How Renderings and CGI Can Assist in Home Marketing and Sales

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.

Rendering featuring TruExterior 6" Nickel Gap Siding painted dark grey, TruExterior 6" Nickel Gap siding painted red, and Versetta Stone panelized stone siding (Tight-Cut profile in Terra Rosa).
Rendering featuring TruExterior 6″ Nickel Gap Siding painted dark grey, TruExterior 6″ Nickel Gap siding painted red, and Versetta Stone panelized stone siding (Tight-Cut profile in Terra Rosa).

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.

Rendering featuring 7" Foundry Split Shake siding in Eggshell 034, green vinyl lap siding, Versetta Stone panelized stone siding in Tight-Cut Sand, and Mid America three- and five-board spaced shutters in Tuxedo Grey 018.
Rendering featuring 7″ Foundry Split Shake siding in Eggshell 034, green vinyl lap siding, Versetta Stone panelized stone siding in Tight-Cut Sand, and Mid America three- and five-board spaced shutters in Tuxedo Grey 018.

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.

Rendering featuring Versetta Stone panelized stone siding (Tight-Cut profile in Northern Ash) and TruExterior poly-ash siding (6” Channel Bevel and 10” Nickel Gap).

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. 

For more information on RM Design Studio, visit their website at www.rmdesignstudio.com

Whether in renderings or in person, Boral Building Products’ portfolio of siding, trim, and accessory brands offer a diversity of styles to meet the needs of your buyers and communities.

7 Exterior Trends for 2022

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.

Video: Fine Homebuilding Transforms 80-Year-Old Home With Energy, Aesthetic Upgrades

TruExterior Siding on Fine Homebuilding remodeled show house

Fine Homebuilding magazine recently completed its 2020-2021 demonstration home, the magazine’s first remodeled show house, in Greenwich, Conn. The 80-year-old house underwent a transformation that included a dramatic modernization in style and a deep energy retrofit.

Fine Homebuilding, TruExterior Siding, poly-ash siding, Channel siding, Shiplap siding

The team updated the home’s layout, opening it up inside and infusing it with a Scandinavian-inspired aesthetic. The team tackled the homeowners’ desire for high performance through a range of details, including air-sealing, insulation, and mechanical systems, with a goal of net-zero energy and Passive House performance.

The original cedar exterior was transformed by TruExterior Shiplap Channel siding in a vertical orientation and painted in Benjamin Moore’s Glacier White to complete the Modern Farmhouse look. TruExterior’s reversible Shiplap-Nickel Gap profile provides a finishing touch on the gable around the balcony door and on the porch ceiling.

Porch of Fine Homebuilding show house featuring TruExterior poly-ash siding

“TruExterior is really unlike any other siding or trim material on the market,” said Fine Homebuilding’s Justin Fink. “It cuts and handles just like wood, but it’s more durable, more temperature stable than PVC, and it takes paint beautifully.”

See the façade installation in this short video:

The façade also features Eldorado Stone masonry veneer installed over a fluid-applied weather-resistive barrier.

TruExterior poly-ash siding and Eldorado Stone on Fine Homebuilding's Connecticut remodel

See all of the building science and aesthetic details of the Fine Homebuilding House to learn on the show home’s website.

TruExterior poly-ash siding on Fine Homebuilding's Connecticut remodel

Soothing Greens Emerge as 2022 Colors of the Year

Behr Color of the Year 2022

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.

Benjamin Moore Color of the Year 2022, October Mist
Image courtesy Benjamin Moore

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.

Sherwin-Williams Color of the Year 2022, Evergreen Fog
Image courtesy Sherwin-Williams

Evergreen Fog pairs well with nature-inspired hues like Urbane Bronze (the manufacturer’s 2021 Color of the Year), Uber Umber, and Woven Wicker for a modern, organic feel.

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.”

Behr Color of the Year 2022, Breezeway
Image courtesy Behr

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.

Foundry Shakes
Foundry Shakes

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.

7 Winter Work Gear Picks for 2021-2022

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.

Duluth Trading Co. bomber jacket

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.

CAT Footwear waterproof work boot

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.

Ergodyne base layer pants, winter work wear

Heated Jackets

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.

Milwaukee M12 heated jacket

Hi-Vis Hoodie

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.

Blaklader high-vis hooded sweatshirt

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.

Mechanix Coldwork Original work gloves

Knit Beanie

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. 

Dickies knit beanie, winter work gear

Trends in Multifamily Exteriors

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.

Multi-Textured Facades

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.

Three-story multifamily

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.

Versetta Stone on multifamily building

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.

Three-story contemporary multifamily building

Outdoor Amenities

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.

How Contractors Can Leverage Instagram and TikTok

Boston Exterior Remodeling

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:

Also, revealing new approaches, including this use of Kleer PVC trim:

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:

Like Boston Exterior, RR Buildings also seizes the opportunity to showcase its attention to detail and expert craftsmanship (click to play):

And within that, tool tests, as shown while Stumpenhorst was installing Boral’s Versetta Stone siding:

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:

@rrbuildings

Installing the standing seam panels… no visible fasteners #tight #satisfying #ceoofconstruction #metalroof #metalart

♬ original sound – RR Buildings

Equipment manufacturer Doosan is an expert at this, choreographing its machines and people to the tune of trending songs, as seen here:

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:

Love social media? Be sure to follow Boral Building Products on Facebook and Instagram. And check out our 11 exterior brands at www.boralbuildingproducts.com.

Outside and In, Dallas-Area Wedding Venue Balances Rustic and Modern

There’s perhaps no better origin story for a wedding venue than one that begins with its own proposal and labor of love.

Jim and Debra Scano were strolling the land they had owned since 2015. Jim knew he wanted to build something near the pond, and Debra suggested he design them a place to get married. And thus Bella Terra was born.

The stunning venue, located in Gunter, Texas, near Dallas, blends the aesthetics and amenities of a barn setting with an elegant flair and modern sensibilities. Along with the interior volumes one would expect, catering to more intimate gatherings of 150-200 people, the barn offers about 2,000 square feet of porches, providing ample space to move around, find respite, and take in the serene surroundings.

The nearby pond is nestled among gentle rolling hills, a rarity in this typically flat region. They designed the venue to be more wide than tall so as not to disrupt the landscape that inspired its creation. 

Bella Terra stands out from other venues in its appearance, as well. The building eschews the typical red or white color tones for a subtle gray replicated from a barn the Scanos had seen in Vermont that was clad in rough-sawn pine and stained.

The path to achieving the look wasn’t initially easy: They originally used wood siding with stain, but after a year the boards began cupping, warping, and coming off the building. The Scanos searched for a better solution, then set aside two months in early 2021 to re-side the entire exterior.

Jim knew they needed a more robust option, but was grappling with how to achieve the same look as the failing wood—after all, couples had booked the venue based on images and site visits, so a drastic change in appearance could be disastrous. After some research, he found TruExterior Siding from Boral Building Products, a Westlake company, and requested samples from their local rep. Jim tried some techniques and was able to match the look of the wood by spraying on medium brown paint, which mimicked the look of a stain, and then dry-brushing on gray paint.

“Because TruExterior has texture, it took to that really well,” Jim says. “You have to have the highs and lows, so it takes paint a certain way to leave some of the brown behind.”

And while the painted 10-inch Nickel Gap replicated the authentic original look, TruExterior Siding helped ensure the performance issues wouldn’t be repeated. Made with proprietary poly-ash technology, the siding resists rot, decay, and insects while ensuring long-term performance with low maintenance.

“Changing the siding and finding a new solution was such a huge stress,” Jim says. “So far, I couldn’t be more satisfied with the results.”   

Jim’s attention to detail carries throughout the venue. He built the wood bar himself, as well as the chandeliers, helping to save on budget while achieving the form and function required of the vast space. Elegant, contemporary fixtures in the bathrooms, clean lines throughout, and black-framed windows balance the more traditional wood beams and knotty pine walls to achieve the ideal blend of rustic and modern sought after by Dallas brides.

The result is a true labor of love—and, as envisioned, Jim and Debra were the first to be married at Bella Terra when it opened in February 2019.

Explore TruExterior Siding & Trim at truexterior.com. Learn more about Bella Terra at bellaterravenue.com.

Architects: Outdoor Living, Home Offices, and Low Maintenance Are Must-Haves for Homeowners

TruExterior poly-ash siding, low-maintenance siding

It’s likely of little surprise to anyone that the latest American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey reveals that two of the most popular features for today’s homeowners, by a large margin, are outdoor living spaces and home offices.

In its recently released Q3 2020 Home Design Trends study, the AIA reported that within the “special function rooms/areas” category, outdoor living not only led the way, but grew since last year, with 70%  of architects reporting increasing interest compared to 61% the year before. Very close behind were home offices, with 69% of architects indicating increasing interest, which was 1 percentage point higher than 2020.

These two features far outpaced other options on the list, including “multiple offices/zoom room/space for virtual meetings” (48%), flex space (46%), and an au pair/in-law suite (42%).

Elsewhere in the survey, “low maintenance” led the Products category, with 54% of architects indicating increasing interest, down 2 percentage points from last year. (Seeking to capitalize on this trend? Check out our TruExterior Siding & Trim, which offers the authentic look of wood without the moisture and maintenance concerns.) This was followed by smart thermostats (52%) and synthetic materials (48%). Farther down the list, infrared heaters, a hot item for those looking to extend the livability of outdoor living spaces into colder months due to the pandemic, saw a big jump from 10% in 2020 to 37% in 2021.

Under technology, the survey saw a surge in interest in several categories: electric car docking stations, which jumped from 62% in 2020 to 74% in 2021; technology-friendly systems, which increased from 53% to 62%; back-up power generation, which soared from 46% to 60%; and solar panels, which saw the most dramatic change, from 37% in 2020 to 54% in 2021.

Visit the Q3 AIA Home Design Trends Survey to see all of the results, previous survey categories from this year, and an archive of past surveys.

Create Board-and-Batten Siding Looks With TruExterior Trim

Board-and-batten siding, TruExterior Siding, exterior trends, poly-ash siding

Whether a Modern Farmhouse design or creating accents on a gable, board-and-batten is one of the hottest trends in home exterior design. And it’s easy to create the board-and-batten look using just TruExterior Trim. Not only does TruExterior’s poly-ash formula deliver the ideal combination of authentic looks and high performance, TruExterior installs with ease and can be painted any color.

