LBM Journal: 5 Trim Trends Building Material Dealers Should Know

The COVID-19 pandemic has touched many areas of the building industry, and the trim and moulding category is no exception. As a product that lends itself to quick yet dramatic facelifts, trim was an easy upgrade option for DIYers and pros alike as the pandemic shifted from closures and uncertainty last spring to a surge in demand for home improvement products and services.

What has this all meant for dealers? In its annual In Depth look at the trim category, LBM Journal explored the latest trends and what dealers can do to keep adapting in uncertain times.

Here are a few of their findings:

Trim Products Are Thriving Through the Pandemic

While the industry initially shut down in many areas, home improvement projects quickly ramped up as homeowners sought to complete long-neglected projects and spruce up their interiors and exteriors. Manufacturers told LBM Journal that the trim category is likely to continue to grow significantly in the next 12 months, a prediction backed up by the “2020-2025 Global Molding and Trim Market Report.” In addition, “according to a recent Bank of America poll about homeowners’ attitudes and shopping habits during coronavirus, more than 70% of those polled indicated they have decided to tackle home improvement projects, with more planned for 2021,” the magazine reported.

“As stay-at-home recommendations stretch through the winter, we expect the surge in demand to remain as homeowners continue to seek to make their homes their sanctuary and buyers scoop up new and existing homes that meet their changing lifestyle needs,” Boral Building Products Brand Manager Ben Drury told the magazine. “But lead times should continue to improve as manufacturers catch up, and supply challenges should ease.”

Bold Colors

The trend toward dark trim colors remains strong. In addition, “there’s still a strong desire for multi-textured facades as well as contrasting siding and trim colors,” Drury said. “Both our [poly-ash] TruExterior Trim and [cellular PVC] Kleer Lumber trimboards are a perfect fit for those color combinations. TruExterior Trim’s poly-ash technology allows it to be painted any color, including black, so it’s perfect for the white-siding-with-dark trim trend.”

Bold colors are popping up on the interior, as well, manufacturers said.

Clean Styles

The desire for Modern Farmhouse looks continues unabated in many areas of the country, leading to trim profiles that are more simple and clean in style, the article states.

Ease of Installation

The trend toward sprucing up homes in the pandemic has driven more LBM dealers to push installation-friendly options. LBM Journal cited consumer studies from The Farnsworth Group and the Home Improvement Research Institute reporting that 80% of homeowners had started a DIY home project by June of last year. Along with the simple fact that homeowners were stuck quarantining, they also are getting a confidence boost from online resources such as YouTube and Pinterest. Savvy dealers, even those that typically cater only to pros, have recognized this surging customer opportunity and have responded with increased support and product guidance.

Back to Basics

As we proceed through this year with a bit of caution, some manufacturers recommend that dealers stick to basic strategies, including taking advantage of educational resources for increasing foot traffic and visibility, diversifying your product lines to include alternative trim materials, and maintaining your knowledge base. “The best thing dealers can do for their customers is to be truly knowledgeable about the products they sell—and even those they don’t sell,” Drury told the magazine. “This will help ensure they can recommend to contractors the right solution to each project, making them even more valuable to those customers.”

And this includes taking advantage of ever-growing opportunities for virtual training sessions. To arrange for product knowledge and installation virtual training for Boral Building Products brands, including TruExterior and Kleer as well as siding brands like Versetta Stone and Foundry, contact us here.

All told, LBM Journal paints a positive picture for the year ahead: “When taken together, all of these changes and challenges point to an optimistic year for the moulding and trim industry,” they concluded. “Yes, LBM dealers will need to remain agile so that they can quickly adapt how they do business in response to any continued (or even new) restrictions from the continuing health crisis. But by staying atop training and education and by being prepared to meet the anticipated increasing demand for trim products by both pro and DIY customers, dealers will position themselves to reap the greatest gains.”

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

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

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.

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.

Concerned About High Lumber Prices? Poly-Ash and PVC Trim Offer a Durable Alternative

lumber stack, lumber prices

The housing industry has thankfully been one of the rare economic strongholds during the pandemic, seeing steady or rising numbers across multiple datapoints. But the supply challenges impacting various industries around the country have hit the residential construction market too: The NAHB reports that supply shortages are leading to skyrocketing prices in wood products, including a 120% increase in lumber prices since mid-April and a 138% increase in OSB versus a year ago.

The impact has become so severe, the association sent a letter to the Trump Administration urging it to intervene to encourage domestic lumber producers to increase production and work with Canada on a new Softwood Lumber Agreement that would end the ongoing tariffs.

