The new PROS social channels exist to inspire, entertain, celebrate, and foster collaboration with the talented architects, builders, contractors, designers, and others who bring dreams and visions to life. In the early stages of our new platforms, we’ll be sharing inspiring photo and video content from building pros and suppliers.
Soon, you’ll also see a range of original content, including socially optimized training sessions and Q&As, installation how-tos and tips, jobsite footage, and much more. We plan to showcase collaborations with influencers throughout the year and provide high-quality on-site content—builder interviews, jobsite footage, project highlights—designed to highlight and serve building pros. And keep a lookout for giveaways.
We are building the Westlake Royal PROS community together—for and with our pros—so we’re asking our legacy followers, brand users, and new customers to get involved and stay tuned for more great stuff in the works.
After missing last year’s International Builders’ Show due to the pandemic, builders, remodelers, designers, and other building pros descended on Orlando Feb. 8-10 with enthusiasm. In fact, NAHB is reporting that 70,00 people attended Design & Construction Week, the combination of the International Builders’ Show and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show.
We were excited to be at the show under our new family at Westlake Royal Building Products. Boral North America was acquired by Westlake last year, and the new Westlake Royal Building Products brand brings together the rich legacy of three leading North American Building Product Manufacturers: Royal® Building Products, Boral® North America building products, and DaVinci® Roofscapes.
We also debuted our new TruExterior 5/8” Lap Siding, available this spring. The new profile combines the coveted look and shadow lines of traditional lap siding with the high performance of TruExterior’s poly-ash material.
Couldn’t make the trip to Orlando? Here are a few observations and happenings from the show floor.
• Serious commitment: Where in year’s past many show attendees were there to browse or reward employees, this year’s attendees meant business, eager to learn, connect, and place orders. The cause could be the pandemic or the urgency of a tight supply chain, but we were thrilled to have numerous detailed discussions with new and existing customers.
• Influencers galore: Influencers have been around for years, but we saw more of them than ever this year, recording their experiences and chronicling trends. These influencers are often skilled craftspeople and savvy designers, so seeking them out on social platforms can give you a great view of the show.
• Fewer new products: Where in years’ past many manufacturers unveiled a host of new products and materials, it seemed they weren’t as prevalent this year, perhaps driven by companies’ ongoing focus on filling orders and overcoming supply chain issues. But the show wasn’t completely devoid of new items. In addition to our TruExterior 5/8” Lap Siding, check out product roundups from The Journal of Light Construction and Pro Builder
• Enthusiasm and relief: For many attendees, attending IBS brought a sense of normalcy. While the industry was quick to adapt to the pandemic with virtual meetings, construction also relies on handshakes, face-to-face problem-solving, and seeing products in person. There was a palpable sense of excitement for the return to the industry’s biggest annual event.
With the enthusiasm and overall positive vibes from this year’s Builders’ Show, many are already getting excited for next year’s Design & Construction Week, which will return to Las Vegas Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2023. Adding to the anticipation was the announcement that the National Hardware Show will co-locate with IBS and KBIS in 2023.
TruExterior Siding & Trim combines the look of wood with high-performance attributes that allow for high levels of dimensional stability and low maintenance. Plus, TruExterior is easy to install. In fact, contractors find working with TruExterior faster and easier than working with wood. You can cut, miter, and apply TruExterior siding with very few limitations.
In addition, TruExterior doesn’t require sealing of end cuts in the field, can be used in ground-contact applications, and can be painted any color.
Check out our new three-part video series where contractor and educator Mike Sloggatt outlines the steps and best practices for installing TruExterior Siding in a horizontal application.
Chapter 1: Setup
Learn how to install the corners, mark reference lines and nailing patterns, use a story pole to set up the skirt board and throughout panel installation, and install the skirt board.
Chapter 2: Installation
Learn more about skirt boards, how to properly align fasteners, joints, tools, and more.
Chapter 3: Corners
Learn about different corner options and how to install them.
Learn more about installing TruExterior Siding & Trim and download installation guides here.
After going virtual in 2021 due to the pandemic, the International Builders’ Show returns in-person, and returns to Orlando, Feb. 8-10, 2022. Once again the show is co-located with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) for Design & Construction Week.
Along with general excitement for the return of face-to-face events, here are some must-dos to help you get the most out of your show experience.
As usual, the IBS conference is packed with helpful sessions, including trends, design, installation, and business tools. Here are a few that caught our eye:
In addition to cruising the exhibit floor and attending knowledge sessions, you can see the latest in design and product trends through show homes and tours. This year, these include:
• ProBuilder Show Village Located just steps outside the convention center, this year’s Show Village features four homes that respond to what people value today: greater flexibility, more private outdoor space, and safety and health as a top priority. Take a self-guided tour, watch live how-to demos, view exclusive exhibits, and more. More details: https://pbshowvillage.com/
• The New American Home Each year, The New American Home showcases the newest products and design trends, as well as the latest construction practices that ensure efficient, durable homes. This year’s show home is located in Laureate Park at Lake Nona and is being designed to achieve National Green Building Standard “Emerald” certification, Energy Star Certification, Indoor airPLUS Certification, DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home Program Certification, and net-zero. Details and tour/shuttle ticket info: https://www.tnah.com/
• The New American Remodel This year’s New American Remodel is a one-story, 6,993-square-foot property featuring indoor-outdoor living, a detached guest house, and a luxurious summer kitchen. Like The New American Home, it is being remodeled to achieve National Green Building Standard “Emerald” certification, Energy Star Certification, Indoor airPLUS Certification, DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home Program Certification, and net-zero. Details and tour/shuttle ticket info: https://www.tnarh.com/
• IBS Building Zone Get the latest expertise on building more durable, energy-efficient, higher-quality homes. Across the three days, you’ll find how-to demos, presentations diving deeper into demo techniques and best practices, and full-size displays of walls, roofs, and other components for an up-close look at the details being discussed. More details: https://www.buildersshow.com/focus/focus.aspx?showPageID=21226
• Outdoor Living Pavilion Head to the South Hall for the Design & Construction Week Outdoor Pavilion, showcasing the latest outdoor/backyard products, from decking to lighting to appliances.
See What’s New From Westlake Royal Building Products at booth W2520
Boral Building Products recently joined the Westlake Exteriors family, and we’re excited to see you at IBS at the Westlake Royal Building Products booth, #W2520. IBS marks the official debut of the new Westlake Royal Building Products brand, bringing together the rich legacy of three leading North American Building Products Manufacturers: Royal® Building Products, Boral® North America building products, and DaVinci® Roofscapes.
At our booth, you’ll find a breadth of innovative exterior and interior building products, including the brand-new 5/8” Lap Siding from TruExterior. The new profile combines the coveted look and shadow lines of traditional lap siding with the high performance of TruExterior’s poly-ash material.
Get your free Builders’ Show expo pass, which includes access to the exhibits at both the International Builders’ Show and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, here: https://ibs22.buildersshow.com/928
Renderings aren’t a new concept—architects have relied on them for decades, and builders have often employed them for marketing materials. But advancements in technology for renderings and computer-generated images (CGI) are making these tools even more relevant to home selling, both as a way to market and sell homes as well as to assist buyers with purchasing decisions. And as the pandemic accelerates virtual selling, builders who don’t get on board might find themselves falling behind with digital-savvy (and digital-expectant) younger buyers.
We checked in with Bob Masulis, president of RM Design Studio in Bartlett, Ill., about the importance of leveraging today’s visualization tools—and why they’re more important than ever.
What Are the Benefits of Using Renderings?
For those who specialize in renderings and CGI, the goal is, essentially, to make a pretty picture, Masulis says. “Whatever you’re selling—a property, a product—you come to us to create something cool for marketing.”
Drawings and renderings are not new in brochures and marketing materials, but new innovations and better imaging are elevating their use. In new master-planned communities, CGI and virtual experiences fill the void before model homes are built.
Floor plans just aren’t sufficient to help potential buyers fully understand and experience the eventual finished product, but realistic renderings and CGI give them the ability to see the kitchen, bathrooms, family room, etc., providing a better understanding of what’s being built.
This means the builders and developers are able to cost effectively show their home the day the community opens for sale, adding tremendous marketing capability that can accelerate the sales process to help save time and money in the long run.
Along with more realistic and relatable visuals compared to a flat floor plan, renderings offer the right size and scale, which makes it easier to compare the sizes of the rooms. They also can show features less visible in a plan, such as a tray ceiling, without the buyer having to decipher small words and labels.
“It gives people a feeling for what the homes in the community will look like—it gives them physical and emotional scale,” Masulis notes. “It takes undefinable numbers and measurements and turns it into something emotional.”
Renderings also can help strengthen the community approval process. RM Design Studio, for example, can take a developer’s sketch and turn it into a rendering that looks like it’s been designed and photographed, elevating presentations for public hearings and design review boards.
What’s Changed With Renderings?
Of course, renderings aren’t a new concept. But computers and technology have advanced rapidly over the past decade—just in time to keep up with surging demand for digital-first sales.
Builders typically can only afford to build about three models, no matter how many plans they offer, relying on floor plans for the rest. But now, with CGI, you can very affordably build out the other models in virtual mode, allowing home buyers to see them in a way they’re more comfortable with. This not only opens up all models the day sales begin, it ensures a more balanced playing field for all plans.
These innovations have been especially welcome during the pandemic, as buyers have embraced virtual experiences to reduce in-person contact or shop from afar. Even as social distancing needs ease, expect these virtual selling tools to continue, particularly as Millennials and Gen Z become the chief buying demographic.
Using CGI tools provides for easier product swaps, as well. If products are discontinued or trends change over the course of a multi-year community build, they can be easily switched out in the virtual tours and renderings. It also allows builders to adjust and re-use the virtual models in other communities.
Virtual walk-throughs using computer-generated images immerse the buyer in the experience similar to touring a model home in person—they can spin around, “walk” from room to room, zoom in, learn more about features and products, and even swap out colors and materials.
You can experience this type of technology for yourself at Show Village during the upcoming International Builders’ Show. In addition to in-person tours, visitors near and far can tour the two demonstration homes via an “Immersive Home Experience” on their laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Virtual host “James” will point out key features, and visitors can click on icons for more details on various products and design elements.
The advantages don’t just benefit large builders and developers. For smaller operations selling small communities of semi-custom homes, virtual models can provide much-needed marketing relief and help sell the home before it’s completed, providing time to make changes to suit each buyer’s preferences.
For custom builders, renderings and CGI help buyers visualize how certain design decisions will impact the look and livability of their home. For example, Masulis used CGI to design his own kitchen remodel, and experimenting with the colors made him realize that the all-white cabinets he’d planned needed some balance with wood grain or color on the island. (See a similar process for yourself with Boral Building Products’ Virtual Remodeler tool.)
This type of visualization provides tremendous power for builder and buyer alike. By leveraging the capabilities of CGI and virtual selling tools, builders can not only more effectively sell, but can bring welcome confidence to customers that they’ll be getting the home they envision and the home of their dreams.
As we embark on a new year, some familiar stories are influencing home and remodeling trends. Most notably, the pandemic, with homeowners continuing to fill their stay-at-home time with projects inside and out. Supply chain and labor challenges persist, but aren’t stopping building pros and DIYers alike from creating beautiful spaces to live and work.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest trends in home exteriors this year:
1. Remodeling Reigns
The combination of the pandemic and low new-home inventory continues to drive interest in remodeling projects, despite ongoing supply chain challenges. Everything is on the table, including exterior revitalization and interior overhauls. On the exterior, homeowners tired of looking at faded, dated facades are replacing siding with authentic-looking profiles and trendy-but-resale-friendly colors. Alternatively, they’re adding easy upgrades such as new shutters, gable vents, and mounting blocks for a quick-but-impactful refresh.
2. Outdoor Living Going Strong
Not surprisingly, the trend toward outdoor living spaces endures, as Americans seek to expand the livable footprint of their homes, crave places of respite, and desire more space to entertain. And they’re looking for the comforts they enjoy indoors to be available outside, from stylish seating areas to outdoor heaters to decked-out kitchens and TVs.
When planning the outdoor space, look for ways to create designated areas, whether via multi-level decks or by creating visual breaks with different color deck boards used as picture framing or dividers. Fire pits or fireplaces are a must-have and can be dressed up with less hassle and lower costs by using a panelized stone product.
