Energy Efficiency Takes Center Stage for Texas Off-Grid House

Jon Dawson's off-grid house includes Cedar Renditions in the porch ceilings and soffits.

On a sprawling piece of land outside Fort Worth, Texas, builder Jon Dawson is putting his experience and ingenuity—and dreams—to work, building an off-grid house with energy efficiency and performance top of mind.

When completed, the 1,280-square-foot, three-bed/two-bath house with cedar looks will serve as a temporary home for Dawson and his wife while they build the main house on the property, and then will stand as a guest house. “The goal of this home is to remove myself from the rat race and have my own little piece of paradise,” Dawson says.

Cedar Looks Lend Beauty to Off-Grid House

Taking advantage of the ranch’s 360-degree views, the home is positioned on a hill facing the sunset. An expansive, 1,000-square-foot porch wraps around two sides, with overhangs blocking radiant heat from the large sliding doors in the afternoons.

After considering several options, including vinyl and wood, Dawson chose Cedar Renditions® for the soffit and overhangs for the rear of the home and for the ceiling of the vaulted front porch. “It was the most realistic looking and appealing product I could see,” he says. “When I saw it had a rich cedar color, it was a no brainer. There’s no maintenance needed, no waste, it’s easy to install, and lasts a long time.”

Dawson admits he was nervous to install aluminum siding for the first time, but found Cedar Renditions to be straightforward. “Install the J channel and slide the panels in—it was foolproof. Cutting was easy with a miter saw, and using snips for the can lights,” he recalls. “I finished my covered porch, a 20×10 vaulted ceiling, in a day by myself.”

The Cedar Bark color of the Cedar Renditions matches the color of the deck boards for a cohesive look.

Energy Efficiency Starts With Robust Envelope

Beyond looks, Dawson sought to infuse energy efficiency at every turn while staying within his budget. After a lot of research he ended up with Passive House-inspired perfect-framed walls, which eliminates exposed eaves. He used mineral wool cavity insulation, then added 1-1/2” of rigid foam to the exterior walls to eliminate thermal breaks.

The roof system also has 3” of the polyiso foam board plus a 1” gap underneath the metal panels to provide circulation and cooling, helping to keep the framing from transferring heat into the attic.

“All insulation meets at every point, so when the sun hits, it doesn’t transfer to the framing,” Dawson says.

Inside, Dawson installed DIY-friendly mini-split systems. A Span Panel smart electrical panel provides usage data for each breaker. “I know exactly how much energy I’m using at any given time,” Dawson explained. “It gives me an understanding on how to use the home in efficient ways.”

Prior to completion, Dawson will add solar panels, keeping the house off the electrical grid. The property has a well along with a 1,000-gallon cistern for storing rainwater, which will be used for chickens and horses.

Throughout the build, Dawson has turned to other industry experts for guidance, and has chronicled the journey on his Instagram channel. Follow along here.

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Project Gallery: Cedar Renditions at Work in Ontario

Cedar Renditions on modern home by Tip Top Exteriors

One glance at Tip Top Exteriors’ Instagram page and it’s clear that owner Joe St. Angelo and his crew are facade experts. Whether cladding a new Modern Farmhouse or replacing aging siding on a traditional split-level, the team’s exteriors deliver eye-catching looks and reliable performance alike. 

Tip Top Exteriors uses a variety of siding materials and profiles in its work, and St. Angelo often turns to Cedar Renditions® siding from Westlake Royal Building Products™ for accents as well as for porch ceilings and soffits.

As an accent, Cedar Renditions provides an easy way to create the multi-textured facades that are currently in high demand. Apply in key detail areas or to bumpouts and other prominent features. In addition, adding vertical or horizontal bands can help avoid the seams brought by long expanses of siding. For porches, Cedar Renditions offers the perfect wood-look accent for a streamlined finish.

Modern and high-end in appearance, Cedar Renditions comes in seven woodgrain colors with a fade-resistant PVDF top coat. The siding is water-resistant, impervious to cold, insect-resistant, durable, and virtually maintenance free.

Cedar Renditions on Homes in Ontario

Along with aesthetics, Tip Top Exteriors relies on Cedar Renditions for its simple installation. Corner posts and J-channels provide starting points, then panels install easily with a drop-in interlock system.

“It’s easy to quote and install. You don’t need to be a carpenter,” St. Angelo says. “While wood is sometimes cheaper, it requires a more skilled install. Cedar Renditions is low maintenance and lasts.”

St. Angelo recommends pre-planning your layout to avoid seams. With porches, he plans for application direction based on which orientation will create the fewest seams and the least waste.

(Watch Tip Top Exteriors install a porch ceiling with Cedar Renditions here.)

In addition, he says, make sure the plane is level. This will ensure that the screws won’t need to be overtightened, which can lead to indents and affect the aesthetic.

Tip Top Exteriors has installed the siding on homes of numerous styles, from traditional to modern. Here are a few recently completed projects:

Niagara Falls, Ontario:
For this project, Tip Top Exteriors installed Westlake Royal Building Products™ Haven® insulated siding in the D5 profile on three sides of the house, then used Cedar Renditions for the porch ceiling, installed perpendicular to eliminate the chance of seams.