But with the construction and home improvement markets booming, many builders and remodelers don’t have time to wait for lumber prices to decline and supplies to refresh. Non-wood trim products, such as TruExterior Trim and Kleer Lumber, can offer immediate relief, with ready supply and U.S. manufacturing—along with high-performance attributes that eliminate some of the drawbacks of natural, moisture-prone materials.

Made with Boral’s proprietary blend of polymers and fly ash, TruExterior Trim combines authentic wood looks with high performance and low maintenance. TruExterior Trim provides a high level of dimensional stability along with durability for resistance to warping, cracking, and splitting. As a result, the trim requires no sealing of ends or cuts in the field, it can be used in ground-contact applications, and it can be painted any color, including dark hues.

TruExterior trim is a solution to rising lumber prices
TruExterior Trim

And because TruExterior is made in Salisbury, N.C., with raw materials sourced locally, it’s not facing the supply chain issues of some wood species.

Kleer Lumber’s trim line is made with expanded cellular PVC and, like TruExterior, offers the premium look of wood but without the concerns about the effects of moisture or insects. In fact, it’s backed by a limited lifetime warranty against splintering, rotting, delamination, and swelling. Kleer trim, which is sold in eight trim widths and in sheets, can be installed in contact with the ground. Kleer Lumber is manufactured in Westfield, Mass.

Kleer Trim is a solution to rising lumber prices
Kleer trim.

Both Kleer and TruExterior offer easy workability for a range of uses, from traditional trim applications and decorative millwork to pergolas and flower boxes.

Explore the possibilities on our Instagram page.

Feature image: antmoreton from Pixabay

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.

Fun Home Projects Using TruExterior Trim and Kleer Lumber

Kleer Lumber, Adirondack chairs

Looking for an easy way to add eye candy to the yard? The same attributes that make Kleer Lumber and TruExterior Trim ideal for creating eye-catching exterior façades—durability, low maintenance, and easy installation—make them the perfect material for quick-and-easy home projects to add pizzazz to the outdoor space.

In a previous blog post, we showed you the fun bird houses members of our sales team made using scraps up Kleer and TruExterior. In between conducting virtual trainings and attending to customers from their home offices, they’ve continued to demonstrate their creativity—and the workability of the two materials—with flower boxes, chairs, and other fun outdoor projects.

Take a look:

TruExterior trim, flower box

For these pretty flower boxes, TruExterior Trim’s moisture resistance and superior dimensional stability mean they’ll perform well and require less maintenance while still offering the look and grain of wood. Easy workability and no sealing of cuts makes installation a breeze, too.

TruExterior trim, flower box

TruExterior comes pre-primed and ready to paint any color, so these bright blues and reds will last.

TruExterior trim, flower box

Want something more rustic? Trim scraps and a custom finish helped create this look of old barn wood. Behind the rough-around-the-edges aesthetics, though, is the same modern performance and durability of TruExterior Trim.

Kleer Lumber flower box

This beautiful flower box features Kleer Lumber, which comes in a brilliant white color to catch the eye as well as provide a backdrop for bright-colored flowers. Made with cellular PVC, Kleer sheets and trimboards won’t splinter, swell, rot, or delaminate, so they can be installed in contact with the ground or other potentially wet surfaces.

Kleer Lumber, Adirondack chairs

The ability to mill Kleer means the possibilities for projects, whether beautiful trimwork on the façade or these cozy Adirondack chairs, are nearly endless. Kleer can be left white or painted for a custom look.

Kleer Lumber, cornhole boards

Kleer’s surface, workability, and paintability make a great combination for these cornhole boards, as well.

Want more inspiration? Check out our Instagram page.

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.

Build a Birdhouse Using Kleer Lumber and TruExterior Trim

With authentic looks and high performance, Kleer Lumber and TruExterior trim are ideal for creating eye-catching exterior façades—any exterior façade. We challenged our sales teams to put that idea to the test and flex their creativity by building birdhouses in between the virtual meetings and training sessions they’re conducting from their homes during the pandemic. And they delivered with a collection of pretty snazzy designs. Lucky for the birds, both Kleer trim and TruExterior trim are low maintenance, durable, and suitable for any style.

If you’re looking for a fun project during stay-at-home downtime, check out our sales team’s creations below. They just might inspire you to build your own avian abode—or spark some ideas for your own home exterior.