3. Modern & Contemporary Looks
Modern styles or contemporary twists on traditional styles continue to come on strong, and are migrating from the coasts to some traditional markets in the Midwest. Think single-sloped roofs, clean lines, and less ornamentation. Part of these trending looks includes the move toward black window frames, black stone accents, and black or dark-colored trim, often paired with white siding. (TruExterior poly-ash trim is a great option for this trend, as it can be painted dark colors, even black, without worry.)
Even in areas like Charleston, S.C., where traditional styles are beloved (and often mandated), small contemporary touches are appearing, including dark trims, dark stone, and black gutters. But here, traditional siding colors of light blues and neutrals remain the norm.
Within this trend, mitered corners are growing in popularity, providing the crisp, sleek look that works well with contemporary designs or provides a nod to modern. TruExterior works well here, too, because there’s less worry about cracking and splitting, so the look stays clean over time.
4. Modern Farmhouses Are Still In
Despite some predictions, social media and community models are still dominated by interpretations of the modern farmhouse look. Along with white, vertical siding, we’re seeing wood accents that are helping to keep the styles warm and cozy.
5. Vertical Siding
Not surprisingly, the modern farmhouse craze has driven interest in vertical siding for other types of homes, as well, especially in accent gables. Board-and-batten is taking market share from shake in some traditional regions.
6. Low Maintenance
When it comes to product durability, the desire for low maintenance materials remains strong. Homeowners are willing to pay a little more for products that don’t require frequent upkeep that costs them time and money year after year. This includes turning to siding alternatives that look like wood but don’t require regular painting or staining.
7. Easy Installation
As labor shortages persist, and as stuck-at-home homeowners tackle DIY projects on their own, products that can be installed quickly and easily will continue to hold favor. For example, Versetta Stone panelized stone siding installs with nails or screws without sacrificing the sought-after look of stone, making it an easy option for exterior siding, interior accent walls, and fireplace surrounds.
With a portfolio of siding, trim, and accessory brands, Boral Building Products makes it easy to respond to the trends in your market. Learn more here.
Foundry’s Grayne Shingle Siding not only offers a beautiful aesthetic that replicates the look of cedar, it’s easy to install with minimal waste.
How easy? Check out our new three-part video series where contractor and educator Mike Sloggatt outlines the steps and best practices along the way.
Chapter 1: Getting started
Learn how to mark reference lines, including using a story pole to reference off the control line, preparing outside and inside corners and flashing, and installing the starter strip
Chapter 2: Layout
In this part, learn how to offset the panels to avoid repeating patterns and best practices for cutting panels.
Chapter 3: Installing the Panels
Learn how to install the panels, including preserving the offset pattern, proper gapping, locking in the panels, and proper nailing and nail placement, as well as installing inside corners and starting on an adjacent wall.
Learn more about Foundry Grayne shingle siding here.
Fine Homebuilding magazine recently completed its 2020-2021 demonstration home, the magazine’s first remodeled show house, in Greenwich, Conn. The 80-year-old house underwent a transformation that included a dramatic modernization in style and a deep energy retrofit.
The team updated the home’s layout, opening it up inside and infusing it with a Scandinavian-inspired aesthetic. The team tackled the homeowners’ desire for high performance through a range of details, including air-sealing, insulation, and mechanical systems, with a goal of net-zero energy and Passive House performance.
The original cedar exterior was transformed by TruExterior Shiplap Channel siding in a vertical orientation and painted in Benjamin Moore’s Glacier White to complete the Modern Farmhouse look. TruExterior’s reversible Shiplap-Nickel Gap profile provides a finishing touch on the gable around the balcony door and on the porch ceiling.
“TruExterior is really unlike any other siding or trim material on the market,” said Fine Homebuilding’s Justin Fink. “It cuts and handles just like wood, but it’s more durable, more temperature stable than PVC, and it takes paint beautifully.”
Three major paint manufacturers—Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, and Behr—have released their 2022 Colors of the Year. Surprisingly, all three are various shades soothing, subtle greens. Less surprising are the common adjectives and themes that guided their selections, with words like “calm,” “fresh,” “cool,” “peace,” and “hope.” After two years of the pandemic, the trending color palettes reflect not only our collective need to create a peaceful sanctuary at home, but also infuse modern creativity to find our passions and move forward.
Here’s a closer look at the three color palettes.
2022 Colors of the Year
Benjamin Moore named October Mist as its Color Of the Year 2022. “The gently shaded sage quietly anchors a space, while encouraging individual expression through color,” the company says.
October Mist is one of 14 hues in a palette the company calls, “harmonious yet diverse, reliable yet whimsical, and meditative yet eclectic.” The collection includes luminous pales such as Hint of Violet and Quiet Moments, botanicals like Pale Moon, and refreshed primaries such as Wild Flower.
Sherwin-Williams’ Color of the Year 2022 is Evergreen Fog, a simple but sophisticated green-gray that the company describes as soothing and subtle. “Get a fresh start with a restorative shade that breathes freshness into modern interiors,” the manufacturer says.
Behr’s Color of the Year—Breezeway—is “a silvery green shade with cool undertones,” the manufacturer describes. “The color is inspired by naturally stunning sea glass found on the shore of salty beaches. … It evokes feelings of coolness and peace while representing a desire to move forward and discover newfound passions.”
In its Color Trends 2022 Palette designed to inspire a hopeful start to the new year, Behr pairs Breezeway with 19 soothing shades and warm tones ranging from a muted clay-pink Sunwashed Brick to a bold terracotta red Perfect Penny.
Though the colors of the year tend to address interiors, it’s important to consider the flow from inside to out. Rather than strict lines between bold exteriors and relaxed interiors, a fluid progression is worth considering to ensure harmony as homeowners frequently blend indoor and outdoor living.
Ready to take advantage of the latest color trends? Boral Building Products’ exterior siding and trim products offer the perfect opportunity to incorporate similar hues to the Colors of the Year. Check out the range of muted neutrals available from Foundry Siding (like the Shakes pictured above), learn how Atlantic Shutters can be matched to nearly any color, and explore how TruExterior Siding & Trim can be painted any color, making it easy to respond to the latest preferences.
With construction going as strong as ever and labor shortages prominent around the country, slowing down for cold, wet weather isn’t always an option for many workers. Here are a few winter work gear picks to help keep you comfortable on the jobsite as the temps start to drop. (Disclaimer: Boral Building Products is not affiliated with the following companies and does not endorse the products.)
Insulated Bomber Jacket
New from Duluth Trading Co.’s 40 Grit brand, this bomber jacket is made with durable 9.9-ounce 100% cotton twill, a quilted insulated polyester lining, metal rivets at pressure points for added durability, and a ribbed collar, hem, and cuffs to keep out the cold. The jacket includes pen sleeves, snap-close handwarmer pockets, a utility chest pocket, and an inside pocket, along with a back loop for hanging.
Waterproof Work Boot
Combining durability and protection with cushioning and comfort engineering, CAT Footwear’s Accomplice X waterproof steel-toe work boots are ideal for everyday use, the company says. Features include a soft, breathable nylon mesh sock lining with pro-biotic odor control, a durable rubber outsole for traction, and Cement Construction for a durable-yet-lightweight feel.
Base Layer Pants
Designed for mild to cold conditions, Ergodyne’s N-Ferno 6481 Lightweight Base Layer Pants are made with lightweight, breathable stretch fabric to keep you warm without overheating and without a constricting or bulky feel. For added comfort, the pants also feature an elastic waistband, moisture-wicking technology, anti-odor technology, a breathable mesh fly, flatlock seams, and a tagless interior. The pants are machine washable.
Milwaukee Tool has launched the next generation of its M12 Heated ToughShell jackets. Powered by the company’s M12 RedLithium battery technology, Heated Gear distributes heat across body areas via carbon fiber heating elements woven in between exterior materials and thermal insulating liners. The new M12 Heated ToughShell features Stretch Polyester with 80% more stretch and five times longer life, offering better mobility and flexibility while being lightweight and comfortable. The new jacket heats up in 2.5 minutes and allows for battery placement in the front or back depending on the situation.
This hooded sweatshirt from Blaklader offers added warmth in high-vis yellow or orange. It features a large front pocket; interior phone pocket with zipper; a fixed, adjustable hood; and a ribbed hem. The sweatshirt includes reflective tape on the body, sleeves, and shoulders.
Winter Work Gloves
The Coldwork Original work glove from Mechanix is made with heavyweight fleece and C40 3M Thinsulate insulation, along with water-resistant SoftShell on the back to block out wind. The gloves’ palm side features synthetic leather with touchscreen-capable technology. Other details include a thermoplastic rubber closure for a secure fit and Armortex thumb saddle reinforcement. Five sizes are available.
This classic beanie from Dickies features a 4-inch fold-up cuff for a customizable fit. The hat is made with soft acrylic to trap heat and keep the head warm and comfortable. Fifteen colors are available, including neon yellow (shown), neon orange, black, brown duck, aged brick, oatmeal, and white.
Whether they own or rent, people want to be proud of where they live and feel good coming home. And whether it’s a custom single-family bungalow or a condo in a three-story multifamily building, first impressions are everything and comfort is paramount. Multifamily dwellers don’t want to sacrifice simply because they share walls and common areas—and savvy developers and builders are responding by paying closer attention to exterior facades and outdoor amenities.
Many trends trickle over from single-family design, and that’s certainly the case with the drive toward multi-textured facades. The days of building a 120-unit monotone apartment building with plain block under gray vinyl are fading fast. Like single-family homes, more multifamily properties are emerging with a blend of cladding materials and colors, such as stone and siding, EIFS and stone, or stone and brick. Leveraging multiple textures adds visual interest while adding dimension and differentiation between buildings, while accents and trimwork provide essential finishing touches. The resulting looks lean more home-like and comfortable instead of industrial and one-note.
Versetta Stone and TruExterior Siding offer an ideal combination for achieving these looks. Versetta Stone siding offers the look of stone but with a panelized format that installs like traditional siding along with a built-in rainscreen. Made with poly-ash technology, TruExterior Siding comes in a range of authentic profiles and can be painted any color, including dark hues that look great in multifamily buildings in urban or suburban areas.
Along similar lines, we’re seeing variation in dimension, with more balconies, decks, recesses, and bumpouts. Along with adding aesthetic appeal and differentiation, these features can help define individual units.
Because multiple materials also often means multiple trades, it increases the risk of failure in the wall system. Extra caution should be taken to ensure everyone works together and plans ahead collaboratively and schedules thoughtfully to ensure the integrity of the air and water barriers.
In fact, it’s wise to create a small-scale mockup, which will allow for more careful planning and upfront identification of problem areas.
COVID-19 lockdowns were harder on multifamily dwellers, who don’t have spacious yards to escape to, and further brought attention to the need to incorporate outdoor features into condo and apartment buildings. Creative incorporation through balconies, roof decks, courtyards, and pocket parks should be top of mind for builders, as the desire for these spaces isn’t likely to fade even as the pandemic does. Shared outdoor areas with fire pits and lounge seating are an ideal way to not only provide more room to move, but also build a sense of community that may keep tenants in place for longer.
The pandemic also saw a significant increase in pet ownership, so incorporating dog parks or dog-friendly areas also can be beneficial to residents and property managers alike.
On the transportation front, the impact of both electric bikes and electric cars shouldn’t be ignored. Consider not just space for bicycle parking, but covered areas that can protect electric bikes. And factor in spaces in your parking facilities that can accommodate car charging.
Fannie Mae expects the trends that helped multifamily turn around in 2021, following the impact of the pandemic, to continue elevating demand for the next five years. Ensure your properties are at the top of buyers’ and renters’ lists by keeping aesthetics, performance, and occupant comfort top of mind.
Creating multi-textured facades is easy with Boral Building Products’ portfolio of siding, trim, and accessory brands. Learn more here.
By now, many builders and remodelers have a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page, and perhaps a Twitter account. But should you be doing more to stay on trend?
We chatted with two contractors who are continually pushing the envelope on social media—one who’s grown to influencer status on Instagram and another who has built a massive follower base on TikTok—to see why they’re finding success staying on top of the hottest platforms.