Modern Trio, St. Catherine’s, Ontario
For these three spec houses, Cedar Renditions accents helped Tip Top Exteriors achieve the modern look the builder was seeking while still keeping the project on budget.

This home combines blended stone hues with Cedar Renditions 6” siding in Charwood. The dark brown complements the darker grays and taupes in the stone.

The other two homes in the modern trio feature a more muted stone palette with the lighter tones of Cedar Renditions in Cedar Bark. St. Angelo likes the way the lighter tones show the wood grain and complement the dark siding on the sides of the house. 

Cedar Renditions on Tip Top Exteriors modern homes in Ontario

“You can pair Cedar Renditions with anything—stone, fiber cement, and more,” St. Angelo says. “You can use it as the soffit, as the siding, an accent on the porch, or a single accent in center. Add a 2-foot strip and it completely sets the home apart.”

To learn more, see additional projects, and request samples, click here.

Celect Cellular Composite Siding Offers Low-Maintenance Solution for California Houseboat

Houseboats featuring Celect and Cedar Renditions siding

When it comes to dream homes, you can’t get much more dreamy than a houseboat. And this 840-square-foot houseboat completed last year by Brad Schnoor is no exception.

Located in inland central California east of Modesto, Don Pedro Lake offers 160 miles of shoreline and a host of activities including boating, swimming, and waterskiing. It’s also a popular houseboating spot, with Schnoor’s project one of its most recent remodels.

For his first houseboat project, Schnoor took the home down to its studs, keeping only the original steel frame and pontoons.

Inside is fully modernized with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, plus a great room with kitchen and living room. Outdoor living spaces envelope the home, with a covered porch on the lower level and the top level featuring a fully outfitted outdoor kitchen, bar seating, lounge area, canopy, and ceiling fans.

In creating the exterior, Schnoor did a lot of research into what cladding was the best fit for a home on the water, and he eventually requested a sample of Celect™ Cellular Composite Siding. “I knew there wouldn’t be rot or rust issues,” Schnoor recalls.

Indeed, Celect combines the look of real wood but is engineered to stand up to harsh weather conditions, is low maintenance, and has a fade-resistant Kynar Aquatec® coating. Celect requires no painting or caulking, and its patented interlocking joints keep moisture out so boards stay straight and true.

The houseboat’s entire exterior is clad in 7” Celect clapboard siding and Celect trim, both in Frost. After almost a year on the water, Schnoor reports that he has seen no movement, despite the moisture and the area’s vast temperature swings. “We’re completely happy with how it turned out,” the builder says. “We’re really pleased, and we get lots of questions about it.”

Schnoor says he plans to use Celect for future houseboat and coastal projects based on its performance.

Cedar Renditions 6” Soffit

In addition to Celect siding, Schnoor installed Cedar Renditions™ 6” aluminum soffit, in the Grey Oak color, on the ceiling of both lower- and upper-level outdoor spaces. Cedar Renditions is water-resistant, impervious to cold, insect-proof, and extremely durable while remaining virtually maintenance free.

Westlake Royal Building Products Adds Board & Batten Profile to Cedar Renditions Siding

Cedar Renditions Board and Batten

Westlake Royal Building Products announced the addition of a Board & Batten siding profile to its award-winning Cedar Renditions by Royal® aluminum siding line

The Cedar Renditions™ Board & Batten siding has a unique woodgrain look that can be used as an accent to enhance any exterior facade. The Board & Batten profile can also be a beautiful complement to the existing Cedar Renditions siding, together with the trim and accessories. 

“With the previous success of this line with architects in both the U.S. and Canada, we are thrilled to now include a Board & Batten profile that enables designers and builders to easily achieve a modern or classic design exterior with premium aluminum products,” said Steve Booz, Vice President of Marketing for Westlake Royal Building Products. 

In addition, and exclusive only to the Canadian market, two new on-trend dark blue shades, Marine Blue and Midnight Surf, will also be added to the Cedar Renditions trim coil color options.

Cedar Renditions is a sleek and modern aluminum accent siding that provides exceptional curb appeal without the maintenance or flammability issues of wood. In addition to offering a modern-looking, distinctive and unique appearance, it offers several benefits:

• Unique traditional woodgrains and premium multi-tonal woodgrain designs
• Vertical siding alternative to complement a façade’s design
• PVDF paint technology for exceptional fade resistance and durability 
• Moisture proof
• Easy to install
• Non-flammable

Cedar Renditions by Royal is backed by a 25-year Prorated Limited Warranty and can be purchased through select distributors across the U.S. and Canada. For more information about product specifications and warranty terms, or to locate a distributor, visit https://royalbuildingproducts.com/cedarrenditions.

Cedar Renditions: Modern Cedar Meets Low Maintenance

Cedar Renditions aluminum siding

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Cedar Renditions here.

6 Lifestyle Shifts Influencing Exterior and Interior Design

Exterior Portfolio siding in blue

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

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

1. Biophilic Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Optimizing Your Outdoor Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Balancing Modern with Traditional

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

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

6. Metro Mojo: Urban Aesthetics for the Sophisticated Suburbs

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

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

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

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