Here’s how to create the coveted board-and-batten look using TruExterior Trim:

• Due to the vertical installation, be sure to use a drainable housewrap between the siding and the wood sheathing to ensure moisture has a pathway to escape the wall cavity.

• Choose 1X, 5/8”, or 5/4” trim thickness. Which one is simply a preference for the homeowner and installer

• For a traditional board-and-batten look, use 1×12 trimboard as the board and 1×3 trimboard as the batten.

• Find center on the wall and plan your layout to determine if it’s best to start with a batten or a board at that center point; you want to avoid having only a sliver of board when you reach the outer edges.

• Once you’ve chosen center board or center batten, start by installing a board first. If it’s a center board, mark the center of the wall, line up the board, and put it in place using 6D or 8D stainless steel or hot-dipped ring shank nails every 16” (and no less than 3/4” from the board edge) directly into the plywood or OSB.

• Install boards, moving away from center, leaving 3/4” of space between each board.

• After several boards are in place, chalk a single line 7/8” from the edge of the board left or right, which will designate the edge for the batten. This results in a 9-1/2” reveal between each batten.

• Apply a bead of caulk along each side of the batten or under each side of the batten.

• Install the battens using 6D or 8D stainless steel or hot-dipped nails every 16”.

• Repeat the process, moving outward from center.

Keep in mind that paying attention to your layout, and planning it out ahead of time, is important, particularly for small areas like gables. You want the surface to be as symmetrical as possible; if you have uneven board reveals on either side, it will be very noticeable, particularly on smaller surface areas.

TruExterior poly-ash trim board and batten

Learn more about TruExterior Trim and how to create custom looks here.

TruExterior Trim Offers an Ideal Alternative to Fiber Cement

TruExterior trim is an ideal alternative to fiber cement trim

The supply challenges that continue to impact certain building materials dealt another blow to architects and building pros in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain region with the recent announcement that a major fiber cement manufacturer will no longer be selling trim there. But those drawn to the performance and appearance of fiber cement need not worry—TruExterior Trim from Boral Building Products is readily available, offers a similar aesthetic, and provides a number of performance improvements over fiber cement trim.

Making the switch to TruExterior Trim is easy and can ensure your exterior projects don’t experience delays or require significant design changes.

Moisture Resistance

TruExterior trim is made with poly-ash, a proprietary blend of fly ash and polymers. The resulting material offers high resistance to moisture absorption, a tremendous benefit in the notoriously damp Pacific Northwest region. These same attributes allow TruExterior to be used in contact with the ground and masonry, something fiber cement cannot do, and there’s no need to prime end cuts in the field.

Like fiber cement trim, TruExterior is resistant to rot and termites.

Authentic Looks

Architects can make the switch from fiber cement trim to TruExterior without changing their design goals. The poly-ash material offers the look of wood, with options for a smooth or wood-grain surface. Minimal material movement allows for tighter gaps for a more seamless appearance.

With a high level of dimensional stability, TruExterior Trim can be painted any color, including dark hues such as black, popular for trim, or the blues and grays common in the Northwest. Paint lasts longer than it does on wood because TruExterior cycles virtually no moisture.

Superior Workability

TruExterior requires no custom tools for cutting, and the poly-ash trim can be milled similarly to wood to achieve nearly any look or custom design. (See the trim at work at DURATION MOULDING & MILLWORK.) But unlike wood, installers can fasten TruExterior close to the edge, do not have to worry about mushrooming, and do not need to pre-drill.

“Fiber cement is well-known to many specifiers and installers; however, once they work with TruExterior, they soon realize how easy it is to work with and the benefits of utilizing standard woodworking tools,” says Ben Drury, Brand Manager for Boral Building Products. “Not having to worry about moisture absorption in the boards is also a key component.  You can place this product right at grade or on top of existing masonry and not experience any wicking or degradation of the board over time.”

Whether you’re in the Pacific Northwest or anywhere else in the country, get to know TruExterior Trim on our website and by finding a dealer near you.

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

As the building industry navigated the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 18 months, siding, like many categories, weathered the ups and downs—from uncertainties at the beginning to booming demand a short time later to the subsequent ebb and flow of supply challenges. The continued story is the strength of the new construction and remodeling markets, with particular focus on homeowners revamping exteriors and other areas of their homes.

But even in a year unlike any other, the trends we’ve witnessed and the core demands of building pros and their customers has, in many ways, also held steady, with familiar trends remaining at or near the forefront. LBM Journal explored what’s new, and what’s not, in its annual In Depth feature on siding, published this month.

Here are a few of the things they found:

Pandemic Increases Demand

As stuck-at-home homeowners refreshed their spaces, siding surged. “Many homeowners spent quarantine finally tackling their to-do lists, and the exterior was a great place to start,” Boral Building Products’ Brand Manager Ben Drury told the magazine. “We saw an increase in interest from DIYers, particularly in simple exterior projects that make a big impact, such as replacing aging siding, adding gable vents or decorative mounting blocks, or installing decorative trim.”

The magazine says the combination of a robust housing market and low interest rates is creating a positive outlook for siding in the coming months, too.

Supply Challenges

Continued success, of course, relies on manufacturers’ ability to meet the current challenges of supply and demand, said writer Mike Berger. One manufacturer noted that the industry could be taking 20% to 30% more orders daily if not for material and labor shortages.

Above all else, manufacturers said, keeping inventory stocked will be a critical factor and, alongside that, clear communication with customers is essential. “What we’re experiencing is unprecedented demand coupled with a 10-year undersupplied market,” manufacturer RoyOMartin noted. “Builders need to pre-order what they can; those who wait for prices to come down have lost contracts.”

Classic Looks

Perhaps in conjunction with creating homes that are sanctuary spaces of respite, manufacturers report that clean lines and authentic details are still very much in demand. Within this, Modern Farmhouse and Craftsman looks continue to thrive, Berger noted. “Vertical and board-and-batten siding are quite popular right now,” Boral’s Drury explained in the article, with other manufacturers noting similar trends. “These installation approaches are an easy way to add dimension and visual interest to the home exterior. Vertical applications also can help elevate gables and other accent areas.”

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

Low Maintenance Rules

Low-maintenance has become so trendy it hardly bears being called a trend anymore, with “manufacturers report[ing] it as one of the single biggest differentiators when it comes to purchase decisions,” LBM Journal noted.

Products that mimic wood but without the associated upkeep continue to attract attention from older and younger buyers alike, neither of whom want to spend their summer weekends painting and staining but still cherish a natural, authentic aesthetic. (Try TruExterior Siding, made with a proprietary poly-ash material to combine authentic looks with high performance, or Foundry’s Grayne Shingle Siding, which perfectly replicates the look of cedar.)

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

The Supply Channel Is Adapting

Even before the social distancing brought by the pandemic, the industry was facing pressure to be more innovative and more willing to switch to technology-based inventory and purchasing solutions. “For years, physical displays have been a mainstay of product information and a key method for conveying how a product will look once installed,” Berger wrote. “But that was then—this is now. In addition to the tried and true, the successful LBM dealer will avail themselves of virtual tools to help impart product knowledge.”

Berger pointed to virtual design tools that show customers how products will look on their homes (such as the Virtual Remodeler tool) as one method. But even as technology infiltrates the buying process, nothing negates the need for dealers to understand the products they sell and the value they bring to customers in helping find the ideal solution for each project.

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

How Are Housing and Pandemic Trends Impacting LBM Dealers?

Each May, some of the industry’s supply channel-focused publications release annual reports, listing the industry’s leading LBM dealers and distributors as well as the economic trends that have shaped their businesses the previous year.

This year saw the release of two new lists—the LBM Journal 100 and the Construction Supply 150 from Webb Analytics—which were published in May following one of the most unprecedented years in construction history. From the uncertainties at the onset of the pandemic to the housing and remodeling boom that soon followed to the supply and pricing challenges going on now, the building supply industry has been challenged in ways most had never seen before. And many dealers navigated extremely successfully.

Here are a few observations from LBM Journal and Webb Analytics for how dealers and distributors weathered 2020 and what trends are shaping up in 2021.

• Acquisitions continued: LBM dealers continued to scoop each other up. The most high-profile was Builders FirstSource purchasing BMC, growing from 440 locations to 550 locations in the process. But the moves weren’t limited to the big players, with dealers of all sizes taking advantage of opportunities to expand in size and geography via acquisition.

• Retail sales big, commercial suffers: With the surge in home improvement and DIY projects, it’s not surprising that home centers and dealers with heavy percentages of retail customers posted some of the biggest growth last year, as reported by the Construction Supply 150. Unfortunately, companies selling commercial-heavy inventories, such as steel studs and ceiling systems, saw declines. “It’s pretty clear that homebuilding will remain strong, and surveys suggest big-ticket remodeling will rebound as homeowners become less fearful of having remodelers working in their kitchens and baths,” Craig Webb wrote in the CS150.

In looking ahead to this year, a majority of CS150 respondents believe new construction and remodeling will continue to grow, but most expect retail sales, as well as multifamily and commercial, to remain the same.

• Labor remains a challenge: 77% of the LBM Journal 100 reported challenges with recruiting, hiring, and retaining employees, with drivers and yard workers the hardest-to-fill positions.

• The power of relationships: LBM dealers have always touted the importance of employees and customer relationships, but the pandemic drove that home even more. “The silver lining of the pandemic for us has definitely been relationships,” Charlie Parks, co-owner and vice president of Parks Lumber & Building Supply told LBM Journal. “We have developed stronger relationships with our customers, suppliers, and even with other supply houses in the area that we have done some dealing back and forth with during the shortage.”

• Installed sales: More than half of the Construction Supply 150 conduct installed sales. The most popular product categories include entry doors, cabinets, countertops, interior doors, and bathroom vanities.

• E-commerce expanding…slowly: The construction industry is notorious for slow adoption of technology, but the pandemic helped speed things along. LBM Journal found that while only 33% of leading dealers are offering online sales, 78% said online sales were significantly or slightly higher than the year before. As Webb noted in the Construction Supply 150, “true online shopping is unlikely to become ubiquitous until dealers figure out how to automatically adjust a price based on the customer.”

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

Image: iStock.com/ArnoMassee

Simple Strategies to Upgrade Outdoor Living Spaces

Outdoor living spaces are one of the biggest trends in home building and remodeling, and demand has only grown during the pandemic.

