can see in the light at multiple points across the day—to see how they look.
In the end, “personal preference is the ultimate guide,” Wagner says. “A home’s color is highly personable and a definition of the homeowner’s style, so give it the time and attention it needs.”
To fully grasp how unique Boral’s customer service department is, one need only look at two numbers: a 95% call-answer rate and a 0% turnover rate.
“We take a proactive approach in our call center, and that has afforded us a very high service level,” notes Tim Barber, Boral’s director of customer service. Most call centers average around 80% of calls answered in 20 seconds or less; Boral’s average at that rate is 95%. “If you call, we pretty much answer immediately. We know that busy contractors need answers fast and that jobs can be held up if we don’t meet that need.”
But while phone calls are the primary form of communications, the omnichannel department responds just as efficiently to requests made via email, fax, EDI, and pretty much any other form of communication with a hands-on strategy Barber calls a “concierge approach.”
“We really hope to cultivate an experience that keeps customers coming back to our family of brands,” Barber says. “We want to make sure we’re ending the call having solved the customer’s problem and having used their time effectively.”
The employees’ dedication shows in the department’s high tenure rate, including 0% negative attrition (firings or voluntary company departures) for the past two years, a significant feat considering the typical rate for call centers is 30% to 40%.
The department fields as many as 800 to 1,000 calls a day, taking orders, addressing warranty concerns, providing tech support, and responding to any number of other topics. Staff numbers ramp up during busier months from April to October, and the full team is engaged with onboarding new employees.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a fabulous staff that comes to work every day with their A game,” Barber says. “We’re building our culture around customer service. Our culture is important—you can’t have success without good culture and good leadership, with people feeling like they can contribute. They come in and do the best they can for customers. We empower them and provide an atmosphere that’s supportive.”
As the housing industry continues its steady climb, the shortage of skilled labor is only intensifying. In fact, builders have indicated that cost and availability of labor is currently the No. 1 problem facing their business, according to a December NAHB/Wells Fargo survey. A Home Improvement Research Institute study found that 60% of skilled trade professionals believe there is a shortage of labor.
In January, the construction industry’s unfilled jobs reached 250,000, up from 159,000 in January 2017 and just shy of the post-recession high of 255,000 last July, according to NAHB analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The challenges can lead to scheduling problems, budget woes, and quality concerns, among other issues.
Several industry organizations are attempting to tackle the issue through new initiatives that encourage young people to consider the trades, provide scholarships for training, provide direct training, or simply promote the benefits of a career in the industry. These include:
Skilled Labor Fund. Created by Professional Builder publisher Scranton Gillette and with an operating committee that includes leaders from the NAHB and the National Kitchen & Bath Association, the non-profit is raising money to “build a foundation for a stronger workforce” via student scholarships, accredited trade schools, and training facilities.
Home Depot Skilled Trades Initiative. In early March, The Home Depot Foundation announced a $50 million grant aimed at training 20,000 people in the trades to help fill the labor gap, particularly in areas of the country devastated by natural disasters. According to USA Today, the Home Builders Institute will use the funds from Home Depot to train veterans and U.S. Army soldiers readying for civilian life.
Lowe’s Track to the Trades. In February, Lowe’s announced a workforce development initiative to support its employees wishing to pursue a skilled trade. Employees will be eligible to receive tuition funding for certification in a skilled trade, academic coaching and support, and apprenticeship placement opportunities within Lowe’s or among its contractor network.
Why I Build. Hosted by Fine Homebuilding, Why I Build showcases the voices of craftsmanship and shares stories about why those in the trades love what they do. The resulting videos are inspiring and demonstrate the pride and integrity associated with careers in construction.
#KeepCraftAlive. Another program from Fine Homebuilding, this movement is designed to spark conversation and spotlight craftspeople. The magazine encourages pros to tag their social media posts with the hashtag #KeepCraftAlive to share their passion with the world (see Instagram posts here). Sales from T-shirts will fund a sponsorship alongside SkillsUSA.