The classic Craftsman with welcoming front porch:

Craftsman-style birhouse

The brand-loyal multifamily with room for the whole flock:

Multifamily birhouse

The cozy cottage with on-trend outdoor living space:

Simple birdhouse with picnic table

The Mid-Century Modern:

The ultra-modern:

Modern-style birdhouse

Which design is your favorite? Cast your vote on our Instagram page.

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

LBM Journal: Trim Buyers Crave Authenticity, Simplicity, and Durability

Much like other areas of the home exterior, consumers and contractors are looking for trim products that deliver authentic looks to boost curb appeal while ensuring low maintenance and durability, according to LBM Journal’s recent In Depth trim feature. “Homeowners are craving authenticity, and they also want their homes to be unique,” Boral Building Products’ Brand Manager Ben Drury told the magazine.

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

  • Simple styles: Ornamentation is out, clean lines are in, driven in part by the continued love of Craftsman and Modern Farmhouse styles.
  • Dark colors: Homeowners remain drawn to dark colors, particularly dark blues and grays. Often, these hues are in contrast to white siding or the other way around. TruExterior answers this call, with the ability to be painted any color.
  • Durability is central: “Poor quality of wood, increasing material costs, lack of skilled labor, extreme weather events, and growth of consumer knowledge … are all having an impact on the direction of product development,” LBM Journal reports. “But perhaps the greatest driving factor is product durability.”
  • Labor shortages playing a role: Strains on labor are driving contractor demand for cellular PVC products, like Kleer Lumber, because they’re easy to install while still delivering the look homeowners desire.
  • Education is key: For dealer salespeople, it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of products in order to be a resource to customers and to help them solve exterior challenges. “Know more about your products than your customers do—and even about the products you don’t sell,” Drury advised. Good displays also are important, including vignettes showing how products and materials go together across the façade, particularly as demand for multiple textures remains strong.

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

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

Want to stay up on the latest industry trends and product news? Subscribe to our enewsletter!

Kleer Lumber’s New Extruded Beadboard Offers Clean, Authentic Look

Kleer Lumber, beadboard, cellular PVC trim

Enhancing a porch ceiling or soffit has never been easier. Kleer Lumber‘s new beadboard is extruded as one piece and sealed on all four sides, which eliminates any open cells that may be prone to dirt intrusion. It can be painted or contractors can leave it brilliant white, eliminating extra steps to save time and money.

Kleer Lumber, beadboard, cellular PVC trim

Made with expanded cellular PVC, Kleer Beadboard offers the look of wood while remaining impervious to moisture and insects. It is backed by a limited lifetime warranty against splintering, rotting, delamination, and swelling.

The cellular PVC technology and the new extrusion process combine to ensure builders and remodelers can install the new beadboard without having to prime, paint, or seal.

The new extruded beadboard features a center bead and a reversible tongue-and-groove profile with a shiplap nailing flange that increases installation speed while providing a more finished look. Two widths are available, 4” and 6”, each 16’ long.

Kleer Lumber, beadboard, cellular PVC trim

Kleer Beadboard cuts and fastens with standard tools and can be installed in direct contact with the ground, masonry, and other potentially wet surfaces.

How Color Trends Are Shifting—and Staying the Same—in 2020 and Beyond

The dawn of a new year—and a new decade—naturally brings out the predictions for what trends will dominate the landscape. But when it comes to color, it’s not always that simple. While some colors heat up and cool down quickly (perhaps bold hues sparked by pop culture), for the most part, shifts in color preferences happen more gradually, easing in and fading out over a number of years or even decades. 

Still, it’s important to know what’s happening, so we checked in with strategist and trend forecaster Renee Labbe, Director of Foresight Strategy at Broadside Studios, to find out what we can expect in exterior color trends during the upcoming year and beyond.

New Neutrals

Neutral hues that began trending three, five, even eight years ago are still around as early adoption has merged into mass market appeal. And “neutral” doesn’t simply mean beiges and grays, it can mean subtle colors that are quite muted. Where colors in the ’80s and ’90s were heavily saturated, today classic yellows and creams and oranges lean closer to neutrality on the color wheel. Similarly, white is still a leading house color, but it’s a softer white, a trend Labbe says we’ll see more of this year. She also expects the appeal of contrasting whites and blacks to continue.

One of the reasons for a shift toward neutrality is lifestyle: Americans have become overwhelmed by technology and social media, resulting in sensorial chaos. Neutral tones are less busy and not as distracting, allowing the eye to rest and the brain to relax.

This is also likely the driver of home style trends like the Gabled Modern. This style represents simplicity, with limited use of color, material, and ornamentation, creating a sense of peace and a contrast to the “pinnacle of success” approach that has dominated real estate in recent decades. 