As the demand for outdoor living moves from growing trend to must-have status, simply adding on an ordinary deck isn’t going to be enough. Building pros can elevate outdoor spaces in numerous ways, and they don’t have to break the bank.

Here are a few simple and relatively inexpensive details to consider to add the finishing touch to your outdoor living spaces and take them to the next level.

Create Indoor-Outdoor Connections

Not every home can have an eight-panel opening glass wall, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create those connections that let in more light and expand the entertaining space.

As Andersen Windows points out in a recent article, the standard French patio doors with sidelight windows can easily be replaced by a small multi-panel door with one or two sliding panels, helping to expand the clear opening to preserve views and create that desired indoor-outdoor connection.

Another more budget-friendly option is to include pass-through windows to create an indoor-outdoor bar, such as this project by Denny Sturgis Construction.

Detail the Deck

No matter the size of the deck, there are a few simple strategies to make it look more finished and polished.

• Rather than leaving deck planks exposed, add fascia board around the perimeter to create a more finished look. TruExterior poly-ash trim can be painted or stained any color and can be used in contact with decking material.

• For composite decks, hidden fasteners cost a little more but make a big difference in the look and feel of the deck. For grooved-edge boards, clip-style hardware stays completely hidden; for face-fastening, a plug system is the most hidden option, or, at minimum, choose color-matched screws.

• Add flair to composite decks with inlays and picture framing. These techniques can be used to add a decorative perimeter, break up long expanses, or create an outline around different areas, such as a sitting area or outdoor kitchen.

• Don’t neglect lighting, which can add ambience, make the space safer, and extend its use later into the night and farther into colder months. Integrated post cap, railing, or stair lights can be easy and economical to add on or integrate.

• Add an accent wall or elevate the grill area with stone, such as panelized stone siding from Versetta Stone.

Versetta Stone grill surround
Ledgestone Mission Point

Amp up your outdoor buildings

A beautiful backyard can be the perfect spot for a studio, she shed, or ADU. But make sure it’s got style. A rickety wood shed or wobbly plastic structure can bring down the aesthetic of the whole outdoor space. Use real siding and trim, include accessories, and add landscaping.

This beautiful tiny house ADU by Koncept Design/Build, for example, looks just as good as a main house, with beautiful craftsmanship, on-trend black-framed windows and doors, and meticulous trimwork using TruExterior poly-ash trim

Koncept Design/Build tiny house ADU

This garage/man cave by Adam Hass Fine Homebuilding also could pass for a main living space, with its traditional forms and well-thought-out details.

Adam Hass Fine Homebuilding man cave/garage

Even a storage shed can look a bit more refined, as seen with this example from Zuccon Works, which features richly colored siding and Kleer cellular PVC trim and window casings.

Zuccon Works shed

Don’t Neglect the Accessories

It’s easy to leave the aftermarket accessories up to the homeowner, but why not complete the look or at least show them how?

For example, this flower box made with Kleer Lumber PVC trim not only offers a cleaner, more stylish look than run-of-the-mill planters, it’s durable and can be used in contact with the ground without moisture concerns.

Kleer Lumber flower box

Kleer is also a fun choice for these Adirondack chairs. The teal offers a fun pop of color to the porch without too much commitment or concern over resale value.

Kleer Lumber, Adirondack chairs

And don’t forget to finish the porch. Here, installers used TruExterior Beadboard in a soft robin’s egg blue to add to the vintage vibe of this wide porch.

TruExterior Trim poly-ash beadboard on porch ceiling

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

KleerWrap post wraps on porch

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

Boral Celebrates 75-Year Anniversary

Boral helps its customers Build something great™ by supplying them with high-quality, innovative, sustainable building products and construction materials. It is a purpose that mirrors the company’s 75-year history.

Founded in 1946 as Bitumen and Oil Refineries (Australia) Limited, Boral has become Australia’s largest construction materials and building products company with a global reach, a reach that includes Boral North America’s portfolio of category leaders across stone veneer, roofing, siding, heavy materials, windows, shutters, and trim. The company officially rebranded in 1963 to the BORAL acronym that had been commonly used since its beginning.

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

While Boral officially entered North America in 1979, many of the companies and brands that have since become part of Boral have longer histories here. For example, Cultured Stone began in 1962 when two brothers, Garrett and Floyd Brown, saw the need for a new kind of building material, one that resembled natural stone but was much lighter and would adhere to most surfaces.

This commitment to answering customers’ unmet needs and helping builders and other specifiers grow their business with new product and technology solutions remains an integral part of Boral. Customers and partners can see that innovation come to life at the Boral Discovery Center in San Antonio, Texas. Opened in 2016, the state-of-the-art Discovery Center is home to scientists and engineers keenly focused on developing the future of building materials.

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

Boral has been involved in many iconic building projects over the past 75 years, from the Sydney Opera House and Olympic stadium to the Fisherman’s Wharf Pier in San Francisco and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa, Florida, not to mention some of the most important projects of all — the places people call home.

Boral North America’s Brands

Boral North America comprises numerous product brands you sell every day:

Boral Building Products

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

Boral Roofing

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

Boral Stone

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

Boral Windows

Fly Ash + Synthetic Gypsum

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

Versetta Stone in Ledgestone Mission Point

Manufactured stone once again has shown its ability to recoup homeowners’ remodeling investment. According to the Remodeling 2021 Cost vs. Value Report, an annual study by Remodeling magazine, manufactured stone veneer offers a 92.1% return on investment. That ROI is second only to garage door replacement.

The Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares the average costs of 22 remodeling projects with the value those investments will retain at resale. The study looked at the cost recouped from replacing a 300-square-foot band of vinyl siding from the bottom third of a home’s front façade with manufactured stone veneer (such as Boral Building Products’ Versetta Stone), sills, corners, and address block.

Manufactured stone veneer’s place in the study is slightly down from 2020, where it reached No. 1 with an ROI of 95.6%. Still, manufactured stone was 20 percentage points higher than the third project on the list, minor kitchen remodel.

Along with manufactured stone and garage doors, exterior products dominated the top of the Remodeling 2021 Cost vs. Value Report list, claiming 11 of the top 12 spots: fiber cement siding replacement (69.4% cost recouped); vinyl window replacement (68.6%); vinyl siding replacement (68.3%); wood window replacement (67.4%); wood deck addition (67.4%); steel entry door replacement (65.0%); composite deck addition (63.2%); fiberglass grand entrance (60.9%); and asphalt shingle roof replacement (60.7%).

“The trend of exterior replacements outperforming larger discretionary remodeling projects has been accelerated, no doubt, by a year in which COVID has made people reluctant to have contractors inside their homes, but yearning to improve outdoor spaces,” the Remodeling editors said. “It’s been a year when we’d expect decks to reign supreme, but the data doesn’t track what’s most popular. The Cost vs. Value report tracks the ratio of value over cost for 22 common remodeling projects, and in that ratio lies the rub: Material costs, especially for decking and pressure-treated framing lumber, went through the roof in 2020, bringing down the return despite the project’s value.”

Manufactured Stone Delivers Most ROI in Two Regions

Manufactured stone maintains a similar level of ROI when broken down geographically, with 90% or more of cost recouped across all regions. In two regions, however, manufactured stone came out on top: West North Central (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri), with 94.1% ROI, and South Atlantic (Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida), with 94.1% ROI.

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

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

Fine Homebuilding House Remodel Transforms 80-Year-Old New England Home

Each year, Fine Homebuilding magazine constructs a new home, showcasing the latest building science techniques and best practices for exceptional quality, comfort, and style. For 2021, they’re switching things up with their first remodel, transforming an 80-year-old Greenwich, Conn., house with a deep energy retrofit and a dramatic modernization of exterior style and interior layout.

2021 Fine Homebuilding House prior to its remodel and deep energy retrofit.
The Fine Homebuilding house prior to the remodel.

“The Fine Homebuilding editors believe this house has important lessons to offer,” the publication explains. “The existing home was built in the early decades of the 20th century and was remodeled with an addition about 20 years ago. Transforming the layout and look of this traditionally styled, shingled house to a modern home with a much more open floor plan and a Scandinavian-inspired aesthetic will provide design insights as well as lessons about framing, trim, and plumbing. Because the new homeowners have placed a priority on turning the house into a high-performance home, we’ll also get to see how the team tackles air-sealing, insulation, and mechanical systems to reach net-zero energy with Passive House performance.”

On the exterior, the home is clad in TruExterior Shiplap siding, installed vertically with some horizontal boards on the gables, and finished with Benjamin Moore’s Glacier White paint for a perfect Modern Farmhouse look. TruExterior also was used for the porch ceiling, in the reversible Shiplap-Nickel Gap siding profile with the smooth finish.

A rendering of the 2021 Fine Homebuilding House project, which includes TruExterior Siding
A rendering of the post-remodel Fine Homebuilding House.

“It’s very easy to install,” says the project’s builder, Albert Jensen-Moulten. “It cuts and glues just like wood.”

Several walls feature Eldorado Stone masonry veneer installed over a fluid-applied weather-resistive barrier. Other exterior details include a standing-seam metal roof, metal triple-pane windows, Hemlock-wrapped porch beams, and Kebony wood lintels.

Take a tour of the exterior cladding details via an interview with Jensen-Moulten and the architect, Elizabeth DiSalvo:

Follow along with the Fine Homebuilding House to learn more about the highly efficient building techniques, from air barriers to double-stud walls, on the show home’s website.

NAHB Study Reveals ‘What Home Buyers Really Want’

Foundry staggered shake

The NAHB recently released the 2021 edition of its “What Home Buyers Really Want.” The study, conducted after the pandemic began last year, surveyed 3,247 recent and prospective home buyers.

Here are some of the findings:

The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced some home buyers

Though the majority of buyers (67%) said the pandemic didn’t impact what they look for in a home, 21% indicated they desire a larger home because of it; the demand is higher for those with at least one teleworker and one virtual student.

The pandemic also increased preferences to buy in an outlying suburb from 26% in previous studies to 30% this year.

Home style preferences vary

In a new question this year, participants were shown pictures of four exterior designs. The NAHB reports that preferences are diverse, with no one style garnering a majority at a national or regional level. Traditional homes led the way with 32%, followed by Contemporary (24%), Transitional (16%), and Modern (14%). Traditional styling was the top option in all regions except the Pacific, where Contemporary came out on top.