TruExterior remains committed to assisting our customers with training, as well. Our sales reps are available for a range of hands-on education opportunities, including dealer product knowledge sessions and one-on-one jobsite installation instruction. In addition, TruExterior has a fleet of mobile training units that travel the country, setting up shop at dealer yards to provide installers with hands-on experience with our products.
For many contractors, the safety of employees and site visitors takes top priority over nearly everything else. For firms looking for new ways to ensure and promote a safe work environment, one proactive process to consider is “Take 5,” a method for re-familiarizing oneself with a task.
When facing a task they haven’t performed in awhile, such as operating a piece of machinery, staff at Boral facilities are encouraged to pause to identify and control hazards before they start work:
Stop, look, walk around the task
Think about the task, have a clear plan
Identify and assess hazards that exist or may be created by the task and rate their risk levels
Control the risks and communicate
Do the task if low risk, and keep a lookout for changes
As part of this process, staff members carry or have easy access to a Take 5 notepad that takes them through a series of quick steps: a pre-task checklist that confirms they are authorized to do the task and that they fully understand the task; a hazard-identification checklist; and a review of the personal protective equipment.
On the back, the employee identifies each potential risk to the task and its controls. Using this list, they can identify whether the task requires sign off by a supervisor or a written safe operating procedure.
By compelling employees to stop and consider each task, its potential hazards, and its safe operation, the Take 5 process helps further ensure the safety of themselves and those around them. For builders and contractors looking to elevate their safety efforts, it’s one additional way to keep safety top of mind each day and ensure employees and visitors are actively engaged in ensuring the well-being of themselves and others.
As outdoor building season continues, expect to hear some familiar requests—as well as some new demands. Homeowners are increasingly discerning when it comes to their exterior facades as they seek to ramp up curb appeal while still making their home reflect their personality and lifestyle.
Here’s a look at what’s trending this year:
Design With Intention: Aaron Sims, Product Manager for Boral’s Light Building Products Division, is seeing a resurgence of architects looking at the whole picture rather than the individual home, designing a structure to fit the environment around it. The results are more timeless looks that don’t feel dated in a few years, and homes that feel well-suited to their towns and cities. “Everything seems more intentional,” Sims says. “You have to nurture that. It’s not something you can create, but you can nurture it.”
Past Is Present: Historical favorites never go out of style for a reason. Buyers are turning toward familiar, timeless profiles such as nickel gap and shiplap. Some of their popularity stems from TV shows such as Fixer Upper, but also a desire for creating a sense of place. At the same time, buyers aren’t afraid to update those looks, as seen in the subtle modernization of older restored buildings or farmhouse designs that blend industrial metallics.
Mixed Textures—With a Twist: Like last year, designers are still mixing materials, such as siding, stone, and metal. But they’re doing so in a cleaner way, Sims says. Color combinations are more monochrome, lines are straighter, texture planes are seamlessly blending together.
Clean & Crisp: From those seamless transitions to the sleek forms of shiplap, the transitional and modern trend is creeping into exterior home styles, with more rectilinear lines and forms.
Natural Versions of Popular Colors: Grays, blues, and neutrals are still common, but they’re moving to the more organic versions of themselves rather than feeling manufactured. Grays are veering toward a more beige-like warmth, blues are earthier and darker. Buyers will see this trend reflected in Versetta Stone’s new Carved Block mortarless stone veneer panels; the line’s Midnight color is warmed by dark gray and almond tones, while the Sea Salt hue features neutral, soft khakis and beiges.
Outdoor Living: Tour any model home or pick up any trade magazine and it’s clear that homeowner demand for decked-out exterior spaces is not going away. Many are clamoring for decks and patios with the same amenities they enjoy indoors, including dedicated sitting and eating areas, seamless transitions and views, and even technology. They also need to look the part, so don’t forget accessories such pergolas made with Kleer cellular PVC trim and KLEERWrap post wraps, and be sure to finish off the underside with trim and post wraps.
Low Maintenance: No surprise here: Homeowners still don’t want to spend time painting and staining their facades and decks. Foundry and Grayne siding both offer a long-lasting, low-maintenance alternative that still features the authentic look buyers crave.
