The new PROS social channels exist to inspire, entertain, celebrate, and foster collaboration with the talented architects, builders, contractors, designers, and others who bring dreams and visions to life. In the early stages of our new platforms, we’ll be sharing inspiring photo and video content from building pros and suppliers.
Soon, you’ll also see a range of original content, including socially optimized training sessions and Q&As, installation how-tos and tips, jobsite footage, and much more. We plan to showcase collaborations with influencers throughout the year and provide high-quality on-site content—builder interviews, jobsite footage, project highlights—designed to highlight and serve building pros. And keep a lookout for giveaways.
We are building the Westlake Royal PROS community together—for and with our pros—so we’re asking our legacy followers, brand users, and new customers to get involved and stay tuned for more great stuff in the works.
After missing last year’s International Builders’ Show due to the pandemic, builders, remodelers, designers, and other building pros descended on Orlando Feb. 8-10 with enthusiasm. In fact, NAHB is reporting that 70,00 people attended Design & Construction Week, the combination of the International Builders’ Show and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show.
We were excited to be at the show under our new family at Westlake Royal Building Products. Boral North America was acquired by Westlake last year, and the new Westlake Royal Building Products brand brings together the rich legacy of three leading North American Building Product Manufacturers: Royal® Building Products, Boral® North America building products, and DaVinci® Roofscapes.
We also debuted our new TruExterior 5/8” Lap Siding, available this spring. The new profile combines the coveted look and shadow lines of traditional lap siding with the high performance of TruExterior’s poly-ash material.
Couldn’t make the trip to Orlando? Here are a few observations and happenings from the show floor.
• Serious commitment: Where in year’s past many show attendees were there to browse or reward employees, this year’s attendees meant business, eager to learn, connect, and place orders. The cause could be the pandemic or the urgency of a tight supply chain, but we were thrilled to have numerous detailed discussions with new and existing customers.
• Influencers galore: Influencers have been around for years, but we saw more of them than ever this year, recording their experiences and chronicling trends. These influencers are often skilled craftspeople and savvy designers, so seeking them out on social platforms can give you a great view of the show.
• Fewer new products: Where in years’ past many manufacturers unveiled a host of new products and materials, it seemed they weren’t as prevalent this year, perhaps driven by companies’ ongoing focus on filling orders and overcoming supply chain issues. But the show wasn’t completely devoid of new items. In addition to our TruExterior 5/8” Lap Siding, check out product roundups from The Journal of Light Construction and Pro Builder
• Enthusiasm and relief: For many attendees, attending IBS brought a sense of normalcy. While the industry was quick to adapt to the pandemic with virtual meetings, construction also relies on handshakes, face-to-face problem-solving, and seeing products in person. There was a palpable sense of excitement for the return to the industry’s biggest annual event.
With the enthusiasm and overall positive vibes from this year’s Builders’ Show, many are already getting excited for next year’s Design & Construction Week, which will return to Las Vegas Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2023. Adding to the anticipation was the announcement that the National Hardware Show will co-locate with IBS and KBIS in 2023.
After going virtual in 2021 due to the pandemic, the International Builders’ Show returns in-person, and returns to Orlando, Feb. 8-10, 2022. Once again the show is co-located with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) for Design & Construction Week.
Along with general excitement for the return of face-to-face events, here are some must-dos to help you get the most out of your show experience.
As usual, the IBS conference is packed with helpful sessions, including trends, design, installation, and business tools. Here are a few that caught our eye:
In addition to cruising the exhibit floor and attending knowledge sessions, you can see the latest in design and product trends through show homes and tours. This year, these include:
• ProBuilder Show Village Located just steps outside the convention center, this year’s Show Village features four homes that respond to what people value today: greater flexibility, more private outdoor space, and safety and health as a top priority. Take a self-guided tour, watch live how-to demos, view exclusive exhibits, and more. More details: https://pbshowvillage.com/
• The New American Home Each year, The New American Home showcases the newest products and design trends, as well as the latest construction practices that ensure efficient, durable homes. This year’s show home is located in Laureate Park at Lake Nona and is being designed to achieve National Green Building Standard “Emerald” certification, Energy Star Certification, Indoor airPLUS Certification, DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home Program Certification, and net-zero. Details and tour/shuttle ticket info: https://www.tnah.com/
• The New American Remodel This year’s New American Remodel is a one-story, 6,993-square-foot property featuring indoor-outdoor living, a detached guest house, and a luxurious summer kitchen. Like The New American Home, it is being remodeled to achieve National Green Building Standard “Emerald” certification, Energy Star Certification, Indoor airPLUS Certification, DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home Program Certification, and net-zero. Details and tour/shuttle ticket info: https://www.tnarh.com/
• IBS Building Zone Get the latest expertise on building more durable, energy-efficient, higher-quality homes. Across the three days, you’ll find how-to demos, presentations diving deeper into demo techniques and best practices, and full-size displays of walls, roofs, and other components for an up-close look at the details being discussed. More details: https://www.buildersshow.com/focus/focus.aspx?showPageID=21226
• Outdoor Living Pavilion Head to the South Hall for the Design & Construction Week Outdoor Pavilion, showcasing the latest outdoor/backyard products, from decking to lighting to appliances.
See What’s New From Westlake Royal Building Products at booth W2520
Boral Building Products recently joined the Westlake Exteriors family, and we’re excited to see you at IBS at the Westlake Royal Building Products booth, #W2520. IBS marks the official debut of the new Westlake Royal Building Products brand, bringing together the rich legacy of three leading North American Building Products Manufacturers: Royal® Building Products, Boral® North America building products, and DaVinci® Roofscapes.
At our booth, you’ll find a breadth of innovative exterior and interior building products, including the brand-new 5/8” Lap Siding from TruExterior. The new profile combines the coveted look and shadow lines of traditional lap siding with the high performance of TruExterior’s poly-ash material.
Get your free Builders’ Show expo pass, which includes access to the exhibits at both the International Builders’ Show and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, here: https://ibs22.buildersshow.com/928
Renderings aren’t a new concept—architects have relied on them for decades, and builders have often employed them for marketing materials. But advancements in technology for renderings and computer-generated images (CGI) are making these tools even more relevant to home selling, both as a way to market and sell homes as well as to assist buyers with purchasing decisions. And as the pandemic accelerates virtual selling, builders who don’t get on board might find themselves falling behind with digital-savvy (and digital-expectant) younger buyers.
We checked in with Bob Masulis, president of RM Design Studio in Bartlett, Ill., about the importance of leveraging today’s visualization tools—and why they’re more important than ever.
What Are the Benefits of Using Renderings?
For those who specialize in renderings and CGI, the goal is, essentially, to make a pretty picture, Masulis says. “Whatever you’re selling—a property, a product—you come to us to create something cool for marketing.”
Drawings and renderings are not new in brochures and marketing materials, but new innovations and better imaging are elevating their use. In new master-planned communities, CGI and virtual experiences fill the void before model homes are built.
Floor plans just aren’t sufficient to help potential buyers fully understand and experience the eventual finished product, but realistic renderings and CGI give them the ability to see the kitchen, bathrooms, family room, etc., providing a better understanding of what’s being built.
This means the builders and developers are able to cost effectively show their home the day the community opens for sale, adding tremendous marketing capability that can accelerate the sales process to help save time and money in the long run.
Along with more realistic and relatable visuals compared to a flat floor plan, renderings offer the right size and scale, which makes it easier to compare the sizes of the rooms. They also can show features less visible in a plan, such as a tray ceiling, without the buyer having to decipher small words and labels.
“It gives people a feeling for what the homes in the community will look like—it gives them physical and emotional scale,” Masulis notes. “It takes undefinable numbers and measurements and turns it into something emotional.”
Renderings also can help strengthen the community approval process. RM Design Studio, for example, can take a developer’s sketch and turn it into a rendering that looks like it’s been designed and photographed, elevating presentations for public hearings and design review boards.
