Love the look of stone for your projects but looking for a more modern aesthetic? Carved Block combines the mortar-free installation benefits of Versetta Stone with a split-stone look perfect for contemporary and commercial designs.
Like all Versetta Stone profiles, Carved Block offers a panelized format that installs easily with screws or nails, suitable for traditional siding contractors or carpenters; no metal lath or scratch coat needed.
Carved Block comes in two colors: Midnight, featuring gray, black, and subtle tones of brown for darker applications, and Sea Salt, with lighter tones of taupe and white for the crisp appearance of split block stone.
Here are a few projects featuring Carved Block’s contemporary stone look to spark the imagination:
Carved Block in Sea Salt lends a contemporary edge to this traditional home, perfectly complementing the brick and large windows and shutters.
Carved Block in Midnight provides an eye-catching accent for this home’s entryway while complementing the modern feel of the large, crisp cladding panels.
With the look of chiseled stone, Carved Block offers an ideal alternative to traditional concrete blocks for commercial applications, with fast, easy installation.
As seen in this commercial project, Versetta Stone in Carved Block installs anywhere without the need for additional footings for support.
As the building industry navigated the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 18 months, siding, like many categories, weathered the ups and downs—from uncertainties at the beginning to booming demand a short time later to the subsequent ebb and flow of supply challenges. The continued story is the strength of the new construction and remodeling markets, with particular focus on homeowners revamping exteriors and other areas of their homes.
But even in a year unlike any other, the trends we’ve witnessed and the core demands of building pros and their customers has, in many ways, also held steady, with familiar trends remaining at or near the forefront. LBM Journal explored what’s new, and what’s not, in its annual In Depth feature on siding, published this month.
Here are a few of the things they found:
Pandemic Increases Demand
As stuck-at-home homeowners refreshed their spaces, siding surged. “Many homeowners spent quarantine finally tackling their to-do lists, and the exterior was a great place to start,” Boral Building Products’ Brand Manager Ben Drury told the magazine. “We saw an increase in interest from DIYers, particularly in simple exterior projects that make a big impact, such as replacing aging siding, adding gable vents or decorative mounting blocks, or installing decorative trim.”
The magazine says the combination of a robust housing market and low interest rates is creating a positive outlook for siding in the coming months, too.
Continued success, of course, relies on manufacturers’ ability to meet the current challenges of supply and demand, said writer Mike Berger. One manufacturer noted that the industry could be taking 20% to 30% more orders daily if not for material and labor shortages.
Above all else, manufacturers said, keeping inventory stocked will be a critical factor and, alongside that, clear communication with customers is essential. “What we’re experiencing is unprecedented demand coupled with a 10-year undersupplied market,” manufacturer RoyOMartin noted. “Builders need to pre-order what they can; those who wait for prices to come down have lost contracts.”
Perhaps in conjunction with creating homes that are sanctuary spaces of respite, manufacturers report that clean lines and authentic details are still very much in demand. Within this, Modern Farmhouse and Craftsman looks continue to thrive, Berger noted. “Vertical and board-and-batten siding are quite popular right now,” Boral’s Drury explained in the article, with other manufacturers noting similar trends. “These installation approaches are an easy way to add dimension and visual interest to the home exterior. Vertical applications also can help elevate gables and other accent areas.”
Low Maintenance Rules
Low-maintenance has become so trendy it hardly bears being called a trend anymore, with “manufacturers report[ing] it as one of the single biggest differentiators when it comes to purchase decisions,” LBM Journal noted.
Products that mimic wood but without the associated upkeep continue to attract attention from older and younger buyers alike, neither of whom want to spend their summer weekends painting and staining but still cherish a natural, authentic aesthetic. (Try TruExterior Siding, made with a proprietary poly-ash material to combine authentic looks with high performance, or Foundry’s Grayne Shingle Siding, which perfectly replicates the look of cedar.)
The Supply Channel Is Adapting
Even before the social distancing brought by the pandemic, the industry was facing pressure to be more innovative and more willing to switch to technology-based inventory and purchasing solutions. “For years, physical displays have been a mainstay of product information and a key method for conveying how a product will look once installed,” Berger wrote. “But that was then—this is now. In addition to the tried and true, the successful LBM dealer will avail themselves of virtual tools to help impart product knowledge.”
Berger pointed to virtual design tools that show customers how products will look on their homes (such as the Virtual Remodeler tool) as one method. But even as technology infiltrates the buying process, nothing negates the need for dealers to understand the products they sell and the value they bring to customers in helping find the ideal solution for each project.
The appearance of shutters and their impact on the home’s aesthetics not only depends on the style and color, but also how they’re installed and what type of hardware is chosen. Hardware is a small detail—but one that can have a dramatic influence on the home’s authenticity.
Here are a few strategies to keep in mind when choosing hardware for shutters.