Shift in new vs. resale preferences

The majority of respondents—60%—desire a new home, the largest percentage in 14 years. “The increase may be due in part to buyers’ concerns about touring occupied homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, the severe lack of inventory of existing homes on the market, and the higher likelihood that new homes are located where buyers want to buy—the suburbs,” the NAHB explained.

Most desired home features include a laundry room, exterior lighting, patios

Home buyers were given a list of more than 200 home features. Of those, the most desired elements were a laundry room (87%), exterior lighting (87%), ceiling fans (83%), Energy Star-rated windows (83%), and a patio (82%).

On the exterior, home buyers additionally ranked front porches (81%), rear porches (75%), and a deck (75%) high on the list.

For the greater community, survey respondents indicated they want walking/jogging trails, a “typically suburban” neighborhood, a park, proximity to retail, and walkability.

Among the features that 40% of respondents indicated they don’t want were elevators, glass walls, a community daycare center, a wine cellar, and a pet washing station. 

Open layouts still in demand

Despite some speculation to the contrary, most home buyers still desire open layouts.

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

Green homes must have ROI

There was a significant difference between home buyers being concerned about the impact of their home on the environment (78%) and those (15%) willing to pay more for an environmentally friendly home. “However, significantly more buyers are willing to pay extra for a home if they understand it will lead to annual savings in utility costs,” the NAHB said. “In fact, 57% are willing to pay $5,000 or more, on top of the price of the home, in order to save $1,000 a year in utilities.”

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

Poly-Ash and PVC Trim Provide a Ready Alternative to Lumber

Kleer trim on a custom coastal home

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.

TruExterior poly-ash trim at a custom home in the Chautauqua Institution artist community
Seen here on a custom home at the Chautauqua Institution, TruExterior poly-ash trim can be milled and routed just like wood.

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.  

Cellular PVC trim in a flower box application
Kleer cellular PVC trim can be used in ground-contact applications on or off the house.

Ready to be inspired? Check out our Instagram page for projects and applications.

Hamptons Modern Farmhouse Flooded With Light and Luxury

A luxurious twist on the Modern Farmhouse ideally suited to the Hamptons, the new custom home in Sagaponack, N.Y., boasts 7,672 square feet, five bedrooms, and seven bathrooms. The home’s 1.33-acre property abuts 36 acres of farmland, providing lush surroundings and serene views from nearly every room.

While reminiscent of Modern Farmhouse vernacular, with white nickel gap siding and a simple gable roof, the house favors contemporary lines. The front entrance is free of ornamentation, graced by tall, narrow windows and a black-framed-glass garage door.

Rear of modern farmhouse in Sagaponack, New York featuring custom TruExterior siding

Large swaths of glass make up nearly the entire rear of the home, which was designed by architect Glen Fries Associates and built by Burns Realty Development. The breakfast nook and second floor bedrooms bump out into a sharp point, breaking up the otherwise linear facade.

One of the exterior’s most unique features is the perfectly round two-car garage, a modern take on the farm silo. The garage’s exterior is clad in TruExterior Trim milled in a shiplap pattern by DURATION® Moulding & Millwork and installed vertically.

Front of modern farmhouse in Sagaponack, New York featuring custom TruExterior siding by Duration Moulding & Millwork

Crafting vertical shiplap for a round form was no small feat. “We have a full-time AutoCAD expert on staff,” says Keith Coleman, president and CEO of DURATION Moulding & Millwork, which manufactures trim exclusively with TruExterior, a proprietary poly-ash material from Boral Building Products. “We took the radius of the building and figured out what maximum width of shiplap we could produce and still be able to wrap the building and have it look completely round and not segmented.” Coleman’s team used full-length boards to ensure a seamless appearance from top to bottom.

Along with its workability to create the precise size and profile required, TruExterior offers the authentic look of wood but with durability, dimensional stability, and low maintenance to eliminate worries about unsightly splitting, cracking, or warping.

The architect specified TruExterior for the main house, as well, with DURATION crafting a custom-size nickel gap profile that adds to the Modern Farmhouse feel. The DURATION team made prefab corners with a locking miter and mechanical fastener support. “The corner won’t open,” Coleman says. “The result is this cool, continuous look as the TruExterior nickel gap wraps the building.”

DURATION also used TruExterior to create the one-piece circle casings, which are painted dark bronze, around the home’s circular windows as well as the tall panels between the windows.

Entry of modern farmhouse in Sagaponack, New York featuring custom TruExterior siding by Duration Moulding & Millwork

Modern luxury continues inside, with 5-inch-wide golden oak flooring, a dramatic honed black-slate two-story fireplace, a vast kitchen island, Miele and Sub-Zero appliances, freestanding soaking tub, and Toto and Kohler bathroom fixtures. In the double-height, open-concept great room, clerestory windows combine with the expanses of glass from French doors running the length of the rear to flood the space with light. A walkway above connects the master bedroom wing to the other bedrooms, where more floor-to-ceiling windows bring in additional natural light.

Great room of modern farmhouse in Sagaponack, New York, is flooded with light from the expanses of glass and clerestory windows

The home’s basement level features a walk-in wine cellar, game room, gym with full-height mirrors, and wet bar, while the expansive outdoor space includes a heated gunite pool and attached spa, outdoor kitchen, pergola, private outdoor shower, and pool house.

For more photos of the Hamptons Modern Farmhouse, view the architect’s portfolio.

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

TruExterior siding, modern house

Even though they spent much more time at home in 2020—and spent much of that time improving those homes—homeowners continue to have little desire to waste time cleaning, painting, and staining their exteriors.

In its recently released Q4 2020 Home Design Trends study, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) found low maintenance and durability to be the exterior detail homeowners were most interested in, with 62% of architects reporting increasing interest, nearly the same as the year before. (Data is calculated by the percentage of architects reporting “increasing” minus percentage reporting “decreasing.”) Products that offer the look of wood without the associated maintenance, such as TruExterior poly-ash siding, can combine authenticity and a natural look with high performance and resistance to rotting, warping, and cracking.

Though farther down the list, fire-resistive design and materials saw growing interest, with 32% of architects reporting increased popularity in 2020, up from 29% in 2019.

When it comes to home styles, contemporary looks were the most popular feature, with 50% of architects reporting popularity increasing, down slightly from 54% the year before. Modern Farmhouse saw a perhaps not surprising decline, with 33% of respondents reporting increasing popularity versus 41% in 2019.

Interest in front porches is growing, with 38% of architects seeing increasing popularity in 2020 compared to 31% the year before.

Among neighborhood/community options, infill housing was the most popular, with 61% of architects reporting increasing interest (slightly less than 64% the year before), followed by multi-generational housing, which rose sharply from 41% in 2019 to 54% in 2020. Also noteworthy was high-density housing, which plummeted from 55% of architects reporting increased interest in 2019 to just 34% in 2020. The dramatic drop may be a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, with homeowners desiring outdoor space and places to grow their own food.

In AIA’s Q3 2020 Home Design Trends study, the association reported a continued softening in home size, with -11% of architects reporting home square footage increasing minus those reporting it decreasing. Interest in larger homes dropped even farther, to -22%, for entry-level/affordable homes. Custom home sizes stayed steady.

And of course, outdoor living continues to be popular, with 53% of architects reporting increasing interest; however, there was a large drop versus 2019, when 68% reported increasing interest. Interest in blended indoor/outdoor spaces also hovers near 50%

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

LBM Journal: 5 Trim Trends Building Material Dealers Should Know

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

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

Here are a few of their findings:

Trim Products Are Thriving Through the Pandemic

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

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

Bold Colors

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

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

Clean Styles

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

Ease of Installation

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

Back to Basics

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

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

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

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

Best Practices for Ongoing COVID Safety on the Jobsite

jobsite safety, COVID-19, construction site

Our lives have been forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, directly or indirectly, and home building and remodeling jobsites are no exception. As the pandemic unfolded last year, tackling safety on the jobsite quickly became paramount to continuing to work, and many building professionals had to implement at least some COVID safety best practices, depending on local requirements, from social distancing to PPE to limiting the number of workers on site at a time.

Here’s an overview of the latest recommendations—and some insights from the field.

The Official Word on COVID Safety

The Centers for Disease Control’s page dedicated to construction workers and safety best practices during COVID-19 is continually updated as new information comes in, as methods of protection change, and as we continue to learn more about how the virus works. OSHA also continues to maintain a detailed page chock full of COVID worker safety information to help you conduct a job hazard analysis and make decisions on best practices for workers.

These conversations and decisions must be made daily for everyone’s safety, particularly because, as Professional Builder reports, construction workers are one of the highest groups of people who get COVID—even higher than healthcare workers. In addition, a large percentage of construction workers intend to refuse the vaccine.

Along with keeping workers safe on the job, taking precautions also sends a visual message to clients that we’re doing everything we can to operate safely in every capacity.

As the vaccine rolls out slowly across the country, it may become a requirement by your employer that you get the COVID vaccine to continue going to your workplace—that includes people in the building industry. Regardless, until more people have been vaccinated and we eventually reach “herd immunity,” COVID safety measures must continue to be taken wherever and whenever possible, particularly if you have workers who do not wish to get vaccinated.

COVID Jobsite Best Practices

A year into these changes, most builders and remodelers have adopted best practices and procedures to keep team members safe and ensure their companies are in compliance with local requirements.

Joe Danz of Boston Exterior Remodeling is not only a home remodeling professional, he’s a former nurse, so he’s taken COVID seriously from the start. Danz says he takes a customized approach to each jobsite and situation. Early on, he found problems in requiring complete PPE when it wasn’t necessarily needed—his workers generally stay a safe distance apart while working together anyway. In some cases, the suggested protection could do more harm than good. “If [workers] have a mask on and wear glasses or need to put on safety goggles, the lenses can fog up, which can be dangerous,” said Danz. “So instead we keep workers separate, a safe distance apart. Fortunately, on exterior projects like ours, that’s usually easy to do.”

Whenever workers are physically close together, he does make sure they are masked. “There’s a margin of tolerance we have with making people safe. The optics can be important to our clients. It’s a balancing act.” To that end, Danz puts on his mask and shield before meeting with clients and texts them to let them know he has arrived so they can meet him outside where there is fresh air. He maintains a safe distance from clients even with the PPE on so they feel reassured.