What’s Changed With Renderings?
Of course, renderings aren’t a new concept. But computers and technology have advanced rapidly over the past decade—just in time to keep up with surging demand for digital-first sales.
Builders typically can only afford to build about three models, no matter how many plans they offer, relying on floor plans for the rest. But now, with CGI, you can very affordably build out the other models in virtual mode, allowing home buyers to see them in a way they’re more comfortable with. This not only opens up all models the day sales begin, it ensures a more balanced playing field for all plans.
These innovations have been especially welcome during the pandemic, as buyers have embraced virtual experiences to reduce in-person contact or shop from afar. Even as social distancing needs ease, expect these virtual selling tools to continue, particularly as Millennials and Gen Z become the chief buying demographic.
Using CGI tools provides for easier product swaps, as well. If products are discontinued or trends change over the course of a multi-year community build, they can be easily switched out in the virtual tours and renderings. It also allows builders to adjust and re-use the virtual models in other communities.
Virtual walk-throughs using computer-generated images immerse the buyer in the experience similar to touring a model home in person—they can spin around, “walk” from room to room, zoom in, learn more about features and products, and even swap out colors and materials.
You can experience this type of technology for yourself at Show Village during the upcoming International Builders’ Show. In addition to in-person tours, visitors near and far can tour the two demonstration homes via an “Immersive Home Experience” on their laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Virtual host “James” will point out key features, and visitors can click on icons for more details on various products and design elements.
The advantages don’t just benefit large builders and developers. For smaller operations selling small communities of semi-custom homes, virtual models can provide much-needed marketing relief and help sell the home before it’s completed, providing time to make changes to suit each buyer’s preferences.
For custom builders, renderings and CGI help buyers visualize how certain design decisions will impact the look and livability of their home. For example, Masulis used CGI to design his own kitchen remodel, and experimenting with the colors made him realize that the all-white cabinets he’d planned needed some balance with wood grain or color on the island. (See a similar process for yourself with Boral Building Products’ Virtual Remodeler tool.)
This type of visualization provides tremendous power for builder and buyer alike. By leveraging the capabilities of CGI and virtual selling tools, builders can not only more effectively sell, but can bring welcome confidence to customers that they’ll be getting the home they envision and the home of their dreams.
As we embark on a new year, some familiar stories are influencing home and remodeling trends. Most notably, the pandemic, with homeowners continuing to fill their stay-at-home time with projects inside and out. Supply chain and labor challenges persist, but aren’t stopping building pros and DIYers alike from creating beautiful spaces to live and work.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest trends in home exteriors this year:
1. Remodeling Reigns
The combination of the pandemic and low new-home inventory continues to drive interest in remodeling projects, despite ongoing supply chain challenges. Everything is on the table, including exterior revitalization and interior overhauls. On the exterior, homeowners tired of looking at faded, dated facades are replacing siding with authentic-looking profiles and trendy-but-resale-friendly colors. Alternatively, they’re adding easy upgrades such as new shutters, gable vents, and mounting blocks for a quick-but-impactful refresh.
2. Outdoor Living Going Strong
Not surprisingly, the trend toward outdoor living spaces endures, as Americans seek to expand the livable footprint of their homes, crave places of respite, and desire more space to entertain. And they’re looking for the comforts they enjoy indoors to be available outside, from stylish seating areas to outdoor heaters to decked-out kitchens and TVs.
When planning the outdoor space, look for ways to create designated areas, whether via multi-level decks or by creating visual breaks with different color deck boards used as picture framing or dividers. Fire pits or fireplaces are a must-have and can be dressed up with less hassle and lower costs by using a panelized stone product.
3. Modern & Contemporary Looks
Modern styles or contemporary twists on traditional styles continue to come on strong, and are migrating from the coasts to some traditional markets in the Midwest. Think single-sloped roofs, clean lines, and less ornamentation. Part of these trending looks includes the move toward black window frames, black stone accents, and black or dark-colored trim, often paired with white siding. (TruExterior poly-ash trim is a great option for this trend, as it can be painted dark colors, even black, without worry.)
Even in areas like Charleston, S.C., where traditional styles are beloved (and often mandated), small contemporary touches are appearing, including dark trims, dark stone, and black gutters. But here, traditional siding colors of light blues and neutrals remain the norm.
Within this trend, mitered corners are growing in popularity, providing the crisp, sleek look that works well with contemporary designs or provides a nod to modern. TruExterior works well here, too, because there’s less worry about cracking and splitting, so the look stays clean over time.
4. Modern Farmhouses Are Still In
Despite some predictions, social media and community models are still dominated by interpretations of the modern farmhouse look. Along with white, vertical siding, we’re seeing wood accents that are helping to keep the styles warm and cozy.
5. Vertical Siding
Not surprisingly, the modern farmhouse craze has driven interest in vertical siding for other types of homes, as well, especially in accent gables. Board-and-batten is taking market share from shake in some traditional regions.
6. Low Maintenance
When it comes to product durability, the desire for low maintenance materials remains strong. Homeowners are willing to pay a little more for products that don’t require frequent upkeep that costs them time and money year after year. This includes turning to siding alternatives that look like wood but don’t require regular painting or staining.
7. Easy Installation
As labor shortages persist, and as stuck-at-home homeowners tackle DIY projects on their own, products that can be installed quickly and easily will continue to hold favor. For example, Versetta Stone panelized stone siding installs with nails or screws without sacrificing the sought-after look of stone, making it an easy option for exterior siding, interior accent walls, and fireplace surrounds.
With a portfolio of siding, trim, and accessory brands, Boral Building Products makes it easy to respond to the trends in your market. Learn more here.
Three major paint manufacturers—Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, and Behr—have released their 2022 Colors of the Year. Surprisingly, all three are various shades soothing, subtle greens. Less surprising are the common adjectives and themes that guided their selections, with words like “calm,” “fresh,” “cool,” “peace,” and “hope.” After two years of the pandemic, the trending color palettes reflect not only our collective need to create a peaceful sanctuary at home, but also infuse modern creativity to find our passions and move forward.
Here’s a closer look at the three color palettes.
2022 Colors of the Year
Benjamin Moore named October Mist as its Color Of the Year 2022. “The gently shaded sage quietly anchors a space, while encouraging individual expression through color,” the company says.
October Mist is one of 14 hues in a palette the company calls, “harmonious yet diverse, reliable yet whimsical, and meditative yet eclectic.” The collection includes luminous pales such as Hint of Violet and Quiet Moments, botanicals like Pale Moon, and refreshed primaries such as Wild Flower.
Sherwin-Williams’ Color of the Year 2022 is Evergreen Fog, a simple but sophisticated green-gray that the company describes as soothing and subtle. “Get a fresh start with a restorative shade that breathes freshness into modern interiors,” the manufacturer says.
Behr’s Color of the Year—Breezeway—is “a silvery green shade with cool undertones,” the manufacturer describes. “The color is inspired by naturally stunning sea glass found on the shore of salty beaches. … It evokes feelings of coolness and peace while representing a desire to move forward and discover newfound passions.”
In its Color Trends 2022 Palette designed to inspire a hopeful start to the new year, Behr pairs Breezeway with 19 soothing shades and warm tones ranging from a muted clay-pink Sunwashed Brick to a bold terracotta red Perfect Penny.
Though the colors of the year tend to address interiors, it’s important to consider the flow from inside to out. Rather than strict lines between bold exteriors and relaxed interiors, a fluid progression is worth considering to ensure harmony as homeowners frequently blend indoor and outdoor living.
Ready to take advantage of the latest color trends? Boral Building Products’ exterior siding and trim products offer the perfect opportunity to incorporate similar hues to the Colors of the Year. Check out the range of muted neutrals available from Foundry Siding (like the Shakes pictured above), learn how Atlantic Shutters can be matched to nearly any color, and explore how TruExterior Siding & Trim can be painted any color, making it easy to respond to the latest preferences.
