5 Trends and Insights from LBM Journal’s 2021 Siding Review

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.

Supply Challenges

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.”

Classic Looks

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.”

Modern Farmhouse with TruExterior poly-ash siding
Modern Farmhouse looks, such as this one featuring TruExterior Siding, continue to be popular.

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.)

Foundry Grayne shingle siding and Versetta Stone combine for authentic looks and low maintenance.

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.

Read more about the latest siding trends by reading the full LBM Journal article here.

How Are Housing and Pandemic Trends Impacting LBM Dealers?

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.”

View the full LBM Journal 100 here and down the Construction Supply 150 here.

Image: iStock.com/ArnoMassee

Simple Strategies to Upgrade Outdoor Living Spaces

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.

Versetta Stone grill surround
Ledgestone Mission Point

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

Koncept Design/Build tiny house ADU

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.

Adam Hass Fine Homebuilding man cave/garage

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.

Zuccon Works shed

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 Lumber flower box

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.

Kleer Lumber, Adirondack chairs

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.

TruExterior Trim poly-ash beadboard on porch ceiling

Post wraps, such as these from Kleer, are a simple way to enhance the porch or deck without adding extra maintenance needs.

KleerWrap post wraps on porch

Get more ideas for beautiful outdoor spaces in our TruExterior Idea Gallery and Versetta Stone Idea Gallery.

Boral Celebrates 75-Year Anniversary

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.

Boral employees leaving for the United States in 1947.
The first employees, just before they embarked on their training trip to the United States, in 1947.

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.

Sydney Opera House under construction
The forecourt of the Sydney Opera House during construction. Boral supplied and laid the asphalt.

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:

Boral Building Products

AtlanticPremium Shutters • Builders Edge • Foundry Specialty Siding • Kleer Lumber • Mid-America Siding Components • SturdiMount • Tapco Tools • TruExterior Siding & Trim • Vantage • Versetta Stone • Wellcraft Egress Systems

Boral Roofing

Boral Roof Tile and Components • Boral Steel – Stone Coated Steel • Inspire by Boral • Roof System Components • US Tile by Boral

Boral Stone

Cultured Stone • Drain-N-Dry Lath • Dutch Quality Stone • Eldorado Stone • Kindred Outdoors + Surrounds • ProStone • StoneCraft Industries • Versetta Stone

Boral Windows

Fly Ash + Synthetic Gypsum

Cost vs. Value Report: Exterior Products, Manufactured Stone Veneer Deliver Leading ROI

Versetta Stone in Ledgestone Mission Point

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.

See the full study and evaluation of trends at www.costvsvalue.com.

(Remodeling 2021 Cost vs. Value Report: © 2021 Zonda. Complete data from the Remodeling 2021 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at www.costvsvalue.com.)

NAHB Study Reveals ‘What Home Buyers Really Want’

Foundry staggered shake

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.

Open layouts, such as the one shown here with a Versetta Stone fireplace, are still high in demand with home buyers.

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.”

To get more insights, download a summary of the results or order the full “What Home Buyers Really Want” 2021 edition at BuilderBooks.

Architects: Low-Maintenance Exteriors Continue to Pique Homeowners’ Interest

TruExterior siding, modern 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%

To view the full quarterly reports, as well as an archive of the studies from the past few years, visit the AIA Home Design Trends Survey.

Inspiration Gallery: Foundry Siding Elevates 9 Exterior Facades

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 siding

Foundry 10” staggered shake in Snow and stone combine perfectly on this home to create a dramatic yet elegant look.

Foundry Staggered Shake, Foundry Split Shake

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.

Foundry Staggered Shake

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.

multifamily

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.

Foundry siding

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.

Roslyn Ridge

Foundry shakes in a Pacific Northwest-friendly blue are the perfect backdrop for the bold trim accents on this facade in Morningstar Homes’ Roslyn Ridge development. (Photo: @boral_trev_westerncanada⁠)

Boston Exterior Remodeling, Foundry siding

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.

Explore more Foundry projects in our Inspiration Gallery.

Best Practices for Ongoing COVID Safety on the Jobsite

jobsite safety, COVID-19, construction site

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.

Boston Exterior Remodeling, Grayne, Kleer
This recent project by Boston Exterior Remodeling combines the two newest colors of Foundry’s Grayne shingle siding, Mountain Ash and Rustic Slate, and Kleer window trim.

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.

Hero image: iStock.com/Juanmonino

Are Siding Materials Fire Resistant?

TruExterior Siding

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.

What do the 2021 Colors of the Year Mean for Your Exteriors?

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.”

(Check out ArchDaily’s collection of projects featuring similar colors.)

Pantone 2021 Colors of the Year, Iluminating, Ultimate Gray
Pantone’s Illuminating and Ultimate Gray (Image courtesy Pantone)

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.”

Sherwin-Williams 2021 Color of the Year, Urbane Bronze
Sherwin-Williams’ Urbane Bronze (Image courtesy Sherwin-Williams)

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. 

Benjamin Moore’s Aegean Teal (Image courtesy Benjamin Moore)

“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.”

Foundry siding
Foundry siding on the second floor blends with the first-floor hues to create a soothing-yet-elegant look.

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.

Versetta Stone in Northern Ash offers an opportunity to add a bold look without feeling overpowering.

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.

Atlantic Shutters, Bahama Shutters, green shutters
Shutters and doors offer homeowners an opportunity to experiment with trendy colors, whether the Colors of the Year or a bright green as seen here, without making too much of a commitment.

“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.

7 Exterior Trends for 2021

Kleer Lumber, outdoor living, retaining wall, pergola

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.

Kleer Lumber, outdoor living, retaining wall, pergola
Warm lighting, ample seating, and a covered area made with Kleer trim and column wraps help make this outdoor space inviting .
  • 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.
TruExterior, office
This office space features a shiplap accent wall made with TruExterior Siding.
  • 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 .)
exterior inspiration, vertical siding, siding, TruExterior, poly-ash siding
Vertical siding, such as this look created with TruExterior Siding, remains a popular trend for home exteriors.

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.

Exterior and Interior Touches Create a Sense of Home for Michigan Foster Children

Boral Building Products, Kleer Lumber, Foundry siding

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.

foster home, Chippewa County, Foundry siding, Kleer Lumber

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. 

Kleer trim, PVC trim, column wraps

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.”

Foundry siding, Kleer Lumber, siding

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.

Virtual Learning Opportunities for Builders, Remodelers, and LBM Dealers

As the 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.

At Boral Building Products, our customer representatives are able to provide product knowledge and installation training sessions via online platforms. Simply contact your rep to set up a time.

In 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.

Browse the videos.

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.

Catch up on past shows and subscribe here.

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. 

Details and registration here.

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.

Find the podcasts here.

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.

Visit the portal.

National Housing Outlook Webinars
Metrostudy’s weekly live webinars provide real-time data and insights to help guide your decision-making.

Browse the schedule.

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.

Peruse the library.

Census: Vinyl Siding One of Leading Residential Cladding Materials

Foundry siding, vinyl siding

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.

Get inspired in our Idea Gallery or find your local supplier here.

Foundry Offers a Range of Opportunities for Multifamily Projects

Foundry Specialty Siding

The appeal of Foundry Specialty Siding—the warm, rich look of cedar without the maintenance concerns—makes it not only an ideal option for single-family homes, but particularly desirable for multifamily apartment and condo projects.

Whether you’re building two-story garden apartments or a four-story mid-rise building, here a few things to consider about selecting Foundry:

• Budget-Friendly: Along with an affordable price point, Foundry offers several inherent properties that make it a valuable option. This includes a low scrap rate, and therefore less waste, easy installation with fewer crew members, and no required special tools or accessories.

• Low Maintenance: While Foundry offers the sought-after look of wood, apartment maintenance teams won’t have to deal with the typical maintenance or durability issues that come with natural siding. Foundry stays looking new with no need to paint and stain each year or concerns about insect infestation or moisture absorption.

• Color Options: For projects looking to move away from the typical creams and tans, Foundry comes in a variety of standard and weathered hues, plus more than 400 color-matched solids. This makes it easy to blend or coordinate with other siding products and accents and also to combine siding and trim colors into eye-catching looks.

• Diversity of Looks: Even in multifamily projects with multiple buildings, renters and buyers like their homes to feel different than their neighbors. Foundry is easy to combine with other siding materials, brands, and textures to create a varied façade. For example, start the wall with Versetta Stone stone siding, then transition to Foundry for the upper floors. Another common approach is a double-4, double-5, or triple-3 vinyl siding transitioning to Foundry. For an upscale look, blend brick with Foundry above. Foundry’s own shingle and shake profiles, including its Grayne Shingle Siding line, also combine to create an enticing exterior.

• Easy Installation: In large multifamily projects with tight construction schedules, Foundry’s ease of handling and installation can provide much-needed time and labor savings. At 5 feet, the panels can be carried and hung by one crew member, versus a two-person approach required for typical 12-foot panels. In addition, there’s no need to set up a two-person cutting station. A single installer can use a tape measure and snips to cut to size on the fly. Foundry also uses the same accessories as traditional vinyl siding, so it locks in without the need for special transitions while working up high on multi-story projects.

• Ordering Flexibility: Builders have tremendous flexibility in ordering Foundry in small or large quantities, so it’s ideal for any size job, depending on the façade design and desired aesthetic.

• Fire Rating: Foundry carries a 1A fire rating, stronger than some other vinyl options and ideal for multifamily projects.

Ready to learn more? Find your local supplier here.

7 Tips to Improve Your Website’s SEO

search engine optimization, website analytics

When customers are looking for information on the internet, it tends to always start with a simple search.

Search engines are the “middlemen” that work to connect businesses to customers who are in need of their goods and services. And there are ways you can help the search engine’s artificial intelligence (AI) find your websites, facilitating potential customers to connect with you faster.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a strategic way of positioning content on websites to ensure higher rankings in search engines. The higher you rank, the more likely your website is to land in front of potential customers.

Here are 7 tips for improving your website’s SEO to rank higher on search engine inquiries.

1. TEST THE WEBSITE SPEED

When ranking websites, speed is one of the first things Google and other search engines look at. Speed matters because users will leave sites that take too long to load.

And keep in mind that SEO AI will look at both the mobile and desktop speed. Your site must run fast on both to rank higher.

There are tools offered to help check speed; one is Google Developer.