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

Danz has implemented other safety procedures to serve as a daily reminder that compliance is necessary—but uses common sense as to whether or not every single measure is warranted. For example, in the early months, he instituted a sign-in sheet procedure where each worker has to state at the start of each day that they feel physically well and that they have a normal temperature before they can start working. This requirement has lessened as his team knows the drill—and knows not to show up for work if they feel sick or have a temperature. Knowing your clients and thinking about how many workers are on the job and where they will be placed while working is a key part of using your best judgment. “We definitely make sure to use the sign-in sheet on big jobs where there will be a lot of people, including inspectors,” Danz says.

Boston Exterior also added a foot-operated hand-washing station when possible, or at minimum a hand sanitizing station with sanitizer, paper towels, and buckets to ensure hands stay clean.

No matter what, all building professionals should refer to the requirements of their local jurisdictions and follow procedures as required, as they vary greatly from area to area.

One growing issue is “COVID fatigue,” something building companies must tackle if they want to continue to keep their teams safe. The NAHB expressed concerns about this phenomenon in January, Builder magazine reported, and pushed for a second safety stand-down (the first was held last April) to keep best practices top of mind. If your company wasn’t able to participate, NAHB offers guidance and steps here. The association provides additional resources on its website, including a downloadable jobsite safety poster.

COVID-related best practices for worker safety are here to stay—at least for the time being. Many of these changes are easy to implement and smart, regardless of COVID. Studies have found that other illnesses like the flu sharply declined this season, and regular hand washing, social distancing whenever possible, and wearing masks have helped spur that trend.

Depending on the willingness of your workers to get vaccinated and the changing nature of the virus, safety measures like this may need to be in place permanently to help keep workers from making each other sick with any type of illness. For your safety, the safety of your clients, and the safety of your workers, staying consistent with COVID-smart practices on the jobsite is good for everyone.

Hero image: iStock.com/Juanmonino

Are Siding Materials Fire Resistant?

TruExterior Siding

From higher frequency of wildfires to an overall focus on safety as more Americans work and school from home, fire safety is top of mind. How do Boral Building Products’ siding and trim materials compare to others when it comes to fire resistance?

Here’s a guide:

Fire Resistance of TruExterior Siding & Trim

All thicknesses, widths, and profiles of the TruExterior Siding & Trim product line are certified by the California Building Commission for inclusion on the Wildland-Urban Interface Zone (WUI) Products Listing, one of the strictest regulations on building products, systems, and assemblies in the country. The product line is part of a relatively small group of cladding materials approved for WUI-designated buildings. This means that architects and contractors can confidently specify the product for use throughout all areas of California, regardless of WUI restrictions.

Fire Resistance of Versetta Stone siding

Versetta Stone offers the look of stone and the ease of panelized installation—and a Class A fire rating meeting the requirements of the ASTM E 84 – fire spread & smoke test.

Versetta Stone can be used for interior fireplace surround applications.

Fire Resistance of Foundry Siding

Not only does Foundry Siding’s authentic looks separate it from other similar siding products, Foundry shakes and shingles contain PVC, which contributes to a 1A fire resistance rating. Siding made with polypropylene does not carry a 1A rating.

In addition, Foundry’s Grayne Shingle line is included on California’s WUI building materials listing.

As with any material, use of Boral Building Products’ siding and trim materials beyond the parameters to which they are designed could impact fire resistance. Have questions? Contact our customer service team today.

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

One of the most fun reveals at the end of each year are the various Colors of the Year announcements from manufacturers and color experts. They’re a unique reflection of the current moods of the populace and perhaps also a nudge toward where we expect to be headed in the coming 12 months.

This year was no exception, as three of the major Color of the Year announcements seemed to deliver on a similar theme of calm, hope, and grounding.

Here’s a look at the colors, what they symbolize, and how you can leverage them on your homes.

2021 Colors of the Year

For only the second time in 22 years, Pantone selected two Colors of the Year: Ultimate Gray (17-5104) and Illuminating (13-0647). The two hues “highlight how different elements come together to support one another,” the company says. “Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, the union of Pantone 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and Pantone 13-0647 Illuminating is one of strength and positivity. It is a story of color that encapsulates deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the promise of something sunny and friendly.”

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

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

Sherwin-Williams named Urbane Bronze (SW 7047 (245-C7)), a rich, enveloping gray-brown, its Color of the Year. “Nature at its simplest and most elemental—embodying the richness of the Earth’s stone, metal, and wood—forges a feeling that’s grounded, meditative, and serene,” the paint manufacturer describes. “Let a color rooted in nature create a feeling of calm and bring all you cherish together.”

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

Paint manufacturer Benjamin Moore went for a richer neutral as well with its selection of Aegean Teal 2136-40, “a blend of blue-green and gray … an intriguing midtone that creates natural harmony,” as its Color of the Year. The hue, along with the other colors in the company’s Color Trends 2021 Palette, celebrates the simple pleasures of home, eliciting a feeling of calming positivity that embraces the viewer in its warmth. The aesthetic feels traditional but much more modern in tone. 

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

“Every year, the Colors of the Year reflect what’s happened over the past 12 months, and that is very apparent in this year’s selections,” says Trisha Wagner, National Accounts Manager for Boral Building Products. “People have changed a lot in how they view their surroundings; it’s taken a turn from looking at home from outside in. And these colorscapes demonstrate that.”

How to Apply Trending Colors to the Home Exterior

Wagner points out that home aesthetics are no longer just about curb appeal. With the pandemic, home is also a workspace, vacation space, and much more—so how colors live is important. They need to be much more fluid, with a flow from inside to out, rather than a bold exterior color with a more neutral interior or vice versa.

Trending colors have a feel of the “new neutral,” with a natural tone but with a richness that keeps them feeling modern. In siding, Foundry’s Deep Granite color is one example.

“When I look at new construction projects, it’s not just siding and stone; it’s shake in the gable, multiple textures, but they’re all tonal. Texture and color fold and weave into this calm, serene space,” says Wagner. “It’s the same on the interior. We’re seeing less of the stark contrast, such as a single accent wall in a bold red. It’s more of a blend. It’s not just about one room, it’s about the palette throughout the home.”

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

There’s still a place for bold, but there’s an elegance to it. The bright red is still around, but in a deeper, earthier version that feels calm instead of overpowering. On the exterior, a neutral palette may pair with black-framed windows or a half wall of Versetta Stone’s Northern Ash hue. “That’s the foundation for some of these modern neutrals. We’re not going back to the boring hues. These are elevated, richer, calmer,” Wagner explains.

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

The Colors of the Year themselves can be easily weaved into a front door, shutters, and other accents, areas that showcase a trend without having to make a dramatic change.

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

“Colors are an absolute reflection of where we are this year,” Wagner says. “Color inspires. We shouldn’t be afraid of it, but it has to work with you.”

Ready to take advantage of the latest color trends? Atlantic Shutters can be matched to nearly any color, offering a perfect opportunity to incorporate similar hues to the Colors of the Year. And TruExterior Siding & Trim can be painted any color, making it easy to respond to the latest preferences.

7 Exterior Trends for 2021

Kleer Lumber, outdoor living, retaining wall, pergola

The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced many aspects of our lives, and home design and exterior trends are no exception. As stay-at-home orders stretched out into months, homeowners turned to home improvement projects to keep themselves busy and whittle down neglected to-do lists. At the same time, many homeowners chose to relocate to new or existing homes in search of more space or outdoor-friendly properties.

Those shifts will likely continue to influence home trends in the months to come. Alongside those changes, there are some existing exterior trends that remain top of mind with pros and homeowners alike.

  • Easy upgrades: Staying at home means more time staring at ho-hum exteriors or facades in need of a facelift. Simple updates to the exterior, such as replacing aging siding, adding gable vents or decorative mounting blocks, or installing decorative trim, can go a long way to improving curb appeal while still remaining affordable and in reach of DIYers.
  • Outdoor living, elevated: Outdoor living has been trending for years, but the need for great exterior space is stronger than ever with the pandemic. For homeowners stuck in the house, the outdoors have become a much-needed place of respite. Making outdoor living areas even more inviting—with everything from integrated seating to warm lighting to a flashier grill—has become even more desirable.

Along with the deck and patio surfaces, your customers should consider how the surrounding façade looks, adding trim and other accents to make the space feel more refined and complete.

Awnings and overhead coverings, as well as fire pits and outdoor heaters, can help to extend the useability of those outdoor spaces during colder temperatures.

Kleer Lumber, outdoor living, retaining wall, pergola
Warm lighting, ample seating, and a covered area made with Kleer trim and column wraps help make this outdoor space inviting .
  • Updated offices: With more workers logging in remotely, creating home offices that are welcoming and well-designed is top of mind, and exterior siding products can make a perfect decorative element. Shiplap siding or panelized stone siding is an easy way to add an accent wall to elevate a guest bedroom into a cozy home office.
TruExterior, office
This office space features a shiplap accent wall made with TruExterior Siding.
  • Window options and placement: More time at home means even more need for better indoor air quality and comfort. For windows, this means paying attention to placement to maximize both daylighting and cross-ventilation. Sound control options also should be considered to minimize disruptions during the work day.
  • Authenticity: Authentic siding and trim profiles, like TruExterior’s Craftsman Collection, offer the nostalgia of tradition and the comfort of the tried-and-true, fueling a greater sense of normalcy in a world that is anything but.
  • Multi-textured facades: Multi-textured facades continue among leading exterior trends. Blending multiple cladding types, such as a stone siding half wall with vinyl or poly-ash siding above, and incorporating shingles or vertical accents on gables and bump-outs helps distinguish homes along the streetscape and adds warmth and curb appeal.
  • Vertical and board-and-batten siding: Vertical and board-and-batten siding can add dimension and visual interest to the home exterior, particularly to meet demand for multi-textured façades and Modern Farmhouse looks. Vertical applications also can help spice up accent areas, such as gables. (Learn more about vertical siding here .)
exterior inspiration, vertical siding, siding, TruExterior, poly-ash siding
Vertical siding, such as this look created with TruExterior Siding, remains a popular trend for home exteriors.

Even after the restrictions of COVID-19 fade into memory, the idea of the home as a place of escape and sanctuary is likely to remain for some time. Simple touches can add physical and aesthetic comfort to secure the feeling of home.