With construction going as strong as ever and labor shortages prominent around the country, slowing down for cold, wet weather isn’t always an option for many workers. Here are a few winter work gear picks to help keep you comfortable on the jobsite as the temps start to drop. (Disclaimer: Boral Building Products is not affiliated with the following companies and does not endorse the products.)
Insulated Bomber Jacket
New from Duluth Trading Co.’s 40 Grit brand, this bomber jacket is made with durable 9.9-ounce 100% cotton twill, a quilted insulated polyester lining, metal rivets at pressure points for added durability, and a ribbed collar, hem, and cuffs to keep out the cold. The jacket includes pen sleeves, snap-close handwarmer pockets, a utility chest pocket, and an inside pocket, along with a back loop for hanging.
Waterproof Work Boot
Combining durability and protection with cushioning and comfort engineering, CAT Footwear’s Accomplice X waterproof steel-toe work boots are ideal for everyday use, the company says. Features include a soft, breathable nylon mesh sock lining with pro-biotic odor control, a durable rubber outsole for traction, and Cement Construction for a durable-yet-lightweight feel.
Base Layer Pants
Designed for mild to cold conditions, Ergodyne’s N-Ferno 6481 Lightweight Base Layer Pants are made with lightweight, breathable stretch fabric to keep you warm without overheating and without a constricting or bulky feel. For added comfort, the pants also feature an elastic waistband, moisture-wicking technology, anti-odor technology, a breathable mesh fly, flatlock seams, and a tagless interior. The pants are machine washable.
Milwaukee Tool has launched the next generation of its M12 Heated ToughShell jackets. Powered by the company’s M12 RedLithium battery technology, Heated Gear distributes heat across body areas via carbon fiber heating elements woven in between exterior materials and thermal insulating liners. The new M12 Heated ToughShell features Stretch Polyester with 80% more stretch and five times longer life, offering better mobility and flexibility while being lightweight and comfortable. The new jacket heats up in 2.5 minutes and allows for battery placement in the front or back depending on the situation.
This hooded sweatshirt from Blaklader offers added warmth in high-vis yellow or orange. It features a large front pocket; interior phone pocket with zipper; a fixed, adjustable hood; and a ribbed hem. The sweatshirt includes reflective tape on the body, sleeves, and shoulders.
Winter Work Gloves
The Coldwork Original work glove from Mechanix is made with heavyweight fleece and C40 3M Thinsulate insulation, along with water-resistant SoftShell on the back to block out wind. The gloves’ palm side features synthetic leather with touchscreen-capable technology. Other details include a thermoplastic rubber closure for a secure fit and Armortex thumb saddle reinforcement. Five sizes are available.
This classic beanie from Dickies features a 4-inch fold-up cuff for a customizable fit. The hat is made with soft acrylic to trap heat and keep the head warm and comfortable. Fifteen colors are available, including neon yellow (shown), neon orange, black, brown duck, aged brick, oatmeal, and white.
Whether they own or rent, people want to be proud of where they live and feel good coming home. And whether it’s a custom single-family bungalow or a condo in a three-story multifamily building, first impressions are everything and comfort is paramount. Multifamily dwellers don’t want to sacrifice simply because they share walls and common areas—and savvy developers and builders are responding by paying closer attention to exterior facades and outdoor amenities.
Many trends trickle over from single-family design, and that’s certainly the case with the drive toward multi-textured facades. The days of building a 120-unit monotone apartment building with plain block under gray vinyl are fading fast. Like single-family homes, more multifamily properties are emerging with a blend of cladding materials and colors, such as stone and siding, EIFS and stone, or stone and brick. Leveraging multiple textures adds visual interest while adding dimension and differentiation between buildings, while accents and trimwork provide essential finishing touches. The resulting looks lean more home-like and comfortable instead of industrial and one-note.
Versetta Stone and TruExterior Siding offer an ideal combination for achieving these looks. Versetta Stone siding offers the look of stone but with a panelized format that installs like traditional siding along with a built-in rainscreen. Made with poly-ash technology, TruExterior Siding comes in a range of authentic profiles and can be painted any color, including dark hues that look great in multifamily buildings in urban or suburban areas.
Along similar lines, we’re seeing variation in dimension, with more balconies, decks, recesses, and bumpouts. Along with adding aesthetic appeal and differentiation, these features can help define individual units.
Because multiple materials also often means multiple trades, it increases the risk of failure in the wall system. Extra caution should be taken to ensure everyone works together and plans ahead collaboratively and schedules thoughtfully to ensure the integrity of the air and water barriers.
In fact, it’s wise to create a small-scale mockup, which will allow for more careful planning and upfront identification of problem areas.
COVID-19 lockdowns were harder on multifamily dwellers, who don’t have spacious yards to escape to, and further brought attention to the need to incorporate outdoor features into condo and apartment buildings. Creative incorporation through balconies, roof decks, courtyards, and pocket parks should be top of mind for builders, as the desire for these spaces isn’t likely to fade even as the pandemic does. Shared outdoor areas with fire pits and lounge seating are an ideal way to not only provide more room to move, but also build a sense of community that may keep tenants in place for longer.
The pandemic also saw a significant increase in pet ownership, so incorporating dog parks or dog-friendly areas also can be beneficial to residents and property managers alike.
On the transportation front, the impact of both electric bikes and electric cars shouldn’t be ignored. Consider not just space for bicycle parking, but covered areas that can protect electric bikes. And factor in spaces in your parking facilities that can accommodate car charging.
Fannie Mae expects the trends that helped multifamily turn around in 2021, following the impact of the pandemic, to continue elevating demand for the next five years. Ensure your properties are at the top of buyers’ and renters’ lists by keeping aesthetics, performance, and occupant comfort top of mind.
Creating multi-textured facades is easy with Boral Building Products’ portfolio of siding, trim, and accessory brands. Learn more here.
By now, many builders and remodelers have a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page, and perhaps a Twitter account. But should you be doing more to stay on trend?
We chatted with two contractors who are continually pushing the envelope on social media—one who’s grown to influencer status on Instagram and another who has built a massive follower base on TikTok—to see why they’re finding success staying on top of the hottest platforms.
Why Is Social Media Important for Construction Businesses
Remodeler Joe Danz, owner of Boston Exterior Remodeling, has become something of a star on Instagram, telling stories, posting his company’s work, and connecting with manufacturers. “Instagram really has changed the platform, how contractors in real time can show their work, show problem solving, show products,” Danz says. “People are really receptive to that because they enjoy content. Homeowners can see our page and know we’re serious about what we’re doing, that we’re craftsmen, that we take pride in what we’re doing.”
Danz says social media content also helps provide validation. “If someone is looking up ideas and they see the same company over and over, and their friends are following you, they start to vet you. It’s another form of word of mouth.”
In fact, Danz says social media has become an essential lead generator for the company. “I would say 60% of our business comes from social media at this point.”
Plus videos and imagery on social media also provide a more detailed look at quality and craftsmanship, allowing a remodeler to charge more for their work.
In this traditional Instagram post, Boston Exterior Remodeling showed in-progress and completed images of an 1870s Victorian featuring Boral’s Foundry Grayne siding in Rustic Slate (click to scroll through the album on Instagram).
Kyle Stumpenhorst, owner of Rural Renovators (aka RR Buildings) in Franklin Grove, Ill., has 1.7 million followers on TikTok, eschewing the notion that it’s an app for youth doing dances.
On the short-video app, participants use shared music and sounds (or their own original audio) to create content. While widely known for dances and music, it’s quickly become a place for education, demonstrations, and idea sharing. As a result, creative contractors, trades, and manufacturers in the building industry have been jumping on the trend.
Stumpenhorst uses the app from the jobsite to show craftsmanship and installation techniques, both in straightforward videos as well as leveraging the app’s unique features and trends.