2. ADD VIDEO AND IMAGES

Having videos and images on a website will always rank the site higher—provided you use them where they make sense. The AI will favor your site when the videos and images help elevate the content. AI does not favor pictures over videos or videos over pictures, which provides tremendous flexibility.

3. FIND AND FIX BROKEN LINKS

There is nothing more disappointing to a website visitor than clicking on a link that doesn’t work. As such, Google and other search engines will rank websites with broken links lower.

Fewer broken links also will result in lower bounce rates and exits from your website. There are tools that can help you find broken links for free, or it can be done manually .

4. ANSWER THE QUESTIONS PEOPLE ARE ASKING

If you can figure out and understand the questions your customers are asking, and then provide the answers to those questions, your website will rank higher in search engines.

When customers search the internet, they are asking questions that may not directly link to your services or products but are related. If you can create content that answers relevant questions, your brand can be put in front of the consumers, and you can gain their business.

For example, remodelers might create content around common homeowner questions such as “What siding is best for my home” or “How do I improve my home’s curb appeal?” Having blog posts or other content on your website that answers common questions can help lead potential customers to your site.

Also, every good question has a follow-up question. Try your best to understand and answer the next question that comes after the first set of questions.

5. HAVE A STRONG CALL-TO-ACTION

A strong website will have an even stronger call-to-action (CTA). When a customer lands on your site, you should always have a goal in mind. It could be having them sign up for your newsletter, getting them to schedule a discovery session, or encouraging them to follow you on Instagram.

You want to make sure you have a clear task for them to complete. Google and other search engines will rank websites with higher task completions (such as subscribing to your newsletter) better than those with lower completion rates. 

If the customer does not complete the task and ends up back in the search results, the search engine will rank your site lower because it is an indication that your website does not answer the customer’s questions or needs.

6. DON’T FRET TOO MUCH ABOUT KEYWORDS

When SEO rules and ranking first became a hot topic for businesses, keywords became the focus.

As search engines continue to evolve, focus on keywords is not as essential. Customers are using long-form questions with tools like talk-to-text, and AI is becoming more sophisticated. Instead of focusing content on specific words, spend the time making sure you are providing the best content for your customers and answering the right questions.

The search engines will rank you higher for better content versus using a keyword over and over.

7. EARN INCOMING LINKS TO YOUR WEBSITE

Another way to earn higher rankings on search engines is to have other sites link to yours.

It is not necessarily about the number of links to your site, but the overall quality of those links. For example, if a big media outlet links to your site compared to a low-traffic blog, the big media outlet has a higher reputation and a more powerful link.

Keep in mind that Google and other search engines do not allow websites to buy links to their website; in fact, you can land on the “bad” list and lower your ranks drastically. Don’t do it.

It is better to work on networking and tasking PR professionals to publicize your content to help earn links to your site.

Though ranking can be challenging, the reward of being ranked higher in search engines is worthwhile.

A strong SEO strategy can help ensure potential customers can find you and that search engines put your business in front of those customers as the best solution for their needs.

5 Insights from LBM Journal’s Siding Review

LBM Journal magazine, siding trends

In many ways, it’s business as usual in the siding market—authenticity is in demand, low maintenance is a must, and the Modern Farmhouse continues to reign. And while the pandemic shifted the way most of the industry is doing business, many homeowners are using the extra time at home to improve their exteriors.

LBM Journal’s annual In Depth feature on siding takes a look at the current trends in siding and siding sales. Here’s some of what they found:

Siding Market Remains Strong

While the pandemic has created challenges for so many, it’s also driven many homeowners to embark on improvement projects, particularly as they embrace the home’s role as sanctuary. “During stay-at-home orders, many Americans have been making wish lists for the ways they will have professionals make improvements once that’s allowed in their areas,” Boral Building Products’ Vice President of Sales Jack Delaney told LBM Journal. “Siding replacement is a perfect way to give existing homes an instant facelift.”

Siding also has the distinct advantage of offering outside work, which is isolated from the homeowner and is easier to do safely as the pandemic continues, making it an ideal option to consider for a facelift.

Popular Siding Trends Continue

Multi-textured facades continue to be in demand, manufacturers say, combining traditional siding with stone and accents to help the home stand out and catch the eye.

And despite some predictions that the Modern Farmhouse style has run its course, the look remains popular, as homeowners desire the authenticity blended with clean lines and a contemporary vibe.

“Authenticity has been in demand for the past few years, and we think that desire will only get stronger as Americans look to their homes as a sanctuary,” Delaney said. “The draw of tradition, of the tried-and-true, is likely to continue as homeowners look for any sense of normalcy in these times.”

TruExterior Siding & Trim’s Craftsman Collection, offering the look of wood in seven authentic profiles such as Shiplap and Channel Bevel, is one way to deliver on that preference.

Low Maintenance a Must

The demand for low-maintenance materials is here to stay, as older and younger homeowners alike eschew the idea of painting their exterior every year. Two products to consider are TruExterior poly-ash siding and Foundry Specialty Siding, each offering a combination of durability and little upkeep.

Easy Installation in Demand

As the labor shortage continues, straightforward, speedy installation is key to maintaining schedules and ensuring long-term performance. (Try Versetta Stone stone siding, which has a panelized format that can be installed by traditional carpenters and contractors.) Building pros also are looking for a partner in their suppliers, one that can be both a single source of materials and provide value and knowledge.

Virtual Training Takes Off

With demand still high but face-to-face meetings off the table in many areas of the country, manufacturers have quickly implemented online training sessions. Boral Building Products, for example, has been hosting product knowledge workshops and live installation demonstrations. Check out some recorded classes on our YouTube channel or contact your rep to arrange a live session.

Learn more about the latest siding needs and trends by reading the full LBM Journal article here.

Idea Gallery: 5 Gable Ends

Foundry split shake, gable ends

Dressing up gable ends can add a pop of interest to the home—and isn’t hard to pull off, whether with a new siding texture, a simple window, or a decorative louver.

Here are a few approaches to gable ends from projects around the country:

Foundry Split Shake siding, vinyl siding, gable end

Multi-textured facades are in big demand, and switching up the gable’s cladding, such as this home featuring Foundry 7” Split Shake siding, is a great way to do that.

TruExterior Siding, poly-ash siding

Small windows on these two gables, featuring TruExterior Siding, add just enough to keep the gable from feeling too staid. At the same time, they maintain the home’s clean look and avoid diverting attention away from the exterior’s more compelling configurations and shapes.

gable end, gable vent, Mid-America

The bright white color and decorative elements on this Designer Round Vent with Keystone from Mid-America Components brightens up the façade and pairs perfectly with the brilliant white soffit and trim above.

Half-round gable vent, Mid-America

Gable vents don’t have to be dramatic to bring a touch of class. This Half Round gable vent is just a few shades away from the off-white siding, lending a subtle, elegant style.

TruExterior Trim, board-and-batten, gable end

Board-and-batten cladding, made with TruExterior Trim, and three simple windows infuse a Modern Farmhouse appeal to this gable. Learn how to replicate this look here.

Want more inspiration for gable ends? Follow our Instagram page for frequent updates and project images.

Vertical Siding Installation and Inspiration

exterior inspiration, vertical siding, siding, TruExterior, poly-ash siding

Vertical siding installation is on trend for a reason—blended with horizontal siding or other materials, it’s an ideal way to add dimension and visual interest to the home exterior, particularly as homeowners clamor for multi-textured façades. Vertical applications also are a great way to make accent areas a bit more interesting. 

But installing vertical siding has some nuances both designers and installers should keep in mind. Here are a few things to consider when using TruExterior Siding in vertical installations. 

Choose the right style and profile: Vertical siding is most often used with Channel or V-Rustic profiles, but also can be achieved with Nickel Gap or Shiplap

Complement the home style: Vertical installations are commonly seen on both modern and traditional styles. If used across the full expanse of the façade, the look will decidedly lean modern or, depending on the other design elements, modern farmhouse; traditional exteriors should stick to accents, such as a gable or around an entryway.

Vertical siding, exterior inspiration, TruExterior Siding
Vertical siding made with TruExterior channel siding is ideal for dormers and complements the lines of the metal roofing.

• Follow installation instructions: Keep in mind that vertical installations of TruExterior Siding will require a few different steps than horizontal applications. These include: 

–Make sure to install flashing above windows, doors, and roof lines as usual. 

–If the height of the home requires more than one piece of siding installed vertically, create a belly band trim joint with a piece of 1×4, 1×6, or 1×8 trim (depending on preference) and Z-flashing above and below (see diagram). In vertical applications, the belly band is the best strategy for optimal moisture management and is usually more visually effective versus having random seams. 

–Fasten each piece of TruExterior Siding at the tongue and on the face no less than 3/4″ from the edge and no more than 12″ along the length of both sides of the siding. 

–Install a frieze board trim piece with flashing along the top edges of the siding under the soffits.

Vertical siding, exterior inspiration, siding, TruExterior siding, poly-ash siding
Combining horizontal and vertical siding is a great way to add interest and dimension to larger walls. 

Click here to see more exterior project inspiration featuring TruExterior Siding.

Safety and Business Resources for Contractors During COVID-19

residential construction

The safety of employees, partners, customers, and visitors has long been a key mission for the residential construction industry. That focus is even more critical now as builders, remodelers, and contractors navigate the COVID-19 crisis while keeping both their businesses and their team members healthy.

Knowledge is power, and one of the best steps to take is to arm yourself with information from the experts. Here are a few resources from around the industry to help you determine the best practices and procedures to implement on your jobsites—and at your office. 

National Association of Home Builders
NAHB offers a host of extensive resources on jobsite safety during the pandemic, including a response plan template, jobsite checklist, a toolbox talk, jobsite posters, and more, each in English and Spanish.  

On April 16, construction sites across the country participated in the NAHB’s COVID-19 Job Site Safety Stand Down, a 10-minute work stoppage devoted to educating employees on staying safe and helping to flatten the curve. If you weren’t able to participate, click here to access the NAHB’s guide to the Stand Down, including a toolbox talk outlining prevention measures, jobsite best practices, and worker responsibilities.

OSHA
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s COVID-19 portal is robust, with guidelines on everything from identifying potential sources of exposure to prevention strategies and decontamination procedures.

Pro Remodeler
Pro Remodeler’s COVID-19 Resources portal has links to tools from the CDC, OSHA, and SBA, as well as a state-by-state tracker. In addition, you’ll find a range of business tools, including Build Aid, a free online joint conference featuring expert speakers presenting on everything from management to material procurement, as well as first-hand accounts and advice from fellow remodelers.