TruExterior’s Premium Workability Provides for Endless Design Possibilities

Made with a proprietary poly-ash technology, TruExterior Trim combines the look of natural materials with low-maintenance—along with remarkable workability that compares to, and sometimes even exceeds, that of wood.

How workable is TruExterior? Picture a knife cutting through butter. Columns that turn with ease. Details intricate enough to pass historic requirements.

TruExterior trim, miter saw
TruExterior’s premium workability allows for thin cuts without concern about splitting or cracking.

TruExterior is less brittle than fiber cement, so it’s easier to work with. At the same time, it’s less prone to cracking like wood—you can even fasten close to the edge without splitting. Nor does it rot, warp, or shrink like wood.

Boral Building Products provides a range of installation-ready, authentic siding profiles, from V-Rustic to Channel Bevel to Shiplap. But the possibilities continue with a line of trimboards that can be fabricated into endless shapes and styles to create custom historic, traditional, or contemporary details.

Architect David Williams McKee put these attributes to work when designing a Queen Anne-style vacation home in the historic resort community of Chautauqua, N.Y. The house is “a tapestry of expression,” McKee says, featuring turned porch posts, decorative millwork, brackets, balusters, and gingerbread trim, all crafted using TruExterior.

TruExterior, Queen Anne, Chautauqua

In addition, Marsh Valley Forest Products used trimboards to create a custom shiplap siding for the home as well as split boards resembling cedar shingles for the gables. “TruExterior was easy to work with. Once set up to handle Boral, it’s easier to mold than wood,” says Marsh Valley owner and president Mervin Miller.

TruExterior, Queen Anne, Chautauqua

Similarly, DURATION Moulding & Millwork in Hamilton, N.J., uses TruExterior to meticulously craft quoins, crown, beaded casing, and other detailed molding pieces for projects ranging from the historic Old South Church in Boston; home exterior accents including shutters, soffits, fascia, and window trim; and custom shiplap siding.

DURATION Molding and Millwork, TruExterior Trim, historic restoration, Old South Church
TruExterior Trim comes pre-primed and can be painted any color, including hues as dark as black.

DURATION also offers a 25 stock profiles, including crown and cove, as well as a library of semi-custom and custom moulding options.

TruExterior trim, poly-ash trim, DURATION Moulding & Millwork, custom molding, cove molding
Duration Millwork’s stock profiles demonstrate how TruExterior can be precisely milled, unlike fiber cement and engineered wood.

“If someone wants 12 feet of moulding to match a historic profile, we’ll do it. We’re not shying away from anything like that,” says DURATION president and CEO Keith Coleman. “We want to be known for addressing the need for this product where suitable. If it’s suitable for a trim, we’re going to produce it.”

Learn more about working with TruExterior trim here. Ready to give it a try? Find your nearest supplier.

Triangle Shape, Blended Textures Add Drama to Indiana Orthodontist Office

MKM architecture + design, Versetta Stone, TruExterior

It’s not every day that an orthodontist office wins rave design reviews. But that’s just the case with a recent project completed by MKM architecture + design, which turned a challenging site into a unique space highlighted by modern geometric forms and eye-catching textures.

The property along the Jefferson Corridor in Fort Wayne, Ind., was difficult to say the least: a pie-shaped lot wedged between two major roadways. A connector to downtown and close to schools, the corridor is a high-traffic area that’s convenient to patients—but also high profile and highly visible. Rather than feeling daunted, Dr. Parrish was drawn to the property, finding inspiration in its similarities to the Flatiron Building in New York. He seized the opportunity to work with MKM to create a design that was distinctive yet still complementary to the neighborhood. 

In addition to the oddly shaped lot, the office’s location just outside the city’s commercial core necessitated balancing the feel of heading downtown while staying true to the aesthetic of nearby residential areas. 

MKM architecture + design, Versetta Stone, TruExterior siding

Dr. Parrish’s eye toward style and forward-looking approach allowed MKM architecture + design Principal Matt Sparling, AIA, LEED AP, to explore different forms as well as different materials. A square building was out of the question due to the lot shape and the limitations of required parking and driveways. Instead, MKM designed the building with a triangle shape extending into the lot, coming to a steep point with a dramatic 20-foot overhang where the building faces the street corner.

Pulling off the shape required a more intensive and lengthy review process; any changes to the square footage of the building meant reworking the plan and proportions of the triangle. The skin of the roof took its own shape and form over the triangular footprint and simultaneously had to balance the design and scale of the building exterior. To achieve this design, all the trusses were unique in size and length with no one alike.

MKM architecture + design, Versetta Stone, TruExterior

To maximize the floor plan and allow space for parking, MKM had to petition for a variance to extend past the building setback line. This allowance also saved seven well-established trees during construction, helping the building appear as if it had been there for years. 

MKM architecture + design, Versetta Stone, Tight-Cut stone, TruExterior siding, Channel siding

Along with its shape, the project is visually distinctive in its use of color and texture. The lower areas of the exterior feature TruExterior 8” Channel Siding in two shades of gray and taupe. The product’s workability was essential for creating the crisp mitered corners and clean lines, as well as for navigating the trickier points of the triangle. Made with poly-ash, TruExterior offers dimensional stability ideal for the fluctuations of temperature and weather in Indiana, and its authentic wood look adds dimension to the flat surfaces. 

Just as striking is the stone cladding along the sides of the triangle and the broad overhang. To pull off this look in a somewhat challenging area of the façade, contractor Steve Desmond installed Versetta Stone panelized siding in a Tight-Cut profile and Plum Creek colorway. Because of Versetta Stone’s lighter weight compared to brick, it could be used for the overhang without adding tremendous structural costs. Its panelized format, requiring just screws to hang, simplified what could have been a time-consuming and costly traditional masonry installation. 

MKM architecture + design, Versetta Stone, TruExteruor

The stone carries over to other areas of the façade, including half walls and planter boxes, completing the multi-textured look. 

Using TruExterior and Versetta Stone eases the building’s sharper geometries, where previously considered metal options would have been too severe. “You can make it look unique for the area and still be complementary to your neighbors,” Sparling says.

TruExterior also could be installed in the winter, helping to avoid construction delays, he adds. “Contractors around here really favor it because it’s a no-nuisance product.”

MKM architecture + design, Versetta Stone, TruExterior siding

Inside the office, the building’s shape created dead space in corners, so MKM used those areas for infrastructure, like a vertical chase, as well as for countertop display areas. 

MKM architecture + design, Versetta Stone, TruExterior siding

The Mid-Century Modern décor, featuring stone and wood finishes and a feature wall made with plank flooring, maintains a contemporary appeal while keeping the space inviting. Sparling incorporated two setback windows into the layout for the always-on nightlights. Outside, can lights on the underside of the overhang provide emphasis while highlighting the angles. Like the rest of the building, and the design approach overall, the effect is both strikingly modern and comfortably warm. 

Virtual Learning Opportunities for Builders, Remodelers, and LBM Dealers

As the industry has continued to navigate life during the COVID-19 pandemic, masks and temperature checks on jobsites have become the norm as face-to-face sales calls and travel to trade shows have disappeared. But with many projects still moving forward, in some cases with more urgency than before the pandemic, what hasn’t changed is the need to stay educated on new products, selling strategies, and installation best practices.

Luckily, manufacturers, publications, and other entities in the construction industry have adapted fast, and there are ample virtual learning opportunities to learn via computers and tablets.

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

In addition, here are some virtual learning options you can take advantage of now and in the near future:

ProTradeCraft
This robust online learning portal isn’t new, and it’s chock full of videos and podcasts covering construction best practices, from detailing siding to building high-performance walls. You’ll find content from the site’s team of experts as well as product knowledge and installation sessions from manufacturers.

Browse the videos.

The Weekly
The folks behind Pro Builder and Pro Remodeler magazines stream a new video series each week, interviewing building pros of all types on everything from modular homes to recruiting strategies to Facebook marketing.

Catch up on past shows and subscribe here.

The Remodeling Show Reimagined (Nov. 16-18)
In its new virtual space, this year’s Remodeling Show is focusing on both business and installation topics. Live and on-demand sessions include a state of the industry, kitchen design trends, creating transitional trim details, digital marketing, lead generation, window installation, and much more. 

Details and registration here.

LBM Sales Podcast
Dealers can brush up on their sales strategies with LBM Journal and sales trainer Rick Davis, a longtime contributor to the magazine. Not only will Davis share his expertise, but also sales strategies from LBM leaders as well as experts from outside the industry.

Find the podcasts here.

NAHB Online Learning
The association’s new portal features live and on-demand courses, on-demand modules, and live and recorded webinars. Tracks include business management, building techniques, architecture and design, land development, project management, trends, and sales and marketing.

Visit the portal.

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

Browse the schedule.

NKBA Webinars
Hone your kitchen and bath design chops with the association’s lengthy list of live and recorded webinars. Topics range from a broad look at trends to details such as bio-adaptive lighting.

Peruse the library.

5 Trim Tips & Tricks From Carpenter Mike Sloggatt

TruExterior Trim

If you’ve been to the Builders’ Show, the Remodeling Show, or JLC Live, you’ve likely crossed paths with longtime carpenter Mike Sloggatt. Armed with a headset and a career’s worth of knowledge, Sloggatt, owner of Mike Sloggatt Home Improvement, delivers compelling presentations on siding and trim installation focused on ensuring quality exteriors that stand the test of time.

Among the materials Sloggatt installs during workshops is Boral TruExterior Siding & Trim. “TruExterior is virtually indestructible in terms of water, insects, and holding paint,” Sloggatt says. “But don’t get lazy—install it properly, and it will treat you really well.”