“I just want to bring awareness to the trades, to cool tools, and overall post-frame construction,” he says.
Strategies for Social Media Success
For those just starting out on social, Danz encourages a jump-in-and-stick-with-it approach. “It doesn’t matter how many followers you have or how many likes you get,” he advises. “You just want to show your company in a good way. If you do that and stay with it, you’ll get noticed. It does validate your company.”
Danz also cautions that you need to enjoy doing social media to get the most success out of it. “What you put into it is what you get out of it.”
“I think a big reason for my success was consistently creating unique content that was positive and educational,” he adds. “People could learn something while also being inspired or motivated to do something themselves.”
Boston Exterior’s posts include tips and tricks, such as using the water tube approach to leveling:
The type of content varies greatly based on what your audiences respond to as well as the style of platform. For example, Instagram is great for showcasing finished projects or before-and-afters, and Instagram stories offer an opportunity for quick videos of your craftsmanship and process.
And showing the people doing the work is important, too. “They want to see the faces behind it, not just the pretty pictures,” Danz advises.
And, of course, creating pictorials of completed projects:
And be sure to adapt your content based on the unique features of the app. TikTok is a platform that thrives on using songs and keeping up with trends. Along with more traditional videos, RR Buildings makes videos to trending sounds or, in this case, playing on viewers’ love of “satisfying” sounds and actions while simultaneously showing its roofing prowess: https://www.tiktok.com/@rrbuildings/video/7025047484443397381
Like other platforms, TikTok is interactive and thrives on engagement, allowing viewers to comment, share, and even “duet” your videos to make them their own. You can respond to questions as a comment or with another video, as RR Buildings did here regarding its timber framing techniques: https://www.tiktok.com/@rrbuildings/video/6935528335183187206
Siding, trim, and accessories are designed primarily for the home exterior, but the properties that make some materials ideal for those traditional uses can sometimes carry over to benefit the inside of the house.
Consider these applications in which exterior materials can bring aesthetic or performance value on the inside of the home.
The beauty of a stone fireplace never falls out of favor, but installation challenges make it a prohibitive option for some projects. Panelized stone offers an easier path to creating eye-catching fireplace surrounds, combining the look and feel of stone with easy installation to deliver the dramatic look of a stone fireplace within reach.
For example, Versetta Stone panels install quickly without mortar and require no special tools. Each panel can be cut with a diamond blade and fastens to the wall with screws through the integrated nailing fin. As such, it does not require a mason for installation and can be installed by traditional siding contractors and carpenters.
The Northmade Farmhouse, shown below, features a soaring two-story fireplace made with Versetta Stone Ledgestone in the Mission Point colorway, perfect for the new home’s modern-farmhouse vibe.
Because the panelized stone eliminates the messiest parts of masonry installation—with no lath, no scratch coat, and no mortar—they’re particularly helpful for remodeling projects. Cut the panels outside and pass them through the window.
And while stone fireplace surrounds require an artisan’s touch to lay out the stones so they look perfect and fit well together, panelized stone comes pre-configured in beautiful, authentic patterns. Corner pieces also make it easy to create a clean, finished look.
Accents and Backsplashes
Panelized stone also can provide a lightweight solution for kitchen backsplashes, adding a more rustic look in contrast to the contemporary aesthetic of subway tiles.
The same opportunity can be found for creative accent walls—use the lightweight panels under or behind a home bar, add a cozy feel behind a freestanding tub, or create an eye-catching accent wall in the great room.
Bathroom Trim and Moulding
For wet areas such as the bathroom, cellular PVC trim provides a moisture-resistant option that will help avoid the potential for cracking, chipping, or even rot. Along with crown moulding, PVC beadboard, such as that from Kleer Lumber, is ideal for creating clean, crisp wainscoting. The material also resists dirt and is easy to wipe clean if needed.
Décor & Accessories
Even shutters can play a role in sprucing up the interior. A custom color such as that from Atlantic Premium Shutters or a reclaimed vintage piece can create a unique artpiece or be used to craft a one-of-a-kind mail holder.
Each May, some of the industry’s supply channel-focused publications release annual reports, listing the industry’s leading LBM dealers and distributors as well as the economic trends that have shaped their businesses the previous year.
This year saw the release of two new lists—the LBM Journal 100 and the Construction Supply 150 from Webb Analytics—which were published in May following one of the most unprecedented years in construction history. From the uncertainties at the onset of the pandemic to the housing and remodeling boom that soon followed to the supply and pricing challenges going on now, the building supply industry has been challenged in ways most had never seen before. And many dealers navigated extremely successfully.
Here are a few observations from LBM Journal and Webb Analytics for how dealers and distributors weathered 2020 and what trends are shaping up in 2021.
• Acquisitions continued: LBM dealers continued to scoop each other up. The most high-profile was Builders FirstSource purchasing BMC, growing from 440 locations to 550 locations in the process. But the moves weren’t limited to the big players, with dealers of all sizes taking advantage of opportunities to expand in size and geography via acquisition.
• Retail sales big, commercial suffers: With the surge in home improvement and DIY projects, it’s not surprising that home centers and dealers with heavy percentages of retail customers posted some of the biggest growth last year, as reported by the Construction Supply 150. Unfortunately, companies selling commercial-heavy inventories, such as steel studs and ceiling systems, saw declines. “It’s pretty clear that homebuilding will remain strong, and surveys suggest big-ticket remodeling will rebound as homeowners become less fearful of having remodelers working in their kitchens and baths,” Craig Webb wrote in the CS150.
In looking ahead to this year, a majority of CS150 respondents believe new construction and remodeling will continue to grow, but most expect retail sales, as well as multifamily and commercial, to remain the same.
• Labor remains a challenge: 77% of the LBM Journal 100 reported challenges with recruiting, hiring, and retaining employees, with drivers and yard workers the hardest-to-fill positions.
• The power of relationships: LBM dealers have always touted the importance of employees and customer relationships, but the pandemic drove that home even more. “The silver lining of the pandemic for us has definitely been relationships,” Charlie Parks, co-owner and vice president of Parks Lumber & Building Supply told LBM Journal. “We have developed stronger relationships with our customers, suppliers, and even with other supply houses in the area that we have done some dealing back and forth with during the shortage.”
• Installed sales: More than half of the Construction Supply 150 conduct installed sales. The most popular product categories include entry doors, cabinets, countertops, interior doors, and bathroom vanities.
• E-commerce expanding…slowly: The construction industry is notorious for slow adoption of technology, but the pandemic helped speed things along. LBM Journal found that while only 33% of leading dealers are offering online sales, 78% said online sales were significantly or slightly higher than the year before. As Webb noted in the Construction Supply 150, “true online shopping is unlikely to become ubiquitous until dealers figure out how to automatically adjust a price based on the customer.”
Outdoor living spaces are one of the biggest trends in home building and remodeling, and demand has only grown during the pandemic.
As the demand for outdoor living moves from growing trend to must-have status, simply adding on an ordinary deck isn’t going to be enough. Building pros can elevate outdoor spaces in numerous ways, and they don’t have to break the bank.
Here are a few simple and relatively inexpensive details to consider to add the finishing touch to your outdoor living spaces and take them to the next level.
Create Indoor-Outdoor Connections
Not every home can have an eight-panel opening glass wall, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create those connections that let in more light and expand the entertaining space.
As Andersen Windows points out in a recent article, the standard French patio doors with sidelight windows can easily be replaced by a small multi-panel door with one or two sliding panels, helping to expand the clear opening to preserve views and create that desired indoor-outdoor connection.
Another more budget-friendly option is to include pass-through windows to create an indoor-outdoor bar, such as this project by Denny Sturgis Construction.
Detail the Deck
No matter the size of the deck, there are a few simple strategies to make it look more finished and polished.
• Rather than leaving deck planks exposed, add fascia board around the perimeter to create a more finished look. TruExterior poly-ash trim can be painted or stained any color and can be used in contact with decking material.