National Association of the Remodeling Industry
NARI also has a COVID-19 portal, featuring links to CDC and OSHA guidelines, the Dept. of Commerce’s Essential Workforce Tracker, and the Construction Industry Safety Coalition’s prevention and response plan. The website also offers updates on the association’s efforts to ensure construction is deemed essential, business-themed webinars, and loan guidance.

Builder magazine
Builder’s COVID-19 dashboard offers state-by-state tracking of limits to construction and building material supply. The publication is also hosting weekly webinars from Meyers Research. View a recap of the most recent webinar, discussing how builders are adjusting to the new normal, here.

Image: iStockphoto.com/photovs

In Life Cycle Analysis, Vinyl Siding Outperforms Fiber Cement

Foundry staggered shake siding, vinyl siding

Vinyl siding is a go-to product for many builders and remodelers, thanks to its affordability, durability, and eye-catching aesthetics. And pros concerned about sustainability can rest assured that vinyl ticks that box, as well.

According to the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI), analysis by BEES, a tool from the National Institute of Standards and Technology that measures the environmental performance of building products using life-cycle assessment, vinyl siding’s life cycle outperforms that of fiber cement by two times and also has lower global warming impact and ecological toxicity ratings. In addition, fiber cement is responsible for more than 200 times the human health impact, while vinyl creates virtually no manufacturing waste, has significantly lower toxic emissions, and has only 19% of fiber cement’s ozone depletion impact.

These and other findings in the report support the vinyl siding industry’s long-held assertions about the sustainability attributes of vinyl, VSI says, including lighter weight for increased fuel efficiency during shipping, minimal material waste from installation, and durability, as well as the fact that vinyl doesn’t need paint, stain, or caulk. 

These advantages don’t come with sacrifice to aesthetics, which remains a top priority for most consumers. Foundry siding profiles capture the warm look and sought-after curb appeal of cedar. Choose from the charm and custom sophistication of shingles or the bold statement of staggered or split shakes, all with low maintenance and long-term durability.

Dive deeper into the BEES findings in a second report by VSI here.

Foundry Adds Mountain Ash, Rustic Slate to Grayne Shingle Siding Lineup

Foundry Grayne shingle siding, vinyl siding

Foundry has added two new colors—Mountain Ash, a sandy white, and Rustic Slate, a bluish gray—to its Grayne shingle siding line. Each color was selected based on research by Renee Labbe, a leading color foresight strategist.

Foundry Grayne shingle siding, Rustic Slate, vinyl siding
Rustic slate

Consumer preferences today are landing on both ends of the color spectrum—whites and darks—with less demand for the in-between. Mountain Ash and Rustic Slate respond to these trends without feeling like a fad—they’re colors that will remain classic for years to come.

Foundry Grayne shingle siding, Mountain Ash, vinyl siding
Mountain Ash

Mountain Ash and Rustic Slate also are a perfect complement to Grayne shingle sidings’ distinctive graining patterns and sharp, crisp edges, which create natural depth and shadow lines for the authentic look of natural cedar without the associated maintenance. The new colors are available in the 7.5” Red Cedar profile.

Click here for more information on Grayne shingle siding.

Trends and Products From the 2020 International Builders’ Show

International Builders' Show 2020

Attendee numbers—and attendee attitudes—remained strong at the 2020 International Builders’ Show Jan. 21-23. NAHB reports that nearly 65,000 attendees converged on Las Vegas, just a few thousand short of last year’s total. When combined with the co-located Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, attendee numbers soared to about 90,000. Not too shabby considering it was the show’s second consecutive year in Sin City.

“The strong attendance at this year’s show reflects the positive outlook for the home building industry and the enthusiasm that our attendees have for the future,” NAHB Senior Vice President of Exhibitions and Meetings Geoff Cassidy said in a statement. “Attendees continue to seek the innovative products, education sessions, and networking opportunities that only IBS can provide.”

If you weren’t able to attend, read on for a look at the trends, news, and highlights from the show floor and beyond.

IBS Trends: Easy Installation, Dark Windows, Smooth Siding

Visit enough booths and talk to enough people, and trends start to emerge. Here’s a bit of what our team saw on the show floor:

Labor: The labor shortage continues to dominate conversations about builders’ and remodelers’ biggest business challenges, and manufacturers touted products accordingly. (Be sure to check out our Versetta Stone stone siding, which installs like a traditional siding panel with nails and screws.) In addition, the Home Builders Institute and The Home Depot announced a half-million-dollar grant to fund student training in home construction careers. Meanwhile, Fine Homebuilding continued its mission to #KeepCraftAlive.

Versetta Stone stone siding, manufactured stone veneer

Black windows: Like last year, black window frames were everywhere. We also noticed an uptick in black window trim—coinciding with a decline in white window trim. (If you’re jumping on board this trend, be sure to consider TruExterior trim, which can be painted dark colors, including black.)

Bookend colors: Along with dark accents, exterior siding, stone, and trim products are trending to both sides of the scale—lots of darks and, in direct contrast, lots of whites. Warm neutrals were scarce to nonexistent.

Smooth siding: Smooth siding appears to be on trend as more manufacturers jump on board. Love texture still? Try our new TruExterior Reversible Shiplap/Nickel Gap, which comes in both smooth and wood-grain.

• Outdoor living: No surprise, outdoor living is here to stay, and manufacturers are responding with more options than ever to deck out the space with all the comforts of the interior. As just one example, our sister company, Kindred Outdoors+Surrounds, launched at the show with fire bowls, fire pits, fireplaces and surrounds, and outdoor kitchens.

Kindred outdoor living fire bowls

For even more prognosticating, check out NAHB’s latest trend report, released at the show. Top “most likely” features include walk-in closets, low-E windows, and laundry rooms.

Show Houses Reveal Consumer Preferences

Each year, a handful of showhouses offer a look at what today’s homeowners are, or will be, looking for, from the practical to the extravagant. This year was no exception:

The New American Home, the show’s centerpiece demonstration home combined wow factor with “ahhh” factor, with water and fire features, flooring that resembles drifting sand, and a soothing color palette. Professional Builder walks you through it here.

And for more “TNAH,” check out Products magazine’s summary of 7 Design Ideas to Steal From The New American Home.

Photo courtesy Jeff Davis Photography (c) 2020

• The designers behind this year’s The New American Remodel leveraged advances in home performance technology to help demonstrate to showgoers how to achieve true net zero. Follow along with Professional Remodeler.

• The pre-fabricated, multi-million-dollar Sekisui Showhouse home renovation concept showcased Japanese homebuilding innovation to highlight the future of building. Las Vegas Review Journal provides a peek.

New From Boral

Boral Building Products’ portfolio of exterior products means you can find the perfect whole-house solution for any home, any design, and any budget. Check out our newest options to inspire your work:

• Versetta Stone Northern Ash: The easy installation and beautiful look you love about Versetta Stone stone siding in a dramatic new hue. This bold head-turner meets consumer demand for darker colors and accents on the exterior. See it here.

• Kleer Lumber Extruded Beadboard: Our new beadboard is extruded as one piece and sealed on all four sides to eliminate the open cells that may be prone to dirt intrusion—ensuring a brilliant white out of the box and on the jobsite. Learn more here.

Kleer Lumber, beadboard, cellular PVC trim

• TruExterior Reversible Shiplap/Nickel Gap: Two looks in one! The newest profile in our high-performance TruExterior Siding & Trim lineup comes in two formats: one features smooth Nickel Gap on one side and wood-grain Shiplap on the other; the second has wood-grain Nickel Gap on one side and smooth Shiplap on the other. Check it out here.

Boral TruExterior Reversible Shiplap Nickel Gap

Foundry Grayne Shingle Siding Colors: Foundry’s Grayne shingle siding now comes in Mountain Ash, a sandy white, and Rustic Slate, a bluish gray, both a perfect complement to the sidings’ distinctive graining patterns and sharp, crisp edges. 

Foundry Grayne shingle siding

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What to See at the 2020 International Builders’ Show

Builders' Show, Boral Building Products booth

The 2020 International Builders’ Show (IBS) is right around the corner, being held in Las Vegas Jan. 21-23. Check out our must-dos as you prep your schedule. 

Get Educated

As usual, the IBS conference is packed with helpful sessions, from trends and design predictions to small business strategies. Here are a few that caught our eye:

“Missing Middle Housing: The Perfect Bridge to the Missing Millennial & More”
Tues., Jan. 21, 9:15-10:15 a.m.

“Growing Your Remodeling Business: Smashing the Barriers to Increased Profits”Tues., Jan 21, 11:00 a.m. – noon

“Appealing to the Next Generations: Current Patterns, Behaviors & Preferences of Gen Z & Millennials”
Tues., Jan. 21, 12:45-1:45 p.m.

“Timeless to Trendy: What’s Next in Curb Appeal & Elevations”
Tues., Jan. 21, 12:45-1:45 p.m.

“Attainability: Design Strategies to Keep Costs Down & Meet Consumer Demand”
Weds., Jan. 22, 1:45-2:45 p.m.

“Home Trends, Buyer Preferences & Must-Have Features for 2020”
Thurs., Jan. 23, 8:30-9:30 a.m.

“From Swinging the Hammer to Running a Business: Strategies for Taking Your Remodeling Company to the Next Level”
Thurs., Jan. 23, noon-1:00 p.m.

See Hot Trends

In addition to browsing the 2020 International Builders’ Show exhibit floor and attending knowledge sessions, one of the best ways to see what’s hot in home design are the handful of show houses on and off site. This year, these include:

The New American Home: Always an attendee favorite, this year’s New American Home is located in the Ascaya community in Henderson, Nev. Designed to be a tranquil sanctuary, the home boasts a modern aesthetic, with clean lines, minimal décor, abundant light, and flat rooflines against a mountainous desert backdrop. See a sneak preview here. Sign up for a tour on site at the convention center. 

The New American Remodel: The New American Remodel has transformed a 2,170-square-foot, one-level 1977 home into a 7,523-square-foot two-story masterpiece showcasing innovation, exceptional design, and net-zero construction. Click here for a preview. Sign up for a tour on site at the convention center.

Show Village: Located in the parking lot outside the Las Vegas Convention Center, this year’s  Professional Builder Show Village will comprise four innovative modular homes addressing the issues of affordability, lifestyle sustainability, and labor. Catch a sneak peek here

55+ Housing Community Tour: Take a tour of two of Las Vegas’ up-and-coming 55+ communities, visiting models, sales centers, and community amenities. Click here for details and registration/tickets. 