Why Is Social Media Important for Construction Businesses
Remodeler Joe Danz, owner of Boston Exterior Remodeling, has become something of a star on Instagram, telling stories, posting his company’s work, and connecting with manufacturers. “Instagram really has changed the platform, how contractors in real time can show their work, show problem solving, show products,” Danz says. “People are really receptive to that because they enjoy content. Homeowners can see our page and know we’re serious about what we’re doing, that we’re craftsmen, that we take pride in what we’re doing.”
Danz says social media content also helps provide validation. “If someone is looking up ideas and they see the same company over and over, and their friends are following you, they start to vet you. It’s another form of word of mouth.”
In fact, Danz says social media has become an essential lead generator for the company. “I would say 60% of our business comes from social media at this point.”
Plus videos and imagery on social media also provide a more detailed look at quality and craftsmanship, allowing a remodeler to charge more for their work.
In this traditional Instagram post, Boston Exterior Remodeling showed in-progress and completed images of an 1870s Victorian featuring Boral’s Foundry Grayne siding in Rustic Slate (click to scroll through the album on Instagram).
Kyle Stumpenhorst, owner of Rural Renovators (aka RR Buildings) in Franklin Grove, Ill., has 1.7 million followers on TikTok, eschewing the notion that it’s an app for youth doing dances.
On the short-video app, participants use shared music and sounds (or their own original audio) to create content. While widely known for dances and music, it’s quickly become a place for education, demonstrations, and idea sharing. As a result, creative contractors, trades, and manufacturers in the building industry have been jumping on the trend.
Stumpenhorst uses the app from the jobsite to show craftsmanship and installation techniques, both in straightforward videos as well as leveraging the app’s unique features and trends.
“I just want to bring awareness to the trades, to cool tools, and overall post-frame construction,” he says.
Strategies for Social Media Success
For those just starting out on social, Danz encourages a jump-in-and-stick-with-it approach. “It doesn’t matter how many followers you have or how many likes you get,” he advises. “You just want to show your company in a good way. If you do that and stay with it, you’ll get noticed. It does validate your company.”
Danz also cautions that you need to enjoy doing social media to get the most success out of it. “What you put into it is what you get out of it.”
“I think a big reason for my success was consistently creating unique content that was positive and educational,” he adds. “People could learn something while also being inspired or motivated to do something themselves.”
Boston Exterior’s posts include tips and tricks, such as using the water tube approach to leveling:
The type of content varies greatly based on what your audiences respond to as well as the style of platform. For example, Instagram is great for showcasing finished projects or before-and-afters, and Instagram stories offer an opportunity for quick videos of your craftsmanship and process.
And showing the people doing the work is important, too. “They want to see the faces behind it, not just the pretty pictures,” Danz advises.
And, of course, creating pictorials of completed projects:
And be sure to adapt your content based on the unique features of the app. TikTok is a platform that thrives on using songs and keeping up with trends. Along with more traditional videos, RR Buildings makes videos to trending sounds or, in this case, playing on viewers’ love of “satisfying” sounds and actions while simultaneously showing its roofing prowess: https://www.tiktok.com/@rrbuildings/video/7025047484443397381
Like other platforms, TikTok is interactive and thrives on engagement, allowing viewers to comment, share, and even “duet” your videos to make them their own. You can respond to questions as a comment or with another video, as RR Buildings did here regarding its timber framing techniques: https://www.tiktok.com/@rrbuildings/video/6935528335183187206
For your homeowner customers, Foundry siding offers the ideal combination of features: The authentic look of cedar without high maintenance. That means years of curb appeal without worry or hassle. But along with these features that make Foundry an easy sell, vinyl siding also offers a host of benefits directly for you, thanks to easy installation, light weight, and low waste.
There’s perhaps no better origin story for a wedding venue than one that begins with its own proposal and labor of love.
Jim and Debra Scano were strolling the land they had owned since 2015. Jim knew he wanted to build something near the pond, and Debra suggested he design them a place to get married. And thus Bella Terra was born.
The stunning venue, located in Gunter, Texas, near Dallas, blends the aesthetics and amenities of a barn setting with an elegant flair and modern sensibilities. Along with the interior volumes one would expect, catering to more intimate gatherings of 150-200 people, the barn offers about 2,000 square feet of porches, providing ample space to move around, find respite, and take in the serene surroundings.
The nearby pond is nestled among gentle rolling hills, a rarity in this typically flat region. They designed the venue to be more wide than tall so as not to disrupt the landscape that inspired its creation.
Bella Terra stands out from other venues in its appearance, as well. The building eschews the typical red or white color tones for a subtle gray replicated from a barn the Scanos had seen in Vermont that was clad in rough-sawn pine and stained.
The path to achieving the look wasn’t initially easy: They originally used wood siding with stain, but after a year the boards began cupping, warping, and coming off the building. The Scanos searched for a better solution, then set aside two months in early 2021 to re-side the entire exterior.
Jim knew they needed a more robust option, but was grappling with how to achieve the same look as the failing wood—after all, couples had booked the venue based on images and site visits, so a drastic change in appearance could be disastrous. After some research, he found TruExterior Siding from Boral Building Products, a Westlake company, and requested samples from their local rep. Jim tried some techniques and was able to match the look of the wood by spraying on medium brown paint, which mimicked the look of a stain, and then dry-brushing on gray paint.
“Because TruExterior has texture, it took to that really well,” Jim says. “You have to have the highs and lows, so it takes paint a certain way to leave some of the brown behind.”
And while the painted 10-inch Nickel Gap replicated the authentic original look, TruExterior Siding helped ensure the performance issues wouldn’t be repeated. Made with proprietary poly-ash technology, the siding resists rot, decay, and insects while ensuring long-term performance with low maintenance.
“Changing the siding and finding a new solution was such a huge stress,” Jim says. “So far, I couldn’t be more satisfied with the results.”
Jim’s attention to detail carries throughout the venue. He built the wood bar himself, as well as the chandeliers, helping to save on budget while achieving the form and function required of the vast space. Elegant, contemporary fixtures in the bathrooms, clean lines throughout, and black-framed windows balance the more traditional wood beams and knotty pine walls to achieve the ideal blend of rustic and modern sought after by Dallas brides.
The result is a true labor of love—and, as envisioned, Jim and Debra were the first to be married at Bella Terra when it opened in February 2019.
Foundry FPX Shingles combine easy installation with low maintenance and eye-catching beauty, making them an ideal cladding option for homeowners and building pros alike.
FoundryFPX Shingles replicate the charm and sophistication of cedar, with a refined grain and authentic shadow lines ideal for gables and other accent areas. FPX’s look is clean and neat for a crisp appearance.
To further enhance the look, Foundry FPX Singles come in five color palette options of more than 30 colors apiece to expertly coordinate with siding hues available from CertainTeed, Exterior Portfolio, Mastic, Royal, and Variform*. (Visit https://foundrysiding.com/foundryfpx/ to download sell sheets and color charts for each brand.)
Like other Foundry products, FPX Shingles are straightforward to install by both contractors and experienced DIYers alike. Along with traditional application instructions, installers are advised to use an offset installation method to ensure shingles have a natural randomized look without vertical lines from course to course.
The siding carries a Class 1A fire rating and a limited lifetime warranty. As with all Foundry Specialty Siding Products, the innovative PVC material offers low maintenance, ensuring homeowners can spend time enjoying their exterior, not taking care of it.
*Actual colors may vary from printed representations. The Foundry® Specialty Siding and Mid-America® color matches for alternative manufacturer colors listed here are recommendations only. Do not make color selections based on color names alone. Please look at product samples before selecting colors to avoid confusion and color mistakes. Returns cannot be made due to color variances.
Variform® is a registered trademark of Variform, Inc. Royal® is a registered trade mark of Royal Group, Inc. Mastic® is a registered trademark of Mastic Home Exteriors, Inc. CertainTeed® is a registered trademark of CertainTeed Corporation. Exterior Portfolio® is a registered trademark of Royal Building Products, Inc. The Foundry and Mid-America products shown and detailed in the brochures are products of Boral Building Products Inc. and are not affiliated with, endorsed, sponsored, or approved by Variform, Inc.; Mastic Home Exteriors, Inc.; or CertainTeed Corporation. Boral Building Products Inc., Royal Group, Inc., and Royal Building Products are subsidiaries of Westlake Chemical Corporation
It’s likely of little surprise to anyone that the latest American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey reveals that two of the most popular features for today’s homeowners, by a large margin, are outdoor living spaces and home offices.
In its recently released Q3 2020 Home Design Trends study, the AIA reported that within the “special function rooms/areas” category, outdoor living not only led the way, but grew since last year, with 70% of architects reporting increasing interest compared to 61% the year before. Very close behind were home offices, with 69% of architects indicating increasing interest, which was 1 percentage point higher than 2020.
These two features far outpaced other options on the list, including “multiple offices/zoom room/space for virtual meetings” (48%), flex space (46%), and an au pair/in-law suite (42%).
Elsewhere in the survey, “low maintenance” led the Products category, with 54% of architects indicating increasing interest, down 2 percentage points from last year. (Seeking to capitalize on this trend? Check out our TruExterior Siding & Trim, which offers the authentic look of wood without the moisture and maintenance concerns.) This was followed by smart thermostats (52%) and synthetic materials (48%). Farther down the list, infrared heaters, a hot item for those looking to extend the livability of outdoor living spaces into colder months due to the pandemic, saw a big jump from 10% in 2020 to 37% in 2021.
Under technology, the survey saw a surge in interest in several categories: electric car docking stations, which jumped from 62% in 2020 to 74% in 2021; technology-friendly systems, which increased from 53% to 62%; back-up power generation, which soared from 46% to 60%; and solar panels, which saw the most dramatic change, from 37% in 2020 to 54% in 2021.
Siding, trim, and accessories are designed primarily for the home exterior, but the properties that make some materials ideal for those traditional uses can sometimes carry over to benefit the inside of the house.
Consider these applications in which exterior materials can bring aesthetic or performance value on the inside of the home.
The beauty of a stone fireplace never falls out of favor, but installation challenges make it a prohibitive option for some projects. Panelized stone offers an easier path to creating eye-catching fireplace surrounds, combining the look and feel of stone with easy installation to deliver the dramatic look of a stone fireplace within reach.
For example, Versetta Stone panels install quickly without mortar and require no special tools. Each panel can be cut with a diamond blade and fastens to the wall with screws through the integrated nailing fin. As such, it does not require a mason for installation and can be installed by traditional siding contractors and carpenters.
The Northmade Farmhouse, shown below, features a soaring two-story fireplace made with Versetta Stone Ledgestone in the Mission Point colorway, perfect for the new home’s modern-farmhouse vibe.
Because the panelized stone eliminates the messiest parts of masonry installation—with no lath, no scratch coat, and no mortar—they’re particularly helpful for remodeling projects. Cut the panels outside and pass them through the window.
And while stone fireplace surrounds require an artisan’s touch to lay out the stones so they look perfect and fit well together, panelized stone comes pre-configured in beautiful, authentic patterns. Corner pieces also make it easy to create a clean, finished look.
Accents and Backsplashes
Panelized stone also can provide a lightweight solution for kitchen backsplashes, adding a more rustic look in contrast to the contemporary aesthetic of subway tiles.
The same opportunity can be found for creative accent walls—use the lightweight panels under or behind a home bar, add a cozy feel behind a freestanding tub, or create an eye-catching accent wall in the great room.
Bathroom Trim and Moulding
For wet areas such as the bathroom, cellular PVC trim provides a moisture-resistant option that will help avoid the potential for cracking, chipping, or even rot. Along with crown moulding, PVC beadboard, such as that from Kleer Lumber, is ideal for creating clean, crisp wainscoting. The material also resists dirt and is easy to wipe clean if needed.
Décor & Accessories
Even shutters can play a role in sprucing up the interior. A custom color such as that from Atlantic Premium Shutters or a reclaimed vintage piece can create a unique artpiece or be used to craft a one-of-a-kind mail holder.
Shutters are an easy way to add a bit of flair to a new or existing home, and in many cases are the key finishing touch to the perfect exterior. But it’s important to make thoughtful shutter selection choices and install them properly to ensure they look and function as designed.