• For composite decks, hidden fasteners cost a little more but make a big difference in the look and feel of the deck. For grooved-edge boards, clip-style hardware stays completely hidden; for face-fastening, a plug system is the most hidden option, or, at minimum, choose color-matched screws.
• Add flair to composite decks with inlays and picture framing. These techniques can be used to add a decorative perimeter, break up long expanses, or create an outline around different areas, such as a sitting area or outdoor kitchen.
• Don’t neglect lighting, which can add ambience, make the space safer, and extend its use later into the night and farther into colder months. Integrated post cap, railing, or stair lights can be easy and economical to add on or integrate.
• Add an accent wall or elevate the grill area with stone, such as panelized stone siding from Versetta Stone.
Amp up your outdoor buildings
A beautiful backyard can be the perfect spot for a studio, she shed, or ADU. But make sure it’s got style. A rickety wood shed or wobbly plastic structure can bring down the aesthetic of the whole outdoor space. Use real siding and trim, include accessories, and add landscaping.
This beautiful tiny house ADU by Koncept Design/Build, for example, looks just as good as a main house, with beautiful craftsmanship, on-trend black-framed windows and doors, and meticulous trimwork using TruExterior poly-ash trim
This garage/man cave by Adam Hass Fine Homebuilding also could pass for a main living space, with its traditional forms and well-thought-out details.
Even a storage shed can look a bit more refined, as seen with this example from Zuccon Works, which features richly colored siding and Kleer cellular PVC trim and window casings.
Don’t Neglect the Accessories
It’s easy to leave the aftermarket accessories up to the homeowner, but why not complete the look or at least show them how?
For example, this flower box made with Kleer Lumber PVC trim not only offers a cleaner, more stylish look than run-of-the-mill planters, it’s durable and can be used in contact with the ground without moisture concerns.
Kleer is also a fun choice for these Adirondack chairs. The teal offers a fun pop of color to the porch without too much commitment or concern over resale value.
And don’t forget to finish the porch. Here, installers used TruExterior Beadboard in a soft robin’s egg blue to add to the vintage vibe of this wide porch.
Post wraps, such as these from Kleer, are a simple way to enhance the porch or deck without adding extra maintenance needs.
Boral helps its customers Build something great™ by supplying them with high-quality, innovative, sustainable building products and construction materials. It is a purpose that mirrors the company’s 75-year history.
Founded in 1946 as Bitumen and Oil Refineries (Australia) Limited, Boral has become Australia’s largest construction materials and building products company with a global reach, a reach that includes Boral North America’s portfolio of category leaders across stone veneer, roofing, siding, heavy materials, windows, shutters, and trim. The company officially rebranded in 1963 to the BORAL acronym that had been commonly used since its beginning.
While Boral officially entered North America in 1979, many of the companies and brands that have since become part of Boral have longer histories here. For example, Cultured Stone began in 1962 when two brothers, Garrett and Floyd Brown, saw the need for a new kind of building material, one that resembled natural stone but was much lighter and would adhere to most surfaces.
This commitment to answering customers’ unmet needs and helping builders and other specifiers grow their business with new product and technology solutions remains an integral part of Boral. Customers and partners can see that innovation come to life at the Boral Discovery Center in San Antonio, Texas. Opened in 2016, the state-of-the-art Discovery Center is home to scientists and engineers keenly focused on developing the future of building materials.
Boral has been involved in many iconic building projects over the past 75 years, from the Sydney Opera House and Olympic stadium to the Fisherman’s Wharf Pier in San Francisco and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa, Florida, not to mention some of the most important projects of all — the places people call home.
Boral North America’s Brands
Boral North America comprises numerous product brands you sell every day:
Manufactured stone once again has shown its ability to recoup homeowners’ remodeling investment. According to the Remodeling 2021 Cost vs. Value Report, an annual study by Remodeling magazine, manufactured stone veneer offers a 92.1% return on investment. That ROI is second only to garage door replacement.
The Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares the average costs of 22 remodeling projects with the value those investments will retain at resale. The study looked at the cost recouped from replacing a 300-square-foot band of vinyl siding from the bottom third of a home’s front façade with manufactured stone veneer (such as Boral Building Products’ Versetta Stone), sills, corners, and address block.
Manufactured stone veneer’s place in the study is slightly down from 2020, where it reached No. 1 with an ROI of 95.6%. Still, manufactured stone was 20 percentage points higher than the third project on the list, minor kitchen remodel.
Along with manufactured stone and garage doors, exterior products dominated the top of the Remodeling 2021 Cost vs. Value Report list, claiming 11 of the top 12 spots: fiber cement siding replacement (69.4% cost recouped); vinyl window replacement (68.6%); vinyl siding replacement (68.3%); wood window replacement (67.4%); wood deck addition (67.4%); steel entry door replacement (65.0%); composite deck addition (63.2%); fiberglass grand entrance (60.9%); and asphalt shingle roof replacement (60.7%).
“The trend of exterior replacements outperforming larger discretionary remodeling projects has been accelerated, no doubt, by a year in which COVID has made people reluctant to have contractors inside their homes, but yearning to improve outdoor spaces,” the Remodeling editors said. “It’s been a year when we’d expect decks to reign supreme, but the data doesn’t track what’s most popular. The Cost vs. Value report tracks the ratio of value over cost for 22 common remodeling projects, and in that ratio lies the rub: Material costs, especially for decking and pressure-treated framing lumber, went through the roof in 2020, bringing down the return despite the project’s value.”
Manufactured Stone Delivers Most ROI in Two Regions
Manufactured stone maintains a similar level of ROI when broken down geographically, with 90% or more of cost recouped across all regions. In two regions, however, manufactured stone came out on top: West North Central (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri), with 94.1% ROI, and South Atlantic (Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida), with 94.1% ROI.
The NAHB recently released the 2021 edition of its “What Home Buyers Really Want.” The study, conducted after the pandemic began last year, surveyed 3,247 recent and prospective home buyers.
Here are some of the findings:
The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced some home buyers
Though the majority of buyers (67%) said the pandemic didn’t impact what they look for in a home, 21% indicated they desire a larger home because of it; the demand is higher for those with at least one teleworker and one virtual student.
The pandemic also increased preferences to buy in an outlying suburb from 26% in previous studies to 30% this year.
Home style preferences vary
In a new question this year, participants were shown pictures of four exterior designs. The NAHB reports that preferences are diverse, with no one style garnering a majority at a national or regional level. Traditional homes led the way with 32%, followed by Contemporary (24%), Transitional (16%), and Modern (14%). Traditional styling was the top option in all regions except the Pacific, where Contemporary came out on top.
Shift in new vs. resale preferences
The majority of respondents—60%—desire a new home, the largest percentage in 14 years. “The increase may be due in part to buyers’ concerns about touring occupied homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, the severe lack of inventory of existing homes on the market, and the higher likelihood that new homes are located where buyers want to buy—the suburbs,” the NAHB explained.
Most desired home features include a laundry room, exterior lighting, patios
Home buyers were given a list of more than 200 home features. Of those, the most desired elements were a laundry room (87%), exterior lighting (87%), ceiling fans (83%), Energy Star-rated windows (83%), and a patio (82%).
On the exterior, home buyers additionally ranked front porches (81%), rear porches (75%), and a deck (75%) high on the list.
For the greater community, survey respondents indicated they want walking/jogging trails, a “typically suburban” neighborhood, a park, proximity to retail, and walkability.
Among the features that 40% of respondents indicated they don’t want were elevators, glass walls, a community daycare center, a wine cellar, and a pet washing station.
Open layouts still in demand
Despite some speculation to the contrary, most home buyers still desire open layouts.