Labor Crunch: The challenge of finding qualified labor continues, so products that offer easier installation can make a difference in time and cost. Foundry and Grayne offer a straightforward installation process familiar to any siding installer. Versetta Stone provides the look of stone in an easy-to-use panel profile that siding contractors can install. TruExterior Siding & Trim cuts and routs just like wood, using traditional woodworking tools, while eliminating steps such as edge sealing.
From water to energy, when it comes to codes and standards, you often can look to California for not only the most stringent requirements but also those regulations that are likely to trickle out to the rest of the country. And fire is no exception.
With its high propensity for severe wildfires, California has some of the strictest regulations on the products, systems, and assemblies that can be used for buildings. Specifically, homes and buildings within the state’s “Wildland-Urban Interface Zone” must comply with Chapter 7A of the California Building Code:
“The purpose of this chapter is to establish minimum standards for the protection of life and property by increasing the ability of a building located in any Fire Hazard Severity Zone within State Responsibility Areas or any Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fire Area to resist the intrusion of flames or burning embers projected by a vegetation fire and contributes to a systematic reduction in conflagration losses.”
To aid with product specification of WUI-compliant materials, the state created a Building Materials Listing program. Aligned to provide members of the building, architectural and engineering, and fire safety communities with a reliable source for ignition-resistant building materials, the BML program was originally designed to mandate that all fire alarm systems and devices be approved by the SFM prior to marketing and sale within the state of California. Each product approval is based on an evaluation of test results, which include an analysis of product performance and reliability features.
All thicknesses, widths, and profiles of the TruExterior Siding & Trim product line are certified by the California Building Commission for inclusion on the WUI Products Listing. The product line is part of a relatively small group of cladding materials approved for WUI-designated buildings. This means that architects and contractors can confidently specify the product for use throughout all areas of California, regardless of WUI restrictions.
TruExterior’s proprietary blend of polymers and fly ash brings about a number of benefits—including some that go against installers’ long-held knowledge about what siding can do and how it needs to be installed. For example, did you know you don’t need to seal end cuts in the field? Did you know you can paint TruExterior black without any special treatments?
Because the siding is the first of its kind in the market, we devote a lot of time to helping installers learn about the material and, in some cases, un-learn old installation requirements. Here are a few of the most common questions about TruExterior. If you have more, don’t hesitate to reach out! Find your local dealer here.
Q: Do I need to use a special blade to cut TruExterior?
A: TruExterior cuts and installs using standard tools. We do recommend carbide-tipped blades and bits, as they last longer. TruExterior may dull the blade for cutting other materials that require a sharper edge, so some customers have found it easiest to simply have a blade dedicated to TruExterior.
Q: What type of fasteners can be used with TruExterior?
A: TruExterior products can be installed using standard nail guns or screws, and standard trim nails work well. Like with any siding installation, use high-quality, exterior-grade fasteners suitable for the conditions of the application.
Q: When installing, do I need to leave space for expansion and contraction?
A: TruExterior products are extremely stable during periods of temperature and moisture change*, so no special measures are necessary to limit or control movement. (*Please see Boral TruExterior Trim and Boral TruExterior Siding Limited Warranties and Product Data Sheets for proprietary test results.)
Q: Can TruExterior Trim be mitered?
A: Yes! TruExterior Trim takes a miter cut easily, and, unlike many other trim products, fasteners can be nailed or screwed through the miter joint.
Q: Some siding products require a drip edge and flashing; do I need to do that with TruExterior?
A: Because TruExterior Siding & Trim has such a minimal moisture absorption rate, there is no need for drip edge or flashing. That said, in some cases it may be a requirement for the warranty of the adjoining or adjacent product or may even be a best practice for water management in high moisture areas. TruExterior can even be placed below grade and have direct masonry contact!
Q: Do I need to prime TruExterior?
A: TruExterior products come with a factory-applied primer. Because TruExterior products absorb virtually no moisture, ends and field cuts do not need to be primed or sealed.
Q: Are there any special instructions prior to painting?