Here are a few strategies to help ensure you select the right profiles and install them in a way that preserves exterior aesthetics.
Select the right shutter style
For shutter selection, it’s important to choose a style that marries well with your overall home design, otherwise the shutters will stand out for all the wrong reasons and can throw off the entire vibe of the façade. For example, a Southern Colonial home calls for louvered shutters, while Cape Cod-style homes often feature raised panel, louvered, and board-and-batten shutters. No matter how much your customer likes Bahama shutters, they’re not going to look right on a ranch home. (See more style combinations here.)
Select the right shutter shape and size
Shutters should be the same shape as the window they are covering so as to properly cover the window when closed (even if the shutters are fixed). Therefore, arched shutters should be used on round-top windows only. The arch should match the curvature of the window for the most accurate look.
The same goes for size: Shutters used in pairs should be measured properly so they fit inside the casing when closed. Even if the shutters are fixed, the eye will notice the difference.
Place shutters correctly
Another common installation mistake is extending the shutter to land directly on the window frame. Shutters are actually designed to hang on the inside edge of the window casing or frame next to the sash. This helps ensure a tight fit when shutters are closed to protect the window.
Account for thickness
For operable shutters, the thickness of the shutter must be considered when choosing hardware to ensure the shutter closes properly. Consult with your dealer or manufacturer rep to help calculate 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.
Choose the right hardware
Because shutters sit differently on different types of cladding, take siding material and style into consideration when selecting hardware. Brick homes, for example, will require hardware attachment to the brickmold in many cases to ensure the shutter can close into the window recess and lay outside the brick when open. Hardware also is available to accommodate lap siding and trim board, among other styles and materials. (Learn more about choosing shutter hardware here.)
Don’t install shutters flat against the exterior
Historically, shutters are not installed flat against the exterior; they lay back at a slight angle so they can easily swing open and close tightly together to cover the window. However, many people using shutters purely for decorative function make the mistake of installing shutters flat against the exterior. To uphold the original functional design, space shutters off of the home’s exterior using operable hardware.
With an extensive range of styles and unparalleled craftsmanship, it’s easy to elevate the home exterior with Atlantic Premium Shutters. Consider these shutter selection strategies to make the most out of your choices and provide an instant boost in curb appeal.
Whether a Modern Farmhouse design or creating accents on a gable, board-and-batten is one of the hottest trends in home exterior design. And it’s easy to create the board-and-batten look using just TruExterior Trim. Not only does TruExterior’s poly-ash formula deliver the ideal combination of authentic looks and high performance, TruExterior installs with ease and can be painted any color.
Here’s how to create the coveted board-and-batten look using TruExterior Trim:
• Due to the vertical installation, be sure to use a drainable housewrap between the siding and the wood sheathing to ensure moisture has a pathway to escape the wall cavity.
• Choose 1X, 5/8”, or 5/4” trim thickness. Which one is simply a preference for the homeowner and installer
• For a traditional board-and-batten look, use 1×12 trimboard as the board and 1×3 trimboard as the batten.
• Find center on the wall and plan your layout to determine if it’s best to start with a batten or a board at that center point; you want to avoid having only a sliver of board when you reach the outer edges.
• Once you’ve chosen center board or center batten, start by installing a board first. If it’s a center board, mark the center of the wall, line up the board, and put it in place using 6D or 8D stainless steel or hot-dipped ring shank nails every 16” (and no less than 3/4” from the board edge) directly into the plywood or OSB.
• Install boards, moving away from center, leaving 3/4” of space between each board.
• After several boards are in place, chalk a single line 7/8” from the edge of the board left or right, which will designate the edge for the batten. This results in a 9-1/2” reveal between each batten.
• Apply a bead of caulk along each side of the batten or under each side of the batten.
• Install the battens using 6D or 8D stainless steel or hot-dipped nails every 16”.
• Repeat the process, moving outward from center.
Keep in mind that paying attention to your layout, and planning it out ahead of time, is important, particularly for small areas like gables. You want the surface to be as symmetrical as possible; if you have uneven board reveals on either side, it will be very noticeable, particularly on smaller surface areas.
Learn more about TruExterior Trim and how to create custom looks here.
The supply challenges that continue to impact certain building materials dealt another blow to architects and building pros in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain region with the recent announcement that a major fiber cement manufacturer will no longer be selling trim there. But those drawn to the performance and appearance of fiber cement need not worry—TruExterior Trim from Boral Building Products is readily available, offers a similar aesthetic, and provides a number of performance improvements over fiber cement trim.
Making the switch to TruExterior Trim is easy and can ensure your exterior projects don’t experience delays or require significant design changes.
TruExterior trim is made with poly-ash, a proprietary blend of fly ash and polymers. The resulting material offers high resistance to moisture absorption, a tremendous benefit in the notoriously damp Pacific Northwest region. These same attributes allow TruExterior to be used in contact with the ground and masonry, something fiber cement cannot do, and there’s no need to prime end cuts in the field.
Like fiber cement trim, TruExterior is resistant to rot and termites.
Architects can make the switch from fiber cement trim to TruExterior without changing their design goals. The poly-ash material offers the look of wood, with options for a smooth or wood-grain surface. Minimal material movement allows for tighter gaps for a more seamless appearance.
With a high level of dimensional stability, TruExterior Trim can be painted any color, including dark hues such as black, popular for trim, or the blues and grays common in the Northwest. Paint lasts longer than it does on wood because TruExterior cycles virtually no moisture.
TruExterior requires no custom tools for cutting, and the poly-ash trim can be milled similarly to wood to achieve nearly any look or custom design. (See the trim at work at DURATION MOULDING & MILLWORK.) But unlike wood, installers can fasten TruExterior close to the edge, do not have to worry about mushrooming, and do not need to pre-drill.
“Fiber cement is well-known to many specifiers and installers; however, once they work with TruExterior, they soon realize how easy it is to work with and the benefits of utilizing standard woodworking tools,” says Ben Drury, Brand Manager for Boral Building Products. “Not having to worry about moisture absorption in the boards is also a key component. You can place this product right at grade or on top of existing masonry and not experience any wicking or degradation of the board over time.”
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.”
The beauty of a stone fireplace never falls out of favor, but installation challenges make it a prohibitive option for some projects. Versetta Stone panelized stone offers an easier path to creating eye-catching fireplace surrounds, combining the look and feel of stone with easy, panelized installation to deliver the dramatic look of a stone fireplace within reach.
One of our favorite examples is the Northmade Farmhouse, which features a soaring two-story fireplace made with Versetta Stone Ledgestone in the Mission Point colorway, perfect for the home’s modern-farmhouse vibe. (Read more about this project here.)
Versetta Stone offers a range of benefits for fireplace surrounds:
• Easy, straightforward installation: Versetta Stone panels install quickly and require no special tools. Each panel can be cut with a diamond blade and fastens to the wall with screws through the integrated nailing fin. As such, it does not require a mason for installation and can be installed by traditional siding contractors and carpenters. It’s also within reach of advanced DIYers.
• No artistry required: Stone fireplace surrounds require an artisan’s touch—laying out the stones so they look perfect and fit well together and then replicating that layout on the wall. With Versetta Stone, those steps are taken care of. Simply fasten the panels to the wall, and the pattern looks beautiful without much creativity. And yet it still has the look of hand-crafted stone. Corner pieces also make it easy to create a clean, finished look.
• Less mess: Versetta Stone eliminates the messiest parts of masonry installation—no lath, no scratch coat, no mortar. This is especially helpful for remodeling projects, eliminating concerns about tracking in mud or ruining manicured lawns washing off tools and mud buckets. Versetta Stone panels require cutting that generates dust, but this can be done outside over a tarp, with cut pieces handed in through the window.
• Lightweight: Versetta Stone weighs 17 pounds per panel, or 8.5 pounds per square foot.
• Suitable for fireplaces: Versetta Stone is safe for use as a fireplace surround for gas and electric fireplaces and does not require distance from the firebox like some non-combustible materials do. (However, it cannot be used inside the firebox.) Still, installers should always follow fireplace manufacturer instructions and guidelines for surround materials.
Find more Versetta Stone design inspiration for interiors in our Idea Gallery.
Outdoor living spaces are one of the biggest trends in home building and remodeling, and demand has only grown during the pandemic.
As the demand for outdoor living moves from growing trend to must-have status, simply adding on an ordinary deck isn’t going to be enough. Building pros can elevate outdoor spaces in numerous ways, and they don’t have to break the bank.
Here are a few simple and relatively inexpensive details to consider to add the finishing touch to your outdoor living spaces and take them to the next level.
Create Indoor-Outdoor Connections
Not every home can have an eight-panel opening glass wall, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create those connections that let in more light and expand the entertaining space.
As Andersen Windows points out in a recent article, the standard French patio doors with sidelight windows can easily be replaced by a small multi-panel door with one or two sliding panels, helping to expand the clear opening to preserve views and create that desired indoor-outdoor connection.
Another more budget-friendly option is to include pass-through windows to create an indoor-outdoor bar, such as this project by Denny Sturgis Construction.
Detail the Deck
No matter the size of the deck, there are a few simple strategies to make it look more finished and polished.
• Rather than leaving deck planks exposed, add fascia board around the perimeter to create a more finished look. TruExterior poly-ash trim can be painted or stained any color and can be used in contact with decking material.
• For composite decks, hidden fasteners cost a little more but make a big difference in the look and feel of the deck. For grooved-edge boards, clip-style hardware stays completely hidden; for face-fastening, a plug system is the most hidden option, or, at minimum, choose color-matched screws.
• Add flair to composite decks with inlays and picture framing. These techniques can be used to add a decorative perimeter, break up long expanses, or create an outline around different areas, such as a sitting area or outdoor kitchen.
• Don’t neglect lighting, which can add ambience, make the space safer, and extend its use later into the night and farther into colder months. Integrated post cap, railing, or stair lights can be easy and economical to add on or integrate.
• Add an accent wall or elevate the grill area with stone, such as panelized stone siding from Versetta Stone.
Amp up your outdoor buildings
A beautiful backyard can be the perfect spot for a studio, she shed, or ADU. But make sure it’s got style. A rickety wood shed or wobbly plastic structure can bring down the aesthetic of the whole outdoor space. Use real siding and trim, include accessories, and add landscaping.
This beautiful tiny house ADU by Koncept Design/Build, for example, looks just as good as a main house, with beautiful craftsmanship, on-trend black-framed windows and doors, and meticulous trimwork using TruExterior poly-ash trim
This garage/man cave by Adam Hass Fine Homebuilding also could pass for a main living space, with its traditional forms and well-thought-out details.
Even a storage shed can look a bit more refined, as seen with this example from Zuccon Works, which features richly colored siding and Kleer cellular PVC trim and window casings.
Don’t Neglect the Accessories
It’s easy to leave the aftermarket accessories up to the homeowner, but why not complete the look or at least show them how?
For example, this flower box made with Kleer Lumber PVC trim not only offers a cleaner, more stylish look than run-of-the-mill planters, it’s durable and can be used in contact with the ground without moisture concerns.
Kleer is also a fun choice for these Adirondack chairs. The teal offers a fun pop of color to the porch without too much commitment or concern over resale value.
And don’t forget to finish the porch. Here, installers used TruExterior Beadboard in a soft robin’s egg blue to add to the vintage vibe of this wide porch.
Post wraps, such as these from Kleer, are a simple way to enhance the porch or deck without adding extra maintenance needs.
Replacement shutters are one of the easiest ways to give the home exterior an instant facelift. Simple changes in shutter color or style can transform the façade with minimal work—it’s a small investment that can net a big payoff.
“For the cost and labor, shutters should come to mind more often for home improvement projects,” says Matt Bjorkstrom, Associate Merchant for Lowe’s, which exclusively distributes Vantage shutters. “When you change out the shutters, it really makes a difference to the façade.”
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you choose new replacement shutters for the home:
• Consider size: When choosing new shutters, sizing is just as important as color and style. Even though most shutters today are solely decorative, they’re meant to mimic real, operable units. So when choosing a size, ensure the new shutters “appear” that they would close properly over the window. Otherwise, they’ll look inauthentic.
In addition, make sure the replacement shutters are the same size as or larger than your current shutters.