Along with the installation techniques provided by Boral, here are a few of Sloggatt’s best practices and quick tips for installing TruExterior Trim to ensure a quality—and efficient—installation:

  • Stay organized: Thoughtful setup of materials ahead of time can save you steps over the course of the day. Sloggatt, for example, sets up his cutting station and always works from the same direction—pulling a piece off the stack to the left, cutting, and stacking to the right for installation. To help keep the cutting space clean, he puts a canopy over the saw with a garbage bag behind it for easy disposal of scraps, and he keeps a small battery-powered leaf blower nearby to blow away dust and keep his tooling clean so it will last longer.
Mike Sloggatt
Mike Sloggatt gives a TruExterior Siding & Trim demo at the International Builders’ Show.
  • Use the right tooling: TruExterior offers the workability of wood, which allows it to be routed and shaped into a range of decorative profiles. It does, however, require carbide blades and bits, and it can be difficult to cut wood once those blades and bits have been used for the poly-ash material. Sloggatt designates bits and blades specifically for TruExterior, marking them with blue spray paint. This ensures the tooling will last longer and eliminates any frustration that may result from trying to cut other materials after TruExterior.
  • Understand your materials and think of the system: When Sloggatt first started building 40 years ago, resilient old-growth timber was common for framing—and much more forgiving. Today’s wood materials need to be better protected from moisture and managed as a system. How well the window is trimmed, flashed, and integrated with the weather-resistive barrier can impact the integrity of the wood framing underneath as well as the trim above.
  • Store properly: TruExterior offers superior dimensional stability compared to most materials, but every product is prone to some movement if exposed to the right conditions. As with any trim material, keep TruExterior off the ground and covered during storage so that it won’t risk being installed wet. Once installed, TruExterior can be in contact with the ground with no concerns about excess moisture absorption.
  • Avoid flashed nail holes: One challenge every installer has likely faced is driving a fastener into painted trim and filling the hole, only to leave a noticeable flash behind. To avoid this, Sloggatt puts a small bit of blue painter’s tape over the spot before driving the fastener, then fills the hole with the tape still in place. This ensures the hole is filled but not the surrounding material, eliminating the glare of a flashed hole.

Want to learn more about TuExterior installation? Download the installation guide here.

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

lumber stack, lumber prices

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

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

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

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

TruExterior trim is a solution to rising lumber prices
TruExterior Trim

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

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

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

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

Explore the possibilities on our Instagram page.

Feature image: antmoreton from Pixabay

7 Tips to Improve Your Website’s SEO

search engine optimization, website analytics

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

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

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

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

1. TEST THE WEBSITE SPEED

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

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

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

2. ADD VIDEO AND IMAGES

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

3. FIND AND FIX BROKEN LINKS

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

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

4. ANSWER THE QUESTIONS PEOPLE ARE ASKING

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

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

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

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

5. HAVE A STRONG CALL-TO-ACTION

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

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

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

6. DON’T FRET TOO MUCH ABOUT KEYWORDS

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

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

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

7. EARN INCOMING LINKS TO YOUR WEBSITE

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Insights from LBM Journal’s Siding Review

LBM Journal magazine, siding trends

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

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

Siding Market Remains Strong

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

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

Popular Siding Trends Continue

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

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

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

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

Low Maintenance a Must

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

Easy Installation in Demand

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

Virtual Training Takes Off

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

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

Idea Gallery: 5 Gable Ends

Foundry split shake, gable ends

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

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

Foundry Split Shake siding, vinyl siding, gable end

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

TruExterior Siding, poly-ash siding

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

gable end, gable vent, Mid-America

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

Half-round gable vent, Mid-America

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

TruExterior Trim, board-and-batten, gable end

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

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

Fun Home Projects Using TruExterior Trim and Kleer Lumber

Kleer Lumber, Adirondack chairs

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

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

Take a look:

TruExterior trim, flower box

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

TruExterior trim, flower box

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

TruExterior trim, flower box

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

Kleer Lumber flower box

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

Kleer Lumber, Adirondack chairs

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

Kleer Lumber, cornhole boards

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

Want more inspiration? Check out our Instagram page.

How to Achieve Low-Maintenance Garage Bucks

garage bucks, TruExterior trim

Garage bucks, the trim along which the garage door runs, are essential to proper garage door installation. With a thermal stop over the top with a rubber flange, the buck helps form the door’s seal. It’s also one of the most moisture-prone areas of the exterior and therefore requires special attention to materials and installation.

When installing the garage buck, it’s ideal for the trim to be flush with the ground to help minimize air intrusion and bugs. However, many trim materials, such as engineered wood, fiber cement, or wood, cannot be used in ground-contact applications due to moisture absorption.

This is evident in the replacement project pictured here. The original garage bucks were painted pine, which proved problematic. As shown in the image below, the bottom of the trim is nearly rotted away due to the wood wicking moisture from the ground. The homeowner also had to paint the trim each year, as moisture and movement caused the paint to flake off. In addition, the wood was more vulnerable to insects.

garage bucks, trim
Before

To remedy the issue, the installer removed the pine trim and added TruExterior 1×6 trimboards in its place. In an area this prone to moisture, TruExterior offers a reliable solution: It can be installed in contact with the ground, it is dimensionally stable, and it won’t crack, warp, or split. Made with a proprietary blend of polymers and fly ash, TruExterior Trim is also low maintenance and can be painted any color, including dark hues, while offering the authentic look of wood.

Garage bucks, trim, poly-ash trim
After

If you haven’t yet tried TruExterior—this is the spot to give it a go. The quick replacement project for remodeling pros or DIYers will yield a cleaner look while dramatically reducing the home’s maintenance needs year after year.

For more information, visit the TruExterior trim page.

Vertical Siding Installation and Inspiration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Build a Birdhouse Using Kleer Lumber and TruExterior Trim

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

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

The classic Craftsman with welcoming front porch:

Craftsman-style birhouse

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

Multifamily birhouse

The cozy cottage with on-trend outdoor living space:

Simple birdhouse with picnic table

The Mid-Century Modern:

The ultra-modern:

Modern-style birdhouse

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

Safety and Business Resources for Contractors During COVID-19

residential construction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image: iStockphoto.com/photovs

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

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

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

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

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

Trends and Products From the 2020 International Builders’ Show

International Builders' Show 2020

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

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

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

IBS Trends: Easy Installation, Dark Windows, Smooth Siding

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

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

Versetta Stone stone siding, manufactured stone veneer

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

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

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

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

Kindred outdoor living fire bowls

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

Show Houses Reveal Consumer Preferences

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

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

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

Photo courtesy Jeff Davis Photography (c) 2020

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

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

New From Boral

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

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

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

Kleer Lumber, beadboard, cellular PVC trim

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

Boral TruExterior Reversible Shiplap Nickel Gap

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

Foundry Grayne shingle siding

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

Following Fire, Architect Redesigns Home 
With Modern Styles, Materials

When Michael McKinley’s 25-year-old home was destroyed by fire from an ember landing on its cedar roof, the architect turned tragedy into opportunity. He set out to redesign his new modern farmhouse utilizing state-of-the-art materials, including fire-resistant products like Boral TruExterior Siding & Trim and Boral composite roofing, and incorporating the knowledge he had gained over three decades as a designer.

“We’re 25 years into the future and, no matter how well you did it then, it’s not the same. All the factors change,” notes McKinley, principal of Michael McKinley & Associates in Stonington, Conn.

At 3,100 square feet, the new four-bedroom/three-bath house is about a quarter smaller—a size much more in tune with the empty-nest lifestyle McKinley and his wife, Kathy Calnen, now enjoy—yet lives larger. 

Light-filled bathroom with Douglas fir tub.

“I’ve fine-tuned my skills in terms of design, becoming a lot more creative with smaller spaces, and thus more efficient,” the architect says. “That’s a key part of the home’s sustainability story.”

Having lived on the property for 25 years, the couple understood the character and movement of the sun and tailored the design accordingly. “The new house is a complete expression of the behaviors of the sun,” McKinley says. “The path of the sun leads you from the kitchen, around the living room, pivoting over the double-sided fireplace, and to the south/southwest-facing conservatory where we’re going to grow trees. This is both a spiritual experience and an energy saver in terms of heat and light.”

modern farmhouse, farm table
Custom farm table.

Along those lines, McKinley and Calnen were intentional in the selection of energy-efficient, sustainable products, including a geothermal system, a solar array, and radiant floor heat. An elaborate drainage system collects rainwater from the roof; water is stored in an underground cistern for use in the garden where Calnen grows enough vegetables to feed the couple as well as to help stock the local food bank. A farm table in the kitchen, positioned near the door to the gardens, has its own sink and bins for ease of use. 

Traditional Meets Modern

Rather than the coastal shingle style of the previous home, McKinley opted for a modern interpretation of the traditional farmhouse, a nod to the surrounding landscape dotted with farmsteads and historic remnants of orchards.  

McKinley’s blending of historic and modern includes a roofscape featuring multiple gables and pitches; the windows are configured traditionally, but with large, operable units that give a subtle nod to the expanses of glass typical of modern homes. 

modern farmhouse exterior, nickel gap siding, poly-ash siding, TruExterior Siding, Boral roofing
TruExterior Siding in the Nickel Gap profile, installed vertically, delivers a modern farmhouse appeal.

McKinley took a similar approach to the cladding, selecting Boral TruExterior Siding in a Nickel Gap profile—but oriented vertically and precisely installed symmetrically across the façades. To eliminate horizontal joints, installers incorporated an overlap, a more traditional feature that transforms into an elegant, solid look, almost like concrete, as you move closer. As the siding reaches higher on the wall, it merges with the horizontal plane of the overhangs, also made with TruExterior. “It’s quite the geometry study,” says McKinley, noting that the overhangs are exaggerated in some areas and kept to a minimum in others. 

For the roof, Calnen created a custom blend of Boral Inspire Classic Slate, using Olive, Ash Grey, Evergreen, and Red Rock to create an authentic look. Inspire Classic Slate’s textured surfaces and deckled edges are modeled from authentic natural slates, imparting a controlled uniformity that epitomizes natural slate roofing.

The decision to use TruExterior siding and trim and Boral roofing was about much more than the aesthetics, however. It was an intentional choice made in part to ensure the home was more fire resistant than the previous dwelling. 

Inspire Classic Slate roofing carries a Class A fire rating, a Class 4 Impact rating for hail, and a 110-mph wind uplift rating. 

Made with poly-ash, a proprietary blend of fly ash and polymers, TruExterior Siding & Trim are certified by the California Building Commission for inclusion on the Wildland-Urban Interface Zone (WUI) Fire Area Products Listing. The product line is part of a relatively small group of cladding materials approved for WUI-designated buildings. TruExterior also resists insects, which will help the homeowners avoid the boring bees they encountered in the wood siding of their previous home. 

Siding colors, vertical siding, nickel gap, poly-ash siding
Under-construction image during homeowners’ color selection process.

Calnen tested two colors on the walls—a barn red and a warm white—and ultimately selected warm white, a further nod to the modern farmhouse style. It’s one more touch on a home that combines comfort with performance, authentic design with durability.