A: Make sure the boards are dry prior to painting and that surfaces are free from dirt and debris. Because TruExterior has a high level of dimensional stability, there is no need for special paints when using a darker color. Use any high-grade exterior paint of any color. Be sure to follow your paint manufacturer’s guidelines.
Q: Do I need to use adhesives when installing TruExterior?
A: No. However, exterior-grade acrylic caulk and adhesive may be used to smooth out joints or miters prior to painting.
For the housing market, 2018 began with many of the same storylines seen in 2017: a continued steady, if incremental, climb, but with challenges looming in the background that continue to hold some builders and buyers back. Most notably: tight inventory, tight labor, and high material costs.
The year kicked off strong with January housing starts at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1,326,000, which was 9.7% above December’s revised rates and 7.4% higher than January 2017. Building permits also saw dramatic growth, up 7.4% from December and 7.4% from last January to reach a 10.5-year high.
But starts in February, announced March 16, fell 7% to an annual rate of 1,236,000, 4% below last February. Permits also fell 5.7% from January but remained 6.5% above the same time last year.
Multifamily declines were to blame: production fell 26.1% while single-family starts grew 2.9%.
“The decline was concentrated in the volatile category of multi-dwelling units—apartment buildings, condo complexes, and the like. It’s a volatile category and there’s also some evidence that the market for rentals is becoming saturated,” said MarketWatch in its analysis of the data that also described the lull as likely temporary. “Construction on single-family homes, the bread and butter of the housing market, actually rose in February. These homes account for 70% of all new residential construction.”
The decline in multifamily is of little surprise, as that market carried much of the inventory burden immediately after the recession and experienced sky-high numbers for several years until a peak in 2015. The combination of oversaturation and Millennials shifting from renting to owning is driving a slowdown in demand for those housing types. Robert Dietz, chief economist for the NAHB, said the association saw a higher than expected decline in multifamily starts in 2017 and is anticipating another decrease in 2018.
The strength of single-family may be a welcome sign, as one of the biggest challenges in the market is simply a lack of inventory, particularly for entry-level detached homes.
“Demand for housing has continued to outstrip the number of properties available for sale, pushing prices higher and frustrating many would-be buyers,” MarketWatch said in its analysis of January housing starts. “Builders have responded in part by steadily increasing construction of single-family homes, a sign they have confidence in the economy. Stand-alone homes are almost always sold, rather than rented.”
As Builder magazine reports, Millennials are the largest buying group (accounting for more than a third of home purchases) but are still being held back by low inventory and high housing costs. “Even though sales to Millennials reached an all-time survey high, stubbornly low inventory conditions pushed home prices out of reach for many,” the magazine said in its analysis of a National Association of Realtors (NAR) study. “As a result, the overall share of Millennial buyers remains at an underperforming level.”
The NAR study also found that Millennials are turning to the suburbs, not urban condos, for affordable options large enough for their growing families. “Led by Gen X (86%) and Millennial buyers (85%), a detached single-family home continues to be the primary type of property purchased, and older and younger [Baby] Boomers were the most likely to buy a multifamily home,” the article states. “Only 2% of Millennial buyers over the past year bought a condo.”
Along with inventory challenges, home prices also still continue to outpace wages, Dietz notes, but the gap is improving. The recent tax cuts could provide a further boost.
Builder confidence in March was down for the third month in a row, to 70 from 71 in February, but is still in strong territory and is just one point off of March 2017 figures. “Builders’ optimism continues to be fueled by growing consumer demand for housing and confidence in the market,” NAHB Chairman Randy Noel said in a statement. “However, builders are reporting challenges in finding buildable lots, which could limit their ability to meet this demand.”
Indeed, in an NAHB/Wells Fargo survey in December, cost and availability of labor was the No. 1 problem builders reported, followed by building material prices and lot availability.
Dietz says material prices have jumped up to one of the top two concerns in recent months.