• Choose replacement shutter styles that complement your home exterior: Certain shutter styles go better with some materials versus others. For example, panel-style shutters are ideal for brick or fiber cement facades, while louvered shutters go well with vinyl siding, traditional homes, or coastal homes. Board-and-batten is well-suited to Craftsman exteriors or more contemporary looks.
Also keep your neighborhood in mind: Are there HOA requirements or restrictions? What styles will be complementary to (though not necessarily match) neighboring homes?
And be sure to use the same style shutter throughout the exterior; mixing styles on the same home will look off. The same goes for shutter colors.
• Seize the color opportunity: Because shutters are an easy, relatively affordable way to refresh your exterior, it gives you more freedom to experiment and be bold. Black shutters will always look great, but why not try out new, eye-catching color combinations, Bjorkstrom suggests, such as teal shutters on gray siding?
The front door is another place to experiment with bolder colors, so consider matching the entry door and the shutters to create pops of color and really set the home apart from others.
• Seek out inspiration: Shutters are a component that make a façade feel complete yet don’t stick out. Look to sites like Pinterest and Houzz for shutter inspiration—what adds to a home versus distracts? What color combinations pop without looking garish? Also, be check out Vantage’s idea gallery for more ideas.
Boral helps its customers Build something great™ by supplying them with high-quality, innovative, sustainable building products and construction materials. It is a purpose that mirrors the company’s 75-year history.
Founded in 1946 as Bitumen and Oil Refineries (Australia) Limited, Boral has become Australia’s largest construction materials and building products company with a global reach, a reach that includes Boral North America’s portfolio of category leaders across stone veneer, roofing, siding, heavy materials, windows, shutters, and trim. The company officially rebranded in 1963 to the BORAL acronym that had been commonly used since its beginning.
While Boral officially entered North America in 1979, many of the companies and brands that have since become part of Boral have longer histories here. For example, Cultured Stone began in 1962 when two brothers, Garrett and Floyd Brown, saw the need for a new kind of building material, one that resembled natural stone but was much lighter and would adhere to most surfaces.
This commitment to answering customers’ unmet needs and helping builders and other specifiers grow their business with new product and technology solutions remains an integral part of Boral. Customers and partners can see that innovation come to life at the Boral Discovery Center in San Antonio, Texas. Opened in 2016, the state-of-the-art Discovery Center is home to scientists and engineers keenly focused on developing the future of building materials.
Boral has been involved in many iconic building projects over the past 75 years, from the Sydney Opera House and Olympic stadium to the Fisherman’s Wharf Pier in San Francisco and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa, Florida, not to mention some of the most important projects of all — the places people call home.
Boral North America’s Brands
Boral North America comprises numerous product brands you sell every day:
Manufactured stone once again has shown its ability to recoup homeowners’ remodeling investment. According to the Remodeling 2021 Cost vs. Value Report, an annual study by Remodeling magazine, manufactured stone veneer offers a 92.1% return on investment. That ROI is second only to garage door replacement.
The Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares the average costs of 22 remodeling projects with the value those investments will retain at resale. The study looked at the cost recouped from replacing a 300-square-foot band of vinyl siding from the bottom third of a home’s front façade with manufactured stone veneer (such as Boral Building Products’ Versetta Stone), sills, corners, and address block.
Manufactured stone veneer’s place in the study is slightly down from 2020, where it reached No. 1 with an ROI of 95.6%. Still, manufactured stone was 20 percentage points higher than the third project on the list, minor kitchen remodel.
Along with manufactured stone and garage doors, exterior products dominated the top of the Remodeling 2021 Cost vs. Value Report list, claiming 11 of the top 12 spots: fiber cement siding replacement (69.4% cost recouped); vinyl window replacement (68.6%); vinyl siding replacement (68.3%); wood window replacement (67.4%); wood deck addition (67.4%); steel entry door replacement (65.0%); composite deck addition (63.2%); fiberglass grand entrance (60.9%); and asphalt shingle roof replacement (60.7%).
“The trend of exterior replacements outperforming larger discretionary remodeling projects has been accelerated, no doubt, by a year in which COVID has made people reluctant to have contractors inside their homes, but yearning to improve outdoor spaces,” the Remodeling editors said. “It’s been a year when we’d expect decks to reign supreme, but the data doesn’t track what’s most popular. The Cost vs. Value report tracks the ratio of value over cost for 22 common remodeling projects, and in that ratio lies the rub: Material costs, especially for decking and pressure-treated framing lumber, went through the roof in 2020, bringing down the return despite the project’s value.”
Manufactured Stone Delivers Most ROI in Two Regions
Manufactured stone maintains a similar level of ROI when broken down geographically, with 90% or more of cost recouped across all regions. In two regions, however, manufactured stone came out on top: West North Central (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri), with 94.1% ROI, and South Atlantic (Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida), with 94.1% ROI.
Each year, Fine Homebuilding magazine constructs a new home, showcasing the latest building science techniques and best practices for exceptional quality, comfort, and style. For 2021, they’re switching things up with their first remodel, transforming an 80-year-old Greenwich, Conn., house with a deep energy retrofit and a dramatic modernization of exterior style and interior layout.
“The Fine Homebuilding editors believe this house has important lessons to offer,” the publication explains. “The existing home was built in the early decades of the 20th century and was remodeled with an addition about 20 years ago. Transforming the layout and look of this traditionally styled, shingled house to a modern home with a much more open floor plan and a Scandinavian-inspired aesthetic will provide design insights as well as lessons about framing, trim, and plumbing. Because the new homeowners have placed a priority on turning the house into a high-performance home, we’ll also get to see how the team tackles air-sealing, insulation, and mechanical systems to reach net-zero energy with Passive House performance.”
On the exterior, the home is clad in TruExterior Shiplap siding, installed vertically with some horizontal boards on the gables, and finished with Benjamin Moore’s Glacier White paint for a perfect Modern Farmhouse look. TruExterior also was used for the porch ceiling, in the reversible Shiplap-Nickel Gap siding profile with the smooth finish.
“It’s very easy to install,” says the project’s builder, Albert Jensen-Moulten. “It cuts and glues just like wood.”
Several walls feature Eldorado Stone masonry veneer installed over a fluid-applied weather-resistive barrier. Other exterior details include a standing-seam metal roof, metal triple-pane windows, Hemlock-wrapped porch beams, and Kebony wood lintels.
Take a tour of the exterior cladding details via an interview with Jensen-Moulten and the architect, Elizabeth DiSalvo:
Follow along with the Fine Homebuilding House to learn more about the highly efficient building techniques, from air barriers to double-stud walls, on the show home’s website.
The NAHB recently released the 2021 edition of its “What Home Buyers Really Want.” The study, conducted after the pandemic began last year, surveyed 3,247 recent and prospective home buyers.
Here are some of the findings:
The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced some home buyers
Though the majority of buyers (67%) said the pandemic didn’t impact what they look for in a home, 21% indicated they desire a larger home because of it; the demand is higher for those with at least one teleworker and one virtual student.
The pandemic also increased preferences to buy in an outlying suburb from 26% in previous studies to 30% this year.
Home style preferences vary
In a new question this year, participants were shown pictures of four exterior designs. The NAHB reports that preferences are diverse, with no one style garnering a majority at a national or regional level. Traditional homes led the way with 32%, followed by Contemporary (24%), Transitional (16%), and Modern (14%). Traditional styling was the top option in all regions except the Pacific, where Contemporary came out on top.
Shift in new vs. resale preferences
The majority of respondents—60%—desire a new home, the largest percentage in 14 years. “The increase may be due in part to buyers’ concerns about touring occupied homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, the severe lack of inventory of existing homes on the market, and the higher likelihood that new homes are located where buyers want to buy—the suburbs,” the NAHB explained.
Most desired home features include a laundry room, exterior lighting, patios
Home buyers were given a list of more than 200 home features. Of those, the most desired elements were a laundry room (87%), exterior lighting (87%), ceiling fans (83%), Energy Star-rated windows (83%), and a patio (82%).
On the exterior, home buyers additionally ranked front porches (81%), rear porches (75%), and a deck (75%) high on the list.
For the greater community, survey respondents indicated they want walking/jogging trails, a “typically suburban” neighborhood, a park, proximity to retail, and walkability.
Among the features that 40% of respondents indicated they don’t want were elevators, glass walls, a community daycare center, a wine cellar, and a pet washing station.
Open layouts still in demand
Despite some speculation to the contrary, most home buyers still desire open layouts.
Green homes must have ROI
There was a significant difference between home buyers being concerned about the impact of their home on the environment (78%) and those (15%) willing to pay more for an environmentally friendly home. “However, significantly more buyers are willing to pay extra for a home if they understand it will lead to annual savings in utility costs,” the NAHB said. “In fact, 57% are willing to pay $5,000 or more, on top of the price of the home, in order to save $1,000 a year in utilities.”
The COVID-19 pandemic presented the building industry with a number of challenges, from initial closures to the cost of safety protocols. But as those issues have been addressed, one challenge continues on strong: price increases, particularly lumber costs.
The NAHB reports that lumber prices have risen a whopping 180% since last spring, resulting in an increase in the average single-family home price by more than $24,000.
“According to Random Lengths, the price of lumber hit a record high this week and is up more than 170% over the past 10 months,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke in a Feb. 12, 2021, statement. “NAHB is urging President Biden and Congress to help mitigate this growing threat to housing and the economy by urging domestic lumber producers to ramp up production to ease growing shortages and to make it a priority to end tariffs on Canadian lumber shipments into the U.S. that are exacerbating unprecedented price volatility in the lumber market.”
Luckily, for trim applications, builders and remodelers have several manmade alternatives that offer the authentic look of wood.
TruExterior Trim, for example, is made with a proprietary blend of polymers and fly ash. Fly ash is a byproduct of coal energy production, so it’s sourced near the manufacturing facility. And unlike wood, TruExterior Trim provides a high level of dimensional stability along with durability for resistance to warping, cracking, and splitting. It can be used in ground-contact applications.
Despite these distinct differences, TruExterior Trim offers the workability of wood, so it can be routed and milled into endless styles of decorative molding and trim.
Another wood-look alternative is Kleer Lumber trim (pictured above), made with expanded cellular PVC. Kleer trimboards resist moisture, insects, splintering, rotting, delamination, and swelling. Kleer trim can be installed in contact with the ground. Like TruExterior, it’s made in the USA in Westfield, Mass.
In addition to trim, TruExterior and Kleer can replace lumber for other non-structural applications such as flower boxes and pergolas.
A luxurious twist on the Modern Farmhouse ideally suited to the Hamptons, the new custom home in Sagaponack, N.Y., boasts 7,672 square feet, five bedrooms, and seven bathrooms. The home’s 1.33-acre property abuts 36 acres of farmland, providing lush surroundings and serene views from nearly every room.
While reminiscent of Modern Farmhouse vernacular, with white nickel gap siding and a simple gable roof, the house favors contemporary lines. The front entrance is free of ornamentation, graced by tall, narrow windows and a black-framed-glass garage door.
Large swaths of glass make up nearly the entire rear of the home, which was designed by architect Glen Fries Associates and built by Burns Realty Development. The breakfast nook and second floor bedrooms bump out into a sharp point, breaking up the otherwise linear facade.
One of the exterior’s most unique features is the perfectly round two-car garage, a modern take on the farm silo. The garage’s exterior is clad in TruExterior Trim milled in a shiplap pattern by DURATION® Moulding & Millwork and installed vertically.
Crafting vertical shiplap for a round form was no small feat. “We have a full-time AutoCAD expert on staff,” says Keith Coleman, president and CEO of DURATION Moulding & Millwork, which manufactures trim exclusively with TruExterior, a proprietary poly-ash material from Boral Building Products. “We took the radius of the building and figured out what maximum width of shiplap we could produce and still be able to wrap the building and have it look completely round and not segmented.” Coleman’s team used full-length boards to ensure a seamless appearance from top to bottom.
Along with its workability to create the precise size and profile required, TruExterior offers the authentic look of wood but with durability, dimensional stability, and low maintenance to eliminate worries about unsightly splitting, cracking, or warping.
The architect specified TruExterior for the main house, as well, with DURATION crafting a custom-size nickel gap profile that adds to the Modern Farmhouse feel. The DURATION team made prefab corners with a locking miter and mechanical fastener support. “The corner won’t open,” Coleman says. “The result is this cool, continuous look as the TruExterior nickel gap wraps the building.”