“Design imitates emotion,” Labbe says, noting that society is shifting as we emerge into a new decade focusing on solutions instead of division. “Neutrality is necessary as we slow down our focus. The healthy palettes start to trickle in.”

Foundry Staggered Shake in Harvest Wheat

The Rise of “Healthy” Color Palettes

Indeed, the popularity of neutrals will influence increasing interest in colors derived from nature, though Labbe says it’s too soon to know how the hues within those colors are going to evolve. “I think healthy palettes are part of a bigger trend toward ‘entanglement,’” she explains, “where we see the built environment and the natural environment literally beginning to grow into each other.”

Changing Grays

While gray has been a mainstay for a number of years, classic gray is starting to fade from favor. Instead, it’s finding its way into other colors, such as an undertone for brown that makes the rustic hue more suitable for contemporary designs without losing its warmth.  Tinted grays also are becoming more important, Labbe notes, such as gray with a hint of blue or green.

Foundry Perfection Shingle in Vintage Taupe

Reds Fading

Labbe says red undertones for exteriors, such as siding, roofing, brick, and pavers, have been downtrending and will continue to downtrend, in favor of undertones that create a more neutral feel.  For example, a brown that had a lot of red undertone will now see a gray undertone replace it; a tan would be less warm and more muted (gray undertones). 

Black Shifting

Similarly, though classic black has been popular for progressive neighborhoods, Labbe predicts some blacks with a bit of tint, such as brown-black or bluish-black. 

Above all, it’s crucial to use color correctly. A color is rarely completely “out,” but in her research Labbe often sees popular colors integrated in the wrong way. For example, combining three different grays on a contemporary house will come off stark and cold, but pairing a smooth gray stucco with wood elements can create something warm and beautiful. Gray with tan is another effective combination. 

As you design your homes and develop your streetscapes, consult with a color expert who can ensure you’re selecting hues that are on trend yet timeless and are integrated in combinations and configurations that elevate, rather than detract from, your exteriors. 

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

Idea Gallery: Beadboard

Boral TruExterior beadboard porch ceiling

Picture the quintessential American front porch and a few images likely spring to mind: a rocking chair or swing, bright white railings and columns, cozy-under-foot flooring, flag flapping in the wind. And, of course, a detailed beadboard ceiling.

Whether left bright white or painted a color complementary to the rest of the exterior, beadboard offers a traditional style while ensuring a complete look. And the look is easier than ever to pull off, thanks to high-performance materials that mimic wood but save on maintenance.

Here are a few ways contractors are using beadboard:

Boral TruExterior beadboard

The architect for this Queen Anne-style home at Chautauqua Institution in New York included exquisite molding detail, including this beadboard porch ceiling made with TruExterior.

TruExterior Beadboard is made with the same proprietary poly-ash material as our trim and siding, providing an authentic appearance but without concerns about rot or insects. It comes primed and ready to paint—even dark colors. Single (4” or 6”) and double (8” and 12”) boards are available.

Kleer Lumber cellular PVC beadboard porch ceiling

Kleer Lumber’s dirt resistance helps ensure the pristine white finish looks stellar for years to come. The white-on-white trim details shown here are the perfect complement to the home’s traditional brick façade.

Made with cellular PVC, Kleer Beaded Boards come in a reversible (smooth or wood-grain) bright white color and boast clean, crisp lines for an authentic look. Choose from 4×8 KLEERBeed sheets, featuring tongue-and-groove for a finished edge; KLEERLok beaded board in 4” and 6” widths, with a shiplap nailing flange that increases installation speeds; or Edge & Center beadboard for a traditional profile. The products offer moisture resistance ideal for outdoor settings as well as wet interior applications like bathrooms.

Boral TruExterior beadboard porch ceiling

TruExterior beadboard, shown here in robin’s egg blue on a porch in West Palm Beach, Fla., comes primed and ready to paint. The material’s superior dimensional stability allows for use with dark colors.

Kleer Lumber cellular PVC beadboard bathroom

Want the traditional look of wainscoting without concern about how daily steam showers may take their toll? Kleer’s PVC material withstands moisture, makes it an ideal option for bathrooms and other wet indoor spaces.

Boral TruExterior beadboard porch ceiling

TruExterior offers workability similar to wood, allowing for straightforward cuts in the field. What’s more, installers don’t need to worry about sealing edges and end cuts.