Builder Chowa Concept Home: This show house “brings together Japan-based Sekisui House and its wholly owned home building company, Woodside Homes, to introduce technologies, best practices, and a new approach to improving society through housing to the U.S.,” says Builder magazine. “This house will engage with a growing preference for homes that support health and well-being, highlighting the balance between indoor living and outdoor life, between technology and privacy, between comfort and simplicity, and between themselves and their community and the natural environment.” Click here for more information. 

See What’s New From Boral Building Products

There’s lots to see at our booth, C4519, this year! 

• Check out TruExterior Siding’s new reversible Shiplap/Nickel Gap profile

• See new colors of Foundry’s Grayne shingle siding 

• Experience the Versetta Stone wall featuring our dramatic new Northern Ash and new accessory colors

• See new accessories for Tapco Tools’ professional brakes

• Watch installation demonstrations by trim wizard Mike Sloggatt

Plus, get inspired by exterior vignettes and displays comprising new and classic products from multiple Boral Building Products brands.  

Click here to get your free pass.

See you at the show!

5 Winter Workwear Options to Keep You Warm and Dry

The winter months bring cold temperatures and wet conditions—but typically not a break from work and deadlines. If your job keeps you out in the elements no matter the weather, here are a few pieces of gear that can help keep you comfortable. 

High-Vis Rain Gear

Blaklader’s 4312 Hi-Vis rain jacket features a wind- and water-proof polyurethane coating; a high, fleece-lined collar; a storm closure with buttons; welded seams; and a removable, adjustable hood. The jacket’s high-vis yellow body and reflective tape on the body, sleeves, and shoulders ensures visibility. 

Blaklader High-Vis Jacket

Heated Jacket

The M12 Heated Axis Layering System from Milwaukee is designed to withstand the heaviest rain and snow conditions. The M12 Heated Axis jacket provides the primary source of heat; powered by Milwaukee’s M12 RedLithium battery technology, the jacket distributes heat across core body areas. Workers can then layer an outer shell—a Hydrobreak Rain Shell (designed for extreme wet conditions) or a Gridiron Work Shell (designed for extreme cold).

Milwaukee Tools heated jacket

Cold-Weather Headgear

New to Ergodyne’s N-Ferno line of cold-weather gear, this soft-cuffed Beanie Hat includes a bump cap insert for added head protection. The hat is made with 100% soft dry acrylic with 40-gram 3M flex stretch insulation for both warmth and comfort. A zippered compartment holds the removable bump cap.  

Ergodyne work hat

Cold-Weather Gloves

Ironclad’s Cold Condition Waterproof Gloves are rated to 20 degrees and are guaranteed waterproof. Still, the low-profile gloves offer high dexterity, and their Duraclad reinforcements are eight times more durable than leather, the company says. A cuff puller helps get the gloves into position faster, and reflective stripes provide visibility in low-light conditions.

Ironclad winter work gloves

Fleece Underlayer

Made with a blend of polyester and fleece with knit-in channels, 3 Dog Fleece Base Layer pants from Duluth Trading Company provide more warmth without a lot of bulk, along with breathability and moisture wicking. Features include a 1-1/2-inch non-chafing waistband, a seat panel that prevents bunching, and a functional fly. 

Duluth Trading Co. fleece underwear for construction

Heart, Quality—and Instagram—Equal Success for Boston Exterior Remodeling

For Joe Danz, President of Boston Exterior Remodeling, being a contractor has always been about the heart. From his first introductions to carpentry watching This Old House to his star-powered turn on social media today, Danz developed a passion at an early age that drives him not just to go to work, but to love that work and commit to it wholeheartedly.

“It’s an industry where you put as much effort in as you get out,” Danz says. “I was really drawn to that. I still am.”

Boston Exterior Remodeling, Grayne siding, Boral Building Products

We asked the Massachusetts remodeler, who manages a crew of 35 and about four to five projects at any given time, to weigh in on what keeps him motivated—and why Instagram is a contractor’s best friend.

On hiring well: Danz draws inspiration from his hard-working crews. “I love the guys that work for me,” he says. “It amazes me every single job how good they come out. I challenge them, and they come out with an end product that surpasses what we were originally expecting.”

On embracing your social side: Danz has become something of a star on Instagram, telling stories, showcasing his company’s work, and connecting with manufacturers. “Instagram really has changed the platform, how contractors in real time can show their work, show problem solving, show products,” the remodeler says. “People are really receptive to that because they enjoy content. Homeowners can see our page and know we’re serious about what we’re doing, that we’re craftsmen, that we take pride in what we’re doing.”

For those just starting out on social, Danz encourages a jump-in-and-stick-with-it approach. “It doesn’t matter how many followers you have or how many likes you get,” he advises. “You just want to show your company in a good way. If you do that and stay with it, you’ll get noticed. It does validate your company.”

• On putting quality first: Since the beginning, Danz has sought to keep quality high. “I’m always afraid someone would notice poor quality. And if a homeowner doesn’t see it, a contractor will,” he says. “We never wanted to be that company that didn’t do anything one hundred percent to the best of our abilities and with the best products we could find.”

One of the ways Boston Exterior pulls this off is in the products they choose. In particular, Danz says, he seeks out engineered materials that don’t look engineered. “We need to keep the authenticity of our products high,” Danz explains. “The engineered shingle from Grayne is by far the most realistic pure composite I’ve ever worked with.”

Boston Exterior Remodeling, Grayne siding, Boral Building Products

• On letting good products guide your style: A Northeast remodeler, Boston Exterior Remodeling naturally does a lot of Victorians, Craftsmans, and Colonials. But his love of certain products has led to a distinctive style all their own. “Ultimately, we’ve done so many houses using Grayne engineered siding, Kleer trim, and Versetta Stone, it gives our houses a look,” Danz says. “You can basically drive by a home and recognize it as my company. I hear that our houses have a look to them.”

Boston Exterior Remodeling, Grayne siding, Boral Building Products

• On loving the job: One of the reasons Boston Exterior Remodeling thrives is because there’s a true love of the work—so much so they try not to label it as such. “I enjoy craftsmanship and I enjoy watching people make my designs and ideas come alive,” Danz says. “When you have four or five projects going, there’s always progress, every day is new. Being in a job like this keeps things fresh and interesting. I’m lucky to be in it.”

To see more of Boston Exterior’s work, and learn from their social media savvy, check out their Instagram page here

Why and How LBM Dealers Should Sell Exterior Packages

A home is a compilation of hundreds of decisions and thousands of products. So when it comes to the exterior, dealers that focus sales approaches on the whole cohesive package—and showing builders, remodelers, and their homeowners what those packages look like—may improve opportunities to increase upgrades, boost efficiencies, and further satisfy customers.

Here are a few factors to consider:

Instill buyer confidence: When the exterior is sold as a package, buyers can see what they’re getting as a whole and how it works together, rather than a sum of individual parts. Builders can send buyers to your store to view available products in combination, which is less overwhelming than choosing siding, then trim, then windows. They can get a vision for what the finished product will look like on their home and likely feel better about their decision. This in turn may help reduce change orders down the road that can create hassles for both you and the contractor.

Keep business in-house: Consulting with your manufacturer partners about what you sell versus what more they can provide may help fill gaps in your product offering. For example, stone has historically been a material most dealers do not offer, but Versetta Stone stone siding, which installs like traditional panel siding, offers the opportunity to keep that stone business in house. And by incorporating those products into a systems approach to selling, you can sell the builder on trying that new siding to ensure a cohesive look and to meet buyer demand for multi-textured facades.

Better-looking exteriors: Considering the full façade and thinking of the whole palette collectively may help create more varied, engaging streetscapes and avoid cookie-cutter looks. It also allows for visualization and experimentation with on-trend colors, texture blending, and materials using stocked products. 

More upgrades: Similarly, if buyers can see the possibilities of how different products blend on their home, it’s likely they might fall in love with the look—and the upgrades used to make that look—even if it means upping their budget.

Single source: Though portfolios can be created across manufacturers, selling multiple lines from a single manufacturer or brand can add economies of scale because you’re working with the same rep, the same contacts for the PO, and a familiar process. This also means it’s easier to expand to additional product lines, with less paperwork or hoops to jump through at the beginning. In addition, contractors may be more willing to try something new if it’s from a company they already know, use, and trust.

Promoting Exterior Packages
The easiest way to focus selling on the whole façade instead of one-off product selection is to create packages that are easy to choose from and customize. Here are a few ways to do that:

Develop product palettes: Collaborate with your manufacturers to create product portfolios of coordinated product lines and colors that can be sold as is, with stock modifications, or with upgrades. Coordinate this process between different manufacturers, such as your siding/trim supplier and your window vendor, to ensure cohesive looks and material compatibility.

Boral Building Products Color Harmony exterior inspiration boards
Creating façade displays, or even inspiration boards like these, can help buyers visualize how products come together on their homes. This display shows how Boral Building Products’ Color Harmony portfolios of siding, trim, shutter, and stone brands combine for on-trend looks.

Inspire customers: Showcase those palettes and portfolios in a way that reveals how end products will look on the home, whether via simple binders with images, glossy lookbooks, wall  vignettes, or inspiration boards. This makes it easy for them to choose an overall look they want instead of trying to visualize and piece together individual parts.

Leverage software: Our Virtual Remodeler tool allows homeowners to select the siding, trim, shutters, and stone, and then see how the combinations will look on their homes. Once a group of products is chosen, the dealer often can get a material list for easy ordering.

Boral Building Products Virtual Remodeler design tool
Boral Building Products’ Virtual Remodeler online design tools allows dealers, their customers, and homeowners to visualize what homes will look like with different products from across the company’s siding and trim portfolio. Once a design is determined, a materials list makes ordering simple.

With so many moving parts, it’s easy for the product selection process to become stressful for customers, pro and consumer alike. Considering exterior packages collectively, rather than a sum of parts, can ease the process while offering direct benefits to your bottom line.

Inspiration Gallery: Mixed-Texture Façades

One of the hottest trends in exteriors right now is mixed-texture façades, in which stone, varying colors and textures of siding, and trim combine to create unique looks that set homes apart, highlight key features, and vary the streetscape.

With multiple brands under one portfolio, Boral Building Products makes it easy to mix and match cladding and trim to create one-of-a-kind exteriors that stand out while also standing the test of time. Even better, you can see what the home will look like before making a commitment with our new Virtual Remodeler tool. Simply upload a photo of the house, or use a similar home from our image gallery, select products and colors from Boral’s collection of brands, and get a real-time view of how the home will look. Give it a try here.