DURATION also used TruExterior to create the one-piece circle casings, which are painted dark bronze, around the home’s circular windows as well as the tall panels between the windows.
Modern luxury continues inside, with 5-inch-wide golden oak flooring, a dramatic honed black-slate two-story fireplace, a vast kitchen island, Miele and Sub-Zero appliances, freestanding soaking tub, and Toto and Kohler bathroom fixtures. In the double-height, open-concept great room, clerestory windows combine with the expanses of glass from French doors running the length of the rear to flood the space with light. A walkway above connects the master bedroom wing to the other bedrooms, where more floor-to-ceiling windows bring in additional natural light.
The home’s basement level features a walk-in wine cellar, game room, gym with full-height mirrors, and wet bar, while the expansive outdoor space includes a heated gunite pool and attached spa, outdoor kitchen, pergola, private outdoor shower, and pool house.
Even though they spent much more time at home in 2020—and spent much of that time improving those homes—homeowners continue to have little desire to waste time cleaning, painting, and staining their exteriors.
In its recently released Q4 2020 Home Design Trends study, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) found low maintenance and durability to be the exterior detail homeowners were most interested in, with 62% of architects reporting increasing interest, nearly the same as the year before. (Data is calculated by the percentage of architects reporting “increasing” minus percentage reporting “decreasing.”) Products that offer the look of wood without the associated maintenance, such as TruExterior poly-ash siding, can combine authenticity and a natural look with high performance and resistance to rotting, warping, and cracking.
Though farther down the list, fire-resistive design and materials saw growing interest, with 32% of architects reporting increased popularity in 2020, up from 29% in 2019.
When it comes to home styles, contemporary looks were the most popular feature, with 50% of architects reporting popularity increasing, down slightly from 54% the year before. Modern Farmhouse saw a perhaps not surprising decline, with 33% of respondents reporting increasing popularity versus 41% in 2019.
Interest in front porches is growing, with 38% of architects seeing increasing popularity in 2020 compared to 31% the year before.
Among neighborhood/community options, infill housing was the most popular, with 61% of architects reporting increasing interest (slightly less than 64% the year before), followed by multi-generational housing, which rose sharply from 41% in 2019 to 54% in 2020. Also noteworthy was high-density housing, which plummeted from 55% of architects reporting increased interest in 2019 to just 34% in 2020. The dramatic drop may be a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, with homeowners desiring outdoor space and places to grow their own food.
In AIA’s Q3 2020 Home Design Trends study, the association reported a continued softening in home size, with -11% of architects reporting home square footage increasing minus those reporting it decreasing. Interest in larger homes dropped even farther, to -22%, for entry-level/affordable homes. Custom home sizes stayed steady.
And of course, outdoor living continues to be popular, with 53% of architects reporting increasing interest; however, there was a large drop versus 2019, when 68% reported increasing interest. Interest in blended indoor/outdoor spaces also hovers near 50%
With so many options to mix and match siding styles, textures, and colors, there’s no excuse for a ho-hum façade. And Foundry Siding makes it simple, delivering the warm look and beautiful colors of cedar to enhance curb appeal.
Combine Foundry’s variety of shingle, shake, and stone profiles with each other and with other materials to create compelling, varied exteriors that stand out and ensure each home looks unique. And while Foundry offers the authentic looks of natural materials, its innovative PVC makeup requires little maintenance.
Here are just a few ways builders and remodelers are using Foundry to create distinctive homes.
Foundry 10” staggered shake in Snow and stone combine perfectly on this home to create a dramatic yet elegant look.
Foundry’s extensive color selection offers ample opportunity to create eye-catching color contrast in gables and accents, as seen here with Staggered Shake in Russet and Split Shake in Lite Khaki.
Alternatively, try complementary colors for a more subtle contrast, as seen here with a combination of stone and Foundry Staggered Shake in Eggshell.
Here’s another example, as Foundry combines with a similar-toned vinyl on the lower level for a soothing coastal vibe.
The expansive façade of this multifamily project could easily have turned staid, but a combination of stone, Foundry siding, and white trim, along with a pop of black in the shutters, create eye-catching variety while helping to define individual units.
At this foster home in Michigan, accent walls and gables clad in Foundry siding combine with lighter blue horizontal and vertical siding profiles elsewhere on the façade.
Also consider how siding and other exterior elements combine, as seen here in this Boston Exterior Remodeling project featuring Foundry Grayne Shingles in Rustic Slate on equal footing with the bold, attention-grabbing yellow door.
Tapco Tools’ professional-grade brakes help contractors achieve a high-quality, finished look for custom exterior trim projects. And two accessories—the M2X and S2X—make these tools even more efficient and easy to use.
M2X Measuring Tool Allows for 50% Faster Bends
As its name suggests, the M2X gauge measures two times as fast while eliminating the need for a tape measure and pencil marks for bending.
The M2X measuring tool consists of an onboard measuring tape and two easy-to-attach, moveable brackets with corresponding measurement markings. Where once users had to measure, mark the bends (often front and back), and then move the trim to those marked positions, now they can simply place the material on the brake and move it to the scale on the M2X gauge accessory. The result is as much as 50% faster bending—and no pencil marks or snip-cut marks on the finished product.
Check out this video for an overview of the M2X at work:
Ready to learn more? See how to install the M2X:
S2X Material Stop Gauge Speeds Repeat Trim Cuts and Bends
Like the M2X, the S2X material stop gauge is aptly named: It allows for cuts and repeat bends in trim two times faster than traditional methods.
The S2X gauge includes two orange anodized aluminum material stops on two long bar/pivot assemblies adhered with white measuring tape and orange cut-off tape. Slide the stops along the bars to the desired measurement and secure in place with thumb screws; when material is inserted into the brake, the accessory stops the material at the precise spot for an accurate cut or repeat bends—no tape measures or pencil marks required. Along with time savings, the gauge can better ensure accuracy and, subsequently, cleaner installation.
Check out this video for an overview of the S2X gauge:
Ready to learn more? See how to assemble and install the S2X:
Explore the M2X, S2X, and other Tapco Tools gauges here. For a virtual demo, contact us.
The COVID-19 pandemic has touched many areas of the building industry, and the trim and moulding category is no exception. As a product that lends itself to quick yet dramatic facelifts, trim was an easy upgrade option for DIYers and pros alike as the pandemic shifted from closures and uncertainty last spring to a surge in demand for home improvement products and services.
What has this all meant for dealers? In its annual In Depth look at the trim category, LBM Journal explored the latest trends and what dealers can do to keep adapting in uncertain times.
Here are a few of their findings:
Trim Products Are Thriving Through the Pandemic
While the industry initially shut down in many areas, home improvement projects quickly ramped up as homeowners sought to complete long-neglected projects and spruce up their interiors and exteriors. Manufacturers told LBM Journal that the trim category is likely to continue to grow significantly in the next 12 months, a prediction backed up by the “2020-2025 Global Molding and Trim Market Report.” In addition, “according to a recent Bank of America poll about homeowners’ attitudes and shopping habits during coronavirus, more than 70% of those polled indicated they have decided to tackle home improvement projects, with more planned for 2021,” the magazine reported.
“As stay-at-home recommendations stretch through the winter, we expect the surge in demand to remain as homeowners continue to seek to make their homes their sanctuary and buyers scoop up new and existing homes that meet their changing lifestyle needs,” Boral Building Products Brand Manager Ben Drury told the magazine. “But lead times should continue to improve as manufacturers catch up, and supply challenges should ease.”
The trend toward dark trim colors remains strong. In addition, “there’s still a strong desire for multi-textured facades as well as contrasting siding and trim colors,” Drury said. “Both our [poly-ash] TruExterior Trim and [cellular PVC] Kleer Lumber trimboards are a perfect fit for those color combinations. TruExterior Trim’s poly-ash technology allows it to be painted any color, including black, so it’s perfect for the white-siding-with-dark trim trend.”
Bold colors are popping up on the interior, as well, manufacturers said.
The desire for Modern Farmhouse looks continues unabated in many areas of the country, leading to trim profiles that are more simple and clean in style, the article states.
Ease of Installation
The trend toward sprucing up homes in the pandemic has driven more LBM dealers to push installation-friendly options. LBM Journal cited consumer studies from The Farnsworth Group and the Home Improvement Research Institute reporting that 80% of homeowners had started a DIY home project by June of last year. Along with the simple fact that homeowners were stuck quarantining, they also are getting a confidence boost from online resources such as YouTube and Pinterest. Savvy dealers, even those that typically cater only to pros, have recognized this surging customer opportunity and have responded with increased support and product guidance.
Back to Basics
As we proceed through this year with a bit of caution, some manufacturers recommend that dealers stick to basic strategies, including taking advantage of educational resources for increasing foot traffic and visibility, diversifying your product lines to include alternative trim materials, and maintaining your knowledge base. “The best thing dealers can do for their customers is to be truly knowledgeable about the products they sell—and even those they don’t sell,” Drury told the magazine. “This will help ensure they can recommend to contractors the right solution to each project, making them even more valuable to those customers.”
And this includes taking advantage of ever-growing opportunities for virtual training sessions. To arrange for product knowledge and installation virtual training for Boral Building Products brands, including TruExterior and Kleer as well as siding brands like Versetta Stone and Foundry, contact us here.
All told, LBM Journal paints a positive picture for the year ahead: “When taken together, all of these changes and challenges point to an optimistic year for the moulding and trim industry,” they concluded. “Yes, LBM dealers will need to remain agile so that they can quickly adapt how they do business in response to any continued (or even new) restrictions from the continuing health crisis. But by staying atop training and education and by being prepared to meet the anticipated increasing demand for trim products by both pro and DIY customers, dealers will position themselves to reap the greatest gains.”
To read more trim trends and insights into today’s trim market, view the LBM Journal article in its entirety here.
Our lives have been forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, directly or indirectly, and home building and remodeling jobsites are no exception. As the pandemic unfolded last year, tackling safety on the jobsite quickly became paramount to continuing to work, and many building professionals had to implement at least some COVID safety best practices, depending on local requirements, from social distancing to PPE to limiting the number of workers on site at a time.
Here’s an overview of the latest recommendations—and some insights from the field.
The Official Word on COVID Safety
The Centers for Disease Control’s page dedicated to construction workers and safety best practices during COVID-19 is continually updated as new information comes in, as methods of protection change, and as we continue to learn more about how the virus works. OSHA also continues to maintain a detailed page chock full of COVID worker safety information to help you conduct a job hazard analysis and make decisions on best practices for workers.
These conversations and decisions must be made daily for everyone’s safety, particularly because, as Professional Builder reports, construction workers are one of the highest groups of people who get COVID—even higher than healthcare workers. In addition, a large percentage of construction workers intend to refuse the vaccine.
Along with keeping workers safe on the job, taking precautions also sends a visual message to clients that we’re doing everything we can to operate safely in every capacity.
As the vaccine rolls out slowly across the country, it may become a requirement by your employer that you get the COVID vaccine to continue going to your workplace—that includes people in the building industry. Regardless, until more people have been vaccinated and we eventually reach “herd immunity,” COVID safety measures must continue to be taken wherever and whenever possible, particularly if you have workers who do not wish to get vaccinated.
COVID Jobsite Best Practices
A year into these changes, most builders and remodelers have adopted best practices and procedures to keep team members safe and ensure their companies are in compliance with local requirements.
Joe Danz of Boston Exterior Remodeling is not only a home remodeling professional, he’s a former nurse, so he’s taken COVID seriously from the start. Danz says he takes a customized approach to each jobsite and situation. Early on, he found problems in requiring complete PPE when it wasn’t necessarily needed—his workers generally stay a safe distance apart while working together anyway. In some cases, the suggested protection could do more harm than good. “If [workers] have a mask on and wear glasses or need to put on safety goggles, the lenses can fog up, which can be dangerous,” said Danz. “So instead we keep workers separate, a safe distance apart. Fortunately, on exterior projects like ours, that’s usually easy to do.”