Photos: Jason McGrail 

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

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

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

New Neutrals

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

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

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

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

Foundry Staggered Shake in Harvest Wheat

The Rise of “Healthy” Color Palettes

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

Changing Grays

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

Foundry Perfection Shingle in Vintage Taupe

Reds Fading

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

Black Shifting

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

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

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

What to See at the 2020 International Builders’ Show

Builders' Show, Boral Building Products booth

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

Get Educated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See Hot Trends

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

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

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

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

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

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

See What’s New From Boral Building Products

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

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

• See new colors of Foundry’s Grayne shingle siding 

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

• See new accessories for Tapco Tools’ professional brakes

• Watch installation demonstrations by trim wizard Mike Sloggatt

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

Click here to get your free pass.

See you at the show!

Restoring a Porch to Its Gothic Glory

When Marc Brahaney, owner of Lasley Brahaney Architecture & Construction, began remodeling his own home, an 1870s Gothic Revival, he knew preserving its unique character would be essential. In an article in a recent issue of The Journal of Light Construction, Brahaney detailed how he meticulously restored the home’s front porch to its original design using TruExterior poly-ash material.

Gothic porch restoration with Boral TruExterior

“From the outset, I knew replicating the porch’s original moldings and trim would be a challenge; some of the Gothic-inspired shapes I needed were fairly large and chunky,” Brahaney told the magazine. “Reproducing them from rot-resistant wood (plastic products were not an option) would be difficult and expensive, so I reached out to Keith Coleman of DURATION Moulding & Millwork. Duration specializes in milling and siding from Boral [TruExterior] stock (a poly-ash material resistant to both moisture and termites). … After speaking with Keith, I concluded that milled Boral would be the best product to use, both for durability and to match the home’s unique trim work.”

Gothic porch restoration, before-and-after columns

DURATION crafted numerous elements of the porch using Boral TruExterior, including the columns, pilasters, decorative scroll work, crown, custom fascia, and dentil fascia. DURATION’s expertise in creating historically accurate profiles ensured the house maintained its landmark status while upgrading to a more durable material.

Elsewhere on the home, DURATION Moulding & Millwork also fabricated massive 5- to 6-inch window sills and two-piece casing to replicate the home’s original window trim.

Gothic porch restoration, Boral TruExterior columns

DURATION Moulding & Millwork works exclusively with TruExterior. The material offers workability similar to wood, providing versatility to produce or replicate nearly any standard and custom design. Its authentic appearance ensures an accurate look suitable for even the most discerning historical projects.

To learn more about Brahaney’s and DURATION’s approach to this unique remodel, read the Journal of Light Construction article here.

Learn more about TruExterior Siding & Trim here.

5 Winter Workwear Options to Keep You Warm and Dry

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

High-Vis Rain Gear

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

Blaklader High-Vis Jacket

Heated Jacket

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

Milwaukee Tools heated jacket

Cold-Weather Headgear

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

Ergodyne work hat

Cold-Weather Gloves

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

Ironclad winter work gloves

Fleece Underlayer

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

Duluth Trading Co. fleece underwear for construction

New: TruExterior Siding in Reversible Shiplap-Nickel Gap Profiles

Boral TruExterior Reversible Shiplap Nickel Gap

Boral Building Products has added a reversible Shiplap-Nickel Gap siding profile to its TruExterior Siding & Trim poly-ash line. The new profile 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. A rabbeted edge ensures panels fit together perfectly to create the authentic spacing—the tight joint appearance of Shiplap on one side and the nickel-sized space of Nickel Gap on the other.

Previously, contractors could select TruExterior profiles in non-reversible smooth or wood-grain Shiplap and in smooth Nickel Gap. The addition of textured Nickel Gap answers growing customer demand for wood-grain options. What’s more, the reversible format combines with four different widths and two standard lengths to offer 16 profile combinations. This means dealers can stock fewer SKUs while builders can design more varied streetscapes with a single panel.

“Our new reversible Shiplap-Nickel Gap profile makes it easy for builders and remodelers to create beautiful, on-trend exteriors that are both eye-catching and high performing for a look that truly stands the test of time,” says Ben Drury, Brand Manager for Boral Building Products.

Like all TruExterior Siding, the new profile is made with Boral’s proprietary blend of polymers and fly ash, which provides for a high level of dimensional stability for reduced expansion and contraction, and durability for resistance to warping, cracking, and splitting. As a result, the siding 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.

Shiplap and Nickel Gap are part of TruExterior’s Craftsman Collection, which comprises six historically and architecturally accurate profiles that replicate the look and feel of traditional wood siding. The panels cut and install with traditional tools and offer workability similar to wood.

The reversible Shiplap-Nickel Gap profile comes in 4-, 6-, 8-, and 10-inch widths.

For more information, visit www.truexterior.com.

DURATION Moulding & Millwork Brings Meticulous Craftsmanship to Historic and Modern Projects

Like any good historic restoration project, the recently remodeled Old South Church in Boston doesn’t look refurbished—it looks like it did in 1836, just without the signs of age. But while the materials and details appear the same, some of them are much more modern and durable.

DURATION Moulding & Millwork is partially to thank for that. The company supplied numerous moulding and millwork pieces for the rehab, meticulously crafting each piece, including quoins, crown, and beaded casing, to replicate what it would replace. The only difference is that the pieces were crafted with TruExterior, Boral Building Products’ proprietary siding and trim made with poly-ash.

Duration molding and millwork, TruExterior trim, church remodel
DURATION used TruExterior, shown here prior to painting, to craft most of the replacement exterior mouldings for the Old South Church, including the quoins, tongue-and-groove siding, crown, cove, bullnose, beaded casing, half rounds, water table, and more.

A blend of polymers and recycled fly ash, TruExterior offers a look and workability nearly identical to wood, so much so that it can be used for historic restoration projects where manmade materials are often shunned. But unlike wood, it provides a higher level of dimensional stability to reduce expansion and contraction and resist warping, cracking, and splitting.

The church is one of hundreds of projects DURATION Millwork has supplied with custom molding and trim milled from TruExterior. The company began testing the product when it was first introduced, and soon after began offering 18 common profiles to its distributor network. Today, DURATION manufactures with the poly-ash material exclusively and provides not only numerous standard options but extensive custom capabilities. 

Duration Millwork, TruExterior poly-ash trim, Sagaponack, NY
For this home in Sagaponack, N.Y., DURATION created custom horizontal siding, flat panels, sheets, window trim, and lock-mitered corners.

“The product really combines the best attributes of the three major categories—wood, PVC, and fiber cement. You get the best of all three without any of the downsides,” says DURATION Moulding & Millwork President and CEO Keith Coleman, pointing to TruExterior advantages such as resistance to rotting and decay, the ability to be painted darker colors, and the allowance for installation in contact with the ground, cement, or metal roofing. “It’s the Holy Grail of exterior moulding products—will it last and will it look like wood. And when you combine those two things, that’s when you know you’ve got it.”

Custom Moulding & Millwork Capabilities

Over the years, DURATION has become very nimble in what it is able to offer—and how quickly. Custom pieces range from detailed crown moulding to robust porch columns to 7-inch beveled siding.

“If someone wants 12 feet of moulding to match a historic profile, we’ll do it. We’re not shying away from anything like that,” he says. “We want to be known for addressing the need for this product where suitable. If it’s suitable for a trim, we’re going to produce it.

“Because we’re a single source and have full autonomy, if a distributor calls today and says we need 200 pieces of DSC 009, I can walk out there and have the guys set up and start running in three or four hours to have it ready by tomorrow,” Coleman adds. “We can pretty much turn on a dime.”

Coleman also has a full-time AutoCAD expert on staff, which helps the team problem-solve for customers. For example, architect Glen Fries approached DURATION for the best way to clad a circular garage with vertical trim. Using the radius of the building, DURATION calculated the maximum width of shiplap it could produce to wrap the garage exterior while maintaining the round shape and avoiding looking segmented. 

Duration Moulding & Millwork, TruExterior polyash trim, siding, Sagaponack
DURATION used TruExterior to create the vertical radius cladding for this garage, along with the siding and corners on the main house.

The main house also includes DURATION’s pre-fab corners, in which they cut the siding at a 45-degree angle and create a miter that locks the corner into place, ensuring that it won’t open up down the road. The corner combines with TruExterior’s standard horizontal Nickel Gap siding for a cool, continuous look wrapping the main house and coordinating with the garage.

Here’s a look at a few more projects demonstrating the breadth of capabilities of both DURATION Moulding & Millwork and TruExterior Siding & Trim:

Duration Moulding & Millwork, TruExterior panels, retail shop

For this retail shop in New Hope, Penn., DURATION Moulding & Millwork used its “wide” sheet good material. “Very few products could be painted this color and perform as needed,” Coleman says. Elsewhere, the shop features vertically installed TruExterior Shiplap siding.

Duration Moulding & Millwork, TruExterior polyash trim, shutters, soffit, brackets

DURATION milled TruExterior for nearly the entire exterior of this home, including custom brackets, shutters, columns, soffit, fascia, and window trim.

Duration Millwork, TruExterior Trim, Kiawah Island

This home under construction in Kiawah Island, S.C., features custom shiplap siding, custom show sills, radius crown moulding, custom window casing with back band, and custom “thumbnail” beveled siding. DURATION crafted all of the pieces with TruExterior. 

Duration Millwork, TruExterior polyash trim, cove molding, trim

DURATION recently added this cove moulding to its standard profile offerings. This batch, the company says, is headed to “the happiest place on earth” in Florida.

To see more of DURATION Moulding & Millwork’s portfolio, check them out on Instagram or visit their website.

To learn more about TruExterior, click here.

Idea Gallery: Beadboard

Boral TruExterior beadboard porch ceiling

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

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

Here are a few ways contractors are using beadboard:

Boral TruExterior beadboard

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

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

Kleer Lumber cellular PVC beadboard porch ceiling

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

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

Boral TruExterior beadboard porch ceiling

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

Kleer Lumber cellular PVC beadboard bathroom

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

Boral TruExterior beadboard porch ceiling

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

Kleer Lumber cellular PVC beadboard deck ceiling

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

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

Learn more about TruExterior beadboard and Kleer beaded boards.

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

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

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

Boston Exterior Remodeling, Grayne siding, Boral Building Products

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boston Exterior Remodeling, Grayne siding, Boral Building Products

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

Boston Exterior Remodeling, Grayne siding, Boral Building Products

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

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