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few ways builders, remodelers, and designers are blending textures to create one-of-a-kind exterior facades:

Foundry split shake siding

Colors don’t have to be boldly different to make an impact. The brown-gray tones of the Foundry Split Shake siding, stone, and garage doors create layers of visual texture that unfold slowly on this home.

Boral TruExterior Siding and stone

A small section of light-gray stone, along with the juxtaposition of horizontal and vertical TruExterior siding, give this L-shaped home a unique pop for a modern take on the popular Farmhouse look.

Grayne engineered siding and Versetta Stone mortarless stone veneer

Combining Versetta Stone and Grayne engineered siding with a unique porch roof adds visual interest to this seemingly simple, smaller home.

Boral TruExterior siding with stucco

Bumpout accents with TruExterior siding and stone block set this home apart from the plain stucco next door.

Foundry siding with stone

Foundry siding combines with rich stone and gable accents to evoke a cozy vibe.

Boral TruExterior Siding

Vertical and horizontal TruExterior siding, along with cedar-like shakes, create a visual feast across this all-white exterior.

Versetta Stone mortarless stone veneer, manufactured stone

Versetta Stone in the Ledgestone profile plays both a primary and secondary role in this exterior by Canadian Stone Interiors.

Ready to see how mixed-texture façades will look on your homes? Try our new Virtual Remodeler tool.

5 Best Practices for Going Bold With Exterior Color

Kleer trim

When used well, bold colors can add a tasteful pop of life to a home’s exterior. When used poorly, you can end up attracting negative attention.

Here are five tips from Trisha Wagner, senior product manager and an authority on color at Boral Building Products, to ensure your use of bold is gorgeous, not gaudy.

1. The best place for bold color is in a home’s decorative details
While it always depends on the house, bold colors are generally best used in a home’s accents, such as the shutters and front door. It’s one of the fastest ways to have a large impact and can completely transform a home’s look and feel. Even better, these details are often the easiest—and most affordable—to change later with either a fresh coat of paint or replacement.

2. Remember to coordinate
One of the first things to consider when picking bold accents is the home’s siding color. You want to select accent colors, such as on the trim, shutters, and front door, that work well with the siding, so consult the color wheel for reference. As explained on Color Matters, “color harmony” can be achieved by choosing analogous colors (three colors side by side on the wheel) or complementary colors (directly opposite each other on the wheel). This can be especially helpful in moving beyond traditional colors. For example, instead of the typical pale yellow, try a deep maize yellow paired with red, coral, or cobalt accents.

3. Pay attention to the entire home exterior
The front of the home isn’t the only area people see. Don’t forget to decorate the back and sides of a house, particularly since outdoor living is more important to buyers than ever before. A bare side or rear home exterior looks and feels unfinished; shutters and accents on these walls will add dimension and complete the look.

4. Find what works for you
If clients are uncertain about incorporating bolder colors, encourage them to experiment with different tones before making their final selection. If a home’s style doesn’t support shutters, consider using just a bold trim color. You can also soften a home’s look by pairing white or cream trim with one or two bold accents. For a less-permanent option,  incorporate bold colors into the landscape design, such as bright-red or -purple flowers and plants, a jewel-toned bird bath, or even a painted fence.

TruuExterior trim bold colors
White can be a bold choice against a neutral cladding.

5. Don’t discount the power of white
In the sea of tans and beiges that dominate today’s exteriors, white becomes a stark contrast that is a bold choice in and of itself. A crisp white trim against a richer-toned cladding is eye-catching and stands out from homes with cream accents.

For more design inspiration, visit www.kleerlumber.com and www.truexterior.com

2019 Builders’ Show Wrap-Up: Dark Colors, Blended Textures, and Fun New Products

International Builders Show Boral Building Products

The numbers are in: The 75th annual International Builders’ Show marked its largest draw in a decade, with more than 67,000 attendees. Combined with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, collectively referred to as Design & Construction Week, more than 100,000 people flocked to Las Vegas Feb. 19-21. We felt the enthusiasm at the Boral booth, where a steady flow of builders, remodelers, and designers were eager to get inspired, learn about products and trends, and gather new strategies to positively impact their business.

Couldn’t make it to the show? Here is just a handful of the noteworthy trends and products.

Exterior Trends: Dark, Vertical, and Blended

In touring the Builders’ Show floor, the Boral team spotted a few common design threads, including several we highlighted earlier this year.

  • Dark colors: The preference for dark colors has been building for the last few years, and that was clear at nearly every exterior product manufacturer’s booth, from black window frames to rich brown trim to deep blue siding panels.  If you’re loving this trend, too, check out TruExterior® Siding & Trim, whose superior dimensional stability makes it an ideal choice for darker hues.

Boral Building Products International Builders' Show

Boral Building Products International Builders' Show Home Exteriors

  • Vertical siding: Whether a traditional board-and-batten for Farmhouse-style exteriors or a more simple approach for modern-style homes, vertical installations attracted a lot of attention during IBS.
  • Authenticity: Historic profiles, such as Shiplap, Nickel Gap, and V-Rustic, were prevalent. We’re partial to our TruExterior Siding Craftsman Collection.
  • Smooth siding: Even with the push for authenticity, smooth siding was prominent in many displays. In fact, we saw many instances of contemporary panels and traditional wood grain siding used in combination.

Industry Experts Weigh In

As usual, journalists from around the industry were out in force at the Builders’ Show reporting on the latest trends and new products. A few of the highlights:

New From Boral

Boral Building Products showcased our breadth of exterior products at the Builders’ Show, including several new options to spruce up your facades:

  • Virtual Remodeler: This online home design tool makes it easy for contractors and homeowners alike to create eye-catching exteriors. Users simply upload a photo of their home (or choose one from an online gallery) and then select from Boral’s siding, trim, and shutter lines to update the image in real time. Color Harmony palettes are available to further simplify the process. Learn more about the Virtual Remodeler here.

Boral Building Products Virtual Remodeler Remodeling Exterior Design

  • Versetta Stone Carved Block: We’re giving our popular stone siding a contemporary edge with this new larger-format profile that’s reminiscent of split-face stone. Carved Block features the same easy-to-install format pros love: simply nail or screw the panels to the wall—no mortar required. Choose from dark gray Midnight or creamy Sea Salt. Click here to learn more.

Versetta Stone Carved Block stone siding mortarless stone veneer

  • Kleer Lumber 10” Post Wraps: Our KLEERWrap cellular PVC post wraps, which conceal treated posts for a beautiful, finished look, are now available in a 10” version. Even with their robust size, these wraps install with just one person—simply apply adhesive to the three-sided piece, secure around the post, snap the fourth side into place, and fasten. Complete the look with accompanying cap and base moldings. See the wraps here.

Kleer Lumber cellular PVC post wraps

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3 Steps to Protecting the Wall Cavity Against Moisture Intrusion

Grayne siding

Protecting against moisture damage not only requires a dependable siding product, but also smart design behind it. Whether through leaks or condensation, water infiltration is nearly impossible to avoid, so taking the steps to eliminate moisture throughout the entire building process is essential.

As all pros know, when water does accumulate, it can wreak havoc on a home’s structure. Wood products, including framing elements, can degrade from excessive water exposure, insulation can soak up moisture, and rot and mold will occur.

How to Avoid Moisture Damage

It is key to have or create an airflow cavity on the back side of the siding you’re installing in addition to proper flashing and weather-resistive barriers (which is designed into most polymer-style siding products like Foundry and Grayne). This stops moisture from getting trapped and causing potential issues during freeze/thaw and/or mold issues.

Here are a few steps to take to help protect the wall cavity from moisture. (Note: Always consult your local building code for the installation requirements for weather-resistive barriers, caulking, etc.)

Step 1: Properly install flashing

Flashing prevents water intrusion around any penetrations through the siding, including channels, corner posts, windows, and vents. Before installing flashing, ensure the wall surface is flat and level.

If you are working on an exterior with existing siding, the best practice is to strip away the old siding for a smooth surface—even when working with vinyl that is designed to be installed directly over wood.

When installing flashing around a window, follow these steps to prevent water leakage:
1. Apply flashing on the underside of the window first.

2. Follow this application with flashing on the sides of the window. Make sure to overlap the bottom flashing.

3. Finally, apply the flashing at the top of the window.

It is crucial that flashing extends past the nailing flanges of any accessory to prevent water infiltration through the opening. The flashing should be long enough to direct water over the nail flange of the last course of siding. This installation method can also be used for applying flashing to other openings, such as electrical outlets and doors.

Flashing around the window

Step 2: Install a weather-resistive barrier

After properly installing flashing, you should next apply a weather-resistive barrier (WRB). Installed between the sheathing and siding, a WRB blocks any water that penetrates the siding and helps it drain away from moisture-sensitive materials like wood structural sheathing and studs.

Not only do WRBs drain water away from the building, they also allow wall assemblies to dry out naturally. Because standard vinyl siding hangs loosely on the sheathing, air is able to flow behind it, creating a drainage gap and method for drying.

To properly install the weather-resistive barrier for maximum protection, the material should be installed shingle fashion by overlapping successive layers behind the exterior finish and over the structural sheathing. Installers should begin installation from the bottom up.

Each overlap should be several inches long. If heavy winds and rain are common in your region, overlap approximately 6 inches at horizontal joints and 8 to 12 inches at vertical joints.

Step 3: Caulk siding correctly

Many professionals rely on caulking to fix mistakes and speed installation time, but caulking can break down over time and eventually even hold water in rather than aid in keeping it out.

To ensure the caulking aids in moisture protection, avoid these three common mistakes:

1. Caulking the top cladding board to trim boards. This traps humidity in the walls.

2. Relying on caulking to fill in gaps. Cut siding to the precise measurements necessary to avoid gaps.

3. Caulking underneath the bottom flange when installing windows. Caulk here will trap moisture inside.

Have more questions about how to properly install Grayne and Foundry siding? View Grayne product resources and Foundry product resources for installation guides, FAQ, and more.

Virtual Remodeler Tool Makes It Easy to Customize Home Exteriors

Boral Building Products has launched the Virtual Remodeler, an online home design tool providing contractors and homeowners with a simple way visualize how their facade will look with different profiles, textures, and colors from the company’s comprehensive lineup of siding and trim products.