• Seek guidance: Choosing the right hardware for custom shutters requires some basic expertise—and even a bit of math. When in doubt, talk to an experienced dealer or the manufacturer’s representative. They can provide advice on the proper hinge and pintel offsets for your shutters and the home to ensure you get the look you’re striving for.
• Consider the home’s age: If the home is older or the style is vintage, select hardware that contributes to an authentic look. For example, a slide bolt can help keep shutters closed while adding an old-timey appearance. Visible S holdbacks and rat-tail holdbacks also add a historic vibe. In addition, older homes typically have shutters that sit back at an angle in the open position, whereas shutters for today’s homes tend to lie flat, so consider how different offsets of the hinge and the pintel will impact the way the shutter sits.
• Take cladding into account: Shutters will sit differently on different types of cladding, both in material and style, because it impacts how the window is installed. Brick homes, for example, will require hardware attachment to the brickmold and allow the shutter to close into the recess of the window and when open to lay outside on the brick. Hardware also is available to accommodate lap siding and trim board, among other styles and materials.
• Account for shutter thickness: The thickness of the shutter will impact which offsets are needed for proper operation. The thickness must be considered when choosing hardware to ensure the shutter closes properly. Your dealer can assist with calculating the thickness of the shutter in relation to the pintel and the hinge. Bring pictures of the exterior so they can account for brickmold and window trim.
• Consider visibility: Determine if you want visible hardware from the front or back. For front-exposed hardware, for example, a strap hinge will look more appealing than an L hinge, especially if the shutter has three hinges; if exposed to the rear, hinge style is less important.
• Consider adding acorn holdbacks: For tall shutters (such as those 5 feet and above), decorative holdbacks, such as an S holdback, sit low on the shutter and do not hold the top of the shutter. This one holdback may not be strong enough to prevent vibration in wind. Adding acorn holdbacks behind the shutter can help anchor the shutter to prevent movement and potential scratching while retaining the look of the S holdback on the front.
• Conduct occasional maintenance: Made of 304 stainless steel, Atlantic shutter hardware doesn’t need much maintenance, but can be cleaned of pollen and dust when necessary. Clean with mild soapy water and a soft cloth, not with a heavy bristle brush.
Get inspired to achieve the perfect look by browsing Atlantic Premium Shutters’ hardware options here.
Each May, some of the industry’s supply channel-focused publications release annual reports, listing the industry’s leading LBM dealers and distributors as well as the economic trends that have shaped their businesses the previous year.
This year saw the release of two new lists—the LBM Journal 100 and the Construction Supply 150 from Webb Analytics—which were published in May following one of the most unprecedented years in construction history. From the uncertainties at the onset of the pandemic to the housing and remodeling boom that soon followed to the supply and pricing challenges going on now, the building supply industry has been challenged in ways most had never seen before. And many dealers navigated extremely successfully.
Here are a few observations from LBM Journal and Webb Analytics for how dealers and distributors weathered 2020 and what trends are shaping up in 2021.
• Acquisitions continued: LBM dealers continued to scoop each other up. The most high-profile was Builders FirstSource purchasing BMC, growing from 440 locations to 550 locations in the process. But the moves weren’t limited to the big players, with dealers of all sizes taking advantage of opportunities to expand in size and geography via acquisition.
• Retail sales big, commercial suffers: With the surge in home improvement and DIY projects, it’s not surprising that home centers and dealers with heavy percentages of retail customers posted some of the biggest growth last year, as reported by the Construction Supply 150. Unfortunately, companies selling commercial-heavy inventories, such as steel studs and ceiling systems, saw declines. “It’s pretty clear that homebuilding will remain strong, and surveys suggest big-ticket remodeling will rebound as homeowners become less fearful of having remodelers working in their kitchens and baths,” Craig Webb wrote in the CS150.
In looking ahead to this year, a majority of CS150 respondents believe new construction and remodeling will continue to grow, but most expect retail sales, as well as multifamily and commercial, to remain the same.
• Labor remains a challenge: 77% of the LBM Journal 100 reported challenges with recruiting, hiring, and retaining employees, with drivers and yard workers the hardest-to-fill positions.
• The power of relationships: LBM dealers have always touted the importance of employees and customer relationships, but the pandemic drove that home even more. “The silver lining of the pandemic for us has definitely been relationships,” Charlie Parks, co-owner and vice president of Parks Lumber & Building Supply told LBM Journal. “We have developed stronger relationships with our customers, suppliers, and even with other supply houses in the area that we have done some dealing back and forth with during the shortage.”
• Installed sales: More than half of the Construction Supply 150 conduct installed sales. The most popular product categories include entry doors, cabinets, countertops, interior doors, and bathroom vanities.
• E-commerce expanding…slowly: The construction industry is notorious for slow adoption of technology, but the pandemic helped speed things along. LBM Journal found that while only 33% of leading dealers are offering online sales, 78% said online sales were significantly or slightly higher than the year before. As Webb noted in the Construction Supply 150, “true online shopping is unlikely to become ubiquitous until dealers figure out how to automatically adjust a price based on the customer.”