Green homes must have ROI
There was a significant difference between home buyers being concerned about the impact of their home on the environment (78%) and those (15%) willing to pay more for an environmentally friendly home. “However, significantly more buyers are willing to pay extra for a home if they understand it will lead to annual savings in utility costs,” the NAHB said. “In fact, 57% are willing to pay $5,000 or more, on top of the price of the home, in order to save $1,000 a year in utilities.”
The COVID-19 pandemic presented the building industry with a number of challenges, from initial closures to the cost of safety protocols. But as those issues have been addressed, one challenge continues on strong: price increases, particularly lumber costs.
The NAHB reports that lumber prices have risen a whopping 180% since last spring, resulting in an increase in the average single-family home price by more than $24,000.
“According to Random Lengths, the price of lumber hit a record high this week and is up more than 170% over the past 10 months,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke in a Feb. 12, 2021, statement. “NAHB is urging President Biden and Congress to help mitigate this growing threat to housing and the economy by urging domestic lumber producers to ramp up production to ease growing shortages and to make it a priority to end tariffs on Canadian lumber shipments into the U.S. that are exacerbating unprecedented price volatility in the lumber market.”
Luckily, for trim applications, builders and remodelers have several manmade alternatives that offer the authentic look of wood.
TruExterior Trim, for example, is made with a proprietary blend of polymers and fly ash. Fly ash is a byproduct of coal energy production, so it’s sourced near the manufacturing facility. And unlike wood, TruExterior Trim provides a high level of dimensional stability along with durability for resistance to warping, cracking, and splitting. It can be used in ground-contact applications.
Despite these distinct differences, TruExterior Trim offers the workability of wood, so it can be routed and milled into endless styles of decorative molding and trim.
Another wood-look alternative is Kleer Lumber trim (pictured above), made with expanded cellular PVC. Kleer trimboards resist moisture, insects, splintering, rotting, delamination, and swelling. Kleer trim can be installed in contact with the ground. Like TruExterior, it’s made in the USA in Westfield, Mass.
In addition to trim, TruExterior and Kleer can replace lumber for other non-structural applications such as flower boxes and pergolas.
Even though they spent much more time at home in 2020—and spent much of that time improving those homes—homeowners continue to have little desire to waste time cleaning, painting, and staining their exteriors.
In its recently released Q4 2020 Home Design Trends study, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) found low maintenance and durability to be the exterior detail homeowners were most interested in, with 62% of architects reporting increasing interest, nearly the same as the year before. (Data is calculated by the percentage of architects reporting “increasing” minus percentage reporting “decreasing.”) Products that offer the look of wood without the associated maintenance, such as TruExterior poly-ash siding, can combine authenticity and a natural look with high performance and resistance to rotting, warping, and cracking.
Though farther down the list, fire-resistive design and materials saw growing interest, with 32% of architects reporting increased popularity in 2020, up from 29% in 2019.
When it comes to home styles, contemporary looks were the most popular feature, with 50% of architects reporting popularity increasing, down slightly from 54% the year before. Modern Farmhouse saw a perhaps not surprising decline, with 33% of respondents reporting increasing popularity versus 41% in 2019.
Interest in front porches is growing, with 38% of architects seeing increasing popularity in 2020 compared to 31% the year before.
Among neighborhood/community options, infill housing was the most popular, with 61% of architects reporting increasing interest (slightly less than 64% the year before), followed by multi-generational housing, which rose sharply from 41% in 2019 to 54% in 2020. Also noteworthy was high-density housing, which plummeted from 55% of architects reporting increased interest in 2019 to just 34% in 2020. The dramatic drop may be a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, with homeowners desiring outdoor space and places to grow their own food.
In AIA’s Q3 2020 Home Design Trends study, the association reported a continued softening in home size, with -11% of architects reporting home square footage increasing minus those reporting it decreasing. Interest in larger homes dropped even farther, to -22%, for entry-level/affordable homes. Custom home sizes stayed steady.
And of course, outdoor living continues to be popular, with 53% of architects reporting increasing interest; however, there was a large drop versus 2019, when 68% reported increasing interest. Interest in blended indoor/outdoor spaces also hovers near 50%
The COVID-19 pandemic has touched many areas of the building industry, and the trim and moulding category is no exception. As a product that lends itself to quick yet dramatic facelifts, trim was an easy upgrade option for DIYers and pros alike as the pandemic shifted from closures and uncertainty last spring to a surge in demand for home improvement products and services.
What has this all meant for dealers? In its annual In Depth look at the trim category, LBM Journal explored the latest trends and what dealers can do to keep adapting in uncertain times.
Here are a few of their findings:
Trim Products Are Thriving Through the Pandemic
While the industry initially shut down in many areas, home improvement projects quickly ramped up as homeowners sought to complete long-neglected projects and spruce up their interiors and exteriors. Manufacturers told LBM Journal that the trim category is likely to continue to grow significantly in the next 12 months, a prediction backed up by the “2020-2025 Global Molding and Trim Market Report.” In addition, “according to a recent Bank of America poll about homeowners’ attitudes and shopping habits during coronavirus, more than 70% of those polled indicated they have decided to tackle home improvement projects, with more planned for 2021,” the magazine reported.
“As stay-at-home recommendations stretch through the winter, we expect the surge in demand to remain as homeowners continue to seek to make their homes their sanctuary and buyers scoop up new and existing homes that meet their changing lifestyle needs,” Boral Building Products Brand Manager Ben Drury told the magazine. “But lead times should continue to improve as manufacturers catch up, and supply challenges should ease.”
The trend toward dark trim colors remains strong. In addition, “there’s still a strong desire for multi-textured facades as well as contrasting siding and trim colors,” Drury said. “Both our [poly-ash] TruExterior Trim and [cellular PVC] Kleer Lumber trimboards are a perfect fit for those color combinations. TruExterior Trim’s poly-ash technology allows it to be painted any color, including black, so it’s perfect for the white-siding-with-dark trim trend.”
Bold colors are popping up on the interior, as well, manufacturers said.
The desire for Modern Farmhouse looks continues unabated in many areas of the country, leading to trim profiles that are more simple and clean in style, the article states.
Ease of Installation
The trend toward sprucing up homes in the pandemic has driven more LBM dealers to push installation-friendly options. LBM Journal cited consumer studies from The Farnsworth Group and the Home Improvement Research Institute reporting that 80% of homeowners had started a DIY home project by June of last year. Along with the simple fact that homeowners were stuck quarantining, they also are getting a confidence boost from online resources such as YouTube and Pinterest. Savvy dealers, even those that typically cater only to pros, have recognized this surging customer opportunity and have responded with increased support and product guidance.
Back to Basics
As we proceed through this year with a bit of caution, some manufacturers recommend that dealers stick to basic strategies, including taking advantage of educational resources for increasing foot traffic and visibility, diversifying your product lines to include alternative trim materials, and maintaining your knowledge base. “The best thing dealers can do for their customers is to be truly knowledgeable about the products they sell—and even those they don’t sell,” Drury told the magazine. “This will help ensure they can recommend to contractors the right solution to each project, making them even more valuable to those customers.”
And this includes taking advantage of ever-growing opportunities for virtual training sessions. To arrange for product knowledge and installation virtual training for Boral Building Products brands, including TruExterior and Kleer as well as siding brands like Versetta Stone and Foundry, contact us here.
All told, LBM Journal paints a positive picture for the year ahead: “When taken together, all of these changes and challenges point to an optimistic year for the moulding and trim industry,” they concluded. “Yes, LBM dealers will need to remain agile so that they can quickly adapt how they do business in response to any continued (or even new) restrictions from the continuing health crisis. But by staying atop training and education and by being prepared to meet the anticipated increasing demand for trim products by both pro and DIY customers, dealers will position themselves to reap the greatest gains.”
To read more trim trends and insights into today’s trim market, view the LBM Journal article in its entirety here.
Our lives have been forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, directly or indirectly, and home building and remodeling jobsites are no exception. As the pandemic unfolded last year, tackling safety on the jobsite quickly became paramount to continuing to work, and many building professionals had to implement at least some COVID safety best practices, depending on local requirements, from social distancing to PPE to limiting the number of workers on site at a time.