With Virtual Remodeler, launched during the 2019 International Builders’ Show, users upload a photo of an existing home or select a similar house from an online gallery. Using the program’s product interface, the user then selects from Boral’s siding, trim, and shutter lines, including Versetta Stone®, Kleer® Lumber, TruExterior® Siding & Trim, and Mid-America Siding Components®; the image updates in real time, revealing how the exterior will appear with each product and color selection. To further ease the process, the home design tool includes Color Harmony coordinating color families, each of which can be further changed and updated to suit the homeowner’s tastes and needs.

Boral Building Products Virtual Remodeler Exterior Products Siding Trim

“Designing a home with fantastic curb appeal requires navigating an endless array of options, from the shape of the siding to the color of the trim to the size of the shutters. Boral’s new Virtual Remodeler tool eases the process for homeowners—and their remodelers—by helping them visualize how products will look on their house, much more than a small sample ever could,” says Becky Duffy, Director of Marketing for Boral Building Products. “Remodelers can ensure customers are happy with their home exterior before products are ordered and installed, leading to fewer surprises and greater satisfaction when the project is complete.”

Boral Building Products Virtual Remodeler Exterior Products Siding Trim

Virtual Remodeler users can save multiple projects to work on later and compare. For a small fee, pros can have their image professionally mapped by Boral, which will increase the accuracy of the rendering’s appearance. And once a finished look is chosen, Virtual Remodeler will generate a product list for easy ordering through Boral dealers and distributors.

Give Virtual Remodeler a try at https://boral.chameleonpower.com/.

Cost vs. Value Report: Manufactured Stone Veneer, Siding Projects Offer High Returns

Remodelers and homeowners can once again count on exterior stone and siding to provide a solid return on investment, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value report.

An annual survey released in January, the Cost vs. Value report provides insights into which remodeling projects deliver the highest perceived return in resale value. Manufactured stone veneer, such as Boral Versetta Stone® stone siding, continues to be a safe bet, with a 94.9% recoup of investment at the national level. Though this is a small drop from last year, manufactured stone veneer ranks second-highest in ROI, after garage doors.

Boral Versetta Stone manufactured stone veneer Cost vs. Value report
Manufactured stone veneer, such as Versetta Stone in this Ledgestone profile, offers the second-highest return on investment for remodeling projects.

The 94.9% ROI for manufactured stone veneer is based on replacing a 300-square-foot continuous band of existing vinyl siding from the bottom third of the home’s front façade and replacing it with adhered manufactured stone veneer, sills, corners, and an address block, along with an entry archway with keystone and soldier course of flats on each side.

As in 2018, manufactured stone veneer offered the highest returns in the Pacific region (Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Hawaii), at 110.4%. Returns were also particularly high in the East South Central region (Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky), at 107.7%.

Manufactured stone veneer offered the highest ROI out of all categories in the East South Central, South Atlantic (91.4%), West North Central (93.5%), and West South Central (98.3%) regions.

Exterior Investments Deliver Biggest Paybacks

Siding overall finished strongly, as well, with a fifth-best return on investment at 75.6%, just shy of the 76.7% recoup in 2018. In fact, out of the 10 projects with the highest returns, nine were exterior categories, including a wood deck addition, steel entry door replacement, vinyl window replacement, a fiberglass grand entrance, wood window replacement, and a composite deck addition.

“The reason for high returns on exterior projects, and especially façade facelifts, stems from the valuations set by the real-estate community. … ‘Curb appeal’ and ‘first impressions’ are central to a real-estate professional’s estimation of resale value,” Remodeling says. “The impact these impressions make is critical in setting the stage for what a buyer is willing to pay for a home.”

What’s more, projects like kitchen and bathroom renovations tend to be  more individualized, which can mean some buyers may not like the look.

The overall percentage of investment recouped across all categories on average decreased slightly year over year. The magazine attributes the decline to the sharp increase in material costs over the summer, including those driven by tariffs.

To read more analysis and see results down to metro area, visit the Remodeling 2019 Cost vs. Value portal on Remodeling’s website.

9 Exterior Trends to Expect in 2019

When it comes to the outside of the home, what does this year hold? A few familiar looks as well as some emerging exterior trends. Here’s what to expect:

• Outdoor living: Demand for outdoor living spaces isn’t abating. In AIA’s annual Home Design Trends survey, architects named the outdoors as the No. 1 specialty room increasing in popularity.

• Low maintenance: This one will also sound familiar—home buyers, particularly younger buyers, simply don’t want to deal with painting, staining, and cleaning their façades and decks. In fact, the AIA survey lists low maintenance as the top product feature increasing in popularity. Expect composites and other low-maintenance materials for decks to continue to grow alongside demand for easy-to-maintain siding materials like TruExterior Siding & Trim, Kleer Lumber, and Grayne engineered siding.

• Darks and lights: Move over, earth tones. Consumers are increasingly drawn to the contrast of dark-colored siding against bright white trim. Trying to achieve this look? TruExterior Siding’s dimensional stability makes it an ideal fit for the darkest of paints, while Kleer trimboard’s TruEDGE technology and UV inhibitors ensure the trim stays brilliant white for years to come.

• Black trim: When trim isn’t white, look to black and dark browns. (Try TruExterior Trim, which can be painted dark hues, including black, without concerns about expansion or warping.) Also increasingly popular—the streamlined, sophisticated look of black window frames.

TruExterior Siding black window frames exterior trends
The sleek look of black window frames against white or light trim is very in.

• Grays (for now): Gray is still a go-to hue, but its popularity could finally be waning. Boral Senior Product Manager Trisha Wagner reports seeing more reds creeping in and believes it may be one of the colors to affect gray’s go-to status.

• Match game: The coordinated look of a matching entry door, garage door, and window trim is in.

• Blending textures: The varied streetscapes created by blending stone and siding textures across the façade continue to dominate. As in 2018, the transitions between textures are a bit more seamless than in years’ past. Versetta Stone siding makes this trend easy, with a panelized format that installs with screws or nails.

TruExterior Siding Stone Siding exterior trends
Blending stone and vertical and horizontal siding is an ideal way to boost curb appeal and make homes stand out from the rest.

• Authenticity: Also returning for 2019 is demand for historic looks brought by siding profiles such as nickel gap, shiplap, and board and batten.

• Modern farmhouse: Like it or not, the modern farmhouse style is sticking around for at least a little longer. Some designers are tiring of the look, but it’s still going to be popular among homeowners both inside and outside the house. “White [board-and-batten] siding delivers a ‘homey look’ and can provide texture and interest to an otherwise flat façade,” the Washington Post reports.

Looking for the perfect product to meet this year’s in-demand styles? Contact your Boral representative today.

How to Leverage Completed Projects in Your Marketing Efforts

A beautiful photo of a beautiful home can attract customers more than nearly anything else. And if you’re like most building and design pros, you have had many of your projects professionally photographed (and if not, it’s time to start). But are you just using those images in brochures, on your website, and on the walls of your conference room?

Here are a few more low-cost ways to use your projects and photos to market your company.

  • Write a case study: What makes your home stand out in addition to looking pretty? What challenges did you have to overcome? How did you meet the needs of the client? Write a short story about your stand-out projects that explains what makes that home—and your company—special. Here’s an example. Once it’s written, you can:
    –Post the case study with images to your website and/or blog; link to it from your e-newsletter
    –Send the case study to your local news media (regional lifestyle magazines, the home section of your newspaper, etc.) as well as to the national trade magazines (Remodeling, Professional Builder, Qualified Remodeler, etc.) for their consideration for coverage.
    –Turn it into a video walk-through to share on your web site and social media.
  • Showcase your skills: When photographing your projects, don’t just take pictures of the overall home and rooms. Zero-in on the details that make it special—whether it’s a unique gable end detail, a hidden storage compartment in the kitchen, or an advanced-framed wall that will save energy costs.
    –Share individual photos of those elements on social media calling attention to what’s unique.
    –Share those photos/details with local and national media. Many publications not only cover full projects, but also like to highlight simple details or installation techniques. For example, NKBA magazine has a “Details” page for this exact purpose.

    Instagram TRG Home Concepts
    TRG Home Concepts showcases its custom capabilities and creativity by showing—and explaining—project details on Instagram.
  • Share everywhere: Take advantage of every free platform at your disposal—Houzz, Instagram (posts and stories), Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest. And use each platform’s unique written space wisely: Instagram is photo-heavy, so make captions catchy and to the point. LinkedIn is geared toward for pros, so think about what that audience cares about. Pinterest is a mecca for search, so be sure to use keywords when tagging those items. Facebook’s slide shows offer a chance to show a handful of pictures with meaty captions. Adjust accordingly!

    GH Buildings Instagram TruExterior
    GH Buildings Inc. showcases its projects on Instagram.
  • Offer advice: Installing a unique detail or using a method that consumers can learn from? Take a video as you do so to educate viewers. This showcases your work while also positioning you as a leader.

    Video Peter Brown Design Patio Roof YouTube
    Peter Brown Design creates animated YouTube videos detailing installation techniques, including “How to Attach a Patio Roof to an Existing House”
  • Create an infographic: Does the exterior of the home or one of its rooms have a lot of unique elements or features that set your company apart? Create an infographic pointing out those elements and how they contribute to your and your client’s vision.
  • Generate engagement: Got an in-progress project? Why not have your fans weigh in with their thoughts? On Facebook or through an Instagram story, post the exterior before the paint is chosen and offer a poll with two options for the paint color. Offer up two faucet choices to vote on. The more your fans interact with your social posts, the more they’ll get seen by non-followers, and polls are a great way to do that.
  • Assemble trends: If you have a blog or newsletter, use your own projects (or combine your projects with some you find on Houzz) to assemble trend stories for your readers. For example, “6 Ways to Incorporate Red into Your Exterior” or “Tesla’s Solar Roof Tiles: We Tried Them.”

    Design Build Pros blog post Midcentury Modern
    Design Build Pros offers trends and design advice on its blog.
  • Enter contests: All of the national trade magazines have design contests that, if you win, provide lots of great, free publicity in addition to prestige and bragging rights. Professional Builder’s Design Awards are just one example.
  • Create a look book: Follow the lead of fashion designers and create a look book that shows off your best work in an elegant, sophisticated way. Tie the theme of the look book back into your company’s mission statement and keywords.
  • Partner with your favorite manufacturer: Project photos are also one of the best ways for manufacturers to market their products and, trust us, they’re always looking for good images to use in their own publicity. Reach out to your rep about sharing your project stories and photos with their marketing department; they could be perfect for the manufacturer’s own case studies, advertising, editorial, and social media—which means free publicity and recognition for you.