Whenever workers are physically close together, he does make sure they are masked. “There’s a margin of tolerance we have with making people safe. The optics can be important to our clients. It’s a balancing act.” To that end, Danz puts on his mask and shield before meeting with clients and texts them to let them know he has arrived so they can meet him outside where there is fresh air. He maintains a safe distance from clients even with the PPE on so they feel reassured.
Danz has implemented other safety procedures to serve as a daily reminder that compliance is necessary—but uses common sense as to whether or not every single measure is warranted. For example, in the early months, he instituted a sign-in sheet procedure where each worker has to state at the start of each day that they feel physically well and that they have a normal temperature before they can start working. This requirement has lessened as his team knows the drill—and knows not to show up for work if they feel sick or have a temperature. Knowing your clients and thinking about how many workers are on the job and where they will be placed while working is a key part of using your best judgment. “We definitely make sure to use the sign-in sheet on big jobs where there will be a lot of people, including inspectors,” Danz says.
Boston Exterior also added a foot-operated hand-washing station when possible, or at minimum a hand sanitizing station with sanitizer, paper towels, and buckets to ensure hands stay clean.
No matter what, all building professionals should refer to the requirements of their local jurisdictions and follow procedures as required, as they vary greatly from area to area.
One growing issue is “COVID fatigue,” something building companies must tackle if they want to continue to keep their teams safe. The NAHB expressed concerns about this phenomenon in January, Builder magazine reported, and pushed for a second safety stand-down (the first was held last April) to keep best practices top of mind. If your company wasn’t able to participate, NAHB offers guidance and steps here. The association provides additional resources on its website, including a downloadable jobsite safety poster.
COVID-related best practices for worker safety are here to stay—at least for the time being. Many of these changes are easy to implement and smart, regardless of COVID. Studies have found that other illnesses like the flu sharply declined this season, and regular hand washing, social distancing whenever possible, and wearing masks have helped spur that trend.
Depending on the willingness of your workers to get vaccinated and the changing nature of the virus, safety measures like this may need to be in place permanently to help keep workers from making each other sick with any type of illness. For your safety, the safety of your clients, and the safety of your workers, staying consistent with COVID-smart practices on the jobsite is good for everyone.
From higher frequency of wildfires to an overall focus on safety as more Americans work and school from home, fire safety is top of mind. How do Boral Building Products’ siding and trim materials compare to others when it comes to fire resistance?
Here’s a guide:
Fire Resistance of TruExterior Siding & Trim
All thicknesses, widths, and profiles of the TruExterior Siding & Trim product line are certified by the California Building Commission for inclusion on the Wildland-Urban Interface Zone (WUI) Products Listing, one of the strictest regulations on building products, systems, and assemblies in the country. The product line is part of a relatively small group of cladding materials approved for WUI-designated buildings. This means that architects and contractors can confidently specify the product for use throughout all areas of California, regardless of WUI restrictions.
Fire Resistance of Versetta Stone siding
Versetta Stone offers the look of stone and the ease of panelized installation—and a Class A fire rating meeting the requirements of the ASTM E 84 – fire spread & smoke test.
Versetta Stone can be used for interior fireplace surround applications.
Fire Resistance of Foundry Siding
Not only does Foundry Siding’s authentic looks separate it from other similar siding products, Foundry shakes and shingles contain PVC, which contributes to a 1A fire resistance rating. Siding made with polypropylene does not carry a 1A rating.
In addition, Foundry’s Grayne Shingle line is included on California’s WUI building materials listing.
As with any material, use of Boral Building Products’ siding and trim materials beyond the parameters to which they are designed could impact fire resistance. Have questions? Contact our customer service team today.
One of the most fun reveals at the end of each year are the various Colors of the Year announcements from manufacturers and color experts. They’re a unique reflection of the current moods of the populace and perhaps also a nudge toward where we expect to be headed in the coming 12 months.
This year was no exception, as three of the major Color of the Year announcements seemed to deliver on a similar theme of calm, hope, and grounding.
Here’s a look at the colors, what they symbolize, and how you can leverage them on your homes.
2021 Colors of the Year
For only the second time in 22 years, Pantone selected two Colors of the Year: Ultimate Gray (17-5104) and Illuminating (13-0647). The two hues “highlight how different elements come together to support one another,” the company says. “Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, the union of Pantone 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and Pantone 13-0647 Illuminating is one of strength and positivity. It is a story of color that encapsulates deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the promise of something sunny and friendly.”
Sherwin-Williams named Urbane Bronze (SW 7047 (245-C7)), a rich, enveloping gray-brown, its Color of the Year. “Nature at its simplest and most elemental—embodying the richness of the Earth’s stone, metal, and wood—forges a feeling that’s grounded, meditative, and serene,” the paint manufacturer describes. “Let a color rooted in nature create a feeling of calm and bring all you cherish together.”
Paint manufacturer Benjamin Moore went for a richer neutral as well with its selection of Aegean Teal 2136-40, “a blend of blue-green and gray … an intriguing midtone that creates natural harmony,” as its Color of the Year. The hue, along with the other colors in the company’s Color Trends 2021 Palette, celebrates the simple pleasures of home, eliciting a feeling of calming positivity that embraces the viewer in its warmth. The aesthetic feels traditional but much more modern in tone.
“Every year, the Colors of the Year reflect what’s happened over the past 12 months, and that is very apparent in this year’s selections,” says Trisha Wagner, National Accounts Manager for Boral Building Products. “People have changed a lot in how they view their surroundings; it’s taken a turn from looking at home from outside in. And these colorscapes demonstrate that.”
How to Apply Trending Colors to the Home Exterior
Wagner points out that home aesthetics are no longer just about curb appeal. With the pandemic, home is also a workspace, vacation space, and much more—so how colors live is important. They need to be much more fluid, with a flow from inside to out, rather than a bold exterior color with a more neutral interior or vice versa.
Trending colors have a feel of the “new neutral,” with a natural tone but with a richness that keeps them feeling modern. In siding, Foundry’s Deep Granite color is one example.
“When I look at new construction projects, it’s not just siding and stone; it’s shake in the gable, multiple textures, but they’re all tonal. Texture and color fold and weave into this calm, serene space,” says Wagner. “It’s the same on the interior. We’re seeing less of the stark contrast, such as a single accent wall in a bold red. It’s more of a blend. It’s not just about one room, it’s about the palette throughout the home.”
There’s still a place for bold, but there’s an elegance to it. The bright red is still around, but in a deeper, earthier version that feels calm instead of overpowering. On the exterior, a neutral palette may pair with black-framed windows or a half wall of Versetta Stone’s Northern Ash hue. “That’s the foundation for some of these modern neutrals. We’re not going back to the boring hues. These are elevated, richer, calmer,” Wagner explains.
The Colors of the Year themselves can be easily weaved into a front door, shutters, and other accents, areas that showcase a trend without having to make a dramatic change.
“Colors are an absolute reflection of where we are this year,” Wagner says. “Color inspires. We shouldn’t be afraid of it, but it has to work with you.”
Ready to take advantage of the latest color trends? Atlantic Shutters can be matched to nearly any color, offering a perfect opportunity to incorporate similar hues to the Colors of the Year. And TruExterior Siding & Trim can be painted any color, making it easy to respond to the latest preferences.
The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced many aspects of our lives, and home design and exterior trends are no exception. As stay-at-home orders stretched out into months, homeowners turned to home improvement projects to keep themselves busy and whittle down neglected to-do lists. At the same time, many homeowners chose to relocate to new or existing homes in search of more space or outdoor-friendly properties.
Those shifts will likely continue to influence home trends in the months to come. Alongside those changes, there are some existing exterior trends that remain top of mind with pros and homeowners alike.
Easy upgrades: Staying at home means more time staring at ho-hum exteriors or facades in need of a facelift. Simple updates to the exterior, such as replacing aging siding, adding gable vents or decorative mounting blocks, or installing decorative trim, can go a long way to improving curb appeal while still remaining affordable and in reach of DIYers.
Outdoor living, elevated: Outdoor living has been trending for years, but the need for great exterior space is stronger than ever with the pandemic. For homeowners stuck in the house, the outdoors have become a much-needed place of respite. Making outdoor living areas even more inviting—with everything from integrated seating to warm lighting to a flashier grill—has become even more desirable.
Along with the deck and patio surfaces, your customers should consider how the surrounding façade looks, adding trim and other accents to make the space feel more refined and complete.
Awnings and overhead coverings, as well as fire pits and outdoor heaters, can help to extend the useability of those outdoor spaces during colder temperatures.
Updated offices: With more workers logging in remotely, creating home offices that are welcoming and well-designed is top of mind, and exterior siding products can make a perfect decorative element. Shiplap siding or panelized stone siding is an easy way to add an accent wall to elevate a guest bedroom into a cozy home office.
Window options and placement: More time at home means even more need for better indoor air quality and comfort. For windows, this means paying attention to placement to maximize both daylighting and cross-ventilation. Sound control options also should be considered to minimize disruptions during the work day.
Authenticity: Authentic siding and trim profiles, like TruExterior’s Craftsman Collection, offer the nostalgia of tradition and the comfort of the tried-and-true, fueling a greater sense of normalcy in a world that is anything but.
Multi-textured facades: Multi-textured facades continue among leading exterior trends. Blending multiple cladding types, such as a stone siding half wall with vinyl or poly-ash siding above, and incorporating shingles or vertical accents on gables and bump-outs helps distinguish homes along the streetscape and adds warmth and curb appeal.
Vertical and board-and-batten siding: Vertical and board-and-batten siding can add dimension and visual interest to the home exterior, particularly to meet demand for multi-textured façades and Modern Farmhouse looks. Vertical applications also can help spice up accent areas, such as gables. (Learn more about vertical siding here .)
Even after the restrictions of COVID-19 fade into memory, the idea of the home as a place of escape and sanctuary is likely to remain for some time. Simple touches can add physical and aesthetic comfort to secure the feeling of home.
If not for the parking lot out front and its multiple front doors, it would be hard to tell that the Chippewa County Family Project Teen Foster Home is anything more than a traditional residence. And that’s just the idea.
From inside to out, the 5,500-square-foot house in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is designed to be welcoming for children in the foster care system, just like a permanent home would be.
“The committee wanted the kids to feel like they have a home, that they’re not just being placed in another facility,” notes Dan Arbic, owner of Arbic Construction in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
Inside, the house is divided into two sides, one for boys and one for girls. Each side has six bedrooms and three bathrooms, a kitchen, and common areas. In the center are offices and a living space for the house parent.
Arbic also owns a cabinet company, and he put those skills to work creating custom cabinetry and an upgraded hardwood trim package that ensured a cozy warmth to further the home-like feel. In developing the interior, the committee sought the input of local high school students, ensuring that not just adult perspectives were considered.
On the building’s exterior, the mission continued with an elevation, lines, and styling similar to traditional homes. The façade features all of the current trends, including a soft gray and blue color palette with robust white accents, and a varied façade. Horizontal siding on the lower walls combines with vertical siding on the second level, highlighted by eye-catching blue accent walls and gables clad in Foundry shakes.
Tapered columns wrapped in bright white Kleer PVC trim and warm stone flank the trio of entrances. The bright white trim is featured throughout the façade, including around the windows.
Foundry Siding was chosen in part for its ease of installation during the winter construction window; the material stays pliable, even in colder temperatures, ensuring fast installation.
The contractor also was able to perfectly coordinate the color with the rest of the exterior siding.
The winter installation also typically doesn’t bode well for keeping trim in pristine condition, but because Kleer trimboards feature TruEDGE technology, they resist dirt and are easy to clean. Plus, Kleer trimboards are wrapped in small-quantity KleerPaks to ensure they stay looking like new from the lumberyard to the jobsite to the walls.
“Foundry was easy to install, and it locked in a lot better,” Arbic says. “And Kleer, in its packaging, we received it without defects or scratches.”
This was Arbic’s first time using Foundry and Kleer, and based on experiences with other products, he had expected to have to replace some of the siding and trim due to expansion as the colder temperatures and clouds gave way to warmer sun. Instead, “We didn’t have to replace a stitch of trim,” he recalls. “Same thing with the siding—we had zero problems. It went up easy, even though it was no more than 25 degrees when we installed it. Nothing broke, nothing chipped.”
For Arbic, the ease of installation and the discovery of a new go-to exterior material was merely a bonus on top of a fulfilling project that involved so many within the community as they came together to support the needs of local teens.