Kleer Lumber cellular PVC beadboard deck ceiling

With consistency from board to board and availability in large sheets, Kleer beaded boards are ideal for large applications, such as this deck ceiling by California Deck Pros.

Looking for more inspiration? Houzz offers eight additional examples of beadboard in traditional and unexpected applications.

Learn more about TruExterior beadboard and Kleer beaded boards.

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

Outdoor Living, Low-Maintenance Exteriors Remain Increasingly in Demand, Architects Say

Boral TruExterior siding

Perhaps not surprising to anyone active in the housing industry, outdoor living continues to dominate as one of the most sought-after features of home exteriors.

Outdoor Living Spaces Remain Popular

In AIA’s Q2 2019 Home Design Trends survey, released in late June, 68% of architects said interest in outdoor living space among their clients is increasing, up slightly from 67% in 2018. The upward trend includes the blending of spaces, of which interest rose 5 percentage points to 57% in 2019.

Earlier this year, in the association’s Q1 survey, architects indicated outdoor kitchens also continue to remain popular, with 49% reporting increasing interest in those spaces versus 45% in 2018.

Despite craving more outdoor space, lot sizes appear headed down, with -28% of survey respondents reporting an increase in lot size for 2019. 

Home Sizes Shrinking

According to architects, overall home size is on the decline, with a -8% differential between designers reporting increasing vs. decreasing, a drop from 7% in 2016. However, there’s a distinct difference when broken down by home type: the survey found a 15% differential of architects saying size for custom and luxury homes is increasing, while -31% indicated the same for entry-level/affordable homes.

On a more unexpected note, demand for open floor plans declined from 56% in 2018 to 45% this year. Single-floor living, however, remained relatively steady around 50%.

Low-Maintenance a Must

Late last year, AIA’s Q3 poll on other exterior trends found durability and low maintenance the No. 1 popular feature, with 60% of architects reporting increasing interest. This trend is ideally suited to a number of Boral products, including TruExterior Siding & Trim, which offers the look and authenticity of wood with long-lasting durability resulting in minimal regular maintenance, and Grayne engineered composite shingles, featuring the warmth of real cedar with no painting or staining required.

Boral TruExterior vertical siding polyash fly ash outdoor living
TruExterior siding

Elsewhere in that quarter’s survey, architects pinpointed Contemporary home styles as the most popular, with 41% of respondents indicating increasing interest.

Among the most popular neighborhood and community features were infill development (63%), higher-density development (56%), an increase in tear-down projects (55%), and mixed-use facilities (54%).

Grayne siding outdoor living
Grayne engineered composite shingles in Aged Grey

To see the full AIA Home Design Trends survey, including an archive of previous quarterly results, click 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.

Video: Kleer Trimboards vs. Dirt Intrusion

Do your trimboards stand up to dirt?

PVC trim is a low-maintenance alternative to wood. But not all PVC trim is created equal. Over time, some PVC trim products will collect dirt in the edges, leading to a grimy, gray, aged look that can dull the exterior façade.

Kleer Lumber is different. Kleer trimboards feature TruEDGE technology—smoother edges that help the boards resist dirt and, when they do get dirty, make them easier to clean. The result is brilliant white trim that looks great for the long haul.

But don’t take our word for it. Check out this video, in which we put Kleer trim and two other PVC trim brands through a dirt intrusion test to see how they stack up:

As you can see, dirt doesn’t permanently embed itself into the edges of Kleer trimboards, ensuring easier cleaning and a more beautiful finish compared to other PVC trim options.

Kleer Lumber trimboards versus trim competitors

Kleer trimboards also contain UV inhibitors to prevent yellowing, so no painting is required to maintain the original white appearance. Not interested in white? Kleer trim can be painted easily with 100% acrylic latex paint.

To further ensure Kleer trimboards maintain their pristine appearance, they’re wrapped and shipped in KleerPaks. With KleerPaks, dealers can sell smaller quantities without leaving the remaining stock exposed in the lumberyard or warehouse, and builders and remodelers can use the boards they need on the jobsite without worrying about the rest of their product getting scuffed, dinged, or dirty.

Kleer trimboards come in eight widths and in lengths up to 20 feet. And while it offers the look of wood, Kleer trim is resistant to splitting, warping, and checking; it’s straight with no need for culling the pile; and it resists extreme weather conditions.

Ready to be inspired? Visit our Image Gallery or Request a Sample.

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.

Kleer trim bold colors

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

Want to stay up on the latest industry trends and product news? Subscribe to our new newsletter!

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.

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.”

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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.

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  • 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.