Here’s an overview of the latest recommendations—and some insights from the field.
The Official Word on COVID Safety
The Centers for Disease Control’s page dedicated to construction workers and safety best practices during COVID-19 is continually updated as new information comes in, as methods of protection change, and as we continue to learn more about how the virus works. OSHA also continues to maintain a detailed page chock full of COVID worker safety information to help you conduct a job hazard analysis and make decisions on best practices for workers.
These conversations and decisions must be made daily for everyone’s safety, particularly because, as Professional Builder reports, construction workers are one of the highest groups of people who get COVID—even higher than healthcare workers. In addition, a large percentage of construction workers intend to refuse the vaccine.
Along with keeping workers safe on the job, taking precautions also sends a visual message to clients that we’re doing everything we can to operate safely in every capacity.
As the vaccine rolls out slowly across the country, it may become a requirement by your employer that you get the COVID vaccine to continue going to your workplace—that includes people in the building industry. Regardless, until more people have been vaccinated and we eventually reach “herd immunity,” COVID safety measures must continue to be taken wherever and whenever possible, particularly if you have workers who do not wish to get vaccinated.
COVID Jobsite Best Practices
A year into these changes, most builders and remodelers have adopted best practices and procedures to keep team members safe and ensure their companies are in compliance with local requirements.
Joe Danz of Boston Exterior Remodeling is not only a home remodeling professional, he’s a former nurse, so he’s taken COVID seriously from the start. Danz says he takes a customized approach to each jobsite and situation. Early on, he found problems in requiring complete PPE when it wasn’t necessarily needed—his workers generally stay a safe distance apart while working together anyway. In some cases, the suggested protection could do more harm than good. “If [workers] have a mask on and wear glasses or need to put on safety goggles, the lenses can fog up, which can be dangerous,” said Danz. “So instead we keep workers separate, a safe distance apart. Fortunately, on exterior projects like ours, that’s usually easy to do.”
Whenever workers are physically close together, he does make sure they are masked. “There’s a margin of tolerance we have with making people safe. The optics can be important to our clients. It’s a balancing act.” To that end, Danz puts on his mask and shield before meeting with clients and texts them to let them know he has arrived so they can meet him outside where there is fresh air. He maintains a safe distance from clients even with the PPE on so they feel reassured.
Danz has implemented other safety procedures to serve as a daily reminder that compliance is necessary—but uses common sense as to whether or not every single measure is warranted. For example, in the early months, he instituted a sign-in sheet procedure where each worker has to state at the start of each day that they feel physically well and that they have a normal temperature before they can start working. This requirement has lessened as his team knows the drill—and knows not to show up for work if they feel sick or have a temperature. Knowing your clients and thinking about how many workers are on the job and where they will be placed while working is a key part of using your best judgment. “We definitely make sure to use the sign-in sheet on big jobs where there will be a lot of people, including inspectors,” Danz says.
Boston Exterior also added a foot-operated hand-washing station when possible, or at minimum a hand sanitizing station with sanitizer, paper towels, and buckets to ensure hands stay clean.
No matter what, all building professionals should refer to the requirements of their local jurisdictions and follow procedures as required, as they vary greatly from area to area.
One growing issue is “COVID fatigue,” something building companies must tackle if they want to continue to keep their teams safe. The NAHB expressed concerns about this phenomenon in January, Builder magazine reported, and pushed for a second safety stand-down (the first was held last April) to keep best practices top of mind. If your company wasn’t able to participate, NAHB offers guidance and steps here. The association provides additional resources on its website, including a downloadable jobsite safety poster.
COVID-related best practices for worker safety are here to stay—at least for the time being. Many of these changes are easy to implement and smart, regardless of COVID. Studies have found that other illnesses like the flu sharply declined this season, and regular hand washing, social distancing whenever possible, and wearing masks have helped spur that trend.
Depending on the willingness of your workers to get vaccinated and the changing nature of the virus, safety measures like this may need to be in place permanently to help keep workers from making each other sick with any type of illness. For your safety, the safety of your clients, and the safety of your workers, staying consistent with COVID-smart practices on the jobsite is good for everyone.
One of the most fun reveals at the end of each year are the various Colors of the Year announcements from manufacturers and color experts. They’re a unique reflection of the current moods of the populace and perhaps also a nudge toward where we expect to be headed in the coming 12 months.
This year was no exception, as three of the major Color of the Year announcements seemed to deliver on a similar theme of calm, hope, and grounding.
Here’s a look at the colors, what they symbolize, and how you can leverage them on your homes.
2021 Colors of the Year
For only the second time in 22 years, Pantone selected two Colors of the Year: Ultimate Gray (17-5104) and Illuminating (13-0647). The two hues “highlight how different elements come together to support one another,” the company says. “Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, the union of Pantone 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and Pantone 13-0647 Illuminating is one of strength and positivity. It is a story of color that encapsulates deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the promise of something sunny and friendly.”
Sherwin-Williams named Urbane Bronze (SW 7047 (245-C7)), a rich, enveloping gray-brown, its Color of the Year. “Nature at its simplest and most elemental—embodying the richness of the Earth’s stone, metal, and wood—forges a feeling that’s grounded, meditative, and serene,” the paint manufacturer describes. “Let a color rooted in nature create a feeling of calm and bring all you cherish together.”
Paint manufacturer Benjamin Moore went for a richer neutral as well with its selection of Aegean Teal 2136-40, “a blend of blue-green and gray … an intriguing midtone that creates natural harmony,” as its Color of the Year. The hue, along with the other colors in the company’s Color Trends 2021 Palette, celebrates the simple pleasures of home, eliciting a feeling of calming positivity that embraces the viewer in its warmth. The aesthetic feels traditional but much more modern in tone.
“Every year, the Colors of the Year reflect what’s happened over the past 12 months, and that is very apparent in this year’s selections,” says Trisha Wagner, National Accounts Manager for Boral Building Products. “People have changed a lot in how they view their surroundings; it’s taken a turn from looking at home from outside in. And these colorscapes demonstrate that.”
How to Apply Trending Colors to the Home Exterior
Wagner points out that home aesthetics are no longer just about curb appeal. With the pandemic, home is also a workspace, vacation space, and much more—so how colors live is important. They need to be much more fluid, with a flow from inside to out, rather than a bold exterior color with a more neutral interior or vice versa.
Trending colors have a feel of the “new neutral,” with a natural tone but with a richness that keeps them feeling modern. In siding, Foundry’s Deep Granite color is one example.
“When I look at new construction projects, it’s not just siding and stone; it’s shake in the gable, multiple textures, but they’re all tonal. Texture and color fold and weave into this calm, serene space,” says Wagner. “It’s the same on the interior. We’re seeing less of the stark contrast, such as a single accent wall in a bold red. It’s more of a blend. It’s not just about one room, it’s about the palette throughout the home.”
There’s still a place for bold, but there’s an elegance to it. The bright red is still around, but in a deeper, earthier version that feels calm instead of overpowering. On the exterior, a neutral palette may pair with black-framed windows or a half wall of Versetta Stone’s Northern Ash hue. “That’s the foundation for some of these modern neutrals. We’re not going back to the boring hues. These are elevated, richer, calmer,” Wagner explains.
The Colors of the Year themselves can be easily weaved into a front door, shutters, and other accents, areas that showcase a trend without having to make a dramatic change.
“Colors are an absolute reflection of where we are this year,” Wagner says. “Color inspires. We shouldn’t be afraid of it, but it has to work with you.”
Ready to take advantage of the latest color trends? Atlantic Shutters can be matched to nearly any color, offering a perfect opportunity to incorporate similar hues to the Colors of the Year. And TruExterior Siding & Trim can be painted any color, making it easy to respond to the latest preferences.