Want to share your Boral projects with us for consideration in our marketing efforts? Email Becky Duffy at becky.duffy@boral.com.

4 Best Practices for Beautiful Siding Installation

Professionals know it’s not only the quality of the product that determines how polished a home’s siding looks, but also how well it is installed.

While having on-site experience can develop the skills for top-notch installation, sometimes even the most experienced builders make mistakes. Here are four tips to ensure your Grayne and Foundry siding projects are beautiful every time.

1. Use the Right Tools
Before you begin the installation process, it’s essential to be equipped with the right tools. Accidentally using the wrong tools can have consequences.

To cut the siding, use either a vinyl siding blade or a fine-toothed blade. If using a fine-toothed blade, be sure to install the blade in reverse for the best cuts.

Other tools to include on your checklist:
• Utility knife
• Caulking gun (to seal J-channel)
• Vinyl siding snips (to cut or trim siding panels)
• Siding removal tool
• Snap lock punch (to cut snap lock tabs and allow cut panels to be snapped into utility trim)
• Nail hole slot punch (to add nail holes if a panel must be face nailed)
• Trim nail punch (to add nailing holes if a panel must be face nailed)

2. Start with a Smooth Surface
If the surface beneath the siding is uneven, even the best siding installation may be compromised. Take appropriate precautions to ensure a smooth, continuous surface.

For new construction, avoid using green lumber as the underlayment, as it typically has high levels of moisture. As the wood dries, it will shrink, leading to cracking and warping. These flaws in the wood can make the siding look uneven and poorly installed.

If you are re-siding a building, furring or complete removal of uneven original siding may be required to create a smooth surface. While this process may seem like a nuisance, it will help to ensure straight, stable replacement siding.

3. Plan for Expansion and Contraction
To accommodate expansion, see siding manufacturers’ guidelines, as many panels install differently.

Always leave a minimum of 1/8″ gap at the nailing hem to accommodate changes from temperature shifts. If you’re installing siding in temperatures of 75 degrees F or higher, lessen the clearance slightly to at least a 1/16″.

vinyl siding installation panel spacing

4. Apply Panels Correctly
One of the most common mistakes installers make when applying panels is driving the head of the fastener tightly against the nail hem. Allow approximately 1/32″ (roughly the thickness of a dime) clearance between the fastener head and the siding nail hem.

During installation, avoid face-nailing or stapling through siding. Face-nailing can not only cause ripples in the siding, but also prevents proper expansion and contraction.

When installing a siding panel, push up from the bottom until the lock engages, then let the panel relax down against the ledge of the previously installed panel. Without stretching the panel, reach up and fasten it into place. Again, be wary of tightness—the panels should not be under tension or compression when they are fastened. Once fastened, allow the butt edge to rest on the top edge of the course below.

vinyl siding installation

To see detailed guides, view our Installation Guides and other product resources:
Grayne: http://grayne.com/resources/

Foundry: http://www.foundrysiding.com/product-resources

LEAN Principles That Increase Efficiency

LEAN principles shadow board

The first thing you see when you enter the Boral Discovery Center in San Antonio, Texas, is what you can’t see—no clutter, no chaos, no extraneous noise. Because while nearly 30 people, including scientists, engineers, and support staff, work throughout the facility’s labs with numerous machines, hundreds of materials, and thousands of samples, a concentrated focus on safety and efficiency guides each step.

Assisting in those efforts is a facility-wide adherence to LEAN principles, much like you would find at some manufacturing plants.

“We are a lab with many, many projects and many samples,” notes Sarah Fortenberry, a Discovery Center research technician who also leads the facility’s LEAN programs. “So you have to manage not only the individual projects as well as the amount of materials coming in and going out. LEAN principles help us do that.”

Fortenberry notes that following LEAN guidelines also is key to maintaining a safe, healthy environment.

Here are a few of the LEAN tools the Discovery Center has implemented:

• Shadow Board: In areas with tools and equipment, storage areas are outlined and labeled, as shown in this photo. This includes everything from duct tape rolls to a hammer to extension cords. “There’s no wasted time trying to find an item,” Fortenberry notes. “It’s labeled, it’s where it should be.”LEAN principles shadow board The 5 S’s:
Sort: Frequently determine what you actually use and get rid of the rest. This helps keep work areas clutter-free and safe.

Set in order: Label everything and where it goes. The most important items should be the closest.

Shine: Keep work areas clean.

Standardize: Have a standard method for tools and equipment. Everything is labeled—every tool, every shelf, every drawer. This also pertains to samples, which ensures every test is tracked and identifiable. The process of managing samples is the primary reason that LEAN is essential at the Discovery Center.

Sustain: Establish how you keep the workplace clean and a cleaning schedule.

• 3C Board: The three Cs stand for Concern, Cause, Countermeasure. In each work area, the team has a 3C board. If something is wrong in the area, it goes up on the board, what’s causing the problem, and, eventually, what is being done to fix the problem.

• Total Productive Maintenance: Broken machines lead to costly downtime, so each machine has a list of maintenance steps needed to keep it running properly.

• 5S Fridays: At the end of every Friday, the team convenes to address problems on 3C boards. “We work as a team to get to and maintain a sustaining level of production,” Fortenberry notes.

• Kaizen: Kaizen is Japanese for “continual improvement.” The team hosts kaizen events in which they visit areas of the lab and track team members’ steps to see where there is wasted movement and how those steps can be consolidated. Bringing in team members who don’t work in that area provides a fresh perspective and out-of-the-box thinking.

“It’s made us more of a team, working as a group to improve our areas,” Fortenberry says. “Through the kaizen events and 5S Fridays, we can do something in a short period of time that would take someone weeks to do alone.”

LBM Journal: Texture, Authenticity Lead Today’s Siding Trends

A growing diversity of innovative products is helping to fuel the latest exterior trends, according to LBM Journal’s annual In Depth feature on siding. Homeowners are clamoring for color and variety in their façades, while builders are not only trying to meet those aesthetic needs but also are seeking out easy-to-install solutions and product knowledge support.

Here’s an overview of trends and industry observations from LBM Journal’s report:

  • Mix and Match: A diversity of materials is contributing directly to one of today’s hottest façade trends: mixing materials. “Gone are the days when houses tended to be rather homogenous in terms of colors and textures,” magazine contributor Mike Berger writes. “In today’s siding market, it’s all about mixing and matching textures and products.”
  • Darker Colors: The magazine notes that darker colors are in growing demand, a trend that aligns well with TruExterior Siding, which can be painted any color, even black, thanks to its high levels of dimensional stability.
  • Authenticity: Buyers are craving products that offer the look of wood without the maintenance. “There’s an authenticity people want with products today,” TruExterior Siding & Trim Product Manager Aaron Sims tells the magazine. “They want it to look like wood. They want it to feel real. They want the details to be right. They want it to look very authentic to replicate a traditional Craftsman-style or Farmhouse-style home.”
  • Resilience: The increasing rate of natural disasters, from hurricanes to wildfires, is driving code changes in certain areas of the country. “To meet these needs, manufacturers are developing products to withstand the rigors of storm and fire,” Berger explains. The writer pointed to products like Grayne engineered siding and TruExterior Siding, which both meet California’s Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) code for fire and the Florida Building Code for wind.
  • Labor: The ongoing labor shortage continues to be top of mind and, according to the NAHB, is currently builders’ No. 1 concern. This is driving demand for products that are easy and straightforward to install. Versetta Stone mortarless stone veneer, the magazine notes, offers the stone look without requiring the skill of a stone mason.
  • Training: Dealers and distributors can no longer just stock products, the magazine says, they have to be knowledgeable about those products, how they work, and how they compare to competitors’ offerings.

To read more trends and insights into today’s siding market, view the LBM Journal article in its entirety here.

Best Practices for Combining Exterior Colors

It takes less than 10 seconds for someone to form an impression about a house. One of the most important factors in that impression? Color.

And with a lifespan of 10 to 15 years or more, siding and accent color choice is important.

“When selecting colors, follow the 60-30-10 rule of decorating,” advises color expert Trisha Wagner, senior product manager at Boral Building Products. “Sixty percent of your color will be siding; then your accent, which may be the trim, will be near 30%; and, finally, 10% will go into shutters or another element such as a stone façade.”

When looking at a home, think about what you want to see first and where you want to have the biggest impression.

Here are general rules and factors to consider when choosing and combining colors:

Work With Home Style and Period
To achieve the right look and feel, it’s important to understand the limitations of a home’s style and choose colors that align with the architecture and time period.

For a home with natural-finish cedar siding, for example, a more neutral trim and shutters will help maintain a traditional Colonial style, while bolder accent colors such as green or brown will give it a Craftsman-like look.

Take Cues From Existing Design Elements
For homes with existing stone or brick or those looking to add this element, Wagner offers this tip: To highlight or make the stone stand out, pair with a paint color that incorporates minor undertones from the stone. This will help draw it out and give a more dynamic appearance. Conversely, to make the stone or brick blend in, find a siding color that is more similar in tone.

Further tie these elements into a home’s look by matching the trim to the grout color of the stone or brick.

TruExterior Siding and Trim
Complementary colors in the siding and stone help the stone stand out without one element overwhelming the other.

Consider the Role of Nature and Lighting
Consider how landscaping will contrast and complement the look of a home. Houses with mature landscapes and shrubs with vibrant greens and other colors will draw the eye down. Be aware of what colors you or the homeowner will plant and how that relates to the colors you’re selecting for the home.

For homes that don’t have a lot of landscaping, consider brighter siding. For those with a denser landscape, you may want to consider darker colors for more contrast.

Landscaping can also influence lighting if a home is heavily shaded by trees or natural topography. Wagner advises to look at the direction the home faces and where the sun hits at various times of day to understand how the color may change.

TruExterior Siding Fine Homebuilding ProHome
On the 2016 Fine Homebuilding ProHome, the entry area offered the perfect place for a pop of bold color, modernizing the look without taking away from the farmhouse vibe. It also provides a focal point since the home has limited landscaping.

Consider What’s Trending
For the last five years, shades of gray have been the most popular choices for a home’s exterior. Homeowners inspired by the versatile neutral are frequently selecting varieties and combinations like green-gray, greige, and blue-gray.

Dark, rich jewel tones, such as sapphire blue, are another common selection for home exteriors. Colors in this family are typically paired with white trim, particularly on the ever-popular Craftsman-style homes.