Made with a proprietary poly-ash technology, TruExterior Trim combines the look of natural materials with low-maintenance—along with remarkable workability that compares to, and sometimes even exceeds, that of wood.
How workable is TruExterior? Picture a knife cutting through butter. Columns that turn with ease. Details intricate enough to pass historic requirements.
TruExterior is less brittle than fiber cement, so it’s easier to work with. At the same time, it’s less prone to cracking like wood—you can even fasten close to the edge without splitting. Nor does it rot, warp, or shrink like wood.
Boral Building Products provides a range of installation-ready, authentic siding profiles, from V-Rustic to Channel Bevel to Shiplap. But the possibilities continue with a line of trimboards that can be fabricated into endless shapes and styles to create custom historic, traditional, or contemporary details.
Architect David Williams McKee put these attributes to work when designing a Queen Anne-style vacation home in the historic resort community of Chautauqua, N.Y. The house is “a tapestry of expression,” McKee says, featuring turned porch posts, decorative millwork, brackets, balusters, and gingerbread trim, all crafted using TruExterior.
In addition, Marsh Valley Forest Products used trimboards to create a custom shiplap siding for the home as well as split boards resembling cedar shingles for the gables. “TruExterior was easy to work with. Once set up to handle Boral, it’s easier to mold than wood,” says Marsh Valley owner and president Mervin Miller.
Similarly, DURATION Moulding & Millwork in Hamilton, N.J., uses TruExterior to meticulously craft quoins, crown, beaded casing, and other detailed molding pieces for projects ranging from the historic Old South Church in Boston; home exterior accents including shutters, soffits, fascia, and window trim; and custom shiplap siding.
DURATION also offers a 25 stock profiles, including crown and cove, as well as a library of semi-custom and custom moulding options.
“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,” says DURATION president and CEO Keith Coleman. “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.”
It’s not every day that an orthodontist office wins rave design reviews. But that’s just the case with a recent project completed by MKM architecture + design, which turned a challenging site into a unique space highlighted by modern geometric forms and eye-catching textures.
The property along the Jefferson Corridor in Fort Wayne, Ind., was difficult to say the least: a pie-shaped lot wedged between two major roadways. A connector to downtown and close to schools, the corridor is a high-traffic area that’s convenient to patients—but also high profile and highly visible. Rather than feeling daunted, Dr. Parrish was drawn to the property, finding inspiration in its similarities to the Flatiron Building in New York. He seized the opportunity to work with MKM to create a design that was distinctive yet still complementary to the neighborhood.
In addition to the oddly shaped lot, the office’s location just outside the city’s commercial core necessitated balancing the feel of heading downtown while staying true to the aesthetic of nearby residential areas.
Dr. Parrish’s eye toward style and forward-looking approach allowed MKM architecture + design Principal Matt Sparling, AIA, LEED AP, to explore different forms as well as different materials. A square building was out of the question due to the lot shape and the limitations of required parking and driveways. Instead, MKM designed the building with a triangle shape extending into the lot, coming to a steep point with a dramatic 20-foot overhang where the building faces the street corner.
Pulling off the shape required a more intensive and lengthy review process; any changes to the square footage of the building meant reworking the plan and proportions of the triangle. The skin of the roof took its own shape and form over the triangular footprint and simultaneously had to balance the design and scale of the building exterior. To achieve this design, all the trusses were unique in size and length with no one alike.
To maximize the floor plan and allow space for parking, MKM had to petition for a variance to extend past the building setback line. This allowance also saved seven well-established trees during construction, helping the building appear as if it had been there for years.
Along with its shape, the project is visually distinctive in its use of color and texture. The lower areas of the exterior feature TruExterior 8” Channel Siding in two shades of gray and taupe. The product’s workability was essential for creating the crisp mitered corners and clean lines, as well as for navigating the trickier points of the triangle. Made with poly-ash, TruExterior offers dimensional stability ideal for the fluctuations of temperature and weather in Indiana, and its authentic wood look adds dimension to the flat surfaces.
Just as striking is the stone cladding along the sides of the triangle and the broad overhang. To pull off this look in a somewhat challenging area of the façade, contractor Steve Desmond installed Versetta Stone panelized siding in a Tight-Cut profile and Plum Creek colorway. Because of Versetta Stone’s lighter weight compared to brick, it could be used for the overhang without adding tremendous structural costs. Its panelized format, requiring just screws to hang, simplified what could have been a time-consuming and costly traditional masonry installation.
The stone carries over to other areas of the façade, including half walls and planter boxes, completing the multi-textured look.
Using TruExterior and Versetta Stone eases the building’s sharper geometries, where previously considered metal options would have been too severe. “You can make it look unique for the area and still be complementary to your neighbors,” Sparling says.
TruExterior also could be installed in the winter, helping to avoid construction delays, he adds. “Contractors around here really favor it because it’s a no-nuisance product.”
Inside the office, the building’s shape created dead space in corners, so MKM used those areas for infrastructure, like a vertical chase, as well as for countertop display areas.
The Mid-Century Modern décor, featuring stone and wood finishes and a feature wall made with plank flooring, maintains a contemporary appeal while keeping the space inviting. Sparling incorporated two setback windows into the layout for the always-on nightlights. Outside, can lights on the underside of the overhang provide emphasis while highlighting the angles. Like the rest of the building, and the design approach overall, the effect is both strikingly modern and comfortably warm.
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.
Not only is Versetta Stone easy to install, with a panelized format that goes up with nails or screws, it adds the perfect aesthetic touch to homes, multifamily projects, and light commercial spaces. Versetta Stone’s authentic look is ideal for adding an elegant or rustic touch to exterior walls, chimneys, and columns, while inside it can easily enhance the visual appeal to fireplace surrounds and walls without the added weight of real stone.
This is especially the case with Northern Ash, the newest colorway and the boldest yet. The dramatic, near-black hue is perfect for today’s trends favoring dark colors—to add a pop to the exterior or create the perfect accent wall.
Need inspiration? Here are a few early applications of this new color:
For this multifamily project, Northern Ash added the perfect accent on the corners, providing contrast to the lighter hues elsewhere on the façade and providing a multi-textured look that’s tremendously popular right now.
Bold and modern, this beautiful two-sided outdoor fireplace by Construction in the Creek is clad in Versetta Stone Northern Ash. The dark hue perfectly coordinates with the space’s black-and-white color scheme.
A half wall of Versetta Stone Northern Ash adds an aesthetic touch to this outbuilding by Rural Renovators, Inc., combining with the shutters and porch to provide a slight residential appeal suitable for the property.
Northern Ash is just as suitable for interiors and for light commercial spaces, as shown here in a lobby waiting room.
Excited by Northern Ash? See all the Versetta Stone profiles here.
industry has continued to navigate life during the COVID-19 pandemic, masks and
temperature checks on jobsites have become the norm as face-to-face sales calls
and travel to trade shows have disappeared. But with many projects still moving
forward, in some cases with more urgency than before the pandemic, what hasn’t
changed is the need to stay educated on new products, selling strategies, and
installation best practices.
Luckily, manufacturers, publications, and other entities in the construction industry have adapted fast, and there are ample virtual learning opportunities to learn via computers and tablets.
addition, here are some virtual learning options you can take advantage of now
and in the near future:
ProTradeCraft This robust online learning portal isn’t new, and it’s chock full of videos and podcasts covering construction best practices, from detailing siding to building high-performance walls. You’ll find content from the site’s team of experts as well as product knowledge and installation sessions from manufacturers.
The Weekly The folks behind Pro Builder and Pro Remodeler magazines stream a new video series each week, interviewing building pros of all types on everything from modular homes to recruiting strategies to Facebook marketing.
The Remodeling Show Reimagined (Nov. 16-18) In its new virtual space, this year’s Remodeling Show is focusing on both business and installation topics. Live and on-demand sessions include a state of the industry, kitchen design trends, creating transitional trim details, digital marketing, lead generation, window installation, and much more.
LBM Sales Podcast Dealers can brush up on their sales strategies with LBM Journal and sales trainer Rick Davis, a longtime contributor to the magazine. Not only will Davis share his expertise, but also sales strategies from LBM leaders as well as experts from outside the industry.
NAHB Online Learning The association’s new portal features live and on-demand courses, on-demand modules, and live and recorded webinars. Tracks include business management, building techniques, architecture and design, land development, project management, trends, and sales and marketing.
NKBA Webinars Hone your kitchen and bath design chops with the association’s lengthy list of live and recorded webinars. Topics range from a broad look at trends to details such as bio-adaptive lighting.
If you’ve been to the Builders’ Show, the Remodeling Show, or JLC Live, you’ve likely crossed paths with longtime carpenter Mike Sloggatt. Armed with a headset and a career’s worth of knowledge, Sloggatt, owner of Mike Sloggatt Home Improvement, delivers compelling presentations on siding and trim installation focused on ensuring quality exteriors that stand the test of time.
Among the materials Sloggatt installs during workshops is Boral TruExterior Siding & Trim. “TruExterior is virtually indestructible in terms of water, insects, and holding paint,” Sloggatt says. “But don’t get lazy—install it properly, and it will treat you really well.”
Stay organized: Thoughtful setup of materials ahead of time can save you steps over the course of the day. Sloggatt, for example, sets up his cutting station and always works from the same direction—pulling a piece off the stack to the left, cutting, and stacking to the right for installation. To help keep the cutting space clean, he puts a canopy over the saw with a garbage bag behind it for easy disposal of scraps, and he keeps a small battery-powered leaf blower nearby to blow away dust and keep his tooling clean so it will last longer.
Use the right tooling: TruExterior offers the workability of wood, which allows it to be routed and shaped into a range of decorative profiles. It does, however, require carbide blades and bits, and it can be difficult to cut wood once those blades and bits have been used for the poly-ash material. Sloggatt designates bits and blades specifically for TruExterior, marking them with blue spray paint. This ensures the tooling will last longer and eliminates any frustration that may result from trying to cut other materials after TruExterior.
Understand your materials and think of the system: When Sloggatt first started building 40 years ago, resilient old-growth timber was common for framing—and much more forgiving. Today’s wood materials need to be better protected from moisture and managed as a system. How well the window is trimmed, flashed, and integrated with the weather-resistive barrier can impact the integrity of the wood framing underneath as well as the trim above.
Store properly: TruExterior offers superior dimensional stability compared to most materials, but every product is prone to some movement if exposed to the right conditions. As with any trim material, keep TruExterior off the ground and covered during storage so that it won’t risk being installed wet. Once installed, TruExterior can be in contact with the ground with no concerns about excess moisture absorption.
Avoid flashed nail holes: One challenge every installer has likely faced is driving a fastener into painted trim and filling the hole, only to leave a noticeable flash behind. To avoid this, Sloggatt puts a small bit of blue painter’s tape over the spot before driving the fastener, then fills the hole with the tape still in place. This ensures the hole is filled but not the surrounding material, eliminating the glare of a flashed hole.
As first reported in Eye on Housing, data from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction indicate stucco and vinyl were the most common siding material for new single-family homes in 2019, accounting for 27% and 25% of the total, respectively. Stucco was installed on 245,000 home starts and vinyl on 228,000 home starts last year.
Digging deeper into the four regional sectors of the Census data, vinyl siding was far and away the leading material in two regions—the Northeast, at 46,000 homes (74%), and the Midwest, at 71,000 homes (59%). Not surprisingly, stucco and brick were the most-used material in the south, though vinyl still captured 21% of the market there.
Further analysis of nine submarkets by Eye on Housing finds that vinyl was the leading material in four submarkets and the second-leading material in two submarkets. In the Mid-Atlantic region encompassing New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, vinyl accounted for 75% of housing starts, with the next most-used material, brick, at just 9%. In New England, 68% of new homes in 2019 used vinyl, with wood as the secondary material at 19%.
It’s no wonder vinyl siding is the go-to option for new homes—for most products, it offers low maintenance and optimal durability. Foundry Specialty Siding takes those advantages even further, offering the warm, rich look of shake or shingle cedar along with an extensive palette of standard and custom colors. Plus, its profiles virtually eliminate visible seams, furthering the authenticity and enhancing aesthetics versus similar products.