In February alone, softwood lumber rose 5.8%, which was the material’s highest jump since 2012 even after a year marked with increases in the category, according to Eye on Housing. Gypsum was up 4.2%, OSB climbed 3.1%, and ready-mix concrete was up 0.4%. The NAHB also has expressed concerns about the impact of steel tariffs on construction costs, particularly in the wake of the softwood lumber tariffs.
The challenges of inventory that have kept the housing market at a slower pace could prove beneficial should the larger economic picture show signs of decline. “The amount of pent-up demand is sizable due to years of underbuilding,” Dietz notes. “We don’t have a recession in our forecast in the next couple of years. I think the industry is set for some growth. Short-term [factors are] based on cost and interest rates. The long-run [factors are] demographics, and those are in our favor for building more single-family homes.”
Key drivers of the growth over the next several years, the research firm reports, will be increasing new-home completions, particularly in the South and West, growth in residential re-siding activity, and an increase in light commercial projects such as retail, offices, and restaurants.
The Freedonia Group cited Boral as one of the industry’s leading players, alongside CertainTeed, James Hardie, LP, and Ply Gem.
Outdoor Living Remains Strong
In AIA’s latest Home Design Trends survey, architects indicated that demand for outdoor living is not only popular, but surging. Outdoor living was the most desired feature in the study, with 70% of architects reporting its popularity increasing minus those reporting it as decreasing. This figure was up from 58% in 2016.
By contrast, the next most popular special room was the mudroom, at 36% and declining.
Elsewhere in the survey, low maintenance products continue to be an in-demand product feature, with 63% of architects reporting an increase minus those reporting a decrease, compared to 59% the previous year. The only feature more popular was smart thermostats, at 64%. Synthetic materials were third most popular, rising from 48% to 52%.
Reflecting today’s trends, other special features in higher demand were multi-generational accessibility, first-floor master bedrooms, and wider doorways and hallways.
For remodelers and homeowners looking to maximize return on investment, manufactured stone veneer is a safe bet, according to the Remodeling 2018 Cost vs. Value report. In the annual study, materials such as Boral Versetta Stone® offered 97.1% payback on investment at the national level, second only to garage doors. Exterior facelifts overall also proved high in value.
Published in January, the Cost vs. Value report is an annual survey from Remodeling magazine that offers insights into which remodeling projects deliver the highest perceived return in resale value.
The measurement for manufactured stone veneer is based on replacing a 300-square-foot continuous band of vinyl siding from the bottom third of the front of the home and replacing it with manufactured stone veneer, sills, corners, and an address block. This year’s 97.1% perceived ROI is an increase over 2017’s report, where the material offered an 89% return.
On a regional level, manufactured stone veneer offered the highest returns, of 125.5%, in the Pacific region (Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Hawaii).
Overall, exterior projects are paying off, as well. “Except for the minor kitchen remodel, work done on the exterior of the house generated higher returns than did interior renovations,” the magazine stated.
Indeed, exterior projects made up seven of the 10 projects with the highest returns. Among those was siding replacement, which took the fifth spot with a national average of 76.7% cost recoup, up just a hair from 2017’s report.
Regionally, the Pacific again posted higher returns in the siding category, at 86.6%. ROI was also above average in the South Atlantic (82.2%) and New England (80.2%) regions.
Other highlights from the report:
Compared to previous years, upscale and large projects declined in value. “Growing concerns nationwide about affordability could be leading real estate pros to question moves that would make a house even more expensive at resale than it is now,” the magazine speculated.
Overall, average payback of the 20 common projects in 100 major markets declined, from 57.9% to 56.8%. Remodeling magazine attributes this to rising costs across all 20 projects versus values increasing in just two-thirds of the projects. The magazine expects that trend to continue this year, with high demand from hurricane and fire recovery keeping prices higher.
As indicated in the two siding categories above, tech regions in the West, where inventory is low and housing prices have skyrocketed faster than national averages, are reporting higher returns than most others. “Real estate professionals in Silicon Valley rated 17 of our 20 projects as likely to generate more in resale value than project cost if the home where the work occurred was sold within a year,” Remodeling said. “The same was true for 12 projects in San Francisco and the North Bay market of Santa Rosa and for six projects in Seattle.”