For the indecisive homeowner or buyer, Wagner says neutral bases and black and white accents are a safe option that will stand the test of time.

Another growing trend on new construction home exteriors has been mixing textures, such as combining shake and traditional siding with brick and stone for a variegated look.

Grayne siding
Gray is a trendy choice that never goes out of style and pairs perfectly with crisp white trim.

Avoid Common Mistakes
The easiest way to avoid color mistakes is to consult the color wheel.

“It’s the same color wheel you played with in kindergarten,” Wagner says. “There are still complementary and contrasting colors, and that should be your ultimate guide.”

But you have a lot of flexibility, she adds, with the variety of tones available.

Before committing, get sample pieces of the siding colors being considered. Have your buyers put them up for a few days—perhaps on the weekend when they can see in the light at multiple points across the day—to see how they look.

TruExterior siding
When in doubt, black and white is always a classic combination.

In the end, “personal preference is the ultimate guide,” Wagner says. “A home’s color is highly personable and a definition of the homeowner’s style, so give it the time and attention it needs.”

 

Culture, Commitment Fuel Boral’s Standout Service Department

To fully grasp how unique Boral’s customer service department is, one need only look at two numbers: a 95% call-answer rate and a 0% turnover rate.

“We take a proactive approach in our call center, and that has afforded us a very high service level,” notes Tim Barber, Boral’s director of customer service. Most call centers average around 80% of calls answered in 20 seconds or less; Boral’s average at that rate is 95%. “If you call, we pretty much answer immediately. We know that busy contractors need answers fast and that jobs can be held up if we don’t meet that need.”

But while phone calls are the primary form of communications, the omnichannel department responds just as efficiently to requests made via email, fax, EDI, and pretty much any other form of communication with a hands-on strategy Barber calls a “concierge approach.”

“We really hope to cultivate an experience that keeps customers coming back to our family of brands,” Barber says. “We want to make sure we’re ending the call having solved the customer’s problem and having used their time effectively.”

_c1a8635hr

The employees’ dedication shows in the department’s high tenure rate, including 0% negative attrition (firings or voluntary company departures) for the past two years, a significant feat considering the typical rate for call centers is 30% to 40%.

The department fields as many as 800 to 1,000 calls a day, taking orders, addressing warranty concerns, providing tech support, and responding to any number of other topics. Staff numbers ramp up during busier months from April to October, and the full team is engaged with onboarding new employees.

“We’ve been fortunate to have a fabulous staff that comes to work every day with their A game,” Barber says. “We’re building our culture around customer service. Our culture is important—you can’t have success without good culture and good leadership, with people feeling like they can contribute. They come in and do the best they can for customers. We empower them and provide an atmosphere that’s supportive.”

Have a question? Contact Boral’s stellar customer service team by calling (888) 926-7259 or submitting a contact form.

New Initiatives Aim to Address Construction Labor Shortages

As the housing industry continues its steady climb, the shortage of skilled labor is only intensifying. In fact, builders have indicated that cost and availability of labor is currently the No. 1 problem facing their business, according to a December NAHB/Wells Fargo surveyA Home Improvement Research Institute study found that 60% of skilled trade professionals believe there is a shortage of labor.

In January, the construction industry’s unfilled jobs reached 250,000, up from 159,000 in January 2017 and just shy of the post-recession high of 255,000 last July, according to NAHB analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The challenges can lead to scheduling problems, budget woes, and quality concerns, among other issues.

Several industry organizations are attempting to tackle the issue through new initiatives that encourage young people to consider the trades, provide scholarships for training, provide direct training, or simply promote the benefits of a career in the industry. These include:

  • Skilled Labor Fund. Created by Professional Builder publisher Scranton Gillette and with an operating committee that includes leaders from the NAHB and the National Kitchen & Bath Association, the non-profit is raising money to “build a foundation for a stronger workforce” via student scholarships, accredited trade schools, and training facilities.

skilled-labor-fund

  • Home Depot Skilled Trades Initiative. In early March, The Home Depot Foundation announced a $50 million grant aimed at training 20,000 people in the trades to help fill the labor gap, particularly in areas of the country devastated by natural disasters. According to USA Today, the Home Builders Institute will use the funds from Home Depot to train veterans and U.S. Army soldiers readying for civilian life.
  • Lowe’s Track to the Trades. In February, Lowe’s announced a workforce development initiative to support its employees wishing to pursue a skilled trade. Employees will be eligible to receive tuition funding for certification in a skilled trade, academic coaching and support, and apprenticeship placement opportunities within Lowe’s or among its contractor network.
  • Why I Build. Hosted by Fine Homebuilding, Why I Build showcases the voices of craftsmanship and shares stories about why those in the trades love what they do. The resulting videos are inspiring and demonstrate the pride and integrity associated with careers in construction.

Fine Homebuilding Masonry
Mason Jane DeWitt discusses her craft in Fine Homebuilding’s Why I Build series.

  • #KeepCraftAlive. Another program from Fine Homebuilding, this movement is designed to spark conversation and spotlight craftspeople. The magazine encourages pros to tag their social media posts with the hashtag #KeepCraftAlive to share their passion with the world (see Instagram posts here). Sales from T-shirts will fund a sponsorship alongside SkillsUSA.

Fine Homebuilding labor shortage craftsmanship
The #KeepCraftAlive hashtag, T-shirt, and scholarship help bring attention to the skills gap in the industry.

TruExterior remains committed to assisting our customers with training, as well. Our sales reps are available for a range of hands-on education opportunities, including dealer product knowledge sessions and one-on-one jobsite installation instruction. In addition, TruExterior has a fleet of mobile training units that travel the country, setting up shop at dealer yards to provide installers with hands-on experience with our products.

Boral TruExterior Training Trailer
Boral’s mobile training trailers provide hands-on education for specifiers and installers.

To arrange a meeting, training session, or trailer visit, contact us today.

Take Five for Safety

For many contractors, the safety of employees and site visitors takes top priority over nearly everything else. For firms looking for new ways to ensure and promote a safe work environment, one proactive process to consider is “Take 5,” a method for re-familiarizing oneself with a task.

When facing a task they haven’t performed in awhile, such as operating a piece of machinery, staff at Boral facilities are encouraged to pause to identify and control hazards before they start work:

  1. Stop, look, walk around the task
  2. Think about the task, have a clear plan
  3. Identify and assess hazards that exist or may be created by the task and rate their risk levels
  4. Control the risks and communicate
  5. Do the task if low risk, and keep a lookout for changes

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As part of this process, staff members carry or have easy access to a Take 5 notepad that takes them through a series of quick steps: a pre-task checklist that confirms they are authorized to do the task and that they fully understand the task; a hazard-identification checklist; and a review of the personal protective equipment.

On the back, the employee identifies each potential risk to the task and its controls. Using this list, they can identify whether the task requires sign off by a supervisor or a written safe operating procedure.

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By compelling employees to stop and consider each task, its potential hazards, and its safe operation, the Take 5 process helps further ensure the safety of themselves and those around them. For builders and contractors looking to elevate their safety efforts, it’s one additional way to keep safety top of mind each day and ensure employees and visitors are actively engaged in ensuring the well-being of themselves and others.

7 Exterior Trends for 2018

As outdoor building season continues, expect to hear some familiar requests—as well as some new demands. Homeowners are increasingly discerning when it comes to their exterior facades as they seek to ramp up curb appeal while still making their home reflect their personality and lifestyle.

Here’s a look at what’s trending this year:

  • Design With Intention: Aaron Sims, Product Manager for Boral’s Light Building Products Division, is seeing a resurgence of architects looking at the whole picture rather than the individual home, designing a structure to fit the environment around it. The results are more timeless looks that don’t feel dated in a few years, and homes that feel well-suited to their towns and cities. “Everything seems more intentional,” Sims says. “You have to nurture that. It’s not something you can create, but you can nurture it.”
  • Past Is Present: Historical favorites never go out of style for a reason. Buyers are turning toward familiar, timeless profiles such as nickel gap and shiplap. Some of their popularity stems from TV shows such as Fixer Upper, but also a desire for creating a sense of place. At the same time, buyers aren’t afraid to update those looks, as seen in the subtle modernization of older restored buildings or farmhouse designs that blend industrial metallics.

    TruExterior Siding Nickel Gap Shutters
    TruExterior Siding in a Nickel Gap profile, with Atlantic Shutters
  • Mixed Textures—With a Twist: Like last year, designers are still mixing materials, such as siding, stone, and metal. But they’re doing so in a cleaner way, Sims says. Color combinations are more monochrome, lines are straighter, texture planes are seamlessly blending together.
  • Clean & Crisp: From those seamless transitions to the sleek forms of shiplap, the transitional and modern trend is creeping into exterior home styles, with more rectilinear lines and forms.
  • Natural Versions of Popular Colors: Grays, blues, and neutrals are still common, but they’re moving to the more organic versions of themselves rather than feeling manufactured. Grays are veering toward a more beige-like warmth, blues are earthier and darker. Buyers will see this trend reflected in Versetta Stone’s new Carved Block mortarless stone veneer panels; the line’s Midnight color is warmed by dark gray and almond tones, while the Sea Salt hue features neutral, soft khakis and beiges.

    Versetta Stone mortarless stone veneer masonry carved block
    Versetta Stone mortarless stone veneer in Carved Block
  • Outdoor Living: Tour any model home or pick up any trade magazine and it’s clear that homeowner demand for decked-out exterior spaces is not going away. Many are clamoring for decks and patios with the same amenities they enjoy indoors, including dedicated sitting and eating areas, seamless transitions and views, and even technology. They also need to look the part, so don’t forget accessories such pergolas made with Kleer cellular PVC trim and KLEERWrap post wraps, and be sure to finish off the underside with trim and post wraps.

    Pergola Kleer Lumber
    Pergola made with Kleer Lumber
  • Low Maintenance: No surprise here: Homeowners still don’t want to spend time painting and staining their facades and decks. Foundry and Grayne siding both offer a long-lasting, low-maintenance alternative that still features the authentic look buyers crave.
  • Labor Crunch: The challenge of finding qualified labor continues, so products that offer easier installation can make a difference in time and cost. Foundry and Grayne offer a straightforward installation process familiar to any siding installer. Versetta Stone provides the look of stone in an easy-to-use panel profile that siding contractors can install. TruExterior Siding & Trim cuts and routs just like wood, using traditional woodworking tools, while eliminating steps such as edge sealing.