If not for the parking lot out front and its multiple front doors, it would be hard to tell that the Chippewa County Family Project Teen Foster Home is anything more than a traditional residence. And that’s just the idea.
From inside to out, the 5,500-square-foot house in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is designed to be welcoming for children in the foster care system, just like a permanent home would be.
“The committee wanted the kids to feel like they have a home, that they’re not just being placed in another facility,” notes Dan Arbic, owner of Arbic Construction in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
Inside, the house is divided into two sides, one for boys and one for girls. Each side has six bedrooms and three bathrooms, a kitchen, and common areas. In the center are offices and a living space for the house parent.
Arbic also owns a cabinet company, and he put those skills to work creating custom cabinetry and an upgraded hardwood trim package that ensured a cozy warmth to further the home-like feel. In developing the interior, the committee sought the input of local high school students, ensuring that not just adult perspectives were considered.
On the building’s exterior, the mission continued with an elevation, lines, and styling similar to traditional homes. The façade features all of the current trends, including a soft gray and blue color palette with robust white accents, and a varied façade. Horizontal siding on the lower walls combines with vertical siding on the second level, highlighted by eye-catching blue accent walls and gables clad in Foundry shakes.
Tapered columns wrapped in bright white Kleer PVC trim and warm stone flank the trio of entrances. The bright white trim is featured throughout the façade, including around the windows.
Foundry Siding was chosen in part for its ease of installation during the winter construction window; the material stays pliable, even in colder temperatures, ensuring fast installation.
The contractor also was able to perfectly coordinate the color with the rest of the exterior siding.
The winter installation also typically doesn’t bode well for keeping trim in pristine condition, but because Kleer trimboards feature TruEDGE technology, they resist dirt and are easy to clean. Plus, Kleer trimboards are wrapped in small-quantity KleerPaks to ensure they stay looking like new from the lumberyard to the jobsite to the walls.
“Foundry was easy to install, and it locked in a lot better,” Arbic says. “And Kleer, in its packaging, we received it without defects or scratches.”
This was Arbic’s first time using Foundry and Kleer, and based on experiences with other products, he had expected to have to replace some of the siding and trim due to expansion as the colder temperatures and clouds gave way to warmer sun. Instead, “We didn’t have to replace a stitch of trim,” he recalls. “Same thing with the siding—we had zero problems. It went up easy, even though it was no more than 25 degrees when we installed it. Nothing broke, nothing chipped.”
For Arbic, the ease of installation and the discovery of a new go-to exterior material was merely a bonus on top of a fulfilling project that involved so many within the community as they came together to support the needs of local teens.
industry has continued to navigate life during the COVID-19 pandemic, masks and
temperature checks on jobsites have become the norm as face-to-face sales calls
and travel to trade shows have disappeared. But with many projects still moving
forward, in some cases with more urgency than before the pandemic, what hasn’t
changed is the need to stay educated on new products, selling strategies, and
installation best practices.
Luckily, manufacturers, publications, and other entities in the construction industry have adapted fast, and there are ample virtual learning opportunities to learn via computers and tablets.
addition, here are some virtual learning options you can take advantage of now
and in the near future:
ProTradeCraft This robust online learning portal isn’t new, and it’s chock full of videos and podcasts covering construction best practices, from detailing siding to building high-performance walls. You’ll find content from the site’s team of experts as well as product knowledge and installation sessions from manufacturers.
The Weekly The folks behind Pro Builder and Pro Remodeler magazines stream a new video series each week, interviewing building pros of all types on everything from modular homes to recruiting strategies to Facebook marketing.
The Remodeling Show Reimagined (Nov. 16-18) In its new virtual space, this year’s Remodeling Show is focusing on both business and installation topics. Live and on-demand sessions include a state of the industry, kitchen design trends, creating transitional trim details, digital marketing, lead generation, window installation, and much more.
LBM Sales Podcast Dealers can brush up on their sales strategies with LBM Journal and sales trainer Rick Davis, a longtime contributor to the magazine. Not only will Davis share his expertise, but also sales strategies from LBM leaders as well as experts from outside the industry.
NAHB Online Learning The association’s new portal features live and on-demand courses, on-demand modules, and live and recorded webinars. Tracks include business management, building techniques, architecture and design, land development, project management, trends, and sales and marketing.
NKBA Webinars Hone your kitchen and bath design chops with the association’s lengthy list of live and recorded webinars. Topics range from a broad look at trends to details such as bio-adaptive lighting.
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.
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.
Both Kleer and TruExterior offer easy workability for a range of uses, from traditional trim applications and decorative millwork to pergolas and flower boxes.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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:
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 comes pre-primed and ready to paint any color, so these bright blues and reds will last.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
• 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.
Click here to see more exterior project inspiration featuring TruExterior Siding.
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:
The brand-loyal multifamily with room for the whole flock:
The cozy cottage with on-trend outdoor living space:
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.
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.
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.
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
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 Homebuildingcontinued its mission to #KeepCraftAlive.
• 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
• 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.
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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
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.
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 Beadboard cuts and fastens with standard tools and can be installed in direct contact with the ground, masonry, and other potentially wet surfaces.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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).
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.
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.
• 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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’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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
industry where you put as much effort in as you get out,” Danz says. “I was
really drawn to that. I still am.”
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.”
• 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.”
• 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.”
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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%).
To see the
full AIA Home Design Trends survey, including an archive of previous quarterly
results, click here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Combining Versetta Stone and Grayne engineered siding with a unique porch roof adds visual interest to this seemingly simple, smaller home.
Bumpout accents with TruExterior siding and stone block set this home apart from the plain stucco next door.
Foundry siding combines with rich stone and gable accents to evoke a cozy vibe.
Vertical and horizontal TruExterior siding, along with cedar-like shakes, create a visual feast across this all-white exterior.
Versetta Stone in the Ledgestone profile plays both a primary and secondary role in this exterior by Canadian Stone Interiors.
When used well, bold colors can add a tasteful pop of life to a home’s exterior. When used poorly, you can end up attracting negative attention.
Here are five tips from Trisha Wagner, senior product manager and an authority on color at Boral Building Products, to ensure your use of bold is gorgeous, not gaudy.
1. The best place for bold color is in a home’s decorative details
While it always depends on the house, bold colors are generally best used in a home’s accents, such as the shutters and front door. It’s one of the fastest ways to have a large impact and can completely transform a home’s look and feel. Even better, these details are often the easiest—and most affordable—to change later with either a fresh coat of paint or replacement.
2. Remember to coordinate One of the first things to consider when picking bold accents is the home’s siding color. You want to select accent colors, such as on the trim, shutters, and front door, that work well with the siding, so consult the color wheel for reference. As explained on Color Matters, “color harmony” can be achieved by choosing analogous colors (three colors side by side on the wheel) or complementary colors (directly opposite each other on the wheel). This can be especially helpful in moving beyond traditional colors. For example, instead of the typical pale yellow, try a deep maize yellow paired with red, coral, or cobalt accents.
3. Pay attention to the entire home exterior The front of the home isn’t the only area people see. Don’t forget to decorate the back and sides of a house, particularly since outdoor living is more important to buyers than ever before. A bare side or rear home exterior looks and feels unfinished; shutters and accents on these walls will add dimension and complete the look.
4. Find what works for you If clients are uncertain about incorporating bolder colors, encourage them to experiment with different tones before making their final selection. If a home’s style doesn’t support shutters, consider using just a bold trim color. You can also soften a home’s look by pairing white or cream trim with one or two bold accents. For a less-permanent option, incorporate bold colors into the landscape design, such as bright-red or -purple flowers and plants, a jewel-toned bird bath, or even a painted fence.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Professional Builder: The New American Home
Always a show-stopper, this year’s demonstration home boasts jaw-dropping views and an outdoor living area that rivals Sin City’s hottest rooftop bars.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
• 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.
• 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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 email@example.com.
